Tag: seo

For young Americans today, connecting with each other has never been easier, more immediate, or more influential. Causes must be strategic about entering into these conversations, and tech plays a vital role in the design and delivery of this strategy.

Millennials and their friends consistently share and actively respond to information and opinions. To effectively and authentically take part, causes must implement responsive models that involve young cause enthusiasts (and their networks) in your issue and ultimately persuade them to join your cause.

To begin in the right direction, we look at the nation’s largest body of research on millennials: the Millennial Impact Project, a joint venture between the Case Foundation and research teams I’ve led. After a decade of research, the final report was just released: Understanding How Millennials Engage With Causes and Social Issues: Insights From 10 Years of Research Working in Partnership With Young Americans on Causes Today and in the Future.

We instinctively know that tech is powerful, and millennials, for the most part, are savvy users. But tech must be so much more than a social media strategy. Far more than a tool for monitoring and pushing out content to this audience, tech should be part of the fabric of your organization’s strategy.

To help in your planning, we’re sharing the top five tech findings from the mountain of research data, analysis, and recommendations from the Millennial Impact Project:

  1. It’s an online and offline world. At the onset of this decade-long study, we expected by now to see millennials taking actions in digital-only environments. But it hasn’t happened. Moreover, in every study, we clearly saw that activity in the offline world — activism in particular — continued to reign. Millennials don’t restrict their issue participation to either offline or online. They do both. It’s “and” not “or.”
  2. Their online actions are both small and large. When looking at the type and intensity of actions taken online (from social shares to DIY fundraising), we find the spectrum to be broad and, at times, deep. Connecting and forming relationships among peers certainly expands the profundity of an action, but we cannot discount the power in individual (digital) hand-raising, either — especially when we’re trying to build affinity and loyalty. Small public acts like “Yes, I agree” have a huge effect on a millennial who is just starting to explore how they feel about an issue, let alone act for those affected.
  3. Concurrent digital and non-digital activism reinforce and build on each other. Millennials believe in the power of activism and move toward greater actions by using their voice in addition to other assets they hold. At the same time, they believe they can be an activist in small ways that make a big impact, such as donating online and/or offline and talking to their friends about it — again, online and/or offline. Online forums can be great places for inspiring activism, and they are organized online and off. From posts to petition signing to hosting small talks in digital and non-digital environments, their activism happens all across the spectrum of participation.
  4. SEO and search queries relate to the issue, not the organization. People who care about an issue will search for information on that issue before they look for a specific organization potentially related to it. They want to help people or animals or the environment, not organizations. Your website needs to be seen as a resource for educational information and advocacy resources. Digital ads and boosted posts can drive visitors to these resources. Tech can improve your site’s organic visibility for millennials through optimization, auditing, user testing, and keyword research.
  5. Online and in-person, it’s a journey. We’ve learned that millennials are what we call “everyday changemakers.” For them, mixing online and offline cause-related actions is a daily, ongoing journey with no straight path of engagement you can plot. Rather, millennials move in and out of participation; they use tech to enhance their offline experiences, and they use their offline actions as shareable experiences and knowledge. They begin their participation simply and easily, then become more deeply engaged over time.

Tech can bridge the offline and online worlds millennials act within today rather than be a supplement for the other. As we have said time and again, expecting millennials to move along the traditional paths of passive to active engagement is a crucial mistake — which means we cannot force them to move within traditional organization structures, either.

Today, young Americans may enter a cause at almost any point on the engagement path and move back and forth along it. This means your organization must be flexible, adaptable, and highly responsive. Supportive tech underlying all these new approaches and opportunities may mean the difference between the organizations that truly stand out and those that continue to react.

Download Understanding How Millennials Engage With Causes and Social Issues: Insights From 10 Years of Research Working in Partnership With Young Americans on Causes Today and in the Future at themillennialimpact.com/latest-research.

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.

 

What is technical SEO anyway?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. Simply speaking, it’s about ranking higher in the search engine results for keywords related to your site. When search engines crawl sites to index in search results, they look for content that is fast, accessible, and relevant.

There are over 200 factors that go into SEO, encompassing both on-page (such as technical SEO and content) and off-page (such as backlinking and social media) factors.

