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State of Google for Nonprofits and Associations

Presented on August 22, 2013

During this webinar, Search Mojo’s Janet Driscoll Miller will take you through the current state of Google marketing for nonprofits and associations, providing you with updates to Google’s nonprofit programs and how you can take advantage of them, as well as information to help you understand how your site may be affected by Google updates.

Presenter: Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO, Search Mojo

Presented on August 22, 2013


Welcome to today’s webinar, State of Google Marketing for Nonprofits and Associations. I am Kari Rippetoe, Content Marketing Manager at Search Mojo and I’ll be serving as your moderator for today’s webinar.

Before we get started I just have a few reminders. Firstly, a recording of this webinar will be made available to everyone who registered and will be sent via email by Monday at the latest. Secondly, there will be a Q and A at the end of today’s webinar so if you have any questions for our presenter please enter them in the GoToWebinar Questions box at the right of your screen. Finally, we encourage you to tweet about today’s presentation using the hashtag #mojowebinar. Plus you can also follow us on Twitter @SearchMojo.

Today’s presenter is Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo. Janet has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and in addition to her work in search engine marketing, Janet has a background in marketing communications. She holds a degree in public relations and communications from James Madison University. She is also a frequent speaker at marketing conferences and writes for several blogs and print publications.

Search Mojo was founded in 2005 and specializes in all things search marketing including SEO, pay per click, social media advertising, online reputation management, and content marketing. Search Mojo is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia and we also have an office in Charleston, South Carolina. We’ve been featured in several marketing publications and blogs and we also speak at several conferences including SMX, Marketing Profs B2B Forum, and PubCon. Our clients include a variety of B2B and consumer brands, nonprofit organizations and associations, and educational institutions. And with that I’ll turn it over to Janet.


Thanks, Kari. So today we’re going to talk about the two main areas of search, organic search and paid search and how each one of those has special effects on nonprofits and associations and some of the special opportunities but also some of the challenges that tend to be, not necessarily unique, but tend to be challenges for associations and nonprofits.

So let’s start off with organic search and let’s talk about some of the opportunities and challenges there. So the first thing is, that you need to know about is a recent development, is of course key word research and keywords are the fundamental basis and foundation of good SEO because you have to know what you want to optimize for in order to optimize for organic search and understand what people are searching for to find your offering or the information you provide.

The problem is the Google free keyword tool is going to be retired in August of 2013. I don’t remember the exact date but it’s going to be retired very soon if it has not been already when you watch this webinar. So if you were looking for free tools and tools that are low cost you may have some challenges out there.

One thing that is an option if you’ve been using this tool is to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool which is essentially almost the same thing as the free key word tool but you have to be a Google AdWords advertiser to use it. So all you have to do is log into AdWords and then you’re able to use essentially the same tool you had before. So if you’re already advertising with AdWords you don’t have to worry about anything.

Some other tools that are out there that are paid tools include WordStream, the SEO Book keyword tool, and SEMRush. That’s just a few. I still prefer the Google Planner tool. Since I do advertising, I’m able to use that particular tool but I would say that you have to give it some great thought because I find that picking a keyword tool is not always easy and straightforward as you might think.

The next area I want to talk about is link building which is obviously another very important part of SEO and there have been some major changes from Google recently. They came out in July of 2013 saying things like avoid using press releases for link building because those are essentially paid links, so there are a lot of new changes going on around link building efforts.

My personal theory, if you’d like to think about how you want to approach link building going forward, Google doesn’t want you really to be doing link building but technically you have to do it for SEO. It’s still important for SEO.

So one of the things, I think, that we’ve been really pushing at Search Mojo and I personally espouse, is focus on building good content because as my graphic shows from the Field of Dreams, I believe if you build it, if you build good content, they will link to it. That means other people will see this content and want to share it and that’s good also for social sharing signals, sharing signals for ranking purposes and so forth.

But I find that generally if you have good content that really is a good driver because if you don’t know this already about searches on Google, 80% of the searches that are done on Google are informational type searches. So people are looking for this content, looking for information, and so the more that you can be there to help provide that information, probably the more that you’re going to be able to be linked to and drive more traffic into your site. So, focus your efforts on good content marketing and I think that will help you to go a long way with link building going forward.

