The term “SEO” — for “search engine optimization” — has an almost outdated sound to it in an era when many animal organizations have shifted much of their focus from the web to social media, particularly Facebook, to drive adoptions, donations and awareness. But as Facebook re-conceives how it delivers posts made by nonprofits to their followers, it’s definitely time to take another look at how SEO can help you help animals.
Here are some numbers from Digiday to consider: Google search drives around 40 percent of the traffic to websites overall. Facebook accounts for around 30 percent, down 15 percent over the previous year, and down another 6 percent since Janauary of this year alone. If you use your organization’s website to feature pets, receive donations, sign up volunteers and foster caregivers, or post information about your programs, those are numbers you can’t afford to ignore. (And if you haven’t been using your organization’s website for those purposes, those numbers make a strong case for changing that!)
How can your organization get the most out of Google search? While optimizing a website for Google is a massive topic, that doesn’t mean the basics are complicated.
Sharon Fletcher, Maddie’s Fund® Director of Marketing and Communications, suggests that you sit down and make a list of all the words that describe your organization and your programs, then use them intentionally and consistently across all your communications, not just your website. “One of the most important tips for SEO is making sure the language you use — the terms and keywords — are the same in all communications,” said Fletcher. “That covers your website, any online ads, email newsletters, social posts, Google AdWords, etc.”
Another important tip: “Never use ‘Click here’ or ‘Click this link,” she said. “Those words will not be effective when seen by the Google spider, as they are used by too many websites. Instead, use the action you want your visitor/viewer to do: Register Today, Apply, Visit our Photo Gallery, Adopt Today, Foster Now — whatever is appropriate.”
Most of Google search’s dominance over social media as a source of traffic comes from mobile traffic, so no consideration of SEO would be complete without a recommendation that all websites be fully mobile-compatible. Google has you covered; just visit their mobile-friendly test page, enter your website’s URL, and test.
If your site flunks the test, Google will give you specific steps to fix the problem, as well as links to additional resources.
Hungry for more? Head over to the Google website and review how its search — the most popular and influential search program in the world — “sees” websites. This information is invaluable to making sure you’re thinking about your website in a way that will appeal to Google, and help not just fill in, but exceed, any gap left by changes in the social media landscape.