Technical SEO specifically refers to the backend fixes you can make on your site to improve speed and accessibility.

Can’t I just write a few articles?

There’s no denying that writing more resources will help boost your ranking in search. If you don’t have any content on your site, then there won’t be anything for a search engine to crawl and index! But content is just one piece of the puzzle.

Technical SEO provides a foundation for your website that will help increase the ranking of any content you create. A best practice for long-term SEO growth is to make sure your site is up to snuff on the technical side, and then to keep delivering high quality content.

And the quickest way to get your site up to snuff? Understanding the key factors of SEO and prioritizing the fixes that will drive the most impact. Below is a technical SEO glossary of 7 high-priority factors so you can make any crucial changes (and know why they are important) with or without technical knowledge.

1. 301 Redirects

Say you had a landing page for a campaign on your site, but the campaign ended so you took down the page. If someone searches for that campaign on Google and chooses that URL, they’ll end up on a 404 Not Found Error page. I cringe, you cringe—and search engines may lower your ranking. For any pages that are permanently deleted, setup a 301 redirect to transfer 90–99% of the ranking to a new page. Why “301”? (It just refers to the HTTP status code for the redirect.)

2. Anchor Text

This is the text that is hyperlinked. If you are linking to a page on your own site, you want the text that is hyperlinked to be concise and relevant to the page you are linking to. Search engines use anchor text to see how people understand your content, and therefore what that content might be about. Whenever you link internally, or when you ask partners to link to your website, you want to be sure the anchor text is a relevant keyword or phrase.

For example, “click here to learn more about content marketing” connects the keywords “click here” to our content marketing article, which isn’t very informative (and is increasingly out-of-date, as more people access the internet on mobile devices). But “learn more about content marketing” connects that topic to our article—much better.  

3. Alt tags

Search engines want your content to be accessible not only to “robots” crawling your site, but also to other people! One way to do this is to add alt tags to all images. Also known as “alt text,” this is the text that you attribute to images on your site. Search engines cannot see images, so this text allows them to know what the image is of and to determine if it is relevant to the content of your article. And screen readers, browsers used by the blind or visually impaired, use alt tags to tell people what is in an image.

Most content management systems will allow you to easily add alt text when you upload or edit an image. You can also add it directly to the image source code: <img src=”http://www.yourimage.com” alt=”This is the image description”>

4. H1 (and 2 and 3) tags

Just as search engines can’t see images, they also can’t determine what’s important in your article unless you show them. Breaking up content into sections and subsections helps search engines to determine what the major and minor points are. Plus, it helps improve the user experience for your readers, who are more likely to skim content than to read every word.

“H1 tag” refers to the coding label you put on the title of an article, which would look like this: <h1> Title of My Article <h1>. “H2” and “H3” tags are used to break up content further into subsections.

5. Meta description

A meta description is a brief summary of your article that appears under the headline in search. Think of it as an advertisement for your content: What will the reader learn, and what will they gain from reading your article instead of another article? Keep meta descriptions to 160 characters or less to optimize for mobile.

6. Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a text file that webmasters use to tell search engines how to crawl their site. It is part of the robots exclusion protocol (REP), standards that regulate how robots crawl the web and serve content to users.

In other words, they make sure people are getting content that is relevant to what they are searching. Your robots.txt file will tell search engines what pages you want to show in searches (labeled as “follow”), and what pages you want to hide (labeled as “no follow”).

7. Sitemap

Basically, a sitemap is a list of all your site’s URLs in XML file form. If your robots.txt file is a directory, your sitemap is an archive of all the the pages on your site. It helps people to more easily find content on your site which means makes your site more accessible and it improves the user experience.

If you want to dive deeper, check out these resources on SEO and website optimization:

Something fundamental is changing about the way the web works. Hundreds of new top-level Internet address domains are popping up, bringing with them fresh opportunities for communicators.

You’ve probably already spotted new top-level domains (TLDs) in the wild. You may have even typed them into browsers. .Berlin, .club, or .fail may not have made much of an impression on you, but new top-level domains have implications for online marketing, campaigning, and organizing.

