A Nonprofit Guide To Optimize Your Website

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Picture this: your nonprofit’s website has been up and running for a while now. You’ve created a brand that you love, have shared meaningful stories, and have begun to see an uptick in traffic to your website.

However, you aren’t seeing quite as much engagement as you want.

In fact, barely anyone has enrolled in your volunteer program or signed up for your email newsletter. You want to deepen supporter engagement with your nonprofit, and you know your website can help you do it, but you don’t know where to start. How can you optimize your website to create results?

Sound familiar? Don’t worry — you’re not alone! While nonprofits like yours likely already know the power your website has to generate interest in your organization, understanding the ins and outs of how to generate that interest might seem daunting. 

How To Optimize Your Website

Making the most of your nonprofit’s website doesn’t have to be a hassle, but it starts with learning how to better understand your web engagement data to optimize your website. Web engagement data gives you data-backed insights into how visitors are engaging with your site and how you can improve to foster even more engagement.

These data points include: 

  • Conversion Rates
  • Bounce Rate
  • Session Length
  • Page Views 

Understanding website data isn’t just for tech wizards. With the right tools and knowledge, you can make better decisions for your site, ensuring that your nonprofit can meaningfully connect with even more supporters. Learning what this data is and how to interpret it will set you on your way to creating the best nonprofit website possible. Let’s get started!

Data Point #1: Conversion Rates

What is a conversion rate? 

The first data point we’ll be looking at is the conversion rate. A conversion rate details the percentage of users who complete a desired action. These actions will usually be form submissions, successful online donations, or completions of call-to-actions (like button clicks or PDF downloads). 

Conversion rates are important because they track how successfully your site drives visitors to complete actions that increase their engagement with your nonprofit. They give you concrete goals around which to build your web strategies. Whether your visitors sign up for your newsletter or contribute to your cause, their effort towards engaging with you is a sign that your nonprofit is doing something right! 

Although the range for a good conversion rate can vary based on the context or industry you’re in, the typical range is between 2% and 5%

How can I increase my conversion rate?

Every website admin would like to increase their conversion rate. After all, a higher conversion rate means a higher number of site visitors are engaging with your work. So how exactly can you go about increasing this important metric? Here are our top tips: 

  • Make your website easy to navigate: The last thing you want is for a visitor to log on to your website with the intention of making a donation, only to be unable to find where they should donate. Avoid situations like this by making your website easy to navigate. Include a clear menu of options and make sure that your most valuable conversions (like donations) are clearly labeled. To make your site more appealing to users, Cornershop Creative’s guide on WordPress for nonprofits suggests using themes and visual builders to create an intuitive website design and ensure visitors have a great online experience.
  • Add visuals: Visuals are a powerful tool that can remind visitors why they came to your website in the first place. Great visuals can also strongly influence your conversion rate. In fact, including videos on your site can increase your conversion rate by a whopping 86%! We highly recommend including meaningful visuals throughout your site, but make sure you use your visual content strategically to avoid overwhelming your visitors or slowing down your site performance.
  • Be clear with your language: Lastly, you can improve the user experience of your site by writing content that’s easy to understand. Be sure that everyone who is writing for your website is on the same page about where visitors should go to sign up for a newsletter, send a donation, or enroll in your volunteer program. Cohesive and clear language is crucial to help your visitors get where they need to go. 

Remember: you should always design your website with user experience in mind. The easier it is to engage with your site, the more likely visitors will enjoy their interactions and continue to engage with your work. If you’ve built a trustworthy brand and a user-friendly site, you’re already on your way to increasing your conversion rate. 

Data Point #2: Bounce Rate

What is a bounce rate?

A bounce rate measures the frequency at which users leave your site soon after arriving rather than continuing to view other pages. 

Here’s something important to keep in mind: bounce rate is the only data point that we’ll discuss that you should try to decrease. That’s because you want your users to spend as much time on your site as possible! 

The typical range for a healthy bounce rate is between 26% and 40%. However, a higher bounce rate on certain pages of your site shouldn’t immediately sound an alarm. 

For instance, if you are a nonprofit that offers free tutoring services and you notice your contact page has a high bounce rate, that could mean that your audience is finding the exact information they need before leaving the site. This could be a good thing — information like your address or contact information should take just a few seconds to find! The key to interpreting your bounce rate is thinking carefully about what a user’s intent or goal is when they visit that specific page.

How can I decrease my bounce rate?

