Tag: search engine optimization

If you work in a communications role at a nonprofit, you probably have news and social media alerts set up for keywords relating to your organization’s work – for example, a housing nonprofit might have an alert for terms like “homeless,” “couch surfing,” or “sleeping rough.” But what if the people you’re trying to reach don’t use those words? What if they don’t use words at all?

I’ve been running some experiments in emoji search, both individual and in groups that give added meaning.

Sophia Guevara NTEN author quote about nonprofits adopting their own emojiThe first search I conducted on Twitter was using a “handshake” 🤝. I was able to find posts of users who had tweeted using the same emoji. I decided to complicate the search by adding two and then three emoji together. The second search was a “handshake” and a “briefcase”. There were still a lot of results until I added the third emoji, a graduation cap. One result: a tweet about a diversity event.

Searching emoji on Facebook was less fruitful. Searching for “trophy” 🏆, I came up with three video results that had made use of that emoji in their description. Using the “fries” emoji 🍟 produced a nacho fries recipe. On YouTube, a search for the “donut” emoji 🍩 resulted in a video of donut economics.

Is your nonprofit optimizing for emoji search?

Online marketing consultant Jayson DeMers wrote in an article for Forbes last year that searching for emoji in a search engine would bring up posts that used that emoji, but also posts relating to the topic that emoji represented.

Right now, with emojis usually used as an embellishment for written text, it seems frivolous to think about emoji search or its impact on SEO, but linguists predict that emoji communication will only get more popular and perhaps may even become a language of its own.

After learning more about emoji searching on social media channels, I wondered how one could propose a new emoji or associate an emoji with their own brand. The Unicode Consortium has developed a formal process to do so.

The Oakland As found success adopting the baseball emoji. Is there an emoji that your nonprofit should use?

 

There are trees, and there is forest. There are anecdotes, and there is data. There are the pinprick pixels of our individual experiences, and there is the vast picture they paint together of the world we share.

The M+R Benchmarks Study is our annual attempt to bridge that divide. This year, we have collected an extensive array of data points from 154 nonprofit participants. Each of them marks a single digital interaction with a supporter: an email opened, a donation made, a petition signed, a website visited, an ad clicked, a Facebook post liked, or tweet retweeted. All told, these add up to 4,699,299,330 email messages, 527,754,635 web visits, and 11,958,385 donations.

NTEN is proud to partner with M+R once again for the latest Benchmarks report. Explore or download it here.

 

Lists are everywhere – Top Cities to Live in, Wealthiest People, Coldest Places on Earth, and so on. All fun to read but here’s one you can actually do something with, starting now!

Website design and development is a moving target where little changes can make a huge difference to your nonprofit’s website performance over time. In the past few years, you’ve heard a lot about responsive/mobile websites and the use of videos/ graphics to make the content more user-friendly. A lot of that still holds true. Here are some additional trends for making your website produce greater impacts in the coming year.

1. Get Social1.  An old rule for a high-ranking website was to have others link to it. Recently, Google made a subtle change noted on its Webmaster Tools’guidelines2: the text changed from, “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages” to “…that users will want to use and share.”

It’s no longer enough to simply link to other websites but have content that people want to share. If it’s trending on Twitter or Google+, it’s also going to trend on search result pages. Encourage your users to share by integrating social media icons and RSS feeds into your website content.

2. Big data schmata!  You’ve heard the phrase, but how relevant is it to your nonprofit? In simple terms, big data is any large and complex dataset that cannot be managed by traditional database management tools.  However, as storage capacity increases, the definition of big data will change as well. What’s big data now won’t be so in 2024.

As a nonprofit organization, you probably don’t generate terabytes of data like Google or Facebook.  So don’t worry about big data. Instead, start with analyzing small datasets for insights that your nonprofit organization can apply quickly. You may be better off digging deeper into “little, but meaningful data” and focusing on improving your data quality. There are many business intelligence and visualization tools available today that can help you do just that.

3. Good Content.  Remember Get social above? Users visit your website for high quality education, research, fundraising, or other relevant information. Thus, you need evolving content that they find interesting and will want to share.  Anyone can build you a fantastic-looking and functioning website – but the content must come from within your organization.  What does Google care more about? Quality content. It’s no wonder Wikipedia comes up so often in results.  Provide good content and almost everything else that makes your website more successful will follow.

4. Siri & Google Now.  Perhaps the most surprising 2014 trend is how users will derive more and more information from your website without ever having to visit it.  When’s the Nonprofit Technology Conference?  What’s the weather in Portland?  All of these can be answered by digital assistants on smartphones, like Apple’s Siri or Google Now. In a strange twist, the fact that a digital assistant can cull this information from your website is perhaps the highest compliment you could receive for your well done, properly search-engine-optimized website.

