Does ranking well in Google seem like an impossible task for your organization?
Wanna Pixel’s team member Mindy Schoeneman has developed a few articles to help organizations understand the most influential ranking factors, starting with content. Mindy has been a content marketer and writer since 2012, and she is best known for her organic approach to marketing.
Learn what powerful SEO-friendly content requires, and then keep an eye out for the next article in the series.
Understanding Your Nonprofit Power
As a nonprofit organization, you’ve surely tried multiple avenues to get your hands on the funds your organization needs to thrive. Some of those efforts were successful, while other avenues were a dead end. Now you’ve reached a new place where you’ve learned from past success and failure. If you think about your successes, what was the catalyst that produced those results?
I’m willing to bet the farm that the answer to that question is emotional connection.
By having a chance to tell your story, you were able to connect with the donors who have a heart for your cause. They were drawn into the emotional impact of the social good you’re trying to enact, resulting in a donation, a new advocate, or even a volunteer for your organization. But what does this have to do with SEO?
The most important thing you should remember about SEO is this: The best metric by which to measure your SEO success comes in the form of human connection. Your power is in connecting, human-to-human. This is what gets you donations and volunteers.
How do you create a human connection and rank well for Google, simultaneously? Here are a few key things to keep in mind.
Remember Your Platform
To make a human connection, you have to tell your story. To make that connection via your website, you have to tell your story in a way that will produce the best browsing experience for your website visitor.
The words we use when writing content are important, but presenting those words in a way that works with human behavior when browsing a website is even more important. After all, what good would it do your organization to have content that no one will ever read except for you?
Creating a powerful user experience that’s centered around your story will drive visitors to your website. And the more visitors you have, the better your SEO and ranking will become.
Be Friends with Google
Imagine you pull up Google and run a search for the definition of the word “tenacious.” When the results come up, instead of seeing results that lead you to a dictionary, thesaurus, and other informational sites that clearly state the definition and provide you with a simple answer and a streamlined experience, you are led to websites in which you have to wade through an overwhelming amount of information before you find what is most relevant to your search.
Google is a business that runs on returning relevant internet search results. If Google couldn’t offer you relevant and reliable results, you’d use a different search engine. Google’s algorithm is being constantly fine-tuned to return relevant search results that users want to see.
What does this mean for your content?
As stated above, SEO-friendly website content is user-friendly content. How do you create user-friendly content that shares your story in a powerful experience?
SEO-Friendly Content is Relevant
Creating user-friendly content that’s powerful starts with understanding your message. What’s at the heart of what you are offering? Once you have the answer to that, then your website will have the focus you need to convey your message effectively.
Putting the heart of your message into words is like deciding on the theme for a party—suddenly it’s much easier to pick out the invitations, cups, plates, decor and more. Everything comes together. SEO-friendly content is partnered with images, videos, colors, logos, and a website platform that reiterates your message and creates an experience for your visitor that results in an emotional connection.
And by approaching your content with a theme in mind, you’ll also be providing Google with a clear message. It will be easier to appropriately index and rank your website because your point will be clear. The relevance of what you’re saying in relation to search terms will be easier for Google to determine.
Back in the days when the internet was young, the best approach to ranking well was to stuff your content full of keywords.
What is a keyword? A keyword is a word (or a combination of words) that when queried in an internet search, returns a list of relevant results. So to get into that list of results and rank near the top, webmasters used to stuff every web page full of the words for which they wanted to rank well.
Sadly, some still use this approach. Instead of being helpful, though, keyword stuffing is now something Google will penalize you for by lowering your rank.
Take an Organic Approach to Keywords
Keywords are still important. But the way we use keywords has changed.
The key to using keywords effectively is to use the words that fit most naturally within your content. There are specific word choices you can make to increase your chances of ranking for something specific, such as “nonprofit in colorado” for example. To show up in search results as a nonprofit in Colorado, then your content needs to reflect the fact that you are a nonprofit in Colorado. Those words need to be in your content in a way that sends a clear message but doesn’t interfere with the user experience.
My biggest tip for those who are approaching keywords organically is this: It’s all about the nouns.
Look at the nouns in each of your sentences. Are you using nouns, or are you using pronouns? When you use a pronoun in the place of a noun, you’re losing an opportunity to naturally place a keyword within your sentence. If you’re not a fellow grammar nerd, that’s okay. There’s an easy way to see what I mean.
Hit control-F on your keyboard (command-F for Mac users). Search for the word “it.” You’ll discover 50 plus occurrences of i-t in this post. Look only for the full word it, though. Almost every time you see the word, you’ll see a missed opportunity. For each it, I could have used a noun that is a keyword instead.
For example, “It’s all about the nouns” is a missed opportunity. A better way to say that while utilizing a keyword opportunity would be, “Keyword optimization is all about the nouns.”
It sounds simpler than it is in practice, because in practice you have to balance many keywords while keeping your focus on creating a positive user experience and human connection. But searching for the word it within your copy is a great place to start.
Use Titles and Headings with Purpose
Imagine you can send up a flare to Google to let its robots know which keywords are the most important to your organization. The flare shines a light on a few words that are also used throughout your content which are relevant to the subject matter. That flare also improves your website visitors’ experience.
That is exactly what you’re doing with title tags and headings. Title tags are designed with Google in mind, but headings are vital to your ranking as well because of the user experience headings provide. How do headings provide a better reader experience?
If you go back to the top of this page and scroll down, you’ll discover you can skim the article and still get the key points just by reading the headings. According to user behavior for most websites, visitors spend less than a minute on a web page. So to make that human connection and get your point across, your content must be skimmable. To make the most impact with headings, it’s best to start with relevant information that helps the visitor connect to the heart of what you do.
Balance User Experience and Word Count
Google will not index a page that has fewer than 300 words on it. There’s no way for Google to determine the page’s relevancy to search terms if it doesn’t have enough content to make that possible. There are some exceptions, such as if a web page has a high number of visitors. But it’s pretty difficult to reach that kind of traffic without content.
The average reader won’t stick around to read something that’s packed with content, either, though. This is where design becomes essential to creating a superb experience for your users.
Through design, the words can be balanced with images, and paragraphs can be broken up to give the reader’s eyes a break and encourage them to continue to read.
SEO Isn’t a One-Hit Wonder
There isn’t just one thing that influences your ranking. There are many, many things. But according to Google, content and backlinks are the two ranking factors that have the most impact on your website’s placement in search results.
Hopefully, you’re hiring professionals, such as the Wanna Pixel team, who understand the importance of making a human connection by balancing SEO and user experience. But all the information they need comes from you. Understanding the process, a little about SEO, and the ultimate metric of human connection will result in the best website for your organization because you’ll be better prepared for the process.