Since the dawn of the World Wide Web, top-level domains have been limited to .com, .org., .net, .int, .edu, .gov, .mil, and country codes. But that changed when ICANN, the body responsible for the Internet’s naming system, approved a radical expansion of TLDs. To date, 1,200 new ones have been approved and more than 25 million domains have been registered with new suffixes like .guru, .london, and .coffee.

This shift in how the Web parcels out real estate has created a new frontier complete with a land rush and ambitions to draw borders and claim virtual territories.

New branded domains like .google, .homedepot, and .canon are walled gardens that promise to give brands new prominence on the Internet. Others are verified domains, like .bank and .ngo, that are only granted to applicants who pass established eligibility standards. For instance, you can’t register a .bank domain unless you’re a registered financial institution. The majority of new TLDs, of course, are generic words being auctioned off to the highest bidder, like .nyc, which just sold RealEstate.nyc for $21,300.

Why Marketers and Campaigners Should Care about New TLDs

Aside from nerding out about the evolution of the Internet, new TLDs are fertile ground for marketing innovation. For starters, you’ve got a shot at campaign URLs you’ve always dreamt of but whose .org and .com versions were taken long ago. Securing short, pronounceable and meaningful keyword URLs can also deliver SEO and brand value.

As a strategic communications tool, TLDs help brand websites by conveying more about an organization than .com ever could. A .ngo, .shop, or .pizza domain primes web visitors and lends credibility before they reach your site. It affirms they’re headed in the right direction.

Hosting sites on verified TLDs—domains restricted to those who pass eligibility criteria—will, in theory, help brand your content as trusted and legitimate. In the lead up to the presidential election, the verified .vote domain promised to be the TLD “where honest and effective voter engagement begins.” Successes like RockThe.Vote and voter registration website Alabama.vote are early indicators that .vote is delivering on that promise.

There are indications that search engines may attribute greater authority to verified TLDs with good track records because they are nearly guaranteed to offer highly relevant content, a key component for search ranking.

TLDs as Organizing Tool

The ultimate potential for TLDs may be as an organizing tool. TLDs are essentially registries, and in contemporary culture, owning and operating a registry has real power.

In the real world, the US Green Building Council defined what green buildings look like by creating the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. By becoming a certifying body and registry, it became the tastemaker and arbiter for environmentally-responsible building. The same thing can happen on the web.

That’s the thinking behind .eco, a new TLD I’m working on. When .eco launches in early 2017, it will set the standard for who can identify themselves as environmentally responsible on the Internet.

When over 50 environmental orgs, including Greenpeace, WWF and NRDC, came together to support .eco, they set eligibility standards that will make .eco a powerful online authority on who gets to identify as an environmental actor. The first expression of the .eco community’s power is our domain granting program. We’re giving away hundreds of high-value domains to environmental orgs.

Imagine if the Carbon Disclosure Project and similar orgs went after the .CO2 domain? They could become the definitive registry of corporate emissions reporting and mandate best practices for CO2 disclosure and reporting. Stakeholders could be confident that when they visited Nike.CO2 or SanFrancisco.CO2, they would find trusted information.

While you’re rushing to nab your .eco, .ngo and .organic domains for upcoming campaigns, it’s worth considering how creating new TLDs could be part of your change-making strategy, too.

 

Photo credit: Dileepan Ramanan

If you work in a digital, fundraising, or communications role at your organization, there is a good chance you’ve come across Google AdWords. Potentially, you have also been tasked with managing the account.

For nonprofit staff, managing an AdWords account can become an additional burden that gets ignored in the face of more important tasks. This article outlines a routine and task list for managing your organization’s AdWords account.

What is AdWords and Google Ad Grants?

For those not familiar with AdWords, these are the ads that are shown at the top of the Google search results page above the organic results. These paid ads allow advertisers to jump the organic search results and help bring people back to their websites when the user is actively searching for products or services.

Google Ad Grants is the nonprofit arm of AdWords. Google provides approved charities and nonprofits with up to $10,000 per month of in-kind AdWords advertising. This allows organizations to promote their organization on Google through text ads on the search results page.

Reality of AdWords Management

Google AdWords can be a highly effective way to bring traffic to your organization’s website when used correctly.

