SEO for Non-ProfitsIn a recent blog post for Web Marketing Today, “Local SEO for Non-profit Organizations” SEO expert Chris Silver Smith laid out 12 specific things non-profits can do to help their sites rank well in search results. These optimization tips (except for the tax-free status thing and the free PPC ads from Google) also apply to any type of business looking for an edge over the competition online.

Here are the 12 tactics Chris recommends. Check out his blog post for the details.

  1. Rank in Google Places – This is advice we’ve talked about here as well. Google+ Local (formerly known as Google Places) presents a great opportunity for visibility in local searches.
  2. Put Primary Information in Text on Your Home Page – Too often you’ll find a website with address and phone number info in a graphic that human visitors can easily read but which is invisible to the search engines.
  3. State Your Category – Use terminology that people are searching for and be sure to be specific. It may seem like you’re stating the obvious, but remember, you’re not just writing for your human audience. You’re also informing the search engines what your non-profit or business is all about.
  4. Use Your Title to Target Your Name and Place – The page title for your home page is one of the most influential “on-page” SEO elements of your website.
  5. Use a Short Meta Description – This is an SEO element that isn’t visible on your webpage itself, but becomes visible in search results. It’s usually the snippet of text that Google displays in search results.
  6. Get Listed in Online Directories – This (usually) free tactic is often overlooked, but you can claim your local listing in online directories like to make sure the important contact info about your organization is correct.
  7. Communicate Your Tax-free Status – This is an essential bit of information for a non-profit and needs to be clearly communicated to readers and search engines alike.
  8. Use Separate Websites for Charitable Events – For a non-profit – or any business – that produces multiple events, it makes sense to create a separate website for each event. If the events happen annually, you can update the websites accordingly.
  9. Allow Photography to Encourage Photo Sharing – Pictures are endlessly engaging and shareable. There are some situations in which you need to limit photos and photo sharing, and you need to be aware of those, but it’s important to find a way to allow people to shoot photos for personal use and sharing.
  10. Use LinkedIn to Capitalize on your Employees, Donors and Members – Your non-profit or business needs to not only have a profile on LinkedIn, but you should also be encouraging your members and employees to connect.
  11. Optimize Your Site and Blog for Twitter and Facebook – Use Twitter Cards and Facebook’s Open Graph to make sure your updates on those platforms are more attractive and engaging.
  12. Run PPC Ads for Free – I wasn’t aware of this one until I read Chris’s blog post. What a great opportunity for a non-profit to get up to $10,000 in advertising per month!