Optimizing Websites for Voice Search

Day or night, my cell phone is usually by my side. Though, it’s rarely used as a phone. Rather than track down a tablet or laptop, I rely on my phone for quick help with the name of a movie I saw 20 years ago, get an updated weather forecast, learn what to do about my dead lawn, and check out M&C’s Strutt With Your Mutt team page.

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Okay Google, how

do I make a donation?


With phone in hand, it’s easy to skip the typing and just talk. After all, Google Assistant is on stand by ready to help. Say “Okay Google” and ask a question. Or, ask Alexa, Siri or Cortana (Microsoft’s assistant). They’re all listening. ComScore, an analytics company, predicts in 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

When a prospective donor is asking for your nonprofit or inquiring about a good cause, you want to be mentioned.

5 Optimization Tips

There are numerous strategies for optimizing your nonprofit’s website and content for voice search. Don’t feel bad if you find it overwhelming. It is. And, it can be time consuming. However, we have 5 tips to help streamline the process and get you started:

1. Create content that talks back, recommends Betsy Rohtbart of Vonage in a recent Forbes article. A typical text search is 2-3 words. Voice search is conversational. Read your content out loud. Is it stiff and formal? Adding abbreviations and contractions will help.

2. FAQ pages cater to voice search optimization, according to Performics. A good starting point is to create a Q&A page written in a casual style featuring commonly asked questions by prospective donors. Include who, what, where, when, and how in constructing your questions.

3. Focus on long-tail keywords is a tip from Yoast. Weave into the website’s content conversational phrases, including focused keywords (a topic we’ve previously covered on the M&C blog.)

4. Infographics should compliment content not replace it. Bots crawling your site aren’t able to read the content on images. It’s important to give the image a descriptive file name and include keywords in alt tags. Otherwise, your creative visual messages will be missed with both voice and text searches. Search Engine Journal has additional tips for images and SEO.

5. Mobile-friendly design has an advantage with Google’s algorithm. Use a responsive design that automatically resizes images/videos and stacks content. Also, develop a writing style that includes headlines, a quick opening sentence or two, brief paragraphs, bullet points, and call to action.

When you are ready to talk structured data and how it plays into optimizing voice search SEO, give us a call. We’ll help.  

Susan Mertz is a Content Specialist at M&C. She specializes in website development, search engine optimization and enhancing user experience. 

Highlights from the AFP Gateway Conference

Last week my colleague Lizzie and I had the opportunity to attend The AFP Gateway Conference on Philanthropy in St. Louis. The conference theme was “In This Together: Collaborating for Change.”

Our nonprofit friends on the opposite side of the state put on an amazing conference. A stellar lineup of local and national speakers like Linda Haley and Antionette Carroll, a chance to get Carol Weisman’s latest book, and ample networking top our list of favorites. 

Breakout sessions we attended included everything from emotional diversity, DIY video creation, social media & email newsletter strategies and achieving big results in small shops. Topping the list of takeaways:

Fundraising

  • Really good fundraising is based on love. If you’re doing it right, your fundraising journey is going to impact you as deeply as it does your donors.
  • We don’t go to donors looking for money. We go looking for their heart. With that, money follows.  

Effective Marketing

  • Quality video is an important part of a nonprofit organization’s communication strategy. It produces more conversions than any other content.
  • Set social media goals (hint: goals should include actually being social & engaging with your audience!)
  • Ask yourself if YOU find your social media content interesting, relevant and engaging. Would you take time to read it?
  • The average human attention span is 8 seconds, or about 2 scrolls of the wheel on a computer mouse. Is your email going to grab their attention? 

Big Results for Small Shops

  • By definition the small nonprofit is under-resourced. Utilizing consultants and agencies, you can accomplish what you don’t have the bandwidth to personally, and the ROI is more than worth it.
  • The advantage of a small organization is a very focused team with strategic goals and tightly focused donors. Relentlessly review efforts to achieve goals, create a ‘not-to-do’ list because time is the hottest commodity not to waste. 
  • Reach out to donors just to ask advice. They will appreciate a contact without an ask and they love to dispense their opinions. 

Our overall consensus is that it’s important to make time for professional development. We came back recharged, refreshed and armed with new ideas to help our clients. 

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Reflecting on the 2018 Bridge Conference

A couple of weeks back, Monica and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Bridge to Integrated Marketing Conference. The theme for 2018 was the “Art and Science of Fundraising & Marketing.” 

One of our favorite events of the year, The Bridge Conference unites the fundraising and marketing communities. Lots of cross-pollination, innovative idea sharing and catching up with friends, clients & colleagues at the Gaylord in Washington, D.C. If you haven’t been to the Gaylord, it’s one of the largest hotels in the nation … I think it has its own zip code and maybe its own ecosystem. But I digress …

Team M&C hit some great sessions. Among the highlights:

  • At the opening session, Shankar Vedantam, host of the NPR’s Hidden Brain, delved into what really motivates giving. My takeaway: the human brain can’t handle challenges that seem insurmountable, so talking about the actual scope of a problem may be counterproductive. The feeling of being able to make a real and immediate difference is a necessity for donors.
  • Event-based fundraising has evolved way past the annual gala. In a fascinating case study, the founder of Tap Cancer Out described how he left his “day job” to create a nonprofit funded from tournaments held for Jiu-Jitsu competitors and community. Big learning: creating incentives to motivate increased peer-to-peer fundraising. Tap Cancer Out had a very sophisticated strategy with swag to inspire higher and higher levels of fundraising by event participants.
  • Too much choice in digital is counter-productive. In one session, we saw case studies with cold, hard statistically significant data proving that donors expect nonprofits to act as their “sherpa.” Too much choice—on donation forms especially—can cause them to abandon ship and take their contributions with them. Simplicity and elegance win every time.

Our overall takeway from the conference is that donors continue to be more discerning across the board. The bar is going up. Appeals focusing solely on emotion won’t cut it anymore. Donors want outcomes/proof that their money is doing good work. This is a drum we’ve been beating for quite a well … and the drum is getting louder.