Google goes mobile-first

Google Searches Now Prioritize Mobile over Desktop

Google announced on March 26, 2018, that after 18 months of planning and experimentation, the godfather of web searches will start migrating sites that follow best practices (best SEO configuration) to mobile-first indexing.

What had been, up to now, a practice of crawling and ranking content typically used in the desktop’s version of a website’s content, which sometimes caused issues since a mobile version of a page can be quite different, will instead focus on the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking.

Best practices for dynamic serving and separate URLs (short version)

If your site has separate desktop and mobile content, which means you have a dynamic serving or separate URLs (or m-dot) site, make sure you follow the best practices below to prepare for mobile-first indexing:

  • Your mobile site should contain the same content as your desktop site. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop site, you should consider updating your mobile site so that its primary content is equivalent with your desktop site. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
  • Structured data should be present on both versions of your site. Make sure URLs in the structured data on the mobile versions are updated to the mobile URLs. If you use Data Highlighter to provide structured data, regularly check the Data Highlighter dashboard for extraction errors.
  • Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. Make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of your site.

For more information on this, read the Google Press Release.

website maintenance pricing plans

New for 2018: Monthly Website Maintenance Plans

We’ve recently added monthly service plans for website maintenance. These plans will help ensure that your website maintains updated and competitive. The client (designated contact person) gets a weekly “check in” call to see what’s new and should be shared with the viewers, posts are written and pages updated quickly, and the WordPress environment is checked over and updated as needed.

The rationale is this: when a budgeted amount of time per week/month is set aside for the development and upkeep of the website, performed by a website pro who has your back, then the client is more inclined to re-prioritize the website. (Because money has already been allocated, and they’re getting help.) From this, a more dynamic and utilized web presence is sure to follow quickly. (And, naturally, the organization’s staff is more freed-up for other important tasks.)

What’s more, the organization garners a special discounted rate! All within a monthly payment plan that will maintain the lower rate even when over the allotted time.


>> Please click here for details on the plans.

Nonprofit versus For-profit Websites

Nonprofit Versus For-profit Websites

When a website (be it nonprofit or for-profit) is well thought out and branded, it will not only exude the entity’s product and, or, mission instantly with a captivating presence–all the while appealing to the viewer’s sensibilities–but be user-friendly in the process. In other words, “user experience” (UE/UX) is vital for any website. As for the website’s primary reason for being (most will think it’s always about revenue generation) this is where the two start to deviate.

For commercial endeavors, the main goal is nearly always to make money. That’s a given. But for the nonprofit, the answer is a bit more complicated.

For the nonprofit, success is not calculated in terms of mere profit (though raising money is certainly a major priority if it wishes to survive) but rather how well it fulfills its overall mission. Therefore, the product, be it a widget or a social service, somehow has to be sold to someone and revenue generated.

Where the Split Occurs

The for-profit website targets the buyer of the product—who is almost always (save for gift cards) the end-user of the product. So when you are creating your website for the commercial sector, you are communicating to one audience: the buyer/user.

The nonprofit, however, generally speaks to two audiences—usually split equally. One message is for the product buyer (the donor of the product or service) and the other message is to the user of the product (the people in need of the product or service—the client). And, this sort of split-branding can be a challenge.

In both instances, the product needs to be well promoted as necessary to the buyer, as well as of good value—be it a widget for oneself, or service to another. For the for-profit, this singular focus makes creating the web presence rather streamlined.

But what about the nonprofit’s end user—the client. Their user experience will not be buyer’s satisfaction or even return on social investment (ROsI), but on when, where, and how to obtain the product/service and how quickly they can access it. (Which, by the way, is also import to the buyer/funder who considers overall user experience for clients as a reasonable ROsI.)

ROsI

The ROsI does not stop at the product/service level for the funder, or even how well the website is offering equal space for donor and client. The funder tends to look at multiple factors:

  • Desktop/laptop viewing first: Can they view the website well on their desktop/laptop as well as mobile device? (Since donors tend to use desktops/laptops more than mobile devices when considering their involvement in an organization, adequate content is key.)
  • Is the website engaging, without a look of wastefulness? I.E., too flashy and overly trendy?
  • How are the clients (recipients of their intended support) perceived? Will certain content direction (images and descriptions) turn-off the donor—or, perhaps, the client? (For the donor, often times the pitch is showing the worst-case scenario, where when you’re addressing the client, optimism and non-judgment is key.)
  • What is the call to action other than the donation request? The sign-up form or invitation to an event allows the donor to feel like a bigger part of the organization’s community than just another income stream.
  • How has the website prioritized their giving, be it donations or volunteering time.

