Nonprofit organisations (NFP) organisations are filled with passionate people, dedicated to improving the lives of others. One challenge NFPs often face is limited resources, particularly in relation to content marketing output.
Little value is placed on creating fresh, longer-form blog posts, with the preferred content assets being news reportage, reposts and short-form blogging. Despite an overwhelming 72% of B2B marketers claiming relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic of 2017, an underwhelming 47% don’t count blogging among top priority activities.
So we’ve put together this blog post to give you some direction. By the end of this blog post you will be able to create and implement a blogging strategy during specific campaign periods. Here’s our three tips to turn your not-for-profit blog into a SEO powerhouse.
1. Set Realistic and Measurable Campaign Goals
Whatever your niche in the NFP sector, your digital marketing strategy needs to be focused around realistic and measurable goals. You can’t change the world overnight, but what you can do is set targets that can be attained, and measured by an appropriate metric.
To illustrate this, we’ll consider Martin, a Marketing Coordinator working for an NFP organisation in the medical sector, and his campaign for lung cancer awareness.
The most effective way to set realistic and measurable goals is to use the SMART method for every digital marketing initiative you undertake. When Martin sits down to plot the goals for his lung cancer awareness campaign, the SMART method would shape the campaign in the following way:
How To Set SMART Goals For Digital Marketing
SMART is an acronym used in digital marketing which serves as a set of criteria, against which you can measure the quality of your goals. It stands for:
Martin should ask himself about the current state of the organisation’s lung cancer awareness activities, and how the efforts of the past can be improved to generate better results in the future.
Drill it down to 1-2 goals which will work towards your revenue targets, and an additional 3-5 supporting goals to serve as milestones along the way.
For example, Martin could set the following two primary goals for his campaign, driven by his team’s yearly KPIs:
- Generate $40,000 in donations
- Acquire 20,000 new visitors on the site
He could support these goals with these three milestones:
- Rank in positions 1-3 in Google Search Results for the keyword “lung cancer charity”
- Reduce the bounce rate on the organisation’s lung cancer landing page by 10%
- Generate $5,000 in donations from the existing email list
As you can see, Martin’s supporting goals all feed into the success of his team’s primary KPIs. They are specific in nature, operating around an attainable and measurable result.
His primary and supporting goals are relevant to the organisation’s KPIs, driving traffic to the website and generating donations. As the campaign is for one month, there is a set period where digital marketing activities will work towards achieving these goals, and then measuring the success rate.
Using the SMART method to set your goals or KPIs can help your digital marketing activities to remain focused. This also enables your strategy to work cohesively towards organisational growth.
2. Create a Campaign-Focused Blog Strategy
You’ll be surprised to know that 68% of B2B marketers don’t have a documented content strategy. If your not-for-profit organisation is one of them, there’s two activities you can do to create focused blog content for your next campaign, which will drive traffic to your site and improve conversions. Here’s how to create a campaign-focused blog strategy:
Segment and Target Your Audience
Once you’ve determined the goals you’ll be focusing on throughout your campaign, you need to decide who you’ll be targeting with your blog posts. A focused blog strategy won’t be targeting your entire readership. Instead, you want to segment your audience into groups, such as age, occupation or location, and target the segments which will be most likely to convert.
Returning to Martin, and his campaign for lung cancer awareness, his Google Analytics property reveals a lot of information about the audience of the organisation’s blog. He knows that his readership is:
- An average of 7000 users per month
- Between the ages of 17 and 74
- 58% female and 42% male
- Located within Australia (78%), New Zealand (12%) and Singapore (10%)
With this information on hand he could choose to target:
- Professionals between ages 21 and 45
- Friends and family of anyone affected by lung cancer
- Both female and male users
- Users located within Australia
These segments will feed into the second activity, and inform the content pillars you choose to frame your blog content.
Create Content Pillars To Guide Your Topic Choices
Creating content pillars is an extremely useful exercise to determine the broader blog topic groupings you’ll focus on throughout your campaign. These categories should address the needs or questions of the audience segments you’ve identified, which will help users move from the consideration phase of the user journey, to a final decision.
To create your content pillars, you need to consider the following:
- Relevance: Choose categories which allow you to discuss topics which are relevant to your audience segments.
- Variety: Answer a variety of questions. You should avoid overlapping your content pillars to the point where you are repeating yourself too often.
- Trends: Do your content pillars allow you to leverage topics that are trending in Google Search? Blog posts built from these pillars will be more engaging to your audience segment and be more likely to generate social shares.
- SEO Benefit: Ultimately your content pillars should also facilitate opportunities to boost the rankings of your priority keywords. You can use a tool like SEMRush position tracking to monitor your organic visibility for these terms, and choose topics to lift your rankings as you desire.
Martin’s audience segments have mixed knowledge about lung cancer, so he has decided to focus on these primary groupings:
- Lung Cancer Facts: He wants to boost the site’s organic rankings for the keyword “lung cancer charity” and related terms. These topics will provide great SEO benefit for these keywords. They will also help Martin’s team to produce engaging content based on search trends.
- Research Updates: To show potential donors the impact their donation can have, Martin’s team will produce interviews, news stories and other items about relevant lung cancer research projects managed by their organisation.
- Celebrating You: This pillar will involve content that triggers the emotions. The team will write stories about lung cancer survivors and patients, their families and how lives are impacted by the disease. When done right, such a content pillar can provide great results on social media platforms.