But it isn’t something that can be set up and left to sit. To get the most value out of AdWords, either through a Google Ad Grants account or paid use, you should routinely review and work within your account, making fine adjustments along the way.

But before you start…

Set Goals for Your Account

Like any good marketing campaign, taking a step back and planning out desired goals will keep you focused and give you something tangible to work towards.
Common goals for an AdWords account:

  • raise awareness
  • highlight programs and services
  • increase donations
  • encourage newsletter signs-ups
  • online event registration

Having goals in place allows you to make adjustments within your account in a meaningful way. Increased click-through rates, better response to your ads, and higher conversion levels are all outcomes of working towards specific goals.

Setting Realistic Work Flows

For dedicated AdWords managers, working within AdWords is part of our daily routine. But spending that amount of time in AdWords isn’t realistic for nonprofit staff who have a multitude of other tasks to complete each day.

Below is a suggested list of tasks and timelines that will keep you on track for regular account management that is meaningful and time effective.

Weekly Tasks

Keyword Level

  • Review for disapproved keywords: A disapproved keyword usually means there’s an issue with one or more of Google’s advertising policies.

Ad Group Level

  • Review for disapproved ads: Broken links to your webpage are the most frequent cause for disapproved ads and are easily fixed, for Google Ad Grants to ensure that your ads point back to your approved domain.

Campaign Level

  • Check alerts in your account at the top right corner of the interface; a little grey bell with a red alert will show up. Alerts related to account health should be dealt with quickly, but items like suggested keywords and ad groups can be reviewed at a later date.

Monthly Tasks

Keyword Level

  • Look for gaps in search terms of your ad groups and add keywords as necessary. The Google Keyword Tool is great for finding additional keywords to add and may turn up some unexpected results.
  • Review low performing keywords: Keywords with low quality scores, low click-through rates, and low conversion rates should be reviewed and paused.

Ad Group Level

  • Review A/B Testing: Well-managed AdWords accounts run A/B tests on ad copy and click-through-rates. Incremental differences in your ad performance can make a big difference in conversions over the course of a year.
  • Pause low-performing ads: Comparatively low click-through rates or conversion rates are reasons to pause ads.
  • Write new ads: If you’ve paused ads in your ad groups, now is the time to start a new A/B test by writing new ads.

Campaign Level

  • Review your campaign budgets: AdWords allows users to split the budget between your active campaigns. Once a month, take the time to review how much of your daily budget is allocated to each campaign and ensure your high priority campaigns have adequate budget allotments.
  • Check your geographic targeting for each campaign.

Additional Monthly Tasks

  • Reporting: Pull necessary reports on budget, campaign performance, and conversions.
  • Account access: Review permissions to ensure only current employees or approved 3rd party vendors have access to your AdWords account.

Quarterly Tasks

Keywords Level

  • Review your search terms report: This report shows what people are keying into Google to trigger your ads. Look for terms and phrases that can be added to your keyword lists.
  • Add negative keywords: In the search term report, you will also find phrases that aren’t relevant to your organizations. These keywords can be added as negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing when people search for them.

Ad Group Level

  • Review ad group configuration: Look for the opportunity to create new ad groups and improve the relevancy between your keywords, ads, and landing pages.
  • Pause or remove out of date ad groups: Specifically, look for expired events, seasonal programs, or old information.

Campaign Level

  • Add new campaigns in advance of seasonal fundraising, future events, and upcoming programs or services in your organization.
  • Connect with communications and development teams: Look for further opportunities that may have been missed.
  • Review dated campaigns for relevance: Keep your account up to date so that you continue to highlight your most important campaigns.

Ongoing Opportunities

The following blogs are excellent resources for learning more about Google AdWords and digital marketing:

It’s a cliché, but AdWords is easy to get started with and difficult to master. By working in your account on a regular basis, these routine tasks will take less time and become easier for you to complete.

