Local SEO for Nonprofit Organizations: 5 Tactics to Try Today

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Local SEO for Nonprofit Organizations: 5 Tactics to Try Today

Google stated in June 2017 that over the last two years, searches for local places without the qualifier “near me” grew 150 percent, faster than comparable searches that do not include “near me.” In September 2015, Google reported that “near me” or “nearby” searches on Google had grown 2X in the previous year but just two years later, the behavior continued to change.

The company was now seeing a shift toward dropping location qualifiers (like zip codes, neighborhoods, and “near me” phrasing) in local searches, because people know that the results will automatically be relevant to their location. That year, search volume for local places without the qualifier “near me” had actually outgrown comparable searches that do include ”near me.”

All of this research continues to reinforce the importance of local search engine optimization (SEO). Local SEO is helpful to all kinds of businesses and organizations, but the practice can be a bit more complicated for a nonprofit organization.

First off, it is important to understand the primary factors that can impact a nonprofit organization’s local search engine rankings. They are the four primary areas of relevance, distance, trust, and prominence, which are broken down as follows:

Relevance: Does the website match the search term being searched for? When Google determines a business is an educational charity, the website has a higher likelihood to rank for the term “education charity” in comparison to another business Google determines is a health nonprofit.

Distance: What is the proximity of a business to the searcher? Distance can become a top, if not the top ranking factor for many local SEO searches. A search engine result page (SERP) for “health nonprofit” in Houston, Texas will be completely different from the result in another part of the country. The SERP in the Houston ZIP code of 77001 will be different than the Houston ZIP code of 77598.

Trust: Your trustworthiness is based on your reputation, which could be determined by a number of factors. Such factors may include your review quantity and ratings, or the number of high-authority websites that link to your website. Quantity and quality of reviews, quality and quantity of linking domains, domain age, and quality of website content are some examples of what could impact trustworthiness.

Prominence: How often does your business appear across the internet? Whether it is a mention of your nonprofit online (by a local news outlet, for example) or a business listing on a directory site, multiple citations will be extremely valuable.

You only have control over so much of these four factors. For example, you are somewhat powerless to change your physical location.

There are, however, five local SEO tactics you can implement today:

Create or claim a Google My Business page

According to Statista, Google had a market share of 88.14 percent in the global search market. Consultant Nick Wilsdon said on Twitter that a Google representative said in an official presentation that 46 percent of searches have a local intent.

Simply put, the high volume of searches on Google make the value of a Google My Business (GMB) listing extremely important. With a GMB page, your nonprofit will be listed in Google Maps, your odds of getting listed in Google’s local 3-pack improve, and you are more likely to improve your overall local search rankings.

Creating a Google My Business(GMB) page tackles all four ranking factors outlined above. When it comes to claiming GMB pages, you must collect and organize accurate location data, or the name, address, phone number commonly referred to as “NAP” data, for all of your nonprofit locations.

When it comes to NAP:

Always use the real-world business name. The name you list should match the sign on your door, your marketing collateral, and every manner in which you do business.
Always use a real-world address. Do not include information in the address line to describe the location. Use only the mailing address.
Use a local phone number. Avoid call center helplines.

Multiple locations can make this process trickier. It is recommended that you create and manage a single source that has all your business’s location data centralized and organized in one place.

After organizing all location data, you will want to claim and/or update the Google My Business pages for every location. Step-by step instructions from Google tell you to do all of the following:

Include a primary business category to describe the type of business to Google and to the people searching. When multiple categories describe a business, choose the category that most closely matches the ranking goals as the primary category. Up to nine additional categories can be added for a total of 10.
Select attributes for the business. Several attributes are available to be shared about a business, including accessibility attributes, whether a nonprofit identifies as Black-owned or LGTBQ+ friendly. Choose only the attributes that are applicable, relevant, and accurate.
Write a business description. There are 750 characters to describe what a nonprofit does and it should be unique.
Include keywords in business descriptions. Focus on a pair of high-value keywords relevant to a nonprofit, and avoid keyword stuffing.
Add photos. Google has said that businesses with photos receive 42 percent more requests for directions and 35 percent more click-through to websites.
Select a profile photo to note your preferred photo choice for search results. It will not guarantee that your profile photo will appear first, but will indicate to Google which photo is preferred.

