Link Building For Nonprofits: What To Do And What To Avoid

Non Profit, Search Engine Optimization

When it comes to digital marketing it can be difficult to pinpoint the most important parts of your nonprofit’s strategy. Should you focus on content, ads, social media, organic SEO, or something else? If you’re looking to build your site’s reach and grow your online reputation, link building should be at the top of your digital marketing strategy list.

What Is Link Building?

Link building is the process of getting external links to the pages of your site (also known as backlinks or inbound links), and it’s really important when it comes to organic SEO and site ranking in search engine results pages.

If you’re a digital marketer for a nonprofit, link building can be a useful strategy when it comes to building your nonprofit’s web presence.

Why Are Links Important?

Links are important because they’re used by search engines to crawl the web. When a website links to other sites, Google’s web crawlers (as well as other search engine crawlers) can easily navigate to other sites via the links, rather than just relying solely on what appears in search engine results.

Google likes it when websites make it easy for its crawlers to find and access information, and links (whether they’re inbound, outbound, internal or external) all help Google do its job, which means links are important, especially if you want to please Google.

The importance of link building for your website

Links, specifically backlinks, are important because Google gives more credit to sites that have a higher number of quality backlinks. The more credit a site has, the more Google deems it relevant, which means it will likely appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than sites that don’t have quality backlinks.

When it comes to link building, you want to work on building the number of quality backlinks (we’ll cover what ‘quality’ means soon) to your site, which helps build your site’s reputation with Google and ultimately gets your nonprofit’s cause out to the masses.

What You Should Do In Your Nonprofit Link Building Strategy

When it comes to starting a link building strategy for your nonprofit, there are definitely things you should do and things to avoid. As you build your strategy, make sure you include these important items to help build your website’s online reach:

Blog and create awesome content

When it comes to building your online presence with Google, content is a vital part of the reputation equation. Because of this, an important part of your link building strategy you can begin immediately is adding a blog to your site. Or, if your blog has fallen to the wayside and hasn’t been updated in months or years, start adding new content now!

Content on your site makes it easier for other sites to link to you, especially if they find value in your content. When you reach out to others for backlinks, your content is something you can promote. If you’re a leader for your particular cause, or you know what people want to know about your nonprofit, add it to your blog and promote it to others!

Reach out to bloggers, websites, and professionals

A big part of a link building strategy is outreach. You know your nonprofit, and you likely know related organizations, businesses or foundations that share your values and cause – so, reach out to them! If you have content that can be of use to them, promote it. If you share a cause, let them know. You can write to them directly; explain who you are, what your nonprofit has to offer, and see if they will link to you. A good strategy is to have a page on your site, or a blog post, that can offer value to the other site, blogger or organization.

Outreach is a vital part of link building and only stops when your link building strategy ends.

Gain links from relevant and high authority sites

When it comes to building up a solid backlink profile, you want to focus on gaining backlinks from relevant and high authority sites. This means pursuing links from organizations related to your cause. If you’re a nonprofit focused on improving heart health, you want to reach out to websites like the American Heart Association or The Heart Foundation. These sites are well known, have high domain authority and are relevant to your cause.

A great strategy is to determine those foundations and organizations that are related to your nonprofit and researching them to determine the best options for outreach to gain high-quality backlinks.

Go local

For nonprofits that are locally-based within a community, ensuring your local presence is up to snuff is incredibly important when it comes to link building. This includes making sure your organization appears on local listing sites like Yelp and claiming your Google My Business listing (which is free to claim and incredibly valuable).

Local reviews and user-generated content are important for local organizations, so community resources like local directories and even the local chamber of commerce can be vital resources for your nonprofit. Improving your local presence will help build your site’s domain authority and ultimately help you appear more often in SERPs, especially for local searches.

What To Avoid When Link Building for Your Nonprofit

Using link farms

Link farms are junk websites, and in the SEO community they’re known as a black hat strategy, or an unethical strategy used to boost a site’s rank in search engines. They function as a place to farm links. Link farms generally have many ads, are not formatted, and they have no real purpose other than as a place to add a link, and it could be links from any kind of website. When link building, avoid these, as they provide no real value when it comes to backlinks, and they don’t provide any value to your content or audience.

Cloaking your content

Cloaking is a search engine optimization technique in which the content or information presented to the user is different from that presented to search engine crawlers (i.e. spiders or bots) in order to have better indexing and hopefully achieve better results in Google or other search engines. Cloaking is not only bad, it’s considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Don’t cloak your content! Don’t do this; don’t even think about it.

Paying for links

While it might seem like a good idea to pay a small amount for a website to link to you, Google has gotten really good at discerning sites that are legitimate websites and sites that are not. Paying for links on spammy websites is akin to using a link farm and should be avoided at all costs.

Trading links

While trading links isn’t necessarily bad, because trading a link with a high authority site that has a great reputation could prove very valuable to your nonprofit, trading links with every single website you come into contact with is definitely not advised.

If you’re going to trade links with a site, you want to make sure that site is relevant to your nonprofit. While it may be tempting to trade links with your favorite local coffee house, don’t, unless of course your nonprofit is based around coffee or you’re doing some kind of event with them.

Increase Your Online Presence and Backlink Profile With Intuitive Digital

If you’re trying to figure out the best course of action when it comes to building your nonprofit’s backlink profile, reach out to Intuitive Digital! Digital marketing is our forte, and we love helping nonprofits build their online reputation and domain authority. Contact us to talk about your link building and digital marketing goals for your nonprofit.

About the Author

Nick Footer

Nick Footer is an entrepreneur and founder of Intuitive Digital, a national award-winning digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. With over 15 years of experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization, paid advertising, and website design.

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