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Google Changes And What They Mean For Your Search Ranking

Search giant Google updates its algorithms hundreds of times a year to improve search for its millions of users. Keeping up with the latest upgrades might seem impossible, but all you need to know is this: now, more than ever, it’s crucial to develop and publish timely, quality content that is relevant, fact-based, and easy to use.

Search And Spam

Search results are based on hundreds of pieces of information, sorted to help users find exactly what they are looking for, or as close to exact as possible. Google’s sophisticated crawling programs are meant to interpret the intent of a search, and no longer rely on basic keyword matches, instead basing results on everything from site and page quality, to freshness or recency, as well as the user’s location, language preferences, and browsing history.

Check out this interactive guide to better understand how search works.

As Google’s algorithms evolve, it becomes increasingly important for you to deliver the best content possible, to serve your existing audience, as well as reach people who might find you through search — visitors who are actively seeking more information about causes like yours.

But you also need to be careful not to go overboard and generate spam instead of quality content.

According to Google, the web is made up of 60 trillion (trillion, with a “T”) individual pages that are constantly analyzed to improve user experience, by combating the millions of useless spam pages created each day.

Spam is bad for your organization – and everyone, really – because it can make it harder for users to find you on the web. But website owners can also unknowingly fall into the spam trap, which, if serious enough, might result in getting a warning from Google to shape up or close up shop. Common mistakes include “thin content” (unoriginal content, article banks, or content that is auto-generated) and keyword stuffing (overusing keywords that do not add value to your content, something that’s explicitly against Google’s rules.

Read more about the types of spam Google works to remove.

4 Tips For Good Content, Better SEO

So how can you improve how your organization appears in search, and avoid bad practices?

Above all else, focus on your users. Everything on your website and social media properties should be tailored to speak to your volunteers, donors, community members, those you serve, and others who want to get involved.

Here are a few suggestions for improving your digital communications both in search and for your web visitors’ overall experience:

1. Go Mobile

Last year, Google announced it would put more emphasis on mobile-friendly design in its search rankings. This means your ranking will drop if your website is not optimized for use on smartphone and tablets.

Not sure how your site looks away from a desktop computer? Start with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

2. Quality, Not Quantity

Know that old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words? When we’re talking about search, one quality blog post or informational page is worth dozens (or more!) that are loaded with irrelevant content and empty keywords.

It won’t matter how many pages or posts make up your website if the content isn’t interesting, useful, or meaningful to your audience.

Read our free guide on Nonprofit Content Marketing for ideas to improve the quality of your digital content.

3. Post Often + Refresh Evergreen Content

Publishing new content on a regular basis, and updating static pages – your About Us page, for example – can boost your search engine ranking, since “freshness” is one of the top qualities being evaluated. This also builds trust and improves engagement among your supporters, who should be able to easily find the latest success stories and statistics on your website and social media accounts.

4. Tech Tips

Beyond content, there are a few small design changes you can make to improve organic SEO, as well:

  • Use clear and concise keywords in your URLs and page titles.
  • Search engines can’t “see” images, so always include clearly-written and relevant file names and alt tags.
  • Use site analytics to measure things like bounce rates, page views per visit, and time spent on your site. These all factor into your search ranking, and can always be improved upon by delivering quality content presented in a user-friendly format.
  • Want to dig into your site even further? Try these “10 SEO Tools to Analyze Your Website Like Google Does.”

Focus on what your donors and volunteers want and need, and avoid SEO gimmicks. Good content is key to boosting your search ranking, which in turn makes it easier to raise awareness of your non-profit and build your audience.

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