Access

As for the client, their priorities may be:

  • Mobile device first: Is the website mobile-device friendly (“responsive”)? According to a Pew study, 50-75% of homeless and low-income people only have access to a mobile device, be it smart phone or tablet. Considering this, the website should be designed with desktop in mind for the donors, and in responsive format for clients—which requires a judicial approach to the paring down content, along with format tweaks, for best view on mobile devices.
  • How intuitive is it to locate the product/service? Are dates and times clearly stated? Are schedules, directions and maps provided?
  • What are the limitations and “need to know” messages?

Special Content for the Nonprofit

There are pages and applications that are geared more for the nonprofit than the for-profit:

  • Client programs/services
  • HIPPA or other statement of privacy
  • Financial disclosure
  • Volunteer program and forms
  • Board of directors page
  • Access to departmental staff
  • Robust About Us / History page(s)
  • Achievements and/or profiles
  • Membership/subscription
  • Dynamic social networking center-point
  • Calendar
  • Donation options page (from one-time donations to planned/estate giving)
  • A very user-friendly “back end” so that in-house staff and/or volunteers can make updates and new pages without the need to have a dedicated webmaster.

In a nutshell, the user experience differs between nonprofit and for-profit websites, and we get that. Dot Org Web Works stand out from other website developers because we only work for the charitable nonprofit sector.

CMS compared for nonprofits

WordPress Compared to Joomla and Drupal

Content Management Systems (CMS) has been the choice for website developers ever since they metamorphosed from its humble beginnings as Dr. Glen Barry’s “blog” in the 1990s, to the web platform that is now powering the vast majority of all websites on the Internet. Though there were many startup CMS choices just a few years ago, the field has narrowed to three main competitors: Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress.

Currently, WordPress is by far the dominant choice. An astounding 59.1% of all CMS sites are from WordPress (or an even more amazing figure of 28.1% of all websites within the worldwide web). Trailing far behind is Joomla with its market share of 6.9% of CMS, and Drupal with 4.7% of CMS.

WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have their key technical features in common:

  • they’re open source content management systems,
  • they all support the MySQL database, although Joomla and Drupal allow for support with other database systems,
  • and, all of them use pre-developed themes and plugins (modules that extend features) to enhance functionality and showcase content.

 

Taking a closer look…

Installation and Use

WordPress is relatively easy to install. If you understand the basics of uploading files to a server and configuring the database (MySQL), then the process will take just a few minutes. (Although, WordPress comes with its “famous five minute install,” unless you are a professional or have prior experience, you better budget in a few more minutes.) Once you’re set up, you’ll be introduced to the Dashboard (control panel) where prime settings are adjusted, new Pages and Posts are made, and customization with the plugins are achieved. WordPress is quite intuitive—and, given its dominance in the market, very familiar to many website managers.

Joomla is also rather quick to install, but not as fast as WordPress. The control panel is a bit more complicated to navigate. Drupal’s installation is also fairly similar to WordPress and Joomla. Its post installation can be a bit complicated for beginners, and knowing how to make changes are not as intuitive. Overall though, they are all intuitive and should work fine for you once you’ve familiarized yourself with the chosen system.


Support

Because of WordPress’ popularity, there are more free support options available. Plus, WordPress has a massive support community through various forums and through WordPress.org. Joomla and Drupal also have support communities, although not as vast.


Plugins and Themes Availability

Where the real benefit of WP is over the other two, aside from a larger market share and user base, is its access to more than 38,000 plugins, which are free within the WordPress.org plugin directory. These are, of course, in addition to the “premium” plugins available to WP systems for a nominal cost.

Joomla and Drupal also have many templates and plugins that work with their respective systems, but they are not nearly as plentiful and the quality tends not to be as high.


Security

For many operators of CMS sites, security ranks near or at the top of concerns. All three provide for a respectable level of security, with quick remedies to counter hacks, and backup systems for when you need to re-install part or all of your website. Overall, there is no clear winner for the average CMS website in the security department. However, since WordPress is the bigger dog in the yard, hackers tend to focus on WP first. That said, all three CMS platforms have equally good response times and fixes for when security breaches are realized.