Unless a visitor is looking for that precise information, you should try to keep visitors engaging on your site for as long as you can. Let’s take a look at some tips that you can use to decrease your bounce rate: 

  • Ensure your pages load quickly: We live in a world of instant gratification, and that means if your site doesn’t load quickly, users will get frustrated and exit your page. According to a source from Think With Google, as page speed increases from one second to five seconds, bounce rate increases by 90%. So make sure that your page loads right away!
  • Don’t require a conversion immediately: Users want to explore your site for their own interest. They don’t want to feel like you want something from them immediately. To earn their trust, don’t require users to complete a conversion (like putting in their contact information, for example) right when they log on. This will discourage users from engaging because they either won’t want to put in the effort or will feel like your nonprofit is just trying to mindlessly engage anyone who comes along. 
  • Create interesting content: Have you ever finished reading an interesting article only to find another fascinating title lined up for your next read? Suddenly, hours have passed, and you’ve just gone down a rabbit hole reading and watching a ton of interesting content. Your nonprofit’s website should deliver the same captivating information to your users. Write fascinating content for your blog, share videos about your work, include stories about the difference you’ve made, and build links between them all.

Just as a high conversion rate requires attention to user experience, the same is true for decreasing bounce rate. Users may have interacted with your website hundreds of times or it might be their first visit, so make sure that their viewing experience runs smoothly whether or not they know what they’re looking for.

Data Point #3: Session Length

What is session length?

Session length displays exactly what it sounds like: the duration of time that a user spends on your website. The range for a good session length falls between 2 and 3 minutes, but the more time that a user spends on your site, the better. 

How can I increase my session length?

The strategies you use to increase session length are similar to how you might go about decreasing your bounce rate. You can even think of them as inverses of one another.

Increasing session length is especially important for first-time and organic users (i.e. those who’ve landed on your site through a search engine) who may not know much about your nonprofit. According to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics resource, organic visitors to a nonprofit’s website made up 44% of total nonprofit web traffic. That’s nearly half! 

Here’s how you can increase session length for any type of visitor to your website: 

  • Tell stories: Storytelling is an effective way to build interest in your nonprofit and mission. Consider writing stories about your beneficiaries, how your nonprofit was founded, or how volunteers have impacted and have been impacted by your work. 
  • Include compelling images: We already know that visuals can help increase conversions, but they can also help keep users on your website for longer, too! Infographics are a great option for engaging visitors and they can also distill a lot of information in an easy-to-read format!
  • Link to other content on your site: Linking to other content within blog posts and other pages makes it easier for visitors to navigate your site and find relevant content. If you have a WordPress site, you can use a related content plugin such as Jetpack’s Related Content feature. Unlike some of the other popular related content plugins, Jetpack offloads the processing of data to Jetpack’s servers so it will not impact the performance of your site.

The longer that a visitor spends time on your site, the more they’re going to learn about your work. By creating engaging content that appeals to your users, you can ensure that visitors stay interested in your nonprofit the minute they click on your site! This is HUGE to optimize your website performance.

Data Point #4: Page Views

What are page views? 

Last on our list is page views. Page views count the number of people who have viewed a specific page on your website within a set period of time. 

Identifying the ideal range for page views is a bit trickier because it depends on the size of your audience and the purpose of each page. However, the best rule of thumb is the more engagement and views, the better. 

How can I increase my page views?

Creating a strategy to increase your page views is one of the most direct ways that you can get your nonprofit in front of more people. However, increasing your page views typically requires some knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of optimizing your content so that it ranks more highly on search engines.

You can incorporate SEO techniques into your strategy to increase page views. Here are a few tips to get your started: 

  • Optimize your blog content: To optimize your blog content, do some research into the main keywords that your audience might be typing into the search engine. For example, if you run an environmental nonprofit, your audience might search for “how to stop deforestation” or “nonprofits helping the environment.” Once you isolate your main keywords, you can write blog content that uses these phrases so that your website appears at the top of the search results.
  • Create evergreen content: Evergreen content is essentially content that doesn’t “expire.” Avoid using dates or referencing certain times of the year. This increases the longevity of your content and ensures that users will still want to read it even when the holidays or the summer has passed. 
  • Maintain your website: Remaining active on your website — whether that’s by making routine updates or regularly posting new content — signals to the search engine that your site is still being actively used. 

Improving your search engine ranking is well worth the effort. Although it may take some time to see an increase in your website traffic, you’re more likely to reach the people who are most interested in your work. 

Understanding your web engagement data can help overall optimize your website, broaden your audience, create better content, and deepen engagement with your website.

These four data points can guide your web engagement strategy, ensuring that the decisions you make are smart and data-driven. Good luck!

About The Author:

Author: Sarah Fargusson – Director of Digital Strategy at Cornershop Creative

Self-described as a “non-profit junkie,” Sarah has dedicated her career to serving the needs of the non-profit sector. Her project management experience spans a variety of non-profit management disciplines including strategic planning, community engagement, capacity building, fundraising and research. She has worked both in and for the non-profit sector at the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, and the consulting firms The Lee Institute and The Curtis Group. With her ever-expanding non-profit tool belt, Sarah joined Cornershop Creative to tap into her techie, creative side, while developing meaningful partnerships with her clients to help them more effectively achieve their goals.

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