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Net Squared May Meetup: SEO 101 for Non Profits

On Tuesday May 22, 2012 I spoke at Manchester Net Squared‘s monthly meetup to talk all things SEO.  The evening over at the Manchester Digital Laboratory hosted by Steven Flower featured myself and Danny from PushOn talking about Pay-Per-Click & Google Grants for Non-Profits.

Here is the run down of the talk and links to a few tools i mentioned.


  • Setting the scene
  • What is SEO
  • Value of SEO
  • How search engines rank content
    • On-site ranking factors
    • Off-site ranking factors
  • Leveraging your non-profit status

UK Search Volume in the UK Jan 2012

Let’s set the Scene

I’m Paul Delaney, SEO Account Director at MEC Manchester, large scale clients by day and working with a number of SME companies as well as local celebrity Terry Christian in my spare time.

To kick things off lets take a look at the search volume in the UK for January and it’s a staggering 18.33bn or 6 thousand per second! Which basically means there is plenty of traffic to be had.

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

SEO isn’t a bunch of wizards and warlocks creating a mystic black art but understanding how search engines index and rank content can using this understanding to rank websites and other digital assets.

What is the Value of SEO

Why is having an SEO campaign important? Over 70% of clicks come from the organic listings and a first page place will attract 70-90% of all clicks for a search phrase.

Being number 1 has a 36.4% click through rate (Optify data) which shows the objective is to rank as high as possible to gain more traffic, the UK search space is dominated by Google with 90%+ of the share.

A case study in the financial sector shows traffic increased from under 1,000 visits per month in position 15-16 to over 5,000 in achieving a top 5 position.

As well as ranking websites, SEO can also influence other digital assets such as images, maps, product listings, news and video content.

How do search engines rank content?

Simply put, search engines crawl the web to understand what web-pages are about in order to serve relevant pages to people searching the web. As SEO is built on an art rather than science it’s important to not look at ranking factors in isolation as no one know all of them and the search engines use different algorithms to rank websites.

The first part for an SEO campaign is to get your house in order, essentially your website, so ranking factors for a page/site need to be looked at.

On-site Ranking Factors

The following factors are what search engines look at when determining what the web page is about. The HTML structure of the page/site can inform the engines the topic. using some of the following will help (order of importance):

  • Web-site topic
  • Title tag
  • URL
  • Internal link structure
  • Internal link anchor text
  • H1 heading
  • Words used in first paragraph

The key thing is to make sure the key meaning of the page is understood by search engines so keyword stuffing is definitely not the way to go! Also make each page as unique as possible and duplicated content causes issues.

Keyword Research

Selecting the right keywords to target for a site is important and a few free tools (we all love freebies!) from Google such as the Insights for Search and Google Adwords Keyword Tool can help understand what users are searching for. You will often here the phrases short-tail and long-tail keywords so to understand is key.

Short tail keywords are your super generic terms that have large volumes of searches but are the most competitive, long tail searches have more words in the phrase and are generally lower in volume but can have a higher conversion rate as the term is more specific.

Learning to optimise text is more of a skill than a natural ability, think about synonyms and plurals as well as related keywords.

Off-site Ranking Factors

A website forms part of an ecosystem on a global scale and the search engines use this to understand what the sites are about and how important they are. So what are the factors search engines consider when looking at a web page from links pointing to a domain?

  • Words used in the anchor text of external links
  • Quality of links pointing to the web-page
  • Quality of links pointing to the web-site
  • Number of links pointing to the web-page
  • Number of links point to the web-site
  • Diversity of link sources
  • Words used on the linking page
  • Relevance of link sources

And the big question is, why is this important? The better the links the better your rankings!

There are 2 ways to get links to your site:

Link-baiting – where you can develop assets to draw links: Press releases, Infographics, Tools/Calculators, App development to name a few.

Link-building – simply just going out and getting links: Directory submissions, Guest blog posts, Advertorials, Article syndication, Widget placement, Partnerships, Press release syndication.

It’s not all that simple as just getting links from other websites, be mindful of relevance and authority to be of the best quality links for your domain.

Leverage your non-profit status

3 key takeaway from my talk to leverage your non-profit status:

  1. Ask for links – Have relevant content, always ask for links to your site from your content.
  2. Optimise your assets – Remember to think about keywords when making changes to the site.
  3. Use your data – Analyse your analytics to understand your visitors and as Steven mentioned hook up with The Analysis Exchange for a free web analytics consultation for non-profits.