Two of the less talked about and more vulnerable aspects of a CMS framework, according to Randy Morris of Releventure, are plugins and themes. These prolific and popular elements provide a quick functionality fix, however oftentimes at the cost of security, as they usually have very few developers and not very frequent updates.

In general all three platforms have similar release cycles and robust communities. The key with each of these platforms will always be to follow proper security policies, maintain vigilant updating, use well-maintained monitoring and scanning services (such as Sucuri), have solid backups, and recover processes in place.


Winner?

The overall winner then? Well, since all three CMS are reliable and have adequate access to themes, plugins, and support communities, and each resolves security issues; it comes down to what your specific needs are. But if those needs are sufficiently addressed in all three (which is likely), then it comes down to user friendliness. That said, since WordPress has the natural advantage of being the most popular CMS, with its very user-friendly control panel (Dashboard) and its far greater percentage of users (e.g., staff and volunteers who are familiar with the system), this, in our view, puts WordPress on top.

 


Sources: PC Tech Magazine, WP for Beginners, W3Techs, Sitepoint, Quora, Randy Morris.
Setting Up Google Ad Grants

Nabbing Google Ad Grants

You may have heard by now that Google has a program that benefits nonprofit organizations: Google for Nonprofits (clever naming, ea?) What you might not have know is that within their program options, there’s an offer to enroll into Google Ad Grants. And, if approved, you will be awarded with $10,000 (that’s not a typo) per month in Google Ad credit. And… should you exhaust that budget, two times within a six month period, you can then apply to receive the $40,000 (that’s not a typo either) per month Ad Grant (Grantspro).

What does this mean to you? Well, you’ll no doubt get more traffic to your website. So when someone Google’s the phrase (for example): “Giving to the Homeless During the Holidays”, instead of coming up on some secondary (organic) results listing, you can float to the top where the paid Google Ads are. More visits to your website means more immediate donations, or more sign-ups to your mailing list—thus resulting in more long-term stakeholders to your organization.

Who can apply? Most nonprofits. Ad Grants is for select non-institutional 501(c)(3) nonprofits. However, the following type of organizations are not eligible: government entities, hospitals & medical groups, schools, childcare centers, academic institutions and universities.

“Okay, I’m sold!”, you say. “What’s my next steps?”

The process, though somewhat elementary, does take a bit of time and know-how with respects to preparing your Ad Grants application. (It’s less of a formal application then the ability to prove that you understand the ad placement mechanism and will actually fully engage yourself in the program.) But once the application process is done, you’ll be ready to begin creating your ad Campaigns for immediate placement. It just takes a little bit of patience.

Here are the basics to understand:

  • First, you will have to apply (and be approved) for Google for Nonprofits (https://www.google.com/nonprofits) For that, you’ll need to have your:
    • organization’s Employer ID (EIN), which is also your charity ID number. (Example: 20-1234567)
    • organization’s full legal name that is associated with your EIN
    • organization’s legal address
    • organization’s mission statement
  • the approval process for Google for Nonprofits is generally very quick—sometimes within minutes.

Setting Up Google Ad Grants:

  • Once accepted into the Google for Nonprofits program you will need to return to the above link, get yourself over to the Enroll in Exclusive Products for Nonprofits screen, and select “enroll” under the Google Ad Grants
    • You will have to create your first “Ad Campaign” and “Group Ad” (this, however, takes some know how. Google has people who can help you with this if you have been approved for other Google for Nonprofit products—otherwise, you’ll need some private help).
    • Finalize your submission. (Approval can take between 2-10 days.)


>>If you need help with the Google for Nonprofits and/or Ad Grant application process, just contact us.

 

8 fundraising tools 2017

Nonprofit Fundraising Tools to Watch in 2017

Source: Nonprofit Tech for Good

Digital payments are going to make a big impact on social and mobile media in 2017, but there are some new fundraising services and niche tools and apps that speak to current fundraising trends in the nonprofit sector i.e., the decreased of use cash, the rapid rise of the app economy, and gaming for good. That said, launching a fundraising start-up is not easy and the odds of making it long-term are slim. Your experimentation with at least one of the tools below (or from the 2016 list and 2015 list), would be greatly appreciated by their founders.