Let’s start with a simple question: Does your organization’s website advance your business goals and make you proud? If the answer is “yes,” congratulations— you’ve probably worked very hard to get to this point. For everyone else, particularly in the nonprofit community, the answer is frequently somewhere in between “I’m not sure” and “no.” Common constraints around time, capacity, and budget often lead to the misperception that a great site is too far out of reach.  I’d like to reject that premise. Even if barriers exist, there’s every reason to begin drawing the roadmap to a site that moves your organization forward in an ever-changing—and often competitive—digital landscape.

At African Wildlife Foundation, we embarked on an ambitious project that started humbly as a “simple website redesign” and evolved into a totally reimagined digital brand that included the new website. Let’s take a look at some lessons learned and key considerations as you begin to reimagine your own site.

It’s More than Just a Website

Your organization’s website isn’t just a repository of connected information that happens to reside somewhere on the Internet. It’s the primary vehicle by which new audiences will find you, learn about your mission, and engage with your brand.

Begin by defining some key objectives you hope to achieve through the redesign. Remember that while every site’s goals are different, they all share one common objective: to build trust between visitors and your organization. Long before you start thinking about visual identity, it’s critical to consider your goals for the site and how those goals relate to your key audiences.

After you’ve reached consensus, build audience personas to walk through the individual journeys you’d like to offer when someone visits the site. What does a casual visitor want? How can you deepen that relationship? Are these the same things an existing major donor needs?

You’ll find by clearly outlining these goals and identities, you’re often building the business case to justify investment to key stakeholders.

Consider Your Content

It can be tempting to think of a website “redesign” as just that—a new design. However, it’s also your chance to address those nagging concerns about the extent to which your site conveys the breadth and importance of your work. While planning the redesign of awf.org, we decided to start from scratch, beginning with the site map itself.

onate.img1a.preview.png

What really belongs in the site’s navigation? What are the top-level categories, and how deep does the structure need to go? As you move into individual sections, it’s helpful to conduct a gap analysis to identify opportunity areas to develop new content of interest to key audiences. Wireframing can help you to make decisions about individual page elements and keep unnecessary clutter out of the navigation, resulting in the best user-centered design approach.

wireframe

Mapping the site out ahead of time will help manage internal expectations and keep the content focused, hierarchical, and accessible. Ultimately, providing compelling information about your work and impact will help move prospects further down the conversion funnel toward a defined goal. Those could be anything from acquisition (e.g., a simple email capture) to the final decision to make a gift.

Remember: Google Is Watching

As you move through this process, there’s one often-overlooked, but critical consideration: SEO preservation. Your existing content has been indexed by Google (and Bing, etc.). This includes everything from the homepage to individual images. If the site’s been around for a while, it’s likely others are linking to your content and sometimes even including your image paths in their code. Each of these references constitutes a single inbound link. On aggregate, inbound links are one of the most important, and persistent, factors Google uses to determine your site ranking.

Either index your existing content manually (which is extremely time-consuming) or use SEO spider tools to automatically catalog the site. You can then map the current inventory to what you think would be most relevant on the new site and create comprehensive 301 redirects. This will effectively prevent the loss of inbound links and lead people to the new content you’ve worked so hard to create. Most importantly, it avoids the crushing blow of excitedly launching your site and watching site traffic plummet. Good thing you planned ahead.

A Responsive Approach to Design

The design of the site can range in scope from moving to an easy-breezy wide grid to a full rebrand of the organization. The latter can often be an unintended, but very positive, result of a successful design approach, that creates a visual language to express the goals you’ve already defined through effective research and planning.

Irrespective of the scale or budget you put behind the design itself, it’s important to understand rapidly changing technologies and how they affect user behavior. It was pretty common back in 2013 to hear the phrase, “mobile is maturing.” Since that time, mobile has matured, graduated college, and is now looking at competitive graduate programs.

responsive website

Mobile web usage now exceeds desktop at over 50%, which wasn’t expected to occur until 2016. You may have written the most compelling content in your vertical, but if someone on the subway pulls it up and has to pinch or zoom, you’ve likely already lost that prospect. In markets like Mainland China, many companies are skipping desktop design altogether and adopting a mobile-only approach.

What does this all mean? Desktops are no longer the primary vehicle potential donors will use to learn about your mission. It’s important to ensure a consistent branded experience across each device. We must adapt to an era of proliferating connected devices and complex consumer behavior. I try to keep one simple thing in mind: Your content should exist irrespective of the context.

