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SEO Basics for Nonprofits: How to Use the Most Important On-Page Factors

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In the first part of this series on SEO Basics for Nonprofits, we cleared up some myths and misunderstandings about search engine optimization (SEO) for nonprofit organizations.

This week, let’s take a look at exactly what you should be including on every page to attract visitors to your site.

On-page SEO refers to what appears on your website. This includes keywords and elements like images, links, titles, and descriptions. It also means knowing how to use headings for SEO.

A man reads about SEO for nonprofits on his laptop. The photo is taken from overhead.



SEO Keywords for Nonprofits

Keyword research for nonprofits looks much like it does for any other sector. You’ll want to determine what your audience is looking for online and create content to match. 

Your keyword strategy should include several primary long-tail keywords. You'll want your main page to rank for these. Then determine more specific keywords for secondary pages. This could include your mission, history, or programs pages.

For example, say you run an afterschool program and want to write a new blog post. People in your area happen to be searching the phrase “how to get your teenager to do homework.” 

This is a great opportunity. You can write a blog focused on motivating young people to finish their homework. Sending them to an afterschool program like yours should be one of the answers you suggest!

Using Headings for SEO

If you’re an avid Microsoft Word user, you’ve seen headings options in your formatting tools. These change the size – and often the font, font weight, and the color – of the text you select.

The same concept applies to web pages. Google will look for the headings labeled H1 and H2 to figure out what your page is about. 

Be sure to include your keywords in your headings throughout the page.

Optimizing Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Title tags and meta descriptions are important even though they don't appear on your site. They're considered on-page SEO because they affect what’s shown on the Google SERP (or Search Engine Results Page).

Your page title is the primary descriptive header. Your meta description will appear underneath it. Remember that the SERP will only show the first 50-60 characters of your title. A browser tab will likely show fewer than that. 

Length limits also apply to meta descriptions. Keep them between 155 and 160 characters, and use keywords as much as possible.

Slugs and URLs

URLs should be as short as possible, with keywords appearing at all levels. When writing a blog post, for example, your web platform will often add a dash between each word of your title to create the post’s URL.

For example, a post titled, “This Is My Organization's Best Blog Post” might become www.yourorganization.org/blog/this-is-my-organizations-best-blog-post

This is fine – but it’s not optimized. 

To optimize that URL, remember a few key things:

  • The words at the beginning of the URL have the most weight, so front-load your keywords as much as possible.
  • Shorter is better, so remove as many unnecessary words as possible.
  • A slug can be used only once (and should be permanent), so keep that in mind if you’re planning on writing more about a topic. 

So instead of /this-is-my-organizations-best-blog-post, our example above might become /best-blog-post, instead. 

Including SEO Keywords in Images

Your image title and ALT text are other great opportunities to let Google know what your site is about. Include your keywords in the file name and in the image description. 

Avoid keyword stuffing. Any ranking boost this tactic provides will be short-lived. Once Google sees that users won’t find what they’re looking for on your page, your ranking will plummet.

Invest in Learning SEO

SEO is often a better investment option than paid ads for your nonprofit. And it tends to be far less expensive, too.

With some time and energy, you can easily master the basics of SEO for nonprofits. You'll watch your organization’s website rise in the rankings!



To learn more about the most important on-page elements for SEO for nonprofits, join NPO Centric’s membership program. Access tons of free resources and connect with nonprofit leaders just like you!