5. Flat Design.  In the year ahead, look for website design to trend toward simple shapes, colors, and typography.  We’re going back to the basics.  In many cases, shining design may not benefit your website.  A website that emphasizes clarity and usability over pomp and snazz will ultimately serve its constituency better.  Google also notices and rewards those sites with high page rankings.

Let’s recap.

What’s Out What’s In
Links to your site Shares to your site
Big data Usable data
Same old content Revitalized content
Going to your site

Design distractions

Aggregating from it

Less-is-more design

Bieber Beyoncé

SOS Children’s Villages is a large international children’s charity helping orphaned and abandoned children in 133 countries around the world. SOS Children’s Villages Canada’s role is to raise funds in Canada to fund programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Using SEO To Attract Overseas Donations

So much rides on our search engine rankings. In Canada, 3 to 6 percent of donated dollars go to international charities. It’s a very competitive marketplace for all nonprofits and extremely competitive for international charities. Advertising can be effective, but it’s also costly. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) allows us to capture the attention of the niche market of people who may want to make an overseas donation.

Most new donors don’t go looking for SOS Children’s Villages Canada specifically. A new donor typically finds us after seeing a news media report. For example, after 250 girls were abducted in Nigeria, potential donors searching for more information discovered our work operating schools and helping children in Nigeria. Any issue related to vulnerable children, protection of child rights, gender equality, and orphans can drive potential donors to our website. Once donors find us, our content must clearly help them understand the need.

Why Google Didn’t Love Our Content

The search engines should have loved all our granular content, but they weren’t even seeing it. As it turned out, our own proprietary shared hosting platform was the culprit. Here’s why:

1. Slow page load times. Page load times are critical for SEO. But because we were hosted in Europe on a proprietary platform, our page load times were too slow for Google and other search engines. Users didn’t seem to notice, but our search engine rankings told another story.

2. Not SEO-Optimized. In addition, our website wasn’t optimized for SEO or for usability. Google Grants gives us $10,000 a month in Google AdWords funding, which is really effective if your site is optimized. Ours wasn’t, putting a damper on low-cost marketing strategies like SEO and free advertising. For example, our page on Angola didn’t have a page rank at all because it was seen as duplicate content.

Transitioning From A Shared Hosting Platform

When we made the decision 8 years ago to pool resources with 25 other nations to share a joint proprietary platform, it seemed like a good way to save money. But it wasn’t as cost-effective as we thought. Not only were our search engine rankings suffering, but we were investing a significant development budget each year to maintain the proprietary platform, costing us 18,000 CAD a year.

We wanted to spend donors’ money more effectively so we could drive SEO and bring in more donations. In 2013, we decided to go rogue from the joint platform.

The Solution: Open Source & Drupal

We chose open source and Drupal. We wanted a powerful and cost-effective website that was optimized for SEO, so we engaged a Drupal web development agency to build it.

The Results

Our page ranks are increasing, while our load times are decreasing. Like most charities, we raise the majority of our funds in the two months leading up to Christmas and just beyond. It’s still early, but we’re already well-positioned for this year. We’re slightly up over last year at this time, when we were fundraising for one-time donations during an international crisis and getting an unusual amount of press.

1. Giant leaps up in Google rankings

On pages with the exact same content, we’ve seen page ranks shoot up 4 full points—Angola rose from 1 to 5, for example. Now we’re indexed correctly to Google. The right third-party modules have all been configured and installed. Our new website platform optimizes page delivery within our design, allowing us to increase each page’s perceived value within the search engine marketplace. We’re actually showing up in other nations ahead of the local SOS National Association for that nation—specifically, in anglophone countries. People are starting to ask us what we’re doing differently.

2. Much better page load times 

Our improved search rankings can be directly attributed to the lower page load times. Getting on Drupal and using the new website platform decreased our page load time significantly, averaging 49.7% faster average load time. As a result, Google immediately assigned a better quality score to our pages, and to our site overall.

3. Award-winning design

Our new website was so visually appealing that it outshone 5,000 competitors in 24 countries to win the 2014 Summit Creative Award, Silver medal, for a nonprofit website.

Parting Thoughts

If a colleague at another nonprofit were to ask, “What’s the best way to manage our large nonprofit website?” I would tell them this: “Option 1 is hiring a team to build the infrastructure on a cloud provider. Starting from scratch, they set up the servers and all the infrastructures. Then, they configure everything to make it high-performing for Drupal. In the end, you pay tens of thousands a year for hosting, and your search engine rankings could still suffer. We’ve been down that road. Option 2 is running your website on a container-based cloud infrastructure. You don’t need to worry about constant infrastructure maintenance or reconfiguring the architecture whenever your audience grows. And, because your site is so much faster, growing your audience through SEO becomes much easier. At least, that’s been our experience.”