Another really challenging area I find that happens a lot with nonprofits and associations, especially those that are publishers of content like informational type content, so for instance medical associations and the like is duplicate content. Now, the reason duplicate content is a problem is because a couple years ago or I guess it’s been a year and a half now, Google came out with something called the Panda update. You may have heard of this. It’s a really been challenging for quite a few folks out there on the web who have good content but what’s happened is Google is trying to reduce the instances of the same content appearing more than once in its index.

Now, that sounds all fine and good. Maybe you only want one version showing but with associations and nonprofits, sometimes the information that you’re putting out there is actually lifted by others and put on their site. That’s where there are some challenges.

So a couple of things I want to really cover here around duplicate content because it can really hurt you. I’ve seen almost complete sites, completely de-listed from Google because of all the duplicate content. So if you have duplicate content on your site, there are a couple instances where that may occur. Avoid copying content first of all from other sites because that is copyright infringement and you can hurt your site and the other site in Google. So don’t copy other people’s content.

Now if you do have duplicate content on your own site, I like to use the example, I did some work with National Geographic and of course as a major information publisher they have content that they might want to use in several places on their site. So they might have a page about Siberian tigers and they might want that under the animal section but maybe they also want that under the kids section so kids can learn about tigers.

So the problem is they don’t necessarily want different content under those two areas, they want the same content they just want to serve it in two different areas of the site. If you’re going to have the same content under two different URLs, you need to use something called the canonical tag. If you just search for the canonical tag, it’s a one line tag you can put on your page that says this is the version of these two versions, page A and page B, I want either page A or page B to get all of the SEO benefit from it. So, that is one approach you can take and I highly recommend looking into that if you have to duplicate content on your own site.

Now if you have others duplicating your content. So you’ve created great content and now others come and take that content, lift it, and put it on their own site. I find that publishers are often the target of others. I like to say lifting their content. I hate to say everyone is doing it with malicious intent. I think in some cases what you find especially in associations and nonprofits are that people really often mean well. They want to share the information but they’re ill informed about copyright law and the right approach they should be taking with taking this content and reusing it. And so it can of course hurt your site and the other site in Google just like if you took someone’s content from another site.

So, the problem here is that you want to make sure that you’re monitoring your content and seeing if people are using your content on other sites because reality is if you don’t, and I have seen this happen first hand that you will start to see major ranking drops and major traffic drops in your site based on the fact that Google is recognizing duplicate content. So, we’re going to talk about ways you can take a look at how to monitor for these types of problems and the approach you need to take to have them remove the content, the duplicate issues.

So, how do you protect your content knowing that you could be at risk, especially as a nonprofit or association sharing good information? What can you do? Well the first thing is absolutely make sure you put a copyright notice on each page of the site and date it. Now, I like to see when you do it from the beginning to the date of today’s date. So for instance if you started your site in 2001, I like to see 2001 through 2013 on the site.

Just so you know your content is copyrighted just by having it up there. You don’t necessarily have to put a copyright notice but I personally believe and I think most people would advise you that having the copyright notice on there also, just as another proof that you own that, you are claiming that you own that particular content. So I think it’s helpful especially if you get into a sticky situation.

The second thing is monitor regularly for duplicate copies. So I mean you would be shocked at some of the situations I’ve found. I have one client right now that I’m working with that has one of their pages has been copied more than 258 times word for word, verbatim, 258 other pages on the Web. It’s crazy. So that kind of stuff happens pretty regularly and if you’re not looking for it what is going to happen is you may wake up one day, there is a Panda update on Google, and bam you’re losing a bunch of traffic. So keep an eye on this so you can deal with it as it arises.

So one of the first things I would recommend is there is a product from Copyscape called Copysentry. Now Copysentry is a site where you can either put in two URLs or you can copy and paste the content from one website page and another website page and compare them and it will show you the percentage of overlap of duplicate content there. It’s a real quick and easy way to find out if the copy has been lifted verbatim and it’s great I think for professors and other folks who are looking for plagiarism and so forth.

