Natural search placement is more effective than paid

I am a huge supporter of natural search placement for nonprofits because it’s the placement that is free to obtain and therefore within the realm of possiblity for most non-profits. But did you know that it’s also a more effective way of obtaining new activisist/supporters than placing paid ads?

I found hard numbers from Google about the effectiveness of natural/free vs. ppc/paid on a Feb 1. blog interview with Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist and author of “Web Analytics: An Hour A Day

The interview highlights two items that I found interesting:

1. The average Google query now consists of 4 words and not 3! That’s up for the first time ever as of Q4 2007, from the long-time 3 word per query Google user average.

and

2. 14% of Google clicks come from paid search and 86% of clicks are organic.

Let’s summarize that. Eighty-six percent of clicks happen on organic/natural/free search results so a strategy that involves buying paid ads without thinking about natural placement is not 100% effective, now is it?

The good news is that non-profits can gain high natural placement though good SEO practices, building links from .gov and .edu partners that they already have relationships with, and not use financial resources to get there.

Being the silent gal in the corner at the social media party

I discovered an analogy about social media networks that I had to share, because I see quite a few non-profits join a social network like Facebook or MySpace and then basically abandon their account/profile – only rarely posting updates.

It’s important to think about social networks like it’s a party. If you join but then don’t do anything, you’ll become known as the guy/gal who came to the party but stood in the corder and that has consequences about how your brand is percieved.

Its rather easy to keep your profiles updated because the posts should be natural sounding and short. Here are some ideas;

  • So when something happens in the news related to your issue, post a comment and a link to the news article.
  • When you have an event coming up, post the event in Facebook and Eventful
  • When you come up with a new video, post that everywhere as well. (YouTube, MySpace and Facebook at a bare minimum)
  • When you are working on a new advocacy campaign, post a blurb to the full information on your accounts..
  • When someone else comments on your content, take a moment to comment back.

Don’t be so shy to participate that you don’t at all. Unlike high school parties, social media sites are a bit more forgiving about awkward first advances. Besides, you’ll never get that “date” with a new donor or supporter if you don’t walk away from the corner long enough to at least say “hi”.

Why Nonprofits Need to Worry about Online Reputation Management

Maybe you’re convinced that the risk for someone speaking ill about your organization is relatively low. But what if a site creates a parody using your name? That’s what happened when the Onion created a parody about a boy asking for too many wishes from Make a Wish and bankrupted the organization. Totally fictional, but it took the top ranking spot on the search engines. You can read more about the story on Serengeti Communication’s blog.

All the more reason to invest in PPC ads, and keep an eye on how your name is being represented on the search engines. Who knows how many potential donors Make a Wish has lost who thought the organization was going belly up?

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