So What Have We Learned?

There are a lot of important considerations when approaching the redesign of your site. It’s an incredible opportunity to reach new audiences and deepen engagement with existing constituents. A well-planned effort can go beyond incremental improvements to become transformative, serving as a catalyst for new discussions and organizational change. Hopefully you also had some fun along the way.

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.”

cover_march2014changejournal.jpgWhen the words of our quarterly theme, “innovative and competitive” come to mind, I think about what we can learn from farmers.

To enjoy the fruits of our labor, we need to be flexible and responsive to external conditions, and have the patience to see it through to harvest. You can’t rush nature, but you can set yourself up for success.

The articles in the March issue of the NTEN: Change journal capture stories of nonprofits in transition; they’re transforming from one stage to another, using technology to fuel their campaigns, initiatives, and to optimize their day-to-day work.

>>Read the March 2014 issue! (online or mobile device)

Here’s a quick snapshot of what’s in this issue:

We also go behind the scenes with Ask Big Questions and Text, Talk, and Act, and Bonnie McEwan explores the campaign tactics behind PETA’s campaign against SeaWorld.  We converse with the team from the Ashoka Empathy Intiative and DataKind demonstrates how data can, in fact, save lives.

Plus, check out 15 Minutes to Better Website SEO, and the NTEN Voices section: community tweets, our transition to become a community-driven organization, sustainability, and more!

>>Enjoy, and subscribe! The NTEN: Change publication, designed especially for busy nonprofit executive directors, departmental directors, boards, and other leadership staff, is free and ready to download!

True to its name, the Change journal is changing. We’re proud to welcome new Editorial Committee members, and introduce Ashley Paulisick, the artist behind the cover painting. Look inside to learn the story behind the cover portrait, a tribute to Juanita Baltodano, President of the APPTA Fair Trade cacao and banana cooperative in Costa Rica. She is the real farmer that brought inspiration to this issue – even age-old farming practices can be revitalized for broader community impact.

Facebook’s new Graph Search is very different from Google search. With Graph Search, you combine keyword searches with friends who’ve shared content on Facebook related to that search.

For example, here’s a search of friends who like The Ellie Fund and live in Boston:

graph-search-friends-who-like-a-page-location

 

Graph Search also allows people to discover your organization through different keyword / network search combinations:

graph-search-page-subcategory

 

Facebook Page SEO isn’t new

Google has been indexing Facebook Pages for quite some time now, so Facebook Page SEO (search engine optimization) isn’t anything new.

Both Google’s and Facebook’s search algorithms consider your page name, category, vanity URL and keywords within your About tab.

What is new is the combination of keyword, category and connection (as shown in the examples above) – and the way Graph Search suggestions influence how searches are conducted.

Here are eight steps to optimizing your Facebook Page for both Google and Facebook’s Graph search:

 

Tweak your page category

edit-categories

Make sure you’ve selected the best possible category for your page. You can edit your category by going into your Basic Information admin panel, as shown above.

Tweak your page sub-categories

If you have a Facebook Place (local Place or Business), you can add up to three sub-categories. These can be added / updated within your Basic Information admin panel (as shown above).

Complete your address

Graph search will allow users to search for local nonprofits their friends like, so make sure your address is complete and current.

Complete your About  section

about-section

The information you share in your About section will help people find your page in search. Particularly if you put keywords at the beginning of specific fields

Do not start off with, “We are a 501(c)3 organization…” People don’t search for 501(c)3 when they’re looking for services and resources for breast cancer patients.

Tag your photos

tagging-your-photo.png

Photos are a primary content type displayed in Graph Search results. Make sure you tag each photo with your page name and any location associated with the photo.

 

Pay attention to photo descriptions

graph-search-photo-description1

Devote a few seconds to filling in photo descriptions. For instance, guess which keywords are in the description of each photo this search result?

Create a username

facebook-page-URL-structure

If you haven’t done so already, create a custom URL (username) for your page that includes the name of your organization. For example, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ashoka/66279444793 should be shortened to http://www.facebook.com/Ashoka. This will improve your SEO on both Facebook and Google.