So, they have a product called Copysentry which is very inexpensive. I think it’s ten pages that it will monitor for you for $5 per month. So it’s not super expensive and what it will do is it will monitor daily or monthly, I think there are a couple of different plans, and it will email you and let you know when it finds duplicates. So that way you can kind of sit back and just hopefully let it do its job and tell you when something arises so you don’t have to necessarily manually do it all the time. So that might be a good option for you.

The other thing is I would scan Google for lines of content and use quotes because quotes around that particular two or three lines that you copy into Google are going to be an exact match search and that’s what you’re looking for. Has someone basically copied my words verbatim from my site?

It doesn’t mean that if they change the word a, and, and the on the page that it’s still not copyright infringement but you want to look for the most exact copies because generally speaking people are lazy. When they copy this stuff, amazingly, they copy it word for word and they really just copy and paste. That’s all they do. They don’t take the time to actually do much editing to it. That’s really your first issue is you want to go after anyone who is copying things verbatim.

Then you want to formulate a plan for your copied content. How do you want to approach these folks? Now as an example, you may feel like you have a financial loss, right? If that’s the case you may want to involve your legal team but there are some other options you can, when you formulate this plan, decide how you want to reach out to these people.

You have to notify them and let them know that they are infringing on your copyright and again it may just be innocent. It depends on who you are looking at and the situation. But you need to let them know that they have infringed copyright and you will turn them into Google. There is a form on Google, you can turn them in and Google can de-list them.

The other thing that I would highly recommend is thinking about assigning authorship, Google authorship to your pages if possible because authorship tends to be just one more signal to Google that you own the content and if you don’t assign authorship, someone else will. Someone who steals your content might do that. That’s kind of a loophole that I’m seeing with authorship is it seems to be a signal for Google to say I own and originated this content.

And I’ve seen it happen to some of my association clients where they have had client up there, someone stole this content, put authorship on their version of the content which was exactly the same on their website, and it de-listed our client’s pages for those terms. When that site was taken down, bam, our client’s site went right back up to the top ten. So, I would highly recommend that you consider it.

I don’t think authorship is always appropriate and some organizations may feel like we don’t really want one individual author assigned to this content and I absolutely understand that particular argument. But if you can, consider using authorship, and we have webinars on that topic as well. We have a class online about authorship, so definitely think about that and see if it’s the right option for you and your nonprofit or association because of the fact that it can be a good signal for you to help protect your content.

So with that, let’s talk a little bit about what authorship really is. This is an example of what Google authorship looks like and it really is actually a great opportunity if you have authors or subject matter experts in your organization that you want to elevate, it can certainly really help elevate their profile but also as you’ll see here it makes your results in the Google results larger, more visible, and we know that it also helps click through rates.

So here’s an example of the benefit of authorship. So when there was no authorship assigned, now you see, the blue area here is the first result on Google. The second is red. The third is yellow. The fourth is green. Just as we would suspect, the number one result on Google when there is no other external factors tends to get the lion’s share of the clicks, right? We all expect that. The number one result gets the most clicks.

Well what happens when you add this authorship snippet is you’ll notice that especially the third and fourth result when they had an authorship snippet on them tended to steal some of the clicks that normally the first one would have gotten. So what that tells me is basically even if you’re not the first result if you have authorship and have this rich snippet of authorship, it can help you even at positions three, four, and maybe even below to steal some of that thunder from the number one result and still compete even if you’re not the number one result. So it dramatically increases click through rate we know.

I’ve heard stories set from some folks I’ve been on panels with of it doubling click through rate. Doubling traffic to a page on their site when they added the authorship rich snippet. So definitely consider it because not only may it be good for protecting your copy but it also, as we can see here, does a lot to help with through click through rates from organic search.

