3 Reasons Why Large Environmental Nonprofits Need To Check Their SEO (NOW)

Medium to large sized environmental nonprofits are more at risk than most when it comes to search engine optimization.

Taking action to uncover blind spots doesn’t take long. You just need to know what to look for and how to execute.

In this article I’ll explain:

  1. Why your nonprofit may be at risk of poor search visibility
  2. What you can do to reduce your risks and change your organization’s growth trajectory
  3. How to do it in less than 2 hours

Why are med-large env nonprofits more at risk?

Environmental nonprofits have 3 unique characteristics that make them more susceptible to SEO problems. These issues can hinder your ability to reach supporters which ultimately will reduce your ability to make an impact on the causes you are fighting for.

Problem #1: Your Landscape is Changing

Whether your nonprofit is fighting for habitat restoration, fair access to parks, climate change, natural resource protection, or anything in between… you’re in a dynamic digital ecosystem.

And… regardless of whether you’re fighting local, national, or international battles… you are in a dynamic digital ecosystem.

Dynamic Digital Ecosystems: The only constant is change.

  • The political landscape is changing continuously
  • Your stance on specific issues is regularly updated
  • Progress toward your goals is updating
  • Education around the problems you’re working to solve is being improved periodically

If your website accurately reflects your organization, then all of this change means frequent website updates. This constant shuffle on your website presents a real threat to your website’s SEO health.

On top of that… the way nonprofits are organized further amplifies the problem.

Problem #2: Your Website Updates Are Not Cohesive

The great thing about modern content management systems like WordPress is that anyone on your team can log in and make updates or add blog posts. Teamwork toward your goal is great.

The downside is that you have various people updating your site and no one to make sure all those updates aren properly coordinated for search engine visibility.

While it’s great that one of your experts can post the latest update on an environmental issue, it’s not likely that they understand how to leverage SEO so that:

  1. Their new web page appears properly in search engines
  2. They don’t cause an issue for other areas of the site

The big challenge is when tens or hundreds of small issues go un-noticed and add up over time. This compounding effect prevents you from attaining the reach you could be getting with all of that content on your site.

The most common mistake I see: Organizations have multiple people adding new content and making content updates (this is generally a good thing), but… in the process, factors that make or break SEO are left behind.

The result:

  • Best case – you only get a portion of the benefit from the site updates you’re making.
  • Worst case – updates are actually reducing your visibility in search results because they are causing other issues.

90% of the nonprofit websites I’ve audited (more than 40 in 2020), were only seeing a fraction of the visibility they could be getting because they weren’t leveraging it properly for search engines. This means a lot of hard work going in to site content with only a small reward…

Problem #3: You Aren’t Able To Capitalize On Digital Synergies

If you don’t have a top-level strategy to connect all the moving pieces of your site, it’s highly unlikely that you’re maximizing growth potential. This means you’re putting a lot of energy into your website but not getting nearly as much visibility with supporters as you could.

This is a common problem amongst medium and large nonprofits because they usually have a good amount of website content but it isn’t working together.

This is akin to having a row boat with a team of mates rowing, but no captain.

Everyone may be rowing to propel you forward, but you need them to row together and in the right direction if you want to reach your growth goals.

Sometimes implementing a simple process all team members can follow will right the ship. One cost effective implementation for nonprofits is to have an SEO expert provide a framework for you and then a basic SEO training for your team.

This prevents you from having to hire on additional staff and still allows you to capitalize on your opportunity to:

  • improve your keyword rankings,
  • reach more supporters,
  • and grow your impact!

Be Careful: Don’t expect to right your ship by asking your marketing director to take an online course on SEO or assigning it to a new tech-savvy volunteer. You’ll get more benefit (and less headache) by hiring someone who lives and breathes SEO for a limited-scope project.

As an SEO expert and board member of an environmental nonprofit, here’s my recommendation for taking action:

Takeaways: 2 Actions in Under 2hrs

These two actions can save your organization thousands of dollars and don’t need to be a burden on you. These steps can be completed in less than 2 hours:

  1. Conduct A REAL SEO Audit – Find an SEO expert who will do a manual review of your site (make sure it’s not automated). You can run an automated report on your own online for free… but free audits don’t take your target audience or donor growth goals into consideration. Find an SEO expert who will. You can post a job on a platform like UpWork in less than 30min and have multiple qualified candidates in the same day. Just make sure to vet properly by asking the right questions.
  2. Review The Results Together – SEO audits are notorious for uncovering hundreds of “issues”. The real value in an audit is discovering the adjustments you can make that will change your growth trajectory and prevent you from making big SEO mistakes that hinder your ability to reach donors. Make sure whoever you hire is available to explain what they found. If they can provide an economic analysis to help you decide what output you can expect from each recommendation… even better!

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