Search engine optimization (SEO) is more than just ranking #1 for your acronym on Google. SEO is a major part of a well-rounded digital marketing strategy for associations that can enhance an organization’s authority in your industry, lead to better content, and rank you for keywords that matter.

The reality is if you check your Google Analytics reports regularly then you’re checking your SEO (or lack thereof) regularly. It’s likely that a great deal of traffic to your association’s site – the visits called “organic” in Analytics – is visitors who have arrived from Google by typing in a specific keyword. If you are not deliberately optimizing your pages for important keywords, then you’re not sure if the visitors coming to your site found what they were looking for or even meant to land on your site at all. 

A high bounce rate is an indicator that visitors may have arrived expecting something different and then clicked away hoping to find something better. 

SEO for association - ranking your acronym

It’s one thing to say 100 people are coming to your site, but you’re not sure why, and it’s another thing to say 100 people are coming to your nonprofit website because you planned it that way by optimizing for a specific keyword. That’s one of the benefits of SEO for associations. 

Here are 7 reasons why your association should seriously consider investing in SEO.

1. Other associations are doing SEO

If you have an organization that competes against you – or even an event that competes against yours – your association can not ignore SEO and you should assume your competitors are using SEO to gain an advantage in the marketplace. There are free tools like UberSuggest that can help you understand where your competitors are ranking for specific keywords and phrases. It’s then your job to start strategizing on keywords that make sense for the topics you’d also like to rank for.

2. SEO for associations is low cost

SEO is not pay-per-click (PPC). PPC is the ads you see at the top of Google’s results pages. Businesses pay big bucks for those. The power of search engine optimization is that you don’t have to pay Google to be well-ranked. SEO is something you can implement at the cost of staff time. With a little education, a good strategy and a thoughtful copywriter or two, you could start a small SEO campaign for your association in no time. Another option would be to hire a trustworthy SEO expert at a reasonable cost.

3. It leads to better content in general

Following the best practices of search engine optimization can lead to better layout, format and readability for your association webpages in general. Whether it’s your home page, a blog post or a landing page, getting your title tag, headers, image alt tags (and more) correctly optimized for Google means you’ve likely just created a great page for your site visitors. Google wants you to create pages for humans – not their algorithm – so if you get that right, you’re going to be good to go. 

4. You’ll get more page views

This is a no-brainer. Optimizing for specific, important keywords will lead to more site traffic. And imagine those visitors are clicking on pages they intended to land on – lowering your bounce rate and improving your rankings. This is what SEO for associations is all about. 

Association SEO consultant

5. The quality of site visitors increases

Directly related to #4 above. It’s way more likely people will be arriving at your site and be happy with what they’ve found. This will lead them to stay on your site longer and click around to view other quality content

Keep in mind that there are actually two distinct ways people are accessing your site: 1) on their laptop 2) on their mobile device. To get quality – meaning qualified – visitors to your site is great, but does your site present well to them? Google is moving to a mobile-first approach for all things search, so if you’re not familiar with AMP, you should be. 

Another major consideration when it comes to SEO for your association is page speed. How fast any particular page – especially on mobile – loads is a major signal to Google for how high they should rank your page. 

Again, quality traffic is the goal, but accommodating that traffic is definitely a major factor to consider.

6. You’ll establish authority

There are really two types of authority at play when it comes to search engine optimization for your nonprofit. First is the authority you’ll receive in your industry for being the organization whose web pages keep ranking well for important industry terms. When people see your site pages continually popping up in their Google searches, they will know you are the real deal. A real-world example is HubSpot. If you search for almost any marketing term, you’ll see one of their optimized pages ranking highly. Try searching “content strategy” or “SEO strategy” on Google and see if they don’t show up between a #1 and #3 on the search results page. 

The other authority you’ll create over time is “domain authority” as named by MOZ. Other search engine tools call it something similar, but in a nutshell, it is a rating between 1 and 100 that indicates how powerful your website is in the world of SEO. A high domain authority (DA) means your site pages are more likely to rank higher than a site with a lesser DA that is trying to optimize for the same keywords.

All in all, authority on the web is a good thing. And is really in and of itself more than worth an investment in SEO for your association.

Analytics and optimization expert

7. Your association can measure SEO

With some education and the right tools, you can quantify your SEO efforts. Tools like MOZ and SEMRush can provide you all the data you need for keyword relevancy and popularity and can even give you links to pages on the Internet that rank best for each of your desired keywords. They are SEO’s version of Google Analytics. 

SEO content strategy

SEO for Associations – In Closing

SEO is a science and an art. It will take some time for your optimized pages to register on Google and then more time to climb their way up the rankings. Planning, patience and persistence are key. Track your pages and how they are trending and update them if you see them stall out.

When embarking into the association digital marketing space, do your homework. Examine other organizations and for-profits who are making a splash. Look at what’s working and implement a few things and test how well they work for you. New ranking trends do tend to crop up. For example, we are seeing significant visibility gains embedding relevant video into optimized landing pages. According to a recent analysis by SEMRush, video is a positive signal for Google to rank a page higher.

In the end, SEO for your association is a great investment. If you are interested in learning more about seo for associations and how to be effective in digital marketing strategy for associations, please browse our Digital Marketing for Associations: The Ultimate Guide.

Written by

Chris Bonney

I’ve enjoyed my years in web design partnering with organizations to harness the power/coolness/connectivity of the Internet. Outside of working on websites, I’m also a soccer evangelist, music junkie, and perpetually in a state of FOMO thinking there is a Netflix show everyone is watching but me.