Posted by Jay Wilkinson

Within the past few months, Google made some changes in their search analytics and functionality that had the internet all abuzz. Here’s what all the talk was about:

  1. Google decided that they will no longer make organic keyword data available.
  2. They released a new search algorithm called Hummingbird.

In a nutshell, this means that you’ll no longer be able to look at Google Analytics to see which keywords people used to find you. And Hummingbird reflects a significant change which de-emphasizes specific keywords in the search process. Keywords are not going to disappear. The basics of search engine optimization will remain the same. But Google now has a better capacity to interpret what users really want, even if they don’t phrase it well.

How does this affect you?

I’m going to be really upfront: For most of us in the nonprofit industry, SEO is not something we need to stress about. I know that you hear about it all the time, but it’s not necessary for most nonprofits to drop a bunch of money on a search engine expert in order to make your website findable. There are some key things you can do to boost your website’s SEO without breaking the bank.

Perhaps the most important SEO advice I could give you is to be sure that your website’s homepage is optimized for search engines by including plain text that describes your organization’s name, cause and what services you offer. If you include content on your website that spells out who you are, where you are and what you’re about, that will get you pretty far in the right direction. Most people who search for your organization will search by your name or your location, not by keywords or other search terms.

Now that I’ve said that, there are a few exceptions.

The first exception is if you’re an organization that exists for the purpose of educating and distributing information. For example, if you’re an Alzheimer’s support group and you have tons of information on how families can cope with this dreaded disease, then search engines are important to you. You have information to provide, and search engines help you make it available. The other exception is if you’re a national or international organization. If your scope and influence are much wider than, say, your county or your state, then you need to care about SEO.

If you’re not national or international in scope and if you’re not primarily focused on educating or informing, search engine leads are important only in the context that you need to optimize your website for your city, your state and your organization. Even Google’s latest adjustments won’t change that fact.