Search engine optimization (SEO) is a term that everyone is using these days, but a lot of people in the nonprofit sector don’t know what it means. There are a whole lot of SEO experts out there claiming they can get your site to the top of the rankings, but sometimes the results don’t bear out. Having basic knowledge about SEO can go a long way for you as the executive director of an organization.
As much as you rely on your tech people, SEO is something all leaders can and should know.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is easy to understand conceptually. SEO is the process of getting eyeballs to your website through organic (i.e. not paid) and editorial content (e.g. a blog on your site). To get traffic to your site, you have to appear high, the first page preferably, in the rankings of search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Search engines are continually changing their digital algorithms that affect rankings. It’s done so the quality of what people see is high. In other words, search engines, place a premium on high-quality content and they don’t want end users to have results full of spam. And, you don’t want your content to be flagged as created for the search engines-and not humans-full of keywords, for example, or pages with unrelated content.
Why is SEO Important?
Providing content for humans and the human experience is what search engines want on the Internet. And, as humans we don’t want to read articles and visit sites with poor grammar, misspellings and irrelevant or incoherent information.
Ensuring good, or “white hat SEO,” which means content that delivers quality for humans and adheres to search engine rules and guidelines, is essential to having a high ranking. Google’s digital “bots” or “spiders” are continually searching the Internet making sure the best sites and pages rank at the top of any search. They are also indexing content and websites. The spiders are crawling the Internet and indexing it in the Google, Yahoo, or Bing “directory.” That indexing then causes the most relevant and high-quality results to appear when someone does a search.
How Can I Improve My Site’s SEO?
There are some ways to ensure that your organization’s website or blog is search engine optimized.
- Your site and your content have to be mobile ready. If you’re site still hasn’t been designed for mobile, you might want to get on that right about now.
- As search engines and social media platforms rely ever-increasingly on visuals, you should make certain great videos and photography accompany your copy.
- The digital age is all about sharing. Improving your SEO rankings is helped by having compelling content that people want to: a) read; and, b) share. Integrate website share plug-ins and buttons.
- Believe it or not, the security of your site affects your search engine rankings. Make sure your site is using Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). The HTTPS protocol protects the data between a visitor on your site through the Internet and your website.
Finally, if you’re looking for SEO success, there are two metrics that you want to use to help you measure success:
- You want to see that your website appears high in the rankings on the first page of the most popular search engines, especially Google.
- You want high conversion rates for your website. If people are not buying what you’re selling, or signing up, you have a deeper problem than SEO.
Understanding these essential aspects of search engine optimization will go a long way toward making sure that you and your tech support team are communicating with the same understanding of SEO. And, this basic knowledge will help your nonprofit or social enterprise website or blog achieve digital success.