Digital Marketing for Your Local Nonprofit
When you’re a small, virtually unknown nonprofit, getting the word out about your mission can seem like a giant undertaking. How do you compete for attention when national nonprofits are dominating the search engine results page?
Well, maybe you don’t have to. At least, not locally.
You see, almost a third of online searches are connected to a location. And according to a 2018 local consumer review survey published, 86% of people read reviews about local businesses. So if you’re a nonprofit looking for opportunities to catapult your visibility using digital marketing, local SEO is a great place to start.
% of people that read reviews about local businesses0%
Reasons why your local nonprofits should focus on local SEO
You want the community you’re serving to know where you are and what services you provide
You want to gain local support from potential volunteers, donors, and partners
You want to promote the solution your nonprofit is addressing in the targeted community
One way to get started on local SEO is by getting your nonprofit listed on online directories and review sites.
When your information is listed accurately on these directories, potential volunteers, donors, and other organizations can quickly learn about you and your services. They can read informative and valuable reviews. And if they are searching with local intent, chances are they’re almost ready to commit. They’re just looking for the right cause to support. That could be you!
But with so many directories out there, which one should you prioritize?
1. Google My Business
For a local nonprofit, a Google My Business listing is an absolute must have. The free tool increases your discoverability on Google search and maps. And with 5.6 billion searches happening in Google every day, chances are, this is the first stop for most people.
To get started, go to Google My Business where you can either create a new listing or claim your business listing. Make sure your listing is up-to-date to ensure your nonprofit is represented accurately on the largest search engine.
Facebook continues to improve the tools available for nonprofits. From adding the “donate now” button to pages, creating Facebook groups to foster community engagement, and launching the Facebook Local application which merges the functionality of Yelp, Foursquare, and the former events application, Facebook is an important place for nonprofits to be.
If you already have a Facebook page, make sure to get verified and merge any unclaimed Facebook pages out there. Once you’re set up, you can start requesting and responding to reviews, creating events on Facebook Local, and leading discussions on Facebook groups. Go ahead. Your potential donors and volunteers are waiting to learn more about you and interact with you.
Yelp isn’t just for deciding your dinner plans these days. In fact, only 19% of their listings are restaurant related. And with an average of 150 million unique visitors each month, nonprofits would be missing out if they weren’t listed in Yelp. Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to one day find yourself listed in Yelp’s top ten nonprofits in your city?
Get started on Yelp by checking if there’s already an existing listing for your nonprofit. If there isn’t one, create one and fill in all of the details.
4. Bing Places
A listing in Bing Places rounds up the four major directories that your nonprofit should start with. Accurate information on this directory, along with reviews, will help Bing generate “knowledge graphs” to help searchers learn more about you and your mission.
Bing Places makes it clear from the start that they’re set up to help local businesses and organizations be found online. So take a few minutes (30 minutes in fact) and create or claim your Bing Places listing.
5. Apple Maps
With 45.6% of the market, Siri’s popularity and the growing use of voice search makes Apple Maps, Siri’s preferred map tool, an important directory for nonprofit organizations.
Create your profile on Apple Maps Connect. The process is similar to Google My Business, so make sure you have your information ready. Honestly, it’ll probably take you longer to remember what your Apple ID is.
6. Better Business Bureau [BBB]
The Better Business Bureau, or BBB, is a little different from the directories we’ve listed so far. The BBB has been synonymous with trust since it was established in 1912. And as an organization that depends on attracting donors and volunteers to continue operating, you need this type of street cred next to your name.
Businesses listed in the directory are reviewed and publicly rated by the BBB on a number of factors independent from customer reviews. There is even an opportunity to apply for accreditation, which according to the BBB website, is preferred by seven out of ten consumers.
Guidestar is the Yelp of the nonprofit world. So it only makes sense for your nonprofit to listed there.
The process is simple. Guidestar creates a profile once a nonprofit is registered with the IRS. Then you claim and update your listing. Transparency is important for prospective donors, so Guidestar encourages organizations to add more detailed information to make sure their profiles stand out.
Whew! While that may seem like a lot of information, it really is a similar process each time. And by listing your nonprofit on these directories and review sites, you are opening yourself up to be discovered by the community you serve.