The Ins and Outs of Link Building for Your Non-Profit Website
A survey conducted by Google has shown that the two most important signals for ranking websites during searches are link building and quality content (Earned Links).
However, as all experienced SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) know—once you find the perfect domain for your website, simply adding multiple links to the pages on your new website is not enough if you want it to rank well in search engines. In fact, adding the wrong links or too many corrupt or broken links can end up damaging your website’s ranking in search engines instead of improving it.
There is an art to link building and it’s not as easy as it seems, especially as new trends and search engine algorithms emerge. If you’re currently working for a non-profit, chances are your budget for expert SEO and resources are already maxed out and stretched to their limits. But, if you know where to start, you could easily master the art of link building without having to spend much money at all.
Below are the ins and outs of link building you’ll want to know as a non-profit professional.
Link Building Fundamentals
Here are some fundamental things to keep in mind as you start link building.
- Google’s PageRank Algorithm was developed in the late 1990s in order to rank a website included in search engines according to how many other sites and pages were linked to its main domain. So, the more pages that linked to a site, the higher its search engine ranking was. Now, Google’s Penguin Algorithm focuses on link quality as well as link quantity. Check out Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History to learn more.
- Anchor text for your links is highly important if you want them to rank high in search engines. Anchor Text is the actual text in a hyperlink. You should include relevant keywords in your anchor text whenever possible, and don’t only include numbers or a string of random alphanumeric characters.
Here’s what anchor text looks like on a web page:
This sentence takes advantage of anchor text in the hyperlink. Click on the link to learn more about anchor text from Moz.
Here’s what the above anchor text looks like in a web browser:
(Notice the keywords “seo” and “anchor-text” included after the domain reference in the link above, optimizing this link for search engines.)
- Tools you’ll want to use to measure the success of your link building:
Top 3 Benefits of Link Building
- When executed properly, link building will lead to a higher domain and page authority in search engines. This increases the likelihood that your non-profit website will consistently appear in the top ten results for all queries related to your non-profit.
- Your website will receive more referral traffic via other websites that are linking to your website, which means it will receive more visitors interested in learning about what your non-profit does. That means more donors, sponsors, volunteers, advocates, etc. for your non-profit.
- The reputation and trust of your non-profit will grow with the amount of reputable links to the website, as it ranks higher in search results.
How to Optimize Link Building for Your Non-Profit Website
Avoid Black Hat Tactics
Simply put, black hat link building tactics entail anything that goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It includes link schemes, where users buy and sell or exchange links in an inauthentic fashion to rank higher in search engines, or when users include hidden links or hidden text on their sites to rank higher in search engines. When users engage in black hat tactics while link building, Google will now penalize them in by downgrading their page ranking.
Develop Link Building Strategies and Campaigns
To be successful at link building, you’ll need to create a comprehensive strategy that you can continually test and adjust. Your link building strategy should include things like:
- Your overall goals for link building (i.e., SEO rankings, online outreach, online reputation, etc.).
- The target audience of your website, or cause, and what they care about the most, as well as entities you want linked to your site, and other potential partners or affiliates.
- Identify campaigns you’ll develop to reach your goals and their mediums (i.e., email, social media, etc.).
- What assets and content you’ll need to use and create in support of each campaign (i.e., blog posts, images, videos, etc.).
- How you will gauge the effectiveness of your link building strategy and whether it is achieving your goals (i.e., website ranking in Google, number of pages linked to your website over time, etc.).
For more details, Moz has a helpful post on link building campaigns.
Understand Your Niche and Share Strong Opinions
If you want other relevant, well-established, and well-ranking sites to link to your non-profit site, then you’ll want your site to have a consistent voice that speaks to its target audience and shares strong opinions. For instance, if your non-profit works toward ending world hunger in third-world countries, you’ll want to share powerful photos of children and families struggling with food insecurity or malnourishment. And you’ll want to include their real-life struggles and testimonies. Other entities are much more likely to link to your site if they are 100 percent certain of the work your non-profit promotes and engages in, its achievements, and who it helps. They also want to know that you won’t falter from your mission.
Host a Mini Blogosphere
This is perhaps the easiest and most enjoyable way for your non-profit to authentically build links, while facilitating a tight community and important discussions within its niche. To host a mini blogosphere, include a page on your website that highlights active, relevant, and current content from other non-profits that are relevant to your own. Publish their guest blog posts on your site, along with your own blog posts that are targeted toward your niche, then encourage them to share links to your blogosphere page on their blogs and websites.
Share Diverse Quality Content Across Mediums
Along with blog posts, you’ll also want to share other types of quality content on your non-profit site that other entities will want to link to. For instance, you could share videos with interviews of people or communities your non-profit has helped, high-quality images of murals your non-profit has created, and original case studies your non-profit has conducted, etc. The more original and valuable your content is, the more likely it is that other reputable entities will link to it from their own blog and social media posts. Be sure to share links to your content across your social media platforms, in emails, etc.
Send Emails with Quality Links
Once you create and publish a variety or interesting, engaging, and original content on your non-profit website, you’ll want to include links to it in your emails. When you send out your weekly or monthly newsletter or member updates, include links to the different content on your website. Make sure these links have anchor text with keywords that are optimized for search engines. And, make it easy for others to share your content on their own website and social media pages by including the appropriate social sharing links. You can even include links to your website and blog in your email signature, so that others can access them and share them much easier.
Highlight Partnerships and Offer Incentives
If your non-profit has an affiliate program or partnership, then you should highlight them on your website. For instance, if every time a certain shoe retailer sells a pair or shoes it donates a portion of its sales to your non-profit, then you should highlight this partnership on your website, as should the shoe seller on their own website.
You could also create landing pages on your website that highlight incentives for becoming a member, such as relevant discounts. Or, you could offer a free e-book, bumper sticker, or entry into a raffle you’re hosting when someone donates to your non-profit. You can share links to these landing pages with incentives or freebies in your emails and on your social media profiles, while encouraging others to share these links with others and embed them on their own websites too.
Use “No Follow” When Necessary
To ensure your link building strategy is optimized and continually successful, you may have to use the “no follow” attribute in Google when necessary.
As you’re measuring the success of your link building techniques over time, you may discover that undesirable website pages or entities are linking to your site. For instance, untrustworthy, unrelated, spammy bots, or other irrelevant paid content may be linking to your website, decreasing your ranking in search engines and your online reputation as a result. When this happens, you can include “no follow” attributes to your site to decrease the likelihood that such entities will link to or crawl specific pages on your website. Read this article by Google to learn more about how to add “no follow attributes” to your website.
Keep the information above in mind as you engage in link building on your non-profit website if you want your efforts to pay off in the long run.