Using Search For Good: Non-Profit SEO Guide

SEO can sometimes be associated with big brands and even bigger profits, but SEO is also an important channel for many of the world’s non-profits. Large or small, organisations with vital causes and messages use SEO as a way of finding donors, supporters, and reaching service users. When someone has a crisis, or is looking for someone to help — Google is often the first place people come looking.

In fact, the internet has allowed a vast array of smaller, more niche, non-profits to thrive. Local charities can use digital PR and SEO to reach huge global audiences, and charities with very specific niche causes can connect with supporters all over the world.

Let’s take a closer look at how some non-profits are using SEO and digital channels to do good in the world.

Recommended reading: Mobile Site Speed Benchmark Study – Nichola Stott

Wikipedia – Fast & furious mobile experience

A few years ago, Google changed its algorithm so that sites with savvy mobile designs were rewarded. In 2016, Google confirmed that it would begin to make its index mobile-first for the first time.

This year, mobile-first is very much a reality, and Google has revealedthat it’s started to primarily review mobile versions of sites.

So, how can non-profits optimise their sites for a mobile-focused index? In addition to having speedy pages, mobile equivalents of all content, and ensuring they pass the Google mobile testing tool, charities will need to ensure that none of their vital messaging is lost on the smartphone screen.It’s time to start packing those big messages onto smaller and smaller screens.

Wikipedia might not be the first name that springs to your mind when you think of non-profits, but it’s one of the most widely used websites on the planet.

Not only has Wikipedia made it simple for the world to find information on almost every topic, they have perfected the fast and mobile-friendly approach to content layout.

Credit: Test My Site








Credit: Test My Site









Credit: Test My Site


Wikipedia’s example is a great testament to the fact that even a text-heavy website can offer a great mobile experience. Sometimes simplicity is best when it comes to going mobile.

Some quick mobile-friendly copywriting tips:

  • Use short paragraphs
  • Break up text with images every couple of hundred words
  • Use bullet points
  • Clear language and powerful messages are key. Try Grammarlyfor conciseness.

As well as getting the basics of the mobile index right, think about how you can make the most of the mobile experience through geo-location and mobile-only features like smartphone cameras. Could you use an AR or VR app as part of your mobile experience?

I Had Cancer – Expert use of User-Generated-Content (UGC)

UGC is one of the best ways to market your brand:

  • Rank for high value long-tail keywords
  • Improve your niche authority
  • Add fresh, relevant content to the index.

I Had Canceris a New York based non-profit that lets people share their experiences of suffering from cancer, offering a support network for everyone affected by the disease. Where its SEO strategy really stands out is in its incorporation of UGC.

On I Had Cancer’s homepage, there is a “Discussions” section for UGC, as you can see in the example below:

Credit: I Had Cancer




These short blurbs then link through to longer-form content, enabling the incorporation of further keywords:




Credit: I Had Cancer


Employing this tactic means that I Had Cancer has a regular source of unique content — and the content is compelling from both a user and a SEO perspective.

There are a vast number of UGC apps out there which your non-profit can use to enhance your SEO results and collate social media content and stories from users. It could be the beginnings of a genuine community website.

Free UGC apps are available through most of the major website builders, such as WordPressand Shopify, and can be added to your non-profit website in a matter of minutes to help you enhance your community building (and SEO).


Planned Parenthood — Increasing connections with interactive content

Another non-profit with an inspiring content strategy is Planned Parenthood. They put out microsites with a wealth of interactive content that helps users feel supported, connected, and satisfied with their visit to the site.

Some of Planned Parenthood’s interactive content includes quizzes. They address frequently asked questions, such as ‘should I get tested for STDs?’

This is a smart content strategy for two reasons.

Firstly, from an SEO perspective, Planned Parenthood’s interactive content directly addresses one of the cornerstones of SEO: relevance — it give users the answers to the questions they have. FAQs are a great way to capture organic search trafficand the sexual health website has done this in a way that they’re users enjoy — a quiz.

Credit: Planned Parenthood

Which brings us to our second reason. Quizzes are fun, and most of us can’t resist taking one. That’s because the media plays on our self-interest and desire to define ourselves.

From a psychological standpoint, people have an irresistible need to quantify human condition — and quizzes are a quick way to obtain this information without scrolling through an FAQ page. They also make for great linkable PR assets that can be used at the centre of an outreach campaign.

So in addition to ranking well, Planned Parenthood’s content genuinely supplies users with the answers they need in an insightful way, making the site seem like a genuine media publisher. This helps them tick the second SEO cornerstone box: authority.

To Write Love On Her Arms –  Fresh blog content

Some of the old staples of SEO remain: the value of a blog with well-optimised contentis one of these. Your blog isn’t just a forum for your non-profit’s views, it’s also a place where you can get strategic and targeted about what you want your domain to rank for.

Based in Melbourne, Florida, non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms(TWLOHA) is dedicated to providing help, support, and hope to people who are affected by addiction, self-harm, depression, and suicide. The organisation has 296k followers on Twitter and over 1.4m likes on Facebook — lots of social proof for a great cause!

Credit: To Write Love On Her Arms

TWLOHA produces regular content on relevant topics and uses its blog as a publishing platform to help tackle difficult topics.  Take the article The Honest Truth: Depression Isn’t Exclusiveit targets such core keywords as ‘dealing with depression’ and ’explaining your depression’.

TWLOHA also makes the most of its blogging strategy by linking to other relevant content and posts. Internal linking between different pages on the same domain is useful as it helps users navigate your site, and helps spread power around the  different pages.

These are really simple SEO tactics, but TWLOHA has employed them consistently and now ranks for 20.5K keywords (according to Ahrefs).


Your non-profit carries out valuable work that makes a real difference to people’s lives. Using SEO tactics will increase your non-profit’s visibility and help you to help even more people.


Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups— a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, and non-profit insights from top experts, along with a monthly feature highlighting the good work of a fantastic charity. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

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