There are two angles to great SEO-friendly content: the “hard science” back-end components, and the “soft science” written component. SEO isn’t the most thrilling aspect of marketing or web development, but when done well, the results can be quite fruitful (and just in time for that big fundraising campaign!). After partnering with several non-profits over the last 17 years, we know that building websites with fantastic SEO is one of the most affordable and effective ways for registered organizations to spread awareness and increase conversions.
So without further ado, here are some tips for creating top-notch SEO-friendly content:
1. Get Everyone Involved
Whether your website’s primary purpose is to accept donations, document progress, or promote events, what your website really does, is represent every aspect of your organization. It should enable viewers to contextualize what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. Thus, well written copy and site functionality are key aspects that can separate the good from the bad -- and it all starts during the earliest stages of development.
Here at ecentricarts, we take an all-hands-on-deck approach, and involve our strategy, design, marketing, and development teams from the very beginning of each site design process. This cross-discipline approach means we can explore and incorporate our client’s core needs and desired language into the very heart of the design -- creating comprehensive SEO and a cohesive, functional product.
2. Be Accessible
Assistive technology like screen readers or adaptive keyboards often rely on well structured and semantic code when browsing and navigating websites. If users of assistive tech can easily navigate and understand the content on your website, search engine crawlers will also be able to navigate and understand your website with ease, as they read and analyze the same code. The addition of proper alt text for images and transcripts for video content will also give your site more written context and more opportunities for keyword usage. In short, accessible content is inherently SEO-friendly.
It's also worth noting that accessible websites can be a legal requirement depending on your location and the size of your organization. This may sound daunting, but the ecentricarts Accessibility Team (EAT) was literally created to educate the studio on these legal requirements and to help us incorporate accessibility into our work.
For more information on, you can read our blog post about the beginning of EAT and Ontario legislation, or comb through some of the following laws yourself: the Canadian Web Accessibility Standard, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Section 508 [for U.S. government and government funded organizations], and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
3. Have a Content Strategy!
This may not sound very SEO-ish, but building a proper strategy is the best way to ensure your content is relevant, on-brand, and reaches the right people, regardless of who’s at the helm. A good starting point is to identify for your audience and consider your organization’s mission -- what’s your raison d’etre? How can you discuss/promote your services and engage your audience, and how often will you post content?
Choose the Right Media
Your content strategy should also consider the types of content you want to create or showcase, as this heavily impacts your website’s design, and will allow developers to optimize the site to suit your specific needs. The explosion of online video has lead to more visual and in-depth storytelling than ever, but may not always be the best way to communicate your ideas, so explore your options and seek help from experts.
It’s also important to leave room for ad hoc content and think of creative ways to incorporate local/industry news or trends into the conversation. You may get extra hits if you can work the Kardashians into your article, but that can actually hinder your cause if it’s completely off-brand… and it most likely will be. Consider playing around on Google Trends (we do!) or social media for inspiration, and to get a grasp of current social, cultural and political landscapes.
When done well, showing viewers that you’re alive and on the pulse can boost your SEO mojo, and generate meaningful conversation with your audience. Not to mention, each piece should still originate from or add to your organization’s overall message.
4. Be Shareable and Measurable
As part of an overall content strategy, the social media channels you choose should also be carefully considered. The beauty of social for the public at large is the ability to endorse or spread the word of an organization with a click or tap; on the other hand, the benefit for marketers and organizations, is the and the depth by which campaign reach and KPIs can be measured. If it’s online, it’s probably trackable or measurable, and if it’s measurable, you could be one step further to uncovering the all important ROI...
By knowing your own audience and knowing the typical user of each social media channel, you can tailor your digital presence so that the right eyes are seeing and accessing your content. And, naturally, the content shared on each chosen platform should be properly suited to that platform. For example, this article would sit well in a LinkedIn feed and be highly shareable, but would feel out of place (and may not reach the right people) if the link was posted on a mobile-only app like Snap.
5. Be a Human
Google’s algorithms are getting scarily/amazingly sophisticated. Simply cramming your content margins with keywords or buzzwords no longer works, and actually goes against Google’s quality standards. To that end, aim to write titles that are direct and representative of the content that follows. Your page’s metadata -- the little blurb below the page title in Google Search -- should also be accurate, brief, and eye-catching.
<h2>6. Formatting Matters</h2>
Semantic code and content hierarchy rules when it comes to the web! Browsers (and Google) read code, and that code gets translated into what you see here -- meaning proper heading formats and clear navigation are integral, as they determine how your web content is prioritized and organized for SEO. As mentioned earlier, sites with proper code and formating will also benefit users of assitive technology, so correct formatting is really a win-win for you and your users.
For those without code or web development experience, good formatting is still achievable with the right content management system and, most importantly, knowing how to use it. Trust us, this attention to detail is completely worth the effort, and well-coded systems make this process a breeze.
So there you have it! When the message (and budget) really counts, there are several paths one can take to creating web content with solid, organic SEO. These things take time, and definitely require planning, but you too can shine a light on your organization's cause with strong, SEO-friendly content.