Link Building for Nonprofits: What to Do and What to Avoid

There are more than 1.5 million registered nonprofits in operation across the U.S. So how can you help make yours stand out in a veritable sea of similar humanitarian organizations? Whether part of a targeted campaign or the larger picture, digital marketing is a promising choice for increasing your revenue along with the reach of your organization.

But when it comes to digital marketing, it can be difficult to pinpoint the most important parts of your nonprofit’s strategy. Should you focus on content, ads, social media, organic SEO, or something else? If you’re looking to build your site’s reach and grow your online reputation, link building should also be included in your marketing strategy. But link building is often a complex process that requires a number of steps in order to be successful. So, as a nonprofit owner or manager, how can you best incorporate link building into your marketing strategy? What are some of the dos and don’ts of link building?

The Lowdown on Link Building

Among nonprofits and for-profit businesses alike, the link building process should begin with a little bit of background on the methodology. Simply put, a successful link building campaign can help your nonprofit’s website to rank higher than your competition on Google search pages, as well as other search engines. Ideally, you want your organization’s website to pop up on page 1 following a user search. That’s because at least 71% of people don’t go past page 1 to find what they’re looking for.

What’s more, websites that rank on the first page are typically considered by users to be the most reputable, even if that isn’t the case. In fact, Google’s page rank algorithm has been shrouded in mystery since its development in the late 1990s. The exact way Penguin, the latest algorithm version, determines page rank remains as elusive as ever, but we do know that Penguin looks at both the number of other sites that have linked to your main domain, as well as the quality of those links.

So how does your nonprofit go about building links in order to catch the discerning eye of Google Penguin? It all starts with content. When your website or blog provides quality, linkable content, you’re one step closer to a page 1 ranking.

High-Quality Content: At the Core of Link Building

Businesses need to have compelling, informative, and effective content in order to proceed with a healthy and robust link building campaign. Therein lies the true heart of link building: engaging and informative content that’s worth linking to. Although unscrupulous practices exist wherein you can purchase links back to your website (called “black hat” link building), black hat tactics are expressly forbidden by Google’s terms of service.

Quality links, therefore, must be earned rather than given. That’s why it’s crucial that you create content that is well-researched and designed to answer user questions in a way that no other resource can. Research is an ideal starting point. Browse the websites of your competitors and see what types of information their blog provides. Are there any subjects they have neglected? If so, perhaps you’ve found your content niche.

When creating linkable content, hand the job over to the best writers you can find. Proper grammar and syntax really do matter in the realm of content marketing. If your content is riddled with grammatical errors, overdone slang, or typos, it’s more likely to get passed over. It’s also important to note that longer content is likely to get you more links and shares than shorter pieces or clickbait-style articles.

Link Building Tips and Tricks

Creating linkable content is just the starting point of a successful link building campaign. Next, you’ll need to put your networking skills to the test. Reach out to your existing partners and like-minded organizations in the nonprofit community. An existing professional relationship serves as a strong foundation for link building.

Ideally, you want your content linked by reputable websites, most notably .gov and .edu websites, which the majority of users consider to be highly trustworthy. If you reach the point where you’ve exhausted your networking list and only have a handful of backlinks to show for it, it may be prudent to seek outside help. Consider adding an experienced link builder to your nonprofit’s payroll, or outsourcing the job to a marketing company that specializes in link building.

When embarking on a link building campaign, knowing what to avoid is just as important as understanding what to do right. As we have seen, engaging in black hat link building schemes can harm your website’s visibility rather than elevate it. You should also be sure not to skimp on content that’s well-researched, engaging, and authoritative.

Further, it would be a mistake to view link building as simply a fleeting trend in the realm of digital marketing. The practice has been in widespread use since at least 2014, and Google Penguin continues to view backlinks as one of the important aspects in determining page rank.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, link building is inherently beneficial to your bottom line but can also be a time-consuming and expensive process. It’s up to you and your nonprofit’s marketing team to determine whether the cost is worth it. But when it comes down to it, backlinks have a direct correlation to Google traffic and page rank, equating greater visibility to your nonprofit and its underlying mission.

Subscribe to weekly marketing tips

Every monday, you’ll get a useful email that gives you an action plan for how you can grow your brand. In it, you’ll find:

  • Quick and helpful marketing advice
  • Practical action steps
  • Relevant blog articles to learn more
  • Recommendations for useful tools
Scroll to Top