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by Lara Dunning
July 12, 2019
by Lara Dunning
July 12, 2019
Blogging is one of the most versatile digital marketing tools that organizations can use to craft a compelling story and engage with their audience. When a nonprofit blogs as part of its content marketing strategy, it is in a unique position to leverage its efforts by shaping engaging stories that speak directly to its target audience about its mission and cause without needing to rely on outside sources to help spread the word.
To put this valuable tool into motion for your content marketing plan, I’ll explain the reasons why nonprofits need to blog and the best practices for nonprofit blogs.
Blogging drives traffic to your website and creates content that can be shared.
Unlike large scale businesses, nonprofits operate with limited staff and funding, which makes competing in the digital space a challenge. When deciding on which content marketing platform to focus your efforts, nonprofit blogging has enormous benefits like providing free publicity for your cause, driving traffic to the website and creating content that can be shared by the organization and reshared by supporters. In fact, a report by Hubspot said, “55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.”
Here are more encouraging statistics for creating and maintaining a nonprofit blog on your website, pulled from that same report:
Another compelling reason to start a nonprofit blog it circumvents waiting for a journalist or media contact to inquire about newsworthy stories. The blog provides a place for the organization to share current activities, campaigns and events with its audience on its own timeline. Plus, when outside sources do write articles, a blog gives journalists a bonafide source to quote from as well as a link back to.
One of the most significant benefits of maintaining a nonprofit blog is that it drives more traffic to your website and helps Google understands how to rank and categorize your organization, which allows potential supporters and donors find your site more easily in internet searches.
A website provides information about a nonprofit’s mission, goals, volunteer opportunities, fundraising efforts and ways the organization makes a difference for its cause.
A nonprofit blog can share the latest news and fundraising campaigns.
By nature, websites are static with multiple pages dedicated to one aspect of the nonprofit. For example, an organization may have one page dedicated to its mission and another page dedicated to accepting donations.
A blog is different. It is a living component on a website. By updating your blog regularly, you let search engines like Google know it should keep coming back to look for new content, which helps increase your visibility in search results.
Blog posts also provide timely and in-the-know information that a website cannot, which serves to amplify the overall objectives of a nonprofit’s mission. With the use of text, visuals, and video, it also offers a more creative way to connect with your audience. What types of connections can a nonprofit blog create for your organization?
A nonprofit blog series allows multiple stories to be told within an organization.
There are multiple ways to come up with ideas for blog topics. To start, make it simple. Begin by writing down the top 10 questions people ask your nonprofit the most often. Then consider ways to turn those questions into a blog post or blog series.
For example, make an inquiry about who benefits from donations to the nonprofit into a blog series that highlights individuals who are the beneficiaries. For a sustainable foods-based charity, this might look like an article on a family whose life has improved from being gifted chickens. For a question that asks how one becomes a volunteer, give a behind-the-scenes view into the life of a volunteer as they start and end their shift.
Another way to get inspiration for blog ideas is to use Google Analytics to see what search terms your audience is using while navigating the website. Google Analytics is free to sign up for and provides incredibly useful insights about audience demographics, which social media platform is driving the most traffic and which nonprofit blog posts on your website rank the highest.
Another useful free tool is Google Trends, which allows users to search trending topics and words used in different parts of the world, which is helpful if a nonprofit has an international reach.
The ideas for nonprofit blogging are limitless, but no matter what topic you choose to write about, make sure it adds value to the nonprofit’s mission or its supporters. Moreover, while you want to include best practices for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), don’t sacrifice targeting the search engines for writing an article that will connect authentically with your reader.
To make the most of your time and resources, it is essential to develop a content marketing plan and be strategic with articles and target keywords. This is not something a nonprofit needs to pay for as there are plenty of free content marketing tools to help, such as Keywords Everywhere to search for the best keywords for blog posts and Google Trends to find what search terms are trending in the world.
Writing for SEO will increase ranking and visibility online.
To increase SEO ranking and online visibility, include keywords with every blog post. What are keywords? They are words or phrases that someone uses to search for and find information about an organization or topic. To start, develop a list of keywords that includes both short-tail (one or two words), middle-tail (three to four words) and long-tail keywords (four or more words).
For example, a short tail keyword would be ‘nonprofit’ or ‘nonprofit organizations.’ For middle and long-tail keywords, the search terms might be ‘water charities in Africa’ or to get more specific about a nonprofit in a location the search term might be ‘top clean water nonprofits in Seattle.’
Gather the keywords and rank them by Volume, Cost Per Click (CPC) and Competition, then evaluate the list and highlight the terms you think will yield the most SEO traffic. To find out more information about keywords, review Blogging Wizard’s beginner’s guide.
As you create your content marketing plan, it is best to include a mix of multi-length blog posts. Short form blog articles (300 to 500 words) can be read quickly and are an excellent way to engage with your audience. With its reduced length and being mobile friendly, a short form blog post is accessible to read as supporters move throughout their busy day. Long form blog posts (1,500 to 3,000 words or more) enhance credibility and allow for the inclusion of more keywords, which increases SEO ranking. While longer posts are less mobile friendly, stats show that long-form blog posts receive the most social shares.
Along with keywords, you’ll want to focus on link building. Why? Links factor into how Google understands how to rank and categorize your organization. An internal link is a link in a blog post that links back to your website, which is useful if you’ve written a blog series and want to link back to a Part 1 or Part 2 or to direct a reader to your donation page.
An inbound link, also called an external link, directs the reader to another website. This takes some extra thought as you’ll want to link to a page that provides information that benefits the reader and to a website that is an authority on the subject matter. Moz is a helpful tool that makes discovering the domain authority of a link easy, plus they offer a discount for nonprofits with plans that include backlink analysis, keyword research and site audit tools.
Choose images that capture the essence of the nonprofit’s mission.
Nonprofit blogs need to include stellar images that are visually pleasing and capture the cause and efforts of the organization. According to Hubspot, “Visual content generates up to 94% more views,” and, “A 37% increase in engagements from targeted customers if the article is optimized by adding more compelling visual elements.”
A resource to create eye-catching graphics for blog posts and social media is Canva for Nonprofits. Qualified nonprofits have free access to the premium version, including hundreds of templates for brochures, infographics, social media posts, royalty free photos and much more.
This article originally appeared in Three Girls Media.