So how do you implement this authorship thing I’ve been talking about? Well it all starts with Google+, frankly. If you don’t have a Google+ profile you need to get one but not just for your organization. Each individual author because authorship is assigned to individuals not to organizations. So for instance, the American Medical Association cannot be an author right now. That’s how it’s set up in Google. It has to be an individual. It has to be Dr. Tom Jones and his Google profiles. So you need to make sure that you have your author set up with a Google+ profile.

The image from that Google+ profile is the author image on the Google results. So the image you just saw of Amanda, there’s Amanda. You see her picture. That was her picture on Google+ and that’s why that showed up in that way. Now, you also want to make sure that all the authors in your organizations have a Google+ profile as I mentioned. I find that to be one of the more daunting tasks of getting this all set up, is just makings sure everyone has a Google+ profile. But it is important and you cannot have authorship without it.

So now let’s talk a little bit about measurement because measurement on your organic side is very important. You want to set up goals not necessarily traffic goals but set up goals in Google Analytics. If you haven’t been using the goals feature in Google analytics, I highly recommend it because it’s going to show you how the organic search is performing and meeting what your goals are for your website if that’s getting volunteers or driving donations, whatever that might be. It’s very important that you go ahead and set up those goals so you can understand how your organic search is impacting your organization.

The second thing that’s really key is traffic drops from Google Organic may indicate duplicate content issues. That maybe a Panda update. Again, as we were talking about before, so what you may want to do is set up, in custom reports in Google Analytics you can set up a report to be auto emailed to you weekly. So you may want to set up a custom report that shows you your traffic from Google Organic and see if over time how that’s progressing. If it’s improving, if it’s declining, so you can keep a good eye on it. You don’t always have to sign into Google Analytics to do that. You can just have it email you the report. So consider that for a measurement because again I really do think this is a major issue for nonprofits and associations.

So now let’s talk a little bit about paid surge and that whole side of what the opportunities are again and challenges for nonprofits and associations. So, Google for Nonprofits is a program that is created for 501(c)(3) nonprofits and you can find more about this program at Google.com/nonprofits. You must be a 501(c)(3) organization and you must also not fall into certain other categories like you cannot be a school or a hospital as an example. So there are some rules there. You can take a look at Google.com/nonprofits.

One of the benefits of this program is it incorporates quite a few different really awesome benefits including my favorite, by far, is the Google Grant which awards $10,000 per month in AdWords credits for free advertising on Google AdWords. Again, we have some webinars on this topic if you’d like to watch and learn about them. This program is currently in the midst of some changes. So we’ll have more to talk about with this program later in the year but you still can go and apply and I think it’s an amazing benefit. If you think about it, $120,000 free dollars for ads every year is a huge benefit to almost any nonprofit.

The next one is Google Apps for Nonprofits. So that’s part of this program as well and it gives you basically free access to a lot of Google doc type of applications and so forth. Some that would normally be paid subscriptions you can actually get for free through this program.

The next one is YouTube for Nonprofits which is by far one of my favorite ones on here also. Let me show you how that looks in YouTube. So here’s an example of YouTube page that has YouTube for Nonprofits on it. This is GuideStar which you may be familiar with. One of the major benefits of having YouTube for Nonprofits is that you can take donations directly from your YouTube channel which is awesome. So you can see here that you can actually choose a donation amount and donate through Google Wallet to GuideStar.

And so, I’ve always had a challenge with YouTube because I feel like it’s not on your website, you have less tracking. How do you convert people from YouTube? I’ve always had a little bit of a challenge with it but what I am encouraged by is the fact that for nonprofits you can convert people right from your YouTube channel and you can still bring them in. If they watch a video, like if you’re the American Red Cross, and they watch a video about Hurricane Sandy, then they can donate right from that page. What a huge powerful benefit that really is to nonprofits.

There are also a few other options as well that are available through Google for Nonprofits. We have one today by Google which is a mobile fundraising platform and Google Earth outreach grants. So there are quite a few different pieces to this Google for nonprofits puzzle that you are welcome to have and be recipient of once you apply and are accepted into the program. If you’re outside the United States and the United Kingdom however you won’t get all of these different applications that we talked about, the grant, the apps, and YouTube and all that and so forth. You need to look at the country specific offering and you can do that at this bitly, bitly/nonUSGoogle. Just to see what you’d be eligible for.

