CTComms sends on average 2 million emails monthly on behalf of over 125 different charities and not for profits.
Nobody wants to spend money on advertising. So finding yourself near the top of Google’s results page is a nice, free way of keeping your online marketing budget down. Except that some companies spend hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds per month on optimisation, fighting for these top spots. So what are they up to?
by Alex Marsh
15 April 2012
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of configuring and marketing your website so that it ranks highly on search engines for your chosen topics and terms.
It’s a huge topic, so this can be only a broad-brush guide. There are mountains of books and websites on the subject, but it’s an area that has constantly evolved, so if you’re looking for something more detailed be sure to stick to recently-published material.
It’s important to appreciate that SEO is part of the marketing function, not something to ‘leave to the techies’.
Other search engines are available, but with more than a 90% share of UK search traffic, Google still dwarfs the others. So we’ll concentrate on this.
When Google looks at each web page, what it needs to know is:
It does the former by analysing words and phrases on the page. Being a computer, it is literal. So if you mention that you are an animal rescue charity, it will know that you are an ‘animal rescue charity’, but not that you are a ‘dog rescue charity’ or a ‘cat rescue charity’.
Good web copywriters are able to make a page of text flow naturally whilst incorporating the phrases that their clients believe will mean most to search engines. Sound SEO copy:
Bad SEO copy can lose the trust of the reader by being so obviously manipulative towards phrases that it loses sight of that fourth bullet point. (“CAT RESCUE. Here at the cat rescue charity our focus is cat rescue, particularly tabby cat rescue, black cat rescue…”)
SEO specialists scan incoming traffic from engines to identify phrases that are providing a good source of visitors, or that could do with a boost in the search rankings. They might set up new pages on the website to focus on particular phrases (“Cat rehoming” for instance).
The techie aspect comes in because Google also notes phrases within the metadata on a web page (e.g. its title, the tags on images, the URL and site structure itself). There are also other behind-the-scenes things that help, such as supplying a site plan to Google to ensure that it indexes your site correctly.
With few exceptions, search engines determine the ‘importance’ of a page by counting how many other sites link to it, and weighting these sites by their own importance. A link from a friends’ website is good; a link from the BBC would be wonderful. So a key aspect of SEO involves actively promoting the idea that people should link to your site, or to a page that you specifically wish to promote. You might:
A small charity might find it intimidating, but a glance through a commercial SEO specialist resource such as www.seomoz.org will demonstrate the detail and sheer volume of work put in by top SEOs to identify phrases, optimise sites and build links. For a start we recommend that you just get your head round the basics! By starting to analyse SEO as it applies to your own site, you can plan how you might grow areas of your charity online.
Worth a Look
Google for Non-Profits (particularly Google Analytics, the tool by which you can identify the source of incoming traffic)
CTT Websites: if you’ve not yet begun, develop an online presence at an affordable price
MS Expression Web: Available on the CTXchange scheme, Microsoft’s powerful web design and development package
The latest version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus is an integrated collection of programs, servers, and services designed to work together to enable optimised information work.