Read the entire article here.

giving tuesday 2016

Giving Tuesday 2016

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. It’s an opportunity for your nonprofit organization to raise funds for your important work.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. GT has created a directory to help people find your organization within their own community.

Learn more about Giving Tuesday by visiting: www.givingtuesday.org

internet things and fundraising

5 Ways the Internet of Things Could Transform Fundraising

Source: Nonprofit Tech for Good

By the year 2020, over 26 billion things — cars, appliances, roads — will be connected to the internet. Known as the Internet of Things, our digital and philanthropic lives are about to transform. In the coming years the social good sector will launch#IoT apps that will empower real-time giving while watching TV or listening to radio through your refrigerator. These new fundraising apps will use new payment systems, such as Samsung Pay and Apple Pay (or your Facebook or Twitter login), and fundraising will transcend to level never even imagined by The Jetsons.

Read the entire article here.

Non profit bridge numbers

What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About the New BRIDGE Numbers

Source: Nonprofit Tech for Good

Launched on February 4, the new BRIDGE Registry is a database of more than three million nonprofits, NGOs, and charities worldwide and each one of them has been assigned a new BRIDGE Number. This new numbering system is a huge leap forwardfor global philanthropy and may one day enable individuals to donate online to any nonprofit with a BRIDGE Number – not through the BRIDGE Registry itself, but rather through an online or mobile giving service that uses the BRIDGE numbering system. Here’s what your nonprofit needs to know about the new BRIDGE Numbers:

1. Odds are your nonprofit has a BRIDGE Number.

There are estimated to be more than 10 million nonprofits, charities, NGOs, ONGs, and CSOs worldwide, but the majority are not yet online and do not have a digital footprint. If your reading this now, then your nonprofit is likely online and does have a digital footprint and therefore is likely to have a new BRIDGE Number. Conduct a search and take note of your number.

Read the entire article here.

6 Things Your Nonprofit Website Can Be Doing Now For the Holidays Giving Period

Traditionally, the holiday period is when many supporters decide on which charity to support and how much to give. (More than 30% of donations processed through Network for Good’s occurs in December alone.) Well before Thanksgiving you’ll want to ramp up your fundraising program, starting with your website.

We offer these suggestions:

First, and foremost, can your website process online donations securely and quickly? If not, Network for Good, Qgiv and AffiniPay are just a few prime examples of donation services that specialize in processing credit card donations to nonprofit organizations.

1. Showcase the Need

Create a new Post/article showcasing the issue at hand (e.g.: For the homeless, winter is most difficult;  Family service needs increases during holidays; Affordable housing solutions for families year-round, etc.). This Post should be given priority placement on your Home page with a strong, inviting, title.

 

2. Highlight the Giving Opportunity

family-campignProvide the opportunity, a call to action (CTA), for your website visitor to give to your program (per above examples). Throughout your CTA, broadcast your success with the funding amount raised to-date, and how much further to go to reach its goal.

  • You’ll want to make sure that, at the very least, your giving options page is responsive to mobile devices. About 10% of online donations are made through mobile devices.
  • Brand (tailor) your giving page to that of the CTA with suggested amounts and with captivating images.
  • Make the case! How will their donation be invested? (E.g: “A $50 donation will provide 2 medical exams for persons without health care options.”)
  • Post a copy of the article and giving request in your Facebook and other social media avenues, and ask that people Share the content within their networks. (Replace your regular background image with that of the CTA’s.)

3. Add Donate Now to Facebook

Facebook recently added a “Donate Now” option to their call-to-action buttons. Take advantage of it.

4. E-letter Early and Timely

Send out your e-newsletter before the crunch (such as the first week of November and December). And remember, about half of all emails are now read on mobile devices. You’ll want your e-newsletter formatted to view well on these smaller screens.

5. Gifts for the Givers

Many businesses supportive of your organization will gladly provide gift certificates and other products for you to give out as donation incentives. These free dinners, movie tickets, music CDs and whatnot can induce a $10 giver to give $40 or more.  Giving benefits are a great way of maximizing everyone’s participation.

6. The Final Push

Don’t forget the final push to give in the last week. Send out e-update on the CTA’s success, and that this may be their last opportunity to be a part of this solution for this giving cycle.