So Fast Google Can't Ignore You: Donations Optimized for SEO
SOS Children’s Villages is a large, international children’s charity helping orphaned and abandoned children in 133 countries around the world. Its role is to raise funds in Canada to fund programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Using SEO to attract overseas donations
So much rides on our search engine rankings. In Canada, 3 percent to 6 percent of donated dollars go to international charities. It’s a very competitive marketplace for all nonprofits and extremely competitive for international charities. Advertising can be effective, but it’s also costly. Search engine optimization (SEO) allows us to capture the attention of the niche market of people who may want to make an overseas donation.
Most new donors don’t go looking for SOS Children’s Villages Canada specifically. A new donor typically finds us after seeing a news media report. For example, after 250 girls were abducted in Nigeria, potential donors searching for more information discovered our work operating schools and helping children in Nigeria. Any issue related to vulnerable children, protection of child rights, gender equality and orphans can drive potential donors to our website. Once donors find us, our content must clearly help them understand the need.
Why Google didn’t love our content
The search engines should have loved all our granular content, but they weren’t even seeing it. As it turned out, our own proprietary shared hosting platform was the culprit. Here’s why:
1. Slow page load times. Page load times are critical for SEO. But because we were hosted in Europe on a proprietary platform, our page load times were too slow for Google and other search engines. Users didn’t seem to notice, but our search engine rankings told another story.
2. Not SEO-optimized. In addition, our website wasn’t optimized for SEO or for usability. Google Grants gives us $10,000 a month in Google AdWords funding, which is really effective if your site is optimized. Ours wasn’t, putting a damper on low-cost marketing strategies like SEO and free advertising. For example, our page on Angola didn’t have a page rank at all because it was seen as duplicate content.
Related story: 2 Simple Strategies to Increase Donations Using Your Website