Charities are often in the same league as university and government websites when it comes to domain authority and trust.
Links from authoritative sites, such as these, are still one of the biggest factors for ranking high in the SERP’s. A link will not only help your link profile, it will also benefit your company’s brand, helping to associate it with good causes. Volunteering also has indirect benefits. It can be used as a newsworthy story for a press release, which can lead to even more links for your website.
This blog post will outline a strategy on how to get links from a charity’s website while improving your karma at the same time!
Finding a Charity
One of my goals at the start of the year was to volunteer for a charity. I wanted to use my knowledge to help a non-profit with their SEO strategy and also become more experienced in a field that interests me greatly.
After working for two separate charities I soon learned, they were both generous in linking out to websites who volunteered or partnered with their organization. Being an SEO, it quickly dawned on me that this was a great way for a business to build links and also help a charity at the same time.
www.volunteermatch.org is a website which acts like a dating service for charities and volunteers, matching the skills of the volunteer with the needs of the charity. You can use their website to find charities that are looking for SEO, or any kind of help.
You can narrow your search to your local area, but it’s worth being broad in your criteria as many jobs can be performed remotely. There is even a check box to search for ‘virtual opportunities’. The above search gave 15 results:
Now, depending on your motivation, you can either volunteer for a charity whose goals you feel most passionately about or, you can choose one which has a website with the greatest authority and is most likely to link to you. I’m not going to judge your choice, as long as you actively volunteer, and don’t simply get a link and run!
Assessing the Potential
If you click on the first listing in the screenshot above, you will find the charities URL: raceforpeace.org. Doing a quick analysis, using Open Site Explorer we can see the URL has only one domain linking to it and a Page Authority/Rank of just 1. Despite this low assessment, one thing to note is the charity is generous in linking to its ‘trusted partners’ from the homepage. Maybe after you have helped with their online marketing they will have more links pointing to their site and their authority will increase.
Compare the authority of raceforpeace.org to the second listing healthychild.org which has 10,640 links from 1,336 domains, a page authority of 56 and a PR 6 homepage. A quick browse on their site finds a ‘collaborators page’ which lists a number of other charities and businesses including Wells Fargo – if they can get a link, after volunteering your services, I am sure you can.
Contacting the Charity
Once you have found a charity you would be interested in helping, register with volunteermatch.org and press on the ‘I want to help’ link to express an interest in the volunteer opportunity. Provide a brief summary on why you would be best suited for the role. When I volunteered I thought it would be similar to applying for a regular job where it can take weeks before receiving a response. I was actually inundated with replies within hours and had to turn down a number of volunteering opportunities, so bear this in mind.
Getting the Link
Dr. Robert Cialdini was a professor of psychology and is the author of ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’. In his most recent work he defines six ‘weapons of influence’ with the first being ‘Reciprocity’.
Ciladini writes that ‘people tend to return a favour’. This is especially true if the favour does not require much effort on the part of the person who received the original good deed. If you help a charity, there is a good chance that in return they will respond positively to a request for a link, with the anchor text of your choosing.
Wait until you have actually done some meaningful work before requesting the link. The best time to ask is once you have achieved a goal or reached a milestone.
If you have access to edit the webpage you only need to ask permission. If not, call the person who has the authority to give you the link and then follow up to ensure your link is added.
As this technique shows, getting links is often about forming relationships and providing incentives. Remember, you don’t have to offer SEO services – if you have a book keeping or web design company and are less busy at certain times of the year, why not use your excess capacity to help a charity? Alternatively if you are out of work and have some spare time, why not volunteer? The experience will look great on your resume and you will likely find it to be rewarding as well.