Blogging is not just a hobby anymore. Blogs have become a powerful tool -- they can increase your brand awareness, let you share knowledge and establish yourself or your organization as an expert, and generally grow your donor base.
Why Have a Blog?
Blogs are a great way for nonprofits to attract new visitors and potential donors to your site. Blogs are also a perfect way to communicate important information fast. For example, if a natural disaster just occurred, you can get out information fast on what happened, what your organization is doing now, and why their help or donation is needed so urgently.
Blogs can also help improve your nonprofit’s visibility online. Google's algorithm places a greater emphasis on blog posts, tweets, and videos with almost every algorithm update. But, how can your organization take advantage of this? Write and keep a blog! I know that many nonprofits strive to stay “top of mind” with potential donors, and improving your visibility in search results can greatly help!
It’s important to note that blog posts are more volatile in search listings than web pages, so when you write a blog post and include keywords, your post can rise quickly in the rankings. This also means, however, that once posts become older, they can drop in rankings very quickly.
How to Get Your Blog Started
WordPress is the most popular blog platform, since it’s user-friendly and incredibly flexible. It also has numerous plug-ins available to help you customize and create your blog with ease. Blogger (Google’s blogging platform) is also very popular, although many think it has fewer features than WordPress. I recommend browsing each platform and seeing which one seems easiest for you to use (or for your department, depending on how many people will be updating your blog).
Optimizing Your Blog for SEO
Okay, so now I’ve convinced you why it’s important for your organization to have a blog, and how to create one. Now that you’ve gotten started, how do you optimize your blog for search engine optimization?
If you want to build a following of readers, write quality blog posts frequently, and use keywords in each blog post, in the content and the headlines. Focus on one to three keywords per post so you don't get too bogged down. You want the keywords to sound natural when people read through your post.
Query Deserves Freshness
Query deserves freshness (QDF) means that when a keyword sees rapid growth in search volume, Google favors fresh content more heavily. Therefore, if you write a blog post using a QDF keyword, it is much more likely to shoot up in the rankings. There are several tools you can use to find hot keywords, such as Google Trends, Google Insights for Search, or Twitscoop.
Make sure you add meta descriptions, titles, and keywords to every blog post, and try to include a few keywords in them. If you're using WordPress, there is an All in One SEO Pack plug-in that makes adding meta tags easy, as well as serving as a reminder to add tags before you publish.
Make sure to share and publicize each post within your network! Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and any other social networks you belong to. Also, make sure to share blog posts in the same places each time you publish a post. If you have been posting things on Facebook, readers may look on Facebook for your next post, and you don't want to miss anyone!
When to Post
There are several articles that say that most people read blog posts first thing when they get to the office on Monday morning. But, if you're advertising it on Twitter and are focused on re-tweets, you can use TweetWhen, which analyzes your last 1,000 tweets and gives you a time and day of the week that you are most often retweeted.