Charity SEO

PeterD recently finished up The Non-profit Guide to Search Engine Marketing, a free 16 page guide to search engine marketing for non-profit organization websites.

While it focuses on non-profits, much of the advice could apply to just about any website. We would love to get your feedback on it. If you find it useful or know some charities that might like it, please share. Thanks to Dominic Mapstone for early feedback and advice. :)

Published: December 2, 2008 by Aaron Wall in marketing


December 2, 2008 - 8:08am

The first line of your post here says the link will take you to "a free 16 page guide." I click on the link and end up on a long page.

I would provide a PDF version of this material. The link for it should be prominently featured at the very top of the Guide webpage.

Putting the contents of the page into a PDF would have to leave out YouTube videos. I'm not sure what else might suffer in the conversion to a printable PDF version.

My reasoning:
You would potentially be serving an older audience with this material. Many such folks would rather read something 16 pages in length on printed pages. I would also suggest a printed copy = a potential authority boost for you with folks that prefer to read a hardcopy.

An alternative might be to make it more obvious that someone could print the webpage, provided it prints out well enough. Even with that though I know I am often hesitant to print any lengthy webpage since I have (and who hasn't?) been burned by trying to print something on the web and it ended up an illegible mess.

You have been providing people information for years, so maybe I am missing something about why it isn't good to offer a PDF - at least for this guide :)

December 2, 2008 - 1:28pm


I have a friend in law school that consults with young non-profits. I have one word of advice if you are planning to market this material. Make a intro explaining how this information can fit in with large non-profit marketing goals. This intro should be kept very simple with zero web lingo. Owners of non-profits tend to be a bit scatter brained, and lots just understand how to get from point A to point B.

December 2, 2008 - 3:03pm

I don't know whether it is good or not for me to spend time on it.

yet another ben
December 2, 2008 - 4:10pm

@toogoogoo: There's a great service here where you can volunteer your online skills with charities affiliated with the UN's work:

...might be worth checking out.

yet another ben
December 2, 2008 - 4:15pm

Thanks for the widgets too - I was looking at the weekend for something for my blog. Any UK versions that anyone knows of? Either way there's a couple of international one's there that I'm interested in using...I guess I could just make my own widget / banner.

A really helpful guide and safely bookmarked, Peter, thanks very much.


December 3, 2008 - 5:39pm

Is this guide for local nonprofits or large national ones with online marketing teams? It starts off too fast for those with no online marketing knowledge (which is most of the smaller nonprofits).

I have provided online marketing training and consulting to a variety of nonprofits, and I can tell you that this guide starts off too high level for any of them to grasp the content.

It's the vocabulary - they need to be introduced to the topic slowly - introducing them to data about why they need to be online and generally how search engines work. In the second paragraph you use the word "optimize"...they don't even know what that means. Then you mention "external links" again...they don't understand that term. With many of the non-profits I've worked with I need to actually show them how to code a link on a webpage and break it down in basic language for them to understand what I'm taking about.

That's not to say that they can't understand online marketing, you just need to start off at a much more basic level. Feel free to take a look at some of my training Powerpoints on my site to get an idea: I've run workshops at a variety of nonprofit workshops and conferences that have been very successful, but that's (I think) due to the fact that I know most nonprofits are not very tech savvy and I start the training or guide at their level and build from there.

I also agree that all of this should be tied to their business goals. Nonprofits are very short staffed, and often don't measure their web traffic. I always start off by helping them understand that their business goals (raising $, attracting advocacy supporters, spreading the word about guides, etc) are directly tied to activity on their website and translated into KPIs. Then I make sure that they are at least using Google Analytics and tracking their KPIs. That way their online strategy (which also includes email which you haven't mentioned in the guide) is tightly connected to their online marketing goals, and they can then prioritize new initiatives based on those goals. Often times, that means that it makes more sense for them to create a personalized, segmented email strategy that moves new registrations into donors or advocates than spending time creating a widget for Facebook that isn't directly tied into one of their online goals.

My $.02...

December 8, 2008 - 3:50am

Thank you so much for this great marketing guide!

I translated to Japanese, modified some details (like articles linked to and tools introduced) so that it can be used by Japanese marketers and posted to my blog. (Is it Okay? Let my know if not.)

Thanks again. You guys are the best!

December 8, 2008 - 7:20am

of course translation is good by us. :)

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