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How social media can boost your nonprofit's organic search traffic

Everyone is aware of just how much social media has become such a huge part of our lives. But one aspect that is often overlooked is how social media channels are being used for search purposes.

SEO and social media are often perceived as separate entities, likely because one is about statistics and the other about developing and nurturing relationships. We typically think of Google as the dominant force in search, with Bing coming in a distant second.

However, many people use social channels like TikTok and Instagram to find new recipes, discover life hacks, research topics, answer questions and more—just as they would a search engine. According to an Adobe report, 41% of Americans have used TikTok as a search engine, with 1 in 10 Gen Zers relying on it more than Google.

The lines between search engines and social media are blurring.

Both channels are being used for discovery. That’s why it’s important for your nonprofit’s SEO and social media management strategies to complement each other. Here’s a great visual from Lyfe Marketing that illustrates the relationship:

With Instagram and TikTok—the platforms that are driven by more visual content—it can be difficult to understand social media’s impact on organic search. But we know that Facebook, X and LinkedIn are more accustomed to driving traffic to websites, with URLs included in the social posts.

So, let’s talk about a few ways that you can use social media to boost your nonprofit’s SEO efforts.

1. Optimize your social profile bios

If someone wants to find out more about your organization, they will likely turn to your social pages. Most social media platforms provide a dedicated space for you to tell people about your organization, so make sure you capitalize on that. For new visitors, this is a chance to make a positive first impression and impact.

According to eclincher, you should add a brief description of your mission, your location, a link tree with important URLs to your website and relevant keywords (just be careful to not squeeze in too many).

2. Produce backlink-worthy content

Webpages with a lot of backlinks often climb to the top of search engine rankings. Yet one study shows that 66.31% of pages don’t have even a single backlink!

You can generate backlinks when other websites or content creators see your posts and decide to link to them in their own content. This helps you gain visibility with a new audience, and search engines will recognize your site as an authoritative source.

3. Create meaningful and relevant content

Your content should always provide some value to the reader. It might help them learn something new, answer a question or reinforce their support for your mission.

This is also an opportunity to build trust with your audience, which is critical in our current environment. Authenticity and humanity must be at the heart of your social media interactions and how you tell the story of your mission, as we shared in The 2024 Nonprofit Marketer’s Compass.

You must come across as trustworthy and deliver relevant content by getting to know what your audience responds well to through social listening and analyzing performance. The more consistent your post frequency can be, the more visibility you’ll get, which helps you to build relationships with those who may eventually want to share your content. 

You can also use automated tools for scheduling posts, like Hootsuite or Buffer, and to figure out the best times to post on social media to further boost your visibility. The goal is to create content that people want to share with their followers and friends and to attract the attention of other websites who may link to yours.

4. Be proactive with link opportunities

Social media posts can be used to direct people to your website, with a couple of caveats:

  • Don’t do it so frequently that it looks like spam.
  • Be aware that social algorithms may suppress the reach of posts with outbound links.

Eclincher suggests using specific types of content, such as infographics and videos, and helping readers share more efficiently by using a custom, short URL.

Take advantage of blog content that your organization may already be sharing. You can and should be sharing blogs and articles that direct back to your website, and social platforms like Facebook, X and LinkedIn are the perfect spaces to do so.

We also recommend continuously repurposing and reframing top performing blog content to stretch it as far as possible, without being redundant or overly repetitive.

5. Harness the power of social media SEO

If you’re already using SEO strategies for your website, you should be accustomed to integrating keywords and phrases into your content.

Social media SEO is no different.

The posts may be shorter, but there are still plenty of opportunities. Just be sure to make the keywords sound natural rather than forcing them into the message.

Performing keyword research is also a great way to find topics to post about. Eclincher recommends checking out what’s trending, making note of keywords and phrases used to search on social platforms, and comparing them with your list of SEO keywords. Those that turn up on both lists are the ones to use.

Using ALT text in your social media posts is also an effective way to implement a few keywords and make your posts more discoverable AND accessible—a win-win. A few best practices when writing ALT text include:

  • Describe the image and consider the context of the post.
  • Keep it concise, avoiding filler words and emojis.
  • Use keywords sparingly.

It’s ultimately more important to be accurate, intentional and appear authentic. If you can logically work your keywords into the image description, go for it. If not, that's where hashtags can come into play.

6. Develop an optimized hashtag strategy with SEO in mind

Incorporating hashtags into your SEO strategy can be a game changer in enhancing your online visibility. While hashtags are typically associated with social media, their value extends to SEO and content categorization.

Follow these tips from Amit Govil to help drive more organic traffic to your website:

  • Research relevant hashtags: Find the most popular hashtags in your sector/vertical and implement those most relevant to your cause/mission. This is where SEO keyword research can come into play as well. If there is overlap, you’ve likely found a gem.
  • Use hashtags sparingly: It can be easy to get carried away with hashtagging, but don’t overdo it. We typically recommend 2-3 hashtags per post that feel authentic and genuine to the message and your organization.
  • Continuously test: Be sure to keep a good pulse on the performance of your hashtagged posts, and take note of how specific hashtags affect your SEO and overall engagements. You shouldn’t necessarily be using the same hashtags on every post, but you should be able to pinpoint specific keywords that have the most impact and implement those regularly.

Final thoughts

According to a blog from Hubspot, search engines do not officially use social signals as a ranking factor. However, there are still benefits to linking these two strategies. Search engines notice when you attract a lot of traffic to your site and deem your organization as credible, relevant and high quality, which will lead to a higher search result.

If you’re sharing interesting, click-worthy content on social media, you may see a boost in traffic. If people see your posts and share your links, you may see a boost in traffic.

Many social signals inform Google of the integrity of your site, so start planning ways to connect your organic social and organic search strategies.

Additional Resources 

Julia Patterson

Julia Patterson is an expert in organic social media marketing. As RKD’s Digital Media Senior Manager, Organic Social, Julia helps build organic strategies for our nonprofit clients that align with their fundraising messages, engage their followers and drive channel growth.


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