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Brighton SEO: key notes for charities

Brighton pier at sunset

October saw the autumnal return of the brilliant Brighton SEO. With loads of exciting talks lined up, it was truly difficult to choose between which ones we wanted to visit. We managed to bag some spaces for both the Online PR show and the Brighton SEO main event on Thursday, and were really impressed with the range and quality of talks put on. So, without any further delay, we want to dive in and share our main takeaway points from the world of digital PR and SEO that charities should take note of.


The power of emotive video for donations

An interesting point to take away from the Online PR show, was the result of a study looking at the impact of emotional response on charitable donations. In the study, people watched various videos that elicited different levels of emotional response and were then offered the opportunity to donate pretend money to a pretend charity.

Whilst emotional response didn’t predict who would or wouldn’t donate, it did find that of the people who chose to donate, those with higher levels of oxytocin and cortisol gave higher donation amounts.

People donate to a cause because they connect to it, so charities need to do everything they can to nurture their relationship with their audience. Video content can make a big difference and really help charities to connect with their target audience on an emotional level.  In the long-run, this improved relationship can help charities meet fundraising targets.

Yet, video content is a competitive field, with around 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. That’s 30,000 hours of new video an hour that your charity video is competing for audience attention with.

Audience attention spans are also getting shorter, with some research suggesting it has decreased to 8 seconds, due to the overabundance of information available at our fingertips. Considering the narrow window of opportunity charities have to capture their audience’s attention, creating video content users can connect with is vital when building successful fundraising campaigns.


Digital PR KPI’s should measure ROI rather than number of links

When it comes to SEO, once your content and technical elements are completely optimised, one of the main factors that will differentiate the charities competing at the top of search results are their backlink profiles. As digital PR is an effective way for you to gain backlinks to your site, this makes it a vital asset and a necessary investment for charities to consider if they want to stand out from the competition.

However, it is sometimes all too easy to fall into the trap thinking the only SEO benefit of backlinks is to help you rank (to then secure the increase in traffic to your site). Outside of organic rankings, acquiring backlinks from relevant sites are highly valuable as they help to drive traffic from sites that also share your target audience.

The end goal of these backlinks is to drive traffic from relevant target audiences which will create meaningful engagement and increase your goal conversions, whether that be form completions, volunteer signups or donations.

Therefore, instead of reducing your digital PR KPI’s to a simple target number of backlinks, charities should look at the return on investment (ROI) they will get from their digital PR efforts. By calculating the increase in traffic volumes (through increased ranking positions) and then applying your average conversion rate for that particular page, charities can now focus on figures which represent a financial ROI, as opposed to just a set number of links.

By developing a digital PR strategy using carefully calculated numbers about quality traffic and conversions, as opposed to simply chasing a high volume of low quality links from unrelated sites, charities will be able to drive more meaningful traffic to their sites whilst using their digital PR budgets more efficiently.


Using faceted navigation to optimise ecommerce for charities

All charities use ecommerce to varying extents. Whilst some may just use it for donation activity, many others will also have shops selling items ranging all the way from seasonal gifts to lifesaving health products. Finding the best way to optimise these product category pages can sometimes feel like a mammoth task, but optimising your faceted navigation is one way to pull ahead of your competition.

What is faceted navigation?

Faceted navigation is usually found on category pages of your site that deal with multiple listing and is designed to help users filter through results based on different attributes, so they can easily find what they are looking for. For charities, this could include:

  • Products (sorted by price, colour, cost)
  • Job vacancies (sorted by job sector, salary, date posted)
  • Volunteering roles (sorted by position type, location, duration)


example of faceted navigation for a charity shop faceted navigation example for volunteer roles


How optimising your faceted-navigation can benefit SEO

Optimising and cleaning up your faceted-navigation can help fix a range of issues with your site including:

  • Duplicate content
  • Index bloat
  • Wasted crawl budget

To optimise your faceted nav, we recommend using concise, SEO-friendly URLs for your categories, which Google prefers.