Claim local business listings

There are hundreds of different citation opportunities across the internet, from social networking sites to specialized directory sites. All of these websites are golden opportunities to get needed backlinks that can bolster local SEO rankings.

While the logic used to be that a company had to amass as many listings as possible, not all listings are equal and some could end up being damaging. It is important to study how existing links are impacting your rankings.

If you are unclear about how you are ranking, Moz’s free Check Presence tool can show how a nonprofit appears across the web.

Have an online review strategy

Keeping in mind the importance of trust that was mentioned earlier, reviews are one major way of developing trust. A reputation is extremely important to a nonprofit organization.

Online reviews are one facet of a nonprofit’s overall brand reputation and must be managed accordingly. Review quantity, recency, and quality are all factors that could be used by Google to determine how trustworthy a website is.

Google has said high-quality, positive reviews will improve business visibility. A few things to keep in mind when it comes to reviews:

Make it simple for people to leave reviews. Create and share short urls for customers to share reviews of your nonprofit.
Solicit honest reviews. One local consumer review survey found that 76 percent of people who were asked to leave a review did so.
Do not solicit reviews in bulk. The practice violates Google policies. While there is no definition provided for “bulk”, it generally refers to sending many requests at one time via an automated platform vs. a one-on-one request.
Do not pay for reviews. This is also a violation of Google policies.
Respond to reviews, even the negative ones. Replying to a review shows that you value feedback and conversion rates (clicks to call, clicks to directions, etc.) increase when companies engage with and reply to reviews.
You can impact negative reviews after the fact. An Uberall study found that 90 percent of people think online reviews are important, and many are open to changing negative reviews when their issue is addressed.

Keywords, keywords, keywords

Keyword research is necessary to determine the best keywords to use for optimizing existing content and producing new content to rank higher in SERPs. With keyword research, the larger purpose will be to determine:

Specific terms an audience is using to search online.
The number of searches for specific keywords over a given time period, or search volume.
What a target audience is expecting to find when they search for that term, or the searcher’s intent.

It is best to focus on high-volume, high-intent keywords that are relevant to your nonprofit and that you could realistically rank for. After identifying target keywords, these should be included in the business descriptions of Google My Business and other local business listings.

Perform on-page optimization

When talking about on-page optimization, the discussion is about the process of optimizing specific pages on a website for the keywords that are desired to rank for. It can include on-page SEO ranking factors such as the content on the page itself, or the source code such as page title and meta description.

When “Houston nonprofit” is in a page URL, page title, description, and the content of the page, Google is more likely to determine that the page is about a Houston nonprofit and the page will be more likely to rank for that term. Some of the other things to keep in mind when it comes to on-page SEO:

Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness refers to E-A-T content, which you will want to develop. The trio is what Google uses to determine high-quality content and correlates with higher search engine rankings.
Avoid keyword stuffing. Use a target keyword in the title tag, description, headers, and through the content of the page, but do not engage in any keyword stuffing.
Page titles and descriptions do not relate just to rankings. Strong page titles and descriptions can lead to better SERP click-through rates. Combine a strong headline with a solid description that is specific, relevant, and helpful.
Do not ignore page load speed. Page speed will be a search engine ranking factor and relates to how quickly a page loads for a user. Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool can be helpful.
Avoid having multiple pages competing for the same keywords. This practice can lead to Google struggling to identify the most relevant page on your website for the targeted keyword.

Local SEO in Houston, TX

SERP Matrix knows and understands local SEO. We can assist in helping you get more reviews, creating uniform NAP data, and optimizing your online content.

Our team will be able to work with you on search engine submission. We will know how to perform the necessary keyword research and implement the keywords in the strongest possible way so you can rank as highly as possible on all local searches.

We also handle web design and development for younger website that are still in need of the basic beginning elements. No matter where you are in the local SEO process, SERP Matrix can be with you to make sure that you are as effective as possible online.

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If you are seeking local SEO assistance in the greater Houston area of Texas, make sure that you take the time to speak to SERP Matrix. We can refresh your design or completely rebuild your website if necessary.

Our team will work closely with you throughout the entire SEO process so you can expect to be completely informed about every step of reaching your rankings goals. Call (713) 287-1134 or contact us online to have us discuss your case with you in greater detail during a free consultation.

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