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9 Search Engine Ranking Essentials For Nonprofits

The importance that nonprofit organizations should place on having high search engine rankings depends entirely on your answer to the question, "Who is our audience?"

If your organization seeks a national or international audience, high search engines rankings offer an effective means of attracting new web visitors. But the importance of high rankings can be regional as well.

. Within days of being ranked #1 on for capital campaigns, Affinity Resources was contacted by a regional organization seeking assistance. They found us through Google!

High search engine rankings mean great visibility. A high ranking is when a web link to your site comes up in the first 20 results produced by a search engine. A very high ranking puts you in the top 10.

Great visibility doesn't happen without lots of work optimizing your site to improve your search engine ranking.

All search engine optimization begins with the following essentials. Every nonprofit organization should take the time to perform these basic tasks of optimizing their website.

Worry about getting a higher ranking first for one key phrase (see #4) for your home page. Later you can work other phrases for other pages on your site. There is no point in optimizing two pages for the same key phrase.

The title tag is the most important element of your page for purposes of being ranked by the search engines. Don't use a long company name. Begin this tag with the most important search phrase that would be entered at a search engine, and keep the total length under 40 characters.

Describe what your site offers a web visitor in a plain English sentence of no more than two dozen words. Begin your sentence with the most important key words. The content of this tag is often used by the search engine when displaying the results of a search so it must be something that would encourage a reader to come to your site. Don't be coy or deceptive. Just tell us what you've got!

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These are the words that you expect people to enter on a search engine that would be an appropriate match for your site. Don't focus on single words; focus on two-word phrases. Don't believe it if you're told that you have up to 1000 characters to work with. The most important keywords, in descending order, will be the first four (unique words, whether individually or part of a phrase), the next four, the next four, the next four, and anything else.

Keywords and keyword phrases must occur often (but not too often) and near the top of the body of the page you want the search engines to rank. Search engines look for the repetition of your keywords in the content of your page. Remember, that content will be visible and readable both by the search engines and by visitors to your site. Take great care in writing that content.

Provide information on your website that other sites don't offer, information that will move other webmasters to link to your site. Having many links from other sites back to your site is an essential element in determining search engine rankings.

Never use an automated process that promises you will be listed in hundreds or thousands of search engines. Cut and paste your description and keywords for engines that request that information.

More and more search engines offer higher rankings for those who are willing to pay for them -- often called "pay per click." But many nonprofits can achieve effective search engine placement without the pay per click approach. For this reason I try to avoid the Overture search engine which is strictly pay per click. And its user interface isn't particularly intuitive.

Getting great search engine rankings is an extraordinarily competitive business. There can only be one number one and a lot of people are working hard at achieving number one status. If you're not doing Search Engine Optimization professionally, it's unlikely that you'll get that number one ranking. If your business plan requires the volume of visitors that you will get from a top six search engine ranking, hire a professional who has demonstrated results.

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