This post is about how to scale your nonprofit/business/site/blog online, without a lot of resources available.
These strategies will work for every niche, large business or startup or non-profits. It doesn’t matter.
There are many ways to boost traffic to your online entity – social media, paid advertising, SEO, podcasts, Youtube, messaging apps and chatbots and so on.
The first thing you should do, if you have a limited budget, focus on one, best performing medium or source.
Of course, you need to test different types of topics, ideas, traffic sources – e.g. try funny pics on Instagram or tech tutorials on Youtube or long form blogs on WordPress or podcasts on iTunes – and track your performance. What brings the most traffic with the lest effort?
In my case, one of the best performing bootstrap strategies is SEO. Here is why.
A lot of bloggers nowadays refer to SEO, as an “old-school way” of doing things. They rather prefer Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or Influencer Marketing.
But, the truth is that SEO still has one of the highest ROI among all inbound channels.
Also, organic search results tend to perform 5.7 times better than paid search ads (in terms of conversions).
SEO is the cornerstone of driving evergreen traffic and free evergreen traffic is one of the keys for making sustainable revenue online and grow your nonprofit or business.
“Old-school” text content still has a massive ROI – is easy or cheap to produce and drives a lot of donors or revenue.
So, let’s focus what are top SEO strategies to grow your site or blog with no or very little budget.
1. Setup WordPress
A proper tech setup – fundament for fast-growing SEO rankings and organic traffic.
If you have a limited budget – WordPress is a perfect choice. When your nonprofit or business grows at a later stage, you can move to either a custom WordPress theme or custom-build website. But, for a start – just go with WordPress and save a lot of time and resources.
WordPress is a recognized CMS leader, with a 50-60% share of the whole market.
Some major platforms, as well as publishers, work on WordPress, to name a few: CNN, Fortune, TED, TechCrunch and many more.
You can mount your WordPress with one click and have a website running in minutes.
2. Good host and WordPress theme
It is also important to choose a good-quality theme and host.
Choosing a high quality – and maybe pricey host – will certainly save you a lot of time and money in the future.
You don’t want your website to go down during high traffic spikes or just constantly have poor performance.
A premium WordPress host will provide you with:
- One-click WordPress set up
- SSL certification
- Staging environment (where you can test ideas)
- 99.9%+ uptime
- Technical assistance (either email, chat or call).
Several of my preferred WordPress hosts are – Bluehost, WpEngine, Kinsta.
Choosing cheap and poor quality often leads to hiring expensive WordPress developers, who need to write hundreds of lines of custom code to optimize your site.
Some common issues, which come with bad WordPress theme:
- Slow website;
- Low conversion;
- Bad mobile experience;
- Low uptime, a site is down during high traffic.
- And much more.
There are excellent options in each category/niche, but some of my favorite themes are Divi, Genesis, Impreza.
3. Tech setup
Before going into attack with link building and content, it is also crucial to have tech SEO configured well.
One simple mistake can ruin months of effort.
Take care of:
- sitemap, robots.txt,
- creating an account in Search Console,
- tracking (using Google Analytics, GTM or Segment or Mixpanel),
- image optimization,
- mobile performance, AMP
- caching, etc
In my own experience, with these “small things” set up correctly you can easily boost your organic traffic by 30%+ in a month.
4. High-quality content
Content is still king in SEO. Without high quality, original and engaging content – it will really be hard to get any Google traffic at all.
If your average Session time is low and Bounce rate high – it means users are not wowed by your content and heading to exit from your site. That is a bad sign for Google, which will put this particular page lower in search results.
In 2019 it is super hard to trick Google – don’t even try to steal content, spin content or order very poor quality articles from Fiverr – you risk to waste time and money.
5. Long forms
Instead of creating 5 short articles, create one long, ultimate guide.
Google will rank such articles, which provide a definitive answer to a search query, and from which users won’t need to go to another page, higher.
It is also easier to build up UR (URL Rank) for one page than for many.
Long form can be anything in between 2000-10000 words. This kind of articles usually ranks for thousands of long-tail organic keywords and brings thousands of organic visits per month.
Also, high-quality long forms tend to attract a lot of backlinks.
6. Rich, engaging content
You need to “fight” for your high session time and low bounce rate.
Try to include a lot of visuals, videos, rich elements in your content – such as maps, infographics, animated infographics, podcasts, tables, quizzes, polls, and other interactive elements.
More interactive page -> more sesstion time -> higher Google rankings -> more organic traffic.
According to Hubspot, including a video in post increase organic traffic by 157%.
Also, video content is staggering 50 times more likely to drive organic search results than just plain text.
This type of content will also bring you lots of referring domains.
7. Guest posts
The hard truth about SEO – it won’t work without active link building and outreach.
Guest posts are one of the most effective ways to build backlinks right now.
First of all, you need to research a list of sites in your niche, which accept guest posts.
Here are some Google footprints to help you.
- Keyword intitle:“write for us” (e.g. US travel intitle:“write for us” )
- Keyword inurl:”write for us”
- Keyword “submit a guest post”
After that, you need to do an outreach campaign, asking for a guest post.
Use hunter.io to research emails and Mailshake to send tracked emails.
Or you can go with the all-in-one outreach tools, such as Buzzstream or NinjaOutreach.
You can use a template:
Just found your nice blog …
I would be really happy to contribute a guest article.
Here are some ideas …
Take a look at some example of my previous work …
Looking forward to your reply.
Always include follow-up emails (they do the job) – Mailshake or Buzzstream will help you with that.
It is advisable to do outreach for every new post you publish.
For example, you just created a new blog “How to sell like a pro with Instagram: top 10 tips”. Go to Google, find related blog articles, create a list and do outreach campaign.
Just found your blog about … (URL here), great job!
I recently put a similar article about … – (URL here).
If you find it useful or interesting to your audience, could you please mention it somewhere on your site or at least social media?
Also, are you accepting guest posts in this area? I would be happy to contribute.
Looking forward to your reply.
And include 2-3 follow-ups, if there is no reply.
9. “Link hunting”
If you are starting a new bootstrapped SEO project, with a low or new budget – you should be in constant link hunting.
You need to grab every backlink opportunity and “fight” for every high-quality referring domain. For example,
Ask your customers to include links to your site;
Do your friends own sites? Ask them for a link;
Register in directories;
Think of an overreaching PR-strategy;
Register on some niche sites and platforms (with a backlink);
It is really crucial for a new site to reach 50 and 100 referring domains mark.
SEO is a long-term game.
A lot of beginners give up because SEO won’t provide real results in the first 3-5 months.
Even the fine-tuned SEO campaign will bring some tangible traffic after 7-8 months, at least. Usually, it is 2-5 years for a full-scale SEO project.
To sum it up
SEO is becoming harder and even more competitive every year, especially if you want to bootstrap your blog.
So, prepare for hard work, constant link hunting, hundreds of quality blogs and be patient.
Andrii Gor – SEO enthusiast with 10+ years of experience. He specializes in keyword research, rank tracking and tech SEO. Check out his SEO blog – Online Hikes and tech publishing site – MrHack.io
Over to you
Share your thoughts about bootstrapping SEO campaigns for your nonprofit in the comment section below. I’m really looking forward to reading your comments.