How to Choose Keywords for Your Nonprofit Website

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No matter how well-designed or engaging your nonprofit’s website is, if you’re not bringing searchers to it by targeting the right keywords, all your work will be wasted.

Choosing the right keywords to target with your website’s content and other assets is a crucial first step in your online marketing journey. Even if you’ve got great content, if you’re not using keywords in the way that people search for them, no one’s going to visit your website.

Finding and choosing the right keywords for your nonprofit takes some time, but it will pay off in the end when your site increases your donor and volunteer pool.

Why You Need Keywords

Ultimately, the goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to increase the chance of your organization’s website showing up in the search results. And, once they’re shown your website in search results, getting those searchers to click through to your website.

When you target a key phrase (keyword), you’re signaling to Google that you want your website to show up in the search engine results page (SERP) when someone searches for it or something that’s closely related.

By using keywords in your website content – as long as you’re doing so naturally and correctly – you’re telling Google that searchers will find out information related to that keyword on your website. If Google determines that the content on your website matches what the searcher is looking for, provides high-quality information, and offers a good user experience, your site is more likely to show up higher on the SERPs and, as a result, be more likely to receive a click.

You’ll likely use keywords in a variety of places on your website, including:

  • In page titles and headlines
  • In the copy on pages
  • In meta titles, meta tags, and meta descriptions
  • In image descriptions
  • To determine what blog posts and website pages you write

Choosing the right keywords for different pages on your site is key to helping you properly plan your website so it performs well with users.

Finding Your Right Nonprofit Keywords

Choosing the right keywords for your organization will take some time, but it really isn’t that complicated of a process. Especially since you know your organization well, you’re positioned to be able to find the words and phrases people may use to search for you.

Here are 5 steps to take to find the best keywords for your nonprofit organization:

Make a List

Sit down with a pen and some paper (or even a blank document on your computer) and write down all the words and phrases you can think of that relate to your organization.

Don’t just go for the obvious, either. Try to brainstorm in as many key areas of your operations that you can think of.

Some inspiration for keywords include:

  • The cause you serve
  • What services you provide to the beneficiaries of your charity
  • The types of resources you offer
  • Ways volunteers and donors can get involved
  • Any specific activities donors and volunteers support
  • Resources you provide for the wider public

Writing down any words or phrases you can think of that connect to what your nonprofit offers, who or what it serves, why the work you do is valuable, and how it’s different from other similar organizations can help you find the right keywords for your website.

Think Like a Searcher

The way you may search for the services your organization provides may be different from the way searchers search for them. Your keywords and all the work you do on your website won’t do you any good if no one visits it.

Look at what other organizations similar to yours are doing, and see what words and phrases they use. While something may make sense to you, it may not make sense to the general public, so you’re going to need to find a different way to present the term.

If you have access to keyword research tools, such as Ahrefs or SEMrush, you can search for the words and phrases you’d use and then let the software suggest similar phrases to you.

However, if you don’t have this software, don’t worry. You still can get an idea of what people search for by conducting your own test Google searches. Just type in your word or phrase and sort through the results you receive; if you don’t get a lot of information, you may want to consider another keyword.

Avoid Jargon

Part of thinking the way searchers do is avoiding jargon and specialized language that’s used by those who work in your industry.

When you’re brainstorming keywords, get rid of any jargon or “marketing speak” and just look for words and phrases you think a general person would use. People are more likely to look for “donate to animal shelter” instead of “financially support homeless animals,” for example.

Be Specific

Broad keywords are great, but they’re also much more likely to find you competing with other, larger websites. They also make it more difficult for the people looking to support or access your exact services much more difficult.

Instead, drill down and find as many specific, multi-word phrases as you can to use as keywords.

Here are some questions to ask when brainstorming:

  • What makes you different from other nonprofits doing similar work?
  • Do you serve a specific geographic area?
  • Do you serve specific people or entities?
  • What types of events or programs do you host?
  • How are your events or programs unique?
  • Does the money you raise benefit a specific organization or cause?
  • What specific activities do your volunteers help with?
  • Will volunteers develop skills working with your organization?
  • How do the experiences your volunteers have differ from volunteers at other organizations?

The answers to these questions can provide you with valuable long-tail keywords to help match people looking for your specific offerings, making your job easier. Even if you end up getting fewer people to your website, if the majority of those visitors end up becoming volunteers, donors, or supporters without much effort from you, then it’s well worth it.

Conduct Research

If you want some extra help finding new keywords for your website, especially if your list doesn’t feel terribly long, a little time spent with Google’s Keyword Planner can help.

While it’s connected to Google Ads and you need an Ads account to use it, it’s free and you don’t have to actually run or pay for any ads to use the tool.

When you enter a seed keyword, you can select “Discover new keywords” to populate a list of related words and phrases. You can enter multiple seed keywords at once and see the results. 

In this tool, you also can view information such as the number of monthly searches for a particular phrase to guide your strategy. Remember: Search volume and difficulty isn’t everything, so don’t shy away from using a highly relevant keyword due to low search volume or high difficulty score.

Take typing in “literacy program” as an example. The tool brings up the following results:

If you run an adult literacy program, some of these keywords will be valuable to you. Others, such as “reading programs for schools,” won’t be. But you can see that all these phrases have a fair number of searches and competition – at least in paid ads – isn’t particularly high.

To view the difficulty score for keywords in organic search, you will need to utilize a paid tool such as Ahrefs or SEMrush. Again, difficulty score isn’t the end-all-be-all of a keyword when it’s valuable, so this information isn’t going to matter too much in the long run.

Conclusion: Know Your Audience & Your Nonprofit

What your keyword selection boils down to is simple: The better you know your nonprofit and the people you’re trying to attract to your website, the easier it will be to choose keywords. And, because you will be updating and adding to your website frequently, you can always add new keywords as your focus and strategy changes.

Just give yourself a solid starting point and get the ball rolling!

Professional SEO Services for Nonprofits

Does your nonprofit need help with keyword selection, content strategy, or website design? The experienced digital marketing team at 270net Technologies can help. Whether you need a little bit of help or want someone to do it all for you, we’ve got the resources and skill you need to succeed online. Contact us today for a consultation!