Knowing your audience is vital to a successful SEO strategy; at Reflect Digital, we believe human behaviour is the bedrock of any marketing campaign, which is why research (or discovery) is an important first step before allocating any time or budget to marketing. But why else might SEO be beneficial?
In this blog, I’ll be focusing on my top 10 SEO areas for optimisation, including free research tools that can support you with your efforts.
Your website needs to be indexed before it can rank in search results. This includes any new content you put live. Google Search Console allows you to submit pages for indexing and check on their performance.
If you’ve not already got a free account, you can set one up using this guide - however, it can take up to 48 hours for new properties to fully populate.
GSC is split into 3 main sections:
GSC is useful for researching which queries are generating clicks and impressions for your website. For example, if there are a lot of impressions for a query and this query is positioned well, but you’re not gaining clicks, you might want to optimise the page’s meta title, description and on-page copy to focus on said query/keyword.
Google Analytics (GA4) is one of the most common research and analytics tools. It allows you to research the behaviour of users and determine areas for improvement. Some of my favourite insights from GA include:
You can use these reports to determine where you should focus your marketing efforts. For example, if your visitors are using mobile over desktop - how can you optimise your landing pages for their needs. OR, which channel is driving the best conversions, and how can you increase its performance by driving more traffic through the same journey. GA also gives you insights into where users are falling off in the funnel by using reports such as Reverse Goal Path.
Ensure your charity is going after the right keywords and identify any potential phrases relating to your cause with Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. To access the free tool, you’ll need to set up a Google Ads account. Once you have an account, you can find the Keyword Planner Tool located here: Tools and Settings > Planning > Keyword Planner
There are two tools you can use within the keyword planner, these are:
While the Google Keyword Planner tool is an excellent and free resource, it is worth bearing in mind that it can often group keywords together, giving an inflated number of searches.
Google Trends is a fantastic tool for understanding what your users are searching, their challenges, trending topics relating to your cause and provides potential blog topics and campaign ideas. Google Trends allows you to narrow down specific geographical areas, time periods, categories and search types - giving you hyper-targeted trends.
For example, you can use the tool to determine if a specific search term is in rise or decline. This can be really helpful in determining whether the interest in your charity or relevant services is on the increase. It can also help in determining whether one phrase or another is more likely to drive traffic to your website now and in the future.
With over 90% of the UK's population accessing the internet via mobile - it’s critical your charity’s website is optimised accordingly. Furthermore, Google now has a mobile-first indexing policy, meaning it ranks your site based on its mobile version.
The Mobile Friendly Check tool from Google can be used to determine which URLs on your site are passing (or failing) when it comes to mobile usability. It also provides useful insights as to why a URL may not be passing the test. You can use these insights to prioritise key landing pages for your most lucrative key terms, and raise those that are not performing well with your SEO, creative and development teams to determine what UX and SEO optimisations can be made to enhance mobile friendliness.
Page speed of your site is incredibly important both as a ranking factor and from a user perspective. In fact, a study by Portent in 2019-2022 showed that conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each second of load time between 0 - 5 seconds.
Google’s PageSpeed Check tool allows you to test a single page at a time and breaks down this information into helpful categories. As page speed is a known ranking factor, this can be very useful in determining any issues.
The tool breaks down performance into relevant sections, including:
User intent is the understanding of where a user’s query sits within their journey.
For example, the search term animal charities in London suggests the user is specifically looking for pet charities based in London, it is likely they are in the research phase of looking for local animal charities they can support - search is critical here, you wouldn’t want to rank for this term if you were based in Scotland or if your charity was for cancer or aid.
You can optimise your on-page SEO elements (i.e. URL, page title, page copy, CTAs, internal links, and meta) based on the search terms you’ve identified. All of these aspects can be enhanced with intent, helping to attract users at the right time and then providing them with a clear path to conversion based on their intent.
If your charity has a local focus, for example, if you are a charity shop accepting item donations - then you might want to consider how to rank for local terms, like the screenshot below.
The listings shown in the screenshot above are generated from a free Google service called Google My Business. To set up an account, you’ll need standard contact details, opening hours and a few photos (shop front, logo etc). Spend some time completing this information and inputting your service pages. This is a great way to ensure Google ranks your charity in local results, presenting you to the right donors at the right time.
Within SERPs, you’ll also see a section called People also ask, which are questions users are typically searching in relation to a particular query.
To appear under one of these sections you would need to have a local presence (as explored in the section above) and be able to directly answer the questions posed by users on your website.
You can use the People also ask questions for your chosen key terms to flesh out content on your website. This might be in the form of a specific FAQ area or on individual service pages, depending on the structure of your charity and website.
Questions and Answers can also be marked up using schema code which can be added to the page. Think of schema like the code version of a highlighter pen indicating key information to search engines. There are lots of schema generators available online, such as this one which outputs code which can be added anywhere on your page.
Results from SEO are about understanding your audience and how they search, and then implementing this information into a logical structure within your website.
Even the best efforts are going to take time to come to fruition, with search engines like Google needing to crawl and process the information contained on your website.
Ensuring you have the correct information and a strategy for implementation is key to the success of your campaign.
Researching and executing an effective SEO strategy can be tough and complex and requires effort and dedication. However, there are some fantastic and beneficial rewards for those Charities who invest the time and budget.
If you’d like to discuss your charity’s SEO efforts with one of our experts, then please get in touch; we’d love to hear from you.
Carl spends his days helping our clients elevate their brands through the power of SEO. From creating strategies designed to deliver excellence and meet objectives, to implementing campaigns that deliver next-level results, Carl loves it all.More about Carl