The digital marketing team at Martin’s not-for-profit organisation will then develop blog posts, videos and visual assets out of these pillars. To do this, they will also consider important elements such as search volume, trends and competitor coverage. The key is not to overdo it, 3-5 new blog posts for a month-long campaign is more than enough to tick the fresh and quality content boxes for Google’s ranking algorithms.
3. Don’t Ignore SEO Basics
SEO activities are essential to the success of any blog strategy. If Martin wants to rank in positions 1-3 for “lung cancer charity”, he’ll need to implement an SEO strategy which leverages the organisation’s existing blog content, as well as the new pieces the team is producing.
How To Optimise a Blog Post For Google Search
The first blog post Martin’s team are producing concerns Australian lung cancer statistics in 2018. He wants this first blog post to contribute significantly to the team’s traffic acquisition goal, and build page authority in the lead up to the campaign, thereby lifting keyword rankings for the “lung cancer” grouping.
To optimise this blog post, Martin should focus on the following keywords, listed in descending order by Australian search volume:
- lung cancer statistics australia (210)
- lung cancer survival rate (590)
- lung cancer risk factors (210)
- lung cancer charity (20)
The keywords need to be naturally weaved into the blog post in order for Google to serve the page to users in search results.
Here’s an SEO checklist that Martin could use to ensure the blog post is optimised for this keyword set:
- Heading 1: He could title his blog post Australian Lung Cancer Statistics 2018
- Heading 2: The blog post needs an efficient and logical structure for Google to crawl. He could include the following sections in the blog post:
- What were the highest risk factors in Australia?
- Which states had the most cases of lung cancer?
- Lung cancer survival rates by cause
- Lung cancer survival rates by age
- Copy: The next step is to ensure that the primary keywords “lung cancer charity” and “lung cancer statistics australia” are inserted within the first 100 words of the copy.
- Meta Title: The primary keywords for this blog post should sit within the meta title, ideally within the first 30 characters.
- Meta Description: While an indirect ranking factor, Google will highlight your primary keyword, and related search terms, when your page is served as a result to users. This is particularly beneficial if the page ranks in the featured snippet.
- Internal Links: The site has a variety of landing pages which provide information about lung cancer symptoms, treatment, risk factors and other topics. It would be prudent for Martin to place internal links to these pages where possible, as well as relevant existing blog posts.
- External Links: Linking to authoritative external sources will provide significant SEO benefit to any new blog posts Martin publishes. His team should link to the studies where they found the statistics, particularly because they sit of high authority .org and .edu domains.
Once these boxes are ticked, the blog post has a much higher chance of ranking well during the campaign period. Over time the post will build an even greater authority score, which will place this post as a great asset for the site in future.
How To Optimise and Refresh an Existing Blog Post
If your site has a blog packed with older posts, use them to your advantage by optimising or re-optimising them based on your current campaign goals. No matter their past performance, they’ll have built more page authority than any new blog posts published during the campaign and can be used to funnel users to new content via internal links.
For Martin and his team to get started, the first step is to use a SEO reporting tool, such as Search Console, Google Analytics, SEMRush or Ahrefs, to check the performance of your older blog posts for your priority keywords. We recommend using multiple tools to get a more accurate reading of your blog posts’ performance, which you can do in four easy steps:
- Check Organic Traffic in Google Analytics: To determine which blog posts need to be optimised, bring up your organic traffic report, and filter by landing pages. You should be able to see on this report which blog posts are bringing in users and sessions, and those that are underperforming.
- Identify Low Ranking Blog Posts: Using Google Search Console, navigate to the performance report. Here enter the URLs of the blog posts you’ve shortlisted from your Google Analytics checks, and review the impressions and clicks of each page. A low amount of impressions is an indication that the blog post isn’t well optimised.
- Identify Meta Data Optimisation Opportunities: If a blog post has a high number of impressions and a low click-through rate, you will need to revise the meta data to encourage more users to read your content.
- Choose Quick-Win SEO Opportunities: If any of your blog posts are ranking in positions 11-16 for your priority keywords, we would consider this a quick-win SEO opportunity. You can use the average position filter in Google Search Console to help you identify these opportunities. By following the optimisation method we outlined above, you may be able to lift the article in question to the first page of search results in a few months.
Once Martin and his team have identified the blog posts they’d like to re-optimise, they can use SEMRush’s On Page SEO Checker for additional SEO opportunities page by page. Martin can use the following functions to help with his team’s re-optimisation activities:
- Content Ideas: SEMRush will show where you can place keywords to boost rankings, using rival domains in Google’s top ten results as benchmarks.
- Semantic Ideas: Related keywords are an important ranking factor and SEMRush will suggest relevant terms to incorporate within a blog post.
- Technical SEO Ideas: If the blog post is affected by any technical issues, SEMRush will flag these so optimisation efforts don’t go to waste.
- Backlink Ideas: A healthy backlink profile provides a great authority boost and significant SEO benefit. This function identifies domains you should consider pursuing for backlinks to a particular page or blog post.
With these improvements the optimised content assets will continue to build authority and provide SEO benefit for next year’s campaign.
Now that Martin has developed his campaign-focused blog strategy, he can create fresh and optimised content to meet his core campaign KPIs. With this knowledge in hand, you’re ready to get started with your own blog strategy, one that will drive traffic to your site and improve conversions for your campaign period. Good luck!
If you’d like to learn how Reef can help you build a content marketing campaign to drive growth and competitive advantage online, visit our SEO Services page.