Continue creating killer content

Remember, like Google, Facebook wants to display the best results at the top of a search. And parsing out great content on Facebook has always been done by looking at how much people have talked about that specific photo, video or text update.

Questions? Tips? Share them in the comments section below!

This post was first published at http://www.socialbrite.org/2013/01/28/prepare-your-facebook-page-for-graph-search/ and is re-published here with permission.

Fact: Each search engine has its own algorithm
Don’t believe me? Type a bunch of search terms into Google, and try the same thing in Yahoo. Search engines are optimized to different classes of users and terms. Some users swear that searches in Yahoo are more accurate, but Google has more data on what people click on in response to a search engine – the power of the people.

Fiction: You can pay to have your website achieve a certain placement in the search engines.
While there is a list of widely accepted actions that can help improve your “placement”, your ranking in response to any specific search term will vary. Search engine algorithms are complicated and change all the time. It was widely reported that in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes – almost 1.5 per day. The changes to what comes up and in what order are all part of the search engine “arms race”. Everyone wants to improve their ranking (especially when money is involved) and new tricks are tried all the time. But search engines just want to be accurate. When tricks and new techniques begin to bias the results, the algorithms are changed to accommodate the evolving landscape.

Fact: Search Engines Care about Popularity
All those people can’t be (that) wrong… While the (mathematically determined) match between your search term(s) and all the content on “the internet” is a big component of what ends up being returned to you as search results, the more “popular” matches are favored. Popularity includes what people clicked on when they typed in a specific search term, as well as how frequently particular websites are visited.

Fiction: It’s all about the Meta-tags
Meta-tags are optional codes put onto web pages that contain descriptive information about the web page; they’re not visible to users (unless they know how to “View Source”). While meta-tags used to be important, some sites abused them (because you could put anything in these tags you like), they ended up containing not-so-relevant content. As a result, search engines now tend to discount meta-tags. That being said, you should pay attention to some meta-tags, as they will still display on search engines – in particular, the meta-description used for a snippet about your website.

Fact: You might just be unpopular.
It’s hard to accept, I know. But you might not be the best match to what people are looking for. The best way to understand this is to look at what people are actually looking for. Google’s webmaster tools allow you to see what search terms people are using. AdSense provides access to commonly used synonyms and suggests good words to incorporate into your content. There are other paid services that perform similar functions, such as WordTracker.

Fiction: If your site gets blacklisted by Google, you can fix it easily.
If your site gets infected, your traffic will be warned away. Not only is it hard to get rid of malicious scripting / malware, but you are put at Google’s mercy. There’s really no one to call. To add insult to injury, chances are you’ll have to pay someone to clean things up. What can you do to protect yourself? You might want to consider contracting for a website security audit.

Fact: Search Engines care about what’s important
What is important on your website? Well, your content is pretty important! If you have content that reflects your organization and someone is looking for what you do, that’s the best way to be found. Search engines also care about what cannot be “faked”: hidden text can be faked, but you wouldn’t change your domain name or page titles. There are many indicators, some big (like content) and some small (content farther down a page is assumed to be less important than what is on top). If other legitimate websites (and the search engines are pretty good at knowing who is legitimate and who is not) are pointing to you, this is important information, too. Being pointed to from a big traffic site will give you even greater “reflected glory”.

So, what can you do? Google has done a very nice job of trying to help you help yourself in increasing your internet presence. Check out Google’s SEO Starter Guide (PDF) or Maile Ohye’s ten minute video on the Google Developer’s Blog – SEO Essentials in 10 minutes.

Or come learn more by tuning in to our webinar on July 17th, “Increasing Your Organization’s Internet Presence“. We’ll talk about techniques tailored for organizations that want to be found when individuals are simply “surfing” the web, when individuals are at related websites, and/or when individuals are looking to get involved – for example, through donations of time or money. We’ll cover:

  • Search engines: How they work, how to raise your website’s visibility on the major search engines in use
  • Meta-Tags and other website Info: What information should be “behind” your website to ensure that it is found
  • Linkages: Why links from other sites are important, and how to find good places that will link to your site
  • Pitfalls: Things to make sure you don’t do if you want your website found