When nonprofits ask how they can become more data-driven and grow their online presence, Google is often one of our top recommendations. Google offers a wide range of free tools and resources to help nonprofits expand their digital footprint, become more data-driven, optimize paid and organic marketing strategies, and to improve their website’s health and user experience.
With so many opportunities for growth, most organizations don’t know where to start. To help your nonprofit make the most of these valuable (and free) resources, we compiled a list of our favorite Google tools for nonprofits and how your team can use them.
1. Google Search Console
Google Search Console serves a very important function for anyone who is responsible for maintaining a website. Google Search Console is how organizations can claim their website so that Google knows they are the owner of the domain. This then becomes Google’s primary channel for communication and where they will send updates, alerts, or red flags that impact your website.
To get started, you must verify ownership of your website using one of a few recommended methods, such as uploading a snippet of code from your verified Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager account. Once you are the verified owner, then you can use Google Search Console to do the following:
- Inspect URLs: Check to see if your URLs are indexed by Google. This section can be used to submit new pages or check pages with recent updates to ensure Google is aware of the changes and new content as soon as possible. This view will also alert you of any issues with the page or if your pages are being blocked by Google.
- Mobile Errors: This report will shows any errors that prevent your pages from being mobile-responsive. Examples include: text being too small to read, clickable page elements being too close together, or if the page layout doesn’t automatically resize to fit smaller screens.
- Search Result Performance: This section allows website owners to understand how their site is performing in organic search. You can see keyword (query) impressions and clicks, page performance, click-through rate, types of Google listings (video, events, rich results), and more.
- Coverage: View how many pages Google is indexing from your website, which ones they are excluding and why, and which pages have warnings associated with them which can inhibit them from ranking well. Issues that can impact your rankings include crawl issues, 404 errors, server errors, and URLs you have submitted to be marked no-index.
- Sitemaps: Submit your XML sitemaps to Google to ensure all of the pages of your site are being properly discovered and indexed.
- Speed: This report shows a graphical view of your page speed over time for both desktop and mobile.
- Security & Manual Actions: This is where you will be alerted of any manual actions taken against your website by Google. Manual actions are taken when Google has found that your website violated their webmaster quality guidelines, or has malware issues that need to be addressed, such as hacks or malicious activity.
2. Page Speed Tools
Page speed is