Posted by Jay Wilkinson

(Unless you’re in the 5% minority)

Over the past few years, much has been made about optimizing your nonprofit website for search engines. You can’t swing a dead chicken without hitting an SEO “expert” telling you how to better your site’s ranking in search results. Moreover they’re telling you that you’ll become irrelevant if you don’t dominate your keywords.

But the truth is SEO is the last thing that nonprofits should be concerned about. If you’re like 95% of nonprofits, your constituents and donors are looking for you by name rather than keyword. Your priority should be crafting the copy on your site’s homepage to spell out in plain text your organization’s name, nicknames and abbreviations along with references to any geographic regions you serve. This way, when people search for you by name, they’ll find you quickly.

Keyword optimization is a different beast altogether. It’s a complicated and challenging process that fortunately only 5% of nonprofits need to fret over. Who falls into this 5%? Two types of organizations: 1) those who serve a national or international audience and 2) those whose primary purpose is that of disseminating information.

For example, if you’re an Alzheimer’s support group and you have pages and pages of information on how families can cope with this dreaded disease, then it’s likely people will find that content via keyword searches. In this instance, it’s important that people can find your information by typing keywords into their search engine.

Unless you fall into the 5% category, my advice is to focus on making sure your nonprofit website shows up toward the top of the search page when someone types in your name and city. Whatever the case, don’t fall prey to any salesperson telling you that your organization should be spending a fortune on SEO. You shouldn’t.