The Quick SEO Checklist for Nonprofit Writers

If your nonprofit is writing kick-ass content and connecting with your audience by sharing it via social media and email channels, you’re definitely heading down the right path for amplifying your mission and cause. However, if you don’t have someone that checks to make sure your nonprofit’s SEO is on point, you could potentially be missing out on a lot of organic search traffic.

The great thing about optimizing for organic search traffic is this:

If you put in 10 minutes once, and you get it right, you can reap the benefits for months or even years to come!

That’s why I’m sharing our go-to SEO checklist. We use this checklist ourselves at Media Cause, and we customize it for all of our SEO clients.

Media Cause’s SEO Checklist for Nonprofit Writers and Bloggers

Once you choose your focus keyword, all you have to do is:

1. Include your focus keyword in ALL of the following:

Content visible to readers:

  • Article headline or page title
  • First paragraph – the closer to the beginning of the paragraph, the better
  • Page Subheadings
  • URL


  • Meta title
  • Meta Description

2. Use section titles

  • Break up your post with subheadings, and use your keyword in the section titles
  • Use H2 and H3 formatting instead of bold or italic.

3. Mind your Metas (and other technical details)

  • Length guidelines:
    • Meta Title: max. 50-60 characters
    • Meta Description: max. 150-160 characters
    • Entire post: longer articles do better for SEO (e.g. >1200 words) – ideal length depends on the content, but always aim for at least 300-400 words.
  • In addition to containing the keyword, make sure the URL, Meta Title, and Meta Description are:
    • relevant to your content
    • catchy enough to be interesting
  • Check your Flesch reading ease score – Google wants to make sure your content can easily be read by many. Depending on your audience, aim for a reading score no lower than 50. If a text scores lower, try writing shorter sentences and use less complicated words (with fewer syllables). If you have the Yoast plugin for WordPress, it will tell you your score. If not, you can test your readability score here.

4. Add an image – Always

  • Include the keyword in the actual filename of the image
    • RENAME the files on your computer before uploading the image
    • Use the keyword
    • Describe what’s on the image
    • Use hyphens and lowercase (e.g. ‘nonprofit-seo-checklist.png’)
  • Include the keyword in your alt tags and title tags (e.g. ‘Nonprofit SEO Checklist’).

5. Use Links

  • Link to other content on your own site – subtly or as a callout for more information on the subject.
  • Link to other websites, especially those that are already highly regarded by Google.
  • Have no more than 4 links per ~500 words, of which no more than 2 are external
    • Best practices on this depend on the type of content; for custom advice get in touch below
    • You can also use no-follow tags (rel=”nofollow”) on your links if you don’t want to pass on SEO cred (if you have good reason to do so)
  • Ensure there is no external link in the first paragraph
    • The first link passes on the most SEO credit, especially if it is in the first paragraph. If you send most incoming traffic to an external source, you will leave little for your own article.
  • Make sure the anchor text is relevant to the target page

6. Use your keyword, but don’t overdo it.

  • Using synonyms and related keywords is a great alternative because Google is familiar with those and is increasingly putting more importance on them.
  • Aim for a keyword density of no more than 3%. Keyword density is dead, there is no minimum # of times you need to use a keyword. But you can definitely use a keyword too much.
Sidenote: Is keyword density really dead?

Yes. One of my clients ranks for a very popular keyword, without even using the exact keyword once. Not on the page, nor in the metadata. It is one of their highest performing organic search landing pages. If you are writing high-quality content that is relevant to your audience, use all the relevant words in all the right places, and are considered a reliable source on the topic – you can rank. However, there are a lot of factors in play when it comes to getting ranked. Making sure you write high-quality content for your target keywords, and using the keywords in that content is still your best strategy.

We use the ‘Yoast SEO’ plugin for WordPress on the Media Cause website and on many of our clients’ sites to remind us of SEO guidelines and to fill out the meta-data. If you have a WordPress site, we highly recommend downloading this plugin, as it will make your life so much easier. We have no affiliation with Yoast, but it’s like the Robin to my Batman, the Peeta to my Katniss, the Watson to my Holmes… I think you get my point.

If you want more SEO advice or need help finding the right keywords, submit an RFP below and follow us on twitter @MediaCause.


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