Google is more than just a search engine. It offers a diverse range of services from productivity applications to instant messaging. Most nonprofits can take advantage of Google tools and programs for free. Don’t have a marketing and communication budget? Take some time to explore Google Grants for Nonprofits. If you run a small or medium size organization, you can apply for an AdWords advertising grant. The grant, up to $10,000 per month, will allow you to promote your website via advertising on Google. On the other hand, if you need to improve how your organization operates, take a look at Google Apps. Google Apps offers communication, collaboration and publishing tools, including email accounts to help your staff work more effectively. And if your organization is under 3,000 users, you qualify for the free version of Education Edition.
If your organization is like most nonprofits, a budget for technology, website design and development and social media engagement is low or non-existent. That is true especially in these tough times when most organizations are cutting back on spending that’s not perceived as mission-critical. Yet, the Web offers the opportunity to quickly boost your bottom line. You simply can’t afford not to be improving your website content and design, learning about your visitors preferences, and making a compelling case for online giving. If you do nothing else this year, make sure to check out these powerful Google tools that can help you improve your website, attract more visitors and increase online donations.
1. Google Webmaster Tools: These tools help you see how your site is performing in Google search results, troubleshoot potential problems and build a search engine friendly site. You will learn how Google views your site (how it gets crawled and indexed) and get a full diagnosis of existing problems with your website. A powerful feature of Webmaster is that it lets you download data reports regarding links, traffic and keywords that drive traffic to your website. You can see exactly how users arrive to your site and have the ability to tell Google which pages are the most important to you, how often they change and how you would like the URLs Google indexes to appear. Check Google Websmaster Tools >>.
2. Google Website Optimizer: The Website Optimizer allows you to test different versions of your website content and layout to determine what will best attract users and lead them to convert on your site. Website Optimizer is a free web application (no costs involved in purchasing software or licenses), offers A/B Split & Multivariable Testing, which is what most marketing consulting firms use to identify the winning content combination that drive conversions, and offers a graphic reporting interface that makes results easy to understand. In fact, it even recommends next steps for improvement. Donor Digital published an excellent study regarding the importance of analyzing your pages, especially donation landing pages, and examined how Amnesty International used multivariate testing to improve its website content, increase online donations and keep visitors engaged. Download “Landing on Gold: Optimizing your donation landing pages to increase giving: a bright spot in a tough economy” here. To check out Google Website Optimizer, visit http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer.
3. Google Analytics: Google Analytics generates detailed statistics about your website visitors. According to Wikipedia, Analytics is the preferred website statistics service used by the 10,000 of the most popular websites. You can track visitors from all search engines, email marketing (e-newsletters) and even from within links on PDF documents. Understanding how people interact with your website can help you improve your site content and design and turn more visitors into donors.
Below are a couple of tutorials to help you get started using Google Analytics.
4. Google Keyword Tool: Although Google does not use the keyword meta tag for their main search result, they look at the keywords on your website copy. And, if you decide to apply for a Google Grant, keywords become crucial. In general, search engines use keywords to decide which web pages to deliver in the results pages. Use them in your web site copy and you can rank higher on Google, Yahoo, MSN or any other search engine. If you ignore keywords, your pages will rarely be found.
Watch a Google video tutorial on how to select relevant keywords for your website.
5. Google Alerts: Google Alerts allows you to monitor your brand on the web. You can easily check web-based conversations that are occurring either directly about your organization or about topics related to your mission. Why should you care? Alerts gives you the chance to respond and follow up quickly to any relevant mentions. Set up Google Alerts to track your organization name, key staff and relevant industry terms.
You can make use of these 5 Google tools to optimize your website, attract more supporters and increase online donations. After all, Google Apps and tools are top of the line and free. So, what are you waiting for?