As a nonprofit, generating brand awareness is one of your most critical tasks, vital to attracting both donors and new volunteers. Maintaining a web presence is an important part of that awareness, as is optimizing your site for local search. Here’s why – and more importantly, how you can go about implementing local SEO.
82% of smartphone users rely on a search engine when looking for a local organization. More than 85% of consumer engagement with brands occurs as a result of local listings. From 2016 to 2017, Google reported a 900% increase in ‘near me’ searches.
Taken together, these statistics underscore the importance of local Search Engine Optimization, especially for nonprofits. Unless your organization operates on a global scale, the majority of your volunteers and donors are going to hail from the same city as you. People generally prefer to attend fundraising drives and charity events taking place close to them, events which don’t require an immense amount of travel.
The better-optimized your nonprofit’s website is for local search, the more easily your audience will be able to find you. But what exactly is involved in local SEO?
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
First – and perhaps most importantly – you need to ensure that your nonprofit’s name, address, and phone number are listed somewhere on every page of your website. This information should be consistent with information appearing elsewhere on the web, such as in local directories, on social media, and on your Google My Business page (both of which we discuss below). Avoid changing this information as much as possible, and when you do make changes, ensure they’re done across all platforms.
It’s also helpful to include your nonprofit’s location in both title tags and meta descriptions wherever possible. Let’s say, for example, you’re operating a nonprofit dedicated to cancer research called “Sadie’s Hope,” located in Chicago. The title tag for your homepage might read “Chicago Cancer Nonprofit | Sadie’s Hope.”
In addition to optimizing your metadata, you should also update the copy on your homepage to quickly and clearly establish what your nonprofit is, what it does, and how it does it. Make it easy for every visitor, whether they’re a prospective donor or a search engine robot, to understand your organization.
Google My Business
One of the most frequently overlooked aspects of local SEO is the Google My Business listing.
Coincidentally, it’s also among the most important, serving as a major ranking factor for local search. Every organization, both nonprofit and for-profit, has one. Find a category that fits your organization and fill it out with your NAP information, hours of operation, some professional photos, and any other information you feel is relevant.
Your next step, once you’ve got your Google My Business Page written up, is to search for nonprofit directories based in your city and region. You’ll want to submit your organization’s profile to every single one. Whether you do this manually or use a paid-for tool to do so isn’t especially relevant – the important thing is to get your name out there as much as possible.
A Social Presence
Like it or not, engagement on social media is a ranking factor for all search – including local. As a nonprofit organization, you should already have an established social strategy in place. You should already be engaging with prospective donors and volunteers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; tweaking your approach to place a slightly higher focus on local users shouldn’t be difficult.
You might be surprised to learn that user reviews are just as important for nonprofits as they are for other businesses. Amplify and respond to positive reviews, and reach out to volunteers or donors who leave negative reviews in an effort to help them with their concerns about your organization.
Go Beyond Local
We live in a digital age. Not all of your donors are going to be local, and not everyone who believes in your nonprofit’s cause needs to hail from the city in which you’re headquartered. At the same time, local search represents a critical facet of volunteer and donor outreach – a component of your marketing you simply cannot afford to ignore.
Terry Cane is the COO at SEOHost.net, a reliable and supportive SEO hosting partner.