So as an example, in some countries you may only get the Google Grant for AdWords but not let’s say YouTube for Nonprofits. So you’re going to have to just see what your eligible for in your particular country.

So next thing I want to talk about is retargeting. Retargeting or also known as re-marketing is an option available to you in Google AdWords and it shows ads, display ads, but you can also do other types of ads, shows ads to those who have visited your website or landing page before. So they’ve come to your site and have some level of relationship with you because they come to your site.

There are three types of retargeting currently available through Google. And again, they call it re-marketing but generally it’s called retargeting in the industry. Those three types are display retargeting, YouTube retargeting, and search retargeting. Now, each one of those has different requirements for how many people you have to have in your collected, I like to call them bucket, your retargeting bucket. But basically members of this retargeting group in order to activate your ads to show to that group.

So you have to get people in, they come to your site, you cookie them and once they are cookied Google keeps track of who’s cookied and how many people you have cookied and then overtime it says you have enough people at some point to go ahead and launch ads on these different platform areas.

So you’ve probably seen these before. They are very popular, of course, with e-commerce. I had one the other day where I went to Warby Parker and I happened to look at the monocle. They actually sell monocles still, believe it or not, in this day and age. I was just curious about it so I went to their page and bam, I started getting re-targeted ads with the monocle all over the place. I don’t need a monocle. I was just curious but you have probably seen them yourself or you don’t fill out your shopping cart or finish it, then you might get re-targeted ads from it.

As nonprofits and associations, we have to think and consider creative ways to use this so I want to show you a couple of examples of ways that I think associations and nonprofits can use retargeting to their benefit. So here is a page for the Center for American Progress which is an association or an organization that covers many political issues. As you can see here, right here down the side, many different political issues that people might be interested in learning more about.

They have an event that was going to be held in August and it’s about school redistricting. Looking at school district consolidation and school redistricting, who would I want to target to come to this event? This webinar that we’re having. So, would I want to target people who are interested in issues around open government or poverty? Maybe. But clearly the groups I want to target are people who have come to the education section of the site before that we see over here because they are going to be very receptive to hearing stories and information about school district consolidation.

So if you’re an association and you have many different areas like this one where you have lots of different topics you cover and you want to get more specific and target some of your event contact and different offerings to people who maybe might be interested in that particular topic. Retargeting is a great way to do that. You can put them in a bucket of people and say this is my education bucket and then every time you have an education event you can put the word out.

The same is true for fundraising and for volunteerism. Here is the United Way and this is their donation page. Now if I came to this page and I did not actually donate. I didn’t finish the donation process for some reason, I could re-target if I was the United Way. I could re-target people and say, hey be sure to support the United Way and I can send them ads like that.

Also, on volunteering, a lot of sites that are nonprofits have volunteer forms. Here is a nice volunteer form on the volunteer page for the United Way. How can I get involved? If someone comes to this page, so we know they might be interested in volunteering, but they don’t fill it out, can we bring them back? Can we convince them to volunteer?

So there are lots of options I think that really would work well for nonprofits and associations using this retargeting and the key is really just get creative. Try and figure out ways that you can get people to do the things that you want them to do and using retargeting, I like to think of it as recycling, to pull them back in. They’ve been to your site. Pull them back in. So now I’m going to hand it back to Kari who has a few final announcements before we finish our webinar today. Kari?


Great. Thank you Janet and in just a moment we’ll be answering a few of your questions but first I’d just like to let you know about our next webinar, Getting the Most Value from Google Analytics which will also be presented by Janet Driscoll Miller and also Scott Garrett of Search Mojo. That will be happening September 5th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern and you can register today at search-mojo.com/analytics.

If you’re looking for any help with any of your nonprofit, SEO, or PPC needs, perhaps trying to get the Google Grant then, that’s something we can help you out with. You can get in touch with Sean McCusty and his contact information is here. And if you would like to connect with Janet Driscoll Miller or Search Mojo through social media then you can find all of our information here and now we will take a few of your questions.