You want to be considerate of the different categories you target within organic search, using the nav. It can be very easy to have overlap in the categories that rank, which contributes to the risk of duplication and index bloat. Your organic performance would benefit from having a smaller selection of indexable categories, which each have a distinct focus and won’t compete in the rankings. By pushing these towards Google you are able to take more control over the content it crawls and indexes, helping to better use your available crawl budget.

This optimisation will be beneficial for charities because developing granular categories gives you the opportunity to target more niche and long-tail keywords, which are proven to have higher conversion rates. By ranking for these terms and gaining more traffic, this will also very likely help to increase your target conversions. If you want to read up more about this, Ahrefs have a brilliant guide on faceted-navigation SEO best practices.


GA4 data customisation benefits for charities

GA4 is Google’s latest analytics platform designed to be the future of measurement, and is soon to replace Universal Analytics (UA).

For many charities, the shift from UA to GA4 may seem a tad daunting, especially if you don’t have any in-house expertise in data management and analytics. You may be wondering why you even need to shift to GA4 at all.

Well, in addition to the fact that GA4 will be the only option from July 1st 2023, as UA properties will then stop collecting data, there are many benefits for your SEO which can be achieved by making the move.


GA4 offers greater clarity between users and sessions

You will notice that the GA4 acquisition section is focussed on user acquisition, traffic acquisition and Google Ad campaigns reports. This is simplified from UA analytics which covered Google Ads, search console, social and campaign reports.

In GA4, the breakdown means the user acquisition report data will provide you with information on where new users come from, whereas the traffic acquisition report will show you where new sessions come from.

New users vs new sessions in GA4

New user metrics look at the number of users who interacted with your site or launched your app for the first time (measured by the number of unique user IDs that logged the first_open or first_visit event). New sessions on the other hand, start on each occasion that someone visits your website when someone loads a page. A session will end after 30 minutes of inactivity.

Simply put, new users represent an individual person who has visited your site for the first time, whereas one user can create multiple new sessions if they visit your sight several times. As a result, you’ll see sessions record higher numbers than user data.

These reports will help you be better able to optimise your site content taking into consideration where new users are landing, compared to your pages with high overall session numbers.


Data analysis made easy

The introduction of new default channel groupings and new metrics such as ‘engaged sessions’ and ‘engagement rate’ will help you be able to view data with enhanced granularity. To be measured as an engaged session, a visitor to your site will have to do one or more of the following things:

  1. Engage actively on your site or app for over 10 seconds, such as clicking or scrolling.
  2. Have 2 or more page views.
  3. Fire a conversion event.

GA4 can then calculate an engagement rate, which is the number of engaged session divided by the total number of sessions. This means charities will be able to extract more meaningful data about users who are actively engaging with their site’s content.


GA4 default report customisation

During the keynote speech about GA4 on the Thursday of Brighton SEO, we jumped into default report customisation. You can tailor the default reporting interface in GA4 to include specific target metrics and goals. In addition to this, you are also able to customise the left-hand navigation to only show reports you are interested in, and collections of reports can be created for specific groups of users.

For charities, this means you can set up a default report which highlights the data most important to your organisation, making it easy to view at a glance. You can also create different reports for teams within your charity with data relevant to their specific needs. These reports can then be easily organised into collections for individual teams within your organisation to easily access and analyse, such as fundraising, content or marketing.

As a digital media marketing agency, we have also found that ‘explorations’ in GA4 is versatile and  it comes to digging through your data and creating custom reports on the platform.

There is no doubt that GA4 will enable charities to dive deeper into their user data. In turn, this will enable you to optimise your site content in a way that is even more helpful for users. The shift of focus between UA and GA4 mirrors the overarching theme of Google algorithm updates this year, which have largely been focussing on user experience and providing genuinely useful content for them.


What were your Brighton SEO highlights?

We had a fantastic time at Brighton SEO this October, and we would love to hear about your favourite bits too – tweet us @upriseUPSEM. If you’d like to know more about how we can support your charities’ SEO efforts, then you can send an email to hello@upriseup.co.uk or drop us a message via the contact page.

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