Why is a website so important for nonprofits?
Firstly, a website allows your target audience to find you. It legitimizes your organization and provides a platform for promoting your cause.
A website is also important for building your community. It allows partners and supporters to easily promote your organization simply by sharing a link.
Finally, a website gives supporters a hassle-free way to donate funds. Simple, secure payment forms are easy to set up and make the donation process easier for you and your contributors.
While these benefits may be clear, actually getting people to visit your website can be hard work. Here are a few ways to increase your monthly traffic and get your website the attention it deserves:
Make It User-Friendly
primary job of your website is to deliver information. First and
foremost, it should be straightforward and easy to navigate. This won't just encourage people to stick around once they visit your site, but it will actually help get people there in the first place. Websites that follow a clear, logical structure are easier for search engines to read and more likely to appear in search results.
Within about thirty seconds of arriving on the site, visitors should be
able to grasp the basic purpose of your organization. A site tagline
(i.e. 'Improving the lives of Seattle's youth through the great outdoors')
is great for this. Next, visitors should easily locate the specific
information they're looking for in the site's main navigation menu.
The most logical websites are also the most user-friendly. When designing your website - whether you're working with a web developer or building it yourself on a platform like Wordpress or Squarespace - it's important to consider how the site will grow over time. Every new page should have a logical home.
Avoid cluttering the site by building overarching category pages (i.e. 'About Us', 'Community', 'Contribute') that can accommodate sub-pages as you create them over time (i.e. 'Our Mission Statement', 'Resources' and 'Volunteer Opportunities').
Consider Search Engines
Search engines, primarily Google, are the Yellow Pages of the Internet. They are how your audience finds you online. Make sure people can find you in search engines by including relevant keywords in your website copy.
Think about which search terms people are likely to type into Google when looking for an organization like yours. For example, if you run a nonprofit focused on heart disease research, include the keyword 'heart disease research' throughout your website. The more content you have on your site, the more keywords you can target, such as 'heart disease statistics' and 'heart disease charity running event', etc.
Use Google's Keyword Tool to discover which keywords related to your organization are the most commonly searched for. Though SEO may seem technical, it actually boils down to knowing what questions your audience is asking and making sure you have the answers.
Create Content That Interests Your Audience
Develop a content marketing strategy that provides your audience with useful, shareable information. The more valuable content your site contains, the more opportunities for people (and search engines) to find it. Here are just a few ideas for content that will boost traffic to your site:
- Blog Posts - Writing (and regularly updating) a blog on your website is one of the best ways to drive new traffic to your site. It gives you a legitimate, non-promotional reason for directing Twitter and Facebook followers to your site and also helps you rank for a wider number of search terms.
- Competitions - Appeal to people's love of competition and free prizes by hosting a giveaway on your website. Of course, the giveaway should be relevant to your cause (i.e. 'Win a cookbook with heart-friendly recipes' or 'Register for our 10K event to be entered to win a new pair of running shoes').
- Events Calendar - Keep your audience updated on all upcoming events by including a calendar on your website.
- Downloadable PDFs - Make sure all of your existing content - research reports, brochures, leaflets, etc. - is available to download from your website.
Promote Your Content
Once you've created or uploaded content to your site, spread the word! Share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, pin the images to Pinterest and link to it in your email newsletters.
Sharing your content won't only help drive direct traffic to the site, but it will help increase your visibility in search engines. Google takes into account how many 'social signals' (i.e. Google Plus-Ones, Facebook 'Likes', Tweets, etc.) direct back to your site. The more popular you are across the web, the higher you'll appear in search results for relevant terms.
How do you drive traffic to your website? Any hints and tips? Let me know in the comments!