You’ve heard about search engine optimization and how it can benefit nonprofit organizations (NPOs). But have you ever heard of local SEO? What exactly is the difference between local SEO and a typical SEO strategy? Even more importantly, why should your nonprofit organization care about local SEO?
Unlike SEO, local SEO allows individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations to promote themselves online to constituents within a specific geographic region. This can boost an organization’s engine rankings when constituents search related content to their cause in a certain region. The greatest difference between organic SEO and local is its intent. For example, if a person wants to donate blood, he or she might google “blood banks near me,” and Google would use location history to quickly search for a blood bank in the area.
However, let’s say the person is more interested in how blood moves through the donation process. He or she might search “how blood banks work.” Then a search engine such as Google doesn’t particularly care about the location, but provides the most relevant and reputable websites with information regarding the question. So while organic SEO does matter for nonprofit websites interested in gaining views from a national level, local SEO has a higher impact on generating inbound leads, getting clicks on your website and potentially raising your volunteer and donor base from within the surrounding community.
So, why does this matter? According to Business 2 Community, 87% of smartphone owners use Google at least once a day, and a whopping 46% of those searches are local. From there, 50% of users who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a location within one day, and 34% of those who searched on a computer or tablet did the same. People in your community are searching content online regularly, and having a strong local SEO strategy will allow them to find your organization and take action for your cause quickly.
Local SEO matters for your nonprofit because potential volunteers and donors rely on the internet to learn information about your cause and organization. Engaging in local SEO increases your NPO’s visibility and allows you to rank higher in geographically related searches. Since 76% of local searches result in a phone call, that’s a pretty big deal for your nonprofit. So, how do you make sure your organization is search engine optimized locally? Here are a few steps to improve your local search position:
1. Claim your organization’s page.
Creating or claiming your Google My Business page allows you to easily edit and update your nonprofit’s listing, so when potential constituents search information about your cause or mission, your organization can be one of the first ones to pop up in the search results. Other listing sites for your nonprofit to consider include:
- Bing Places for Business
- Yahoo! Local Listings
- Yelp for Business Owners
- Foursquare for Business
- Express Update
- Yellow Pages
Claiming online listings like this makes your nonprofit organization appear more credible to potential volunteers or donors, in addition to making you easily searchable.
2. Be consistent in your NAP citations.
Make sure your NAP (name/address/phone number) citations are exactly the same throughout all of your online profiles—website, social media pages, directory listings, etc. Include NAP information where possible and applicable online. Be sure to also track down any online listings and claim them by checking out tools like Yext or Localeze. This allows Google to link your nonprofit organization across various platforms, and gives you higher rankings when potential constituents search about relevant information.
3. Focus on your reviews.
According to Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Google often uses reviews as a ranking factor in displaying local search results. Focus your local SEO strategy on soliciting more reviews from current volunteers and donors, as well as engaging in review-building tactics through your website, social and search profiles. Encourage your supporters to review the organization on different directory sites, like Yelp or Yellow Pages.
Local search engine optimization can be an extremely beneficial tool to promote your mission in the community and gain a higher influx of website traffic. If your nonprofit organization is interested in improving its local search engine rankings, try out some of these steps to increase your rank, market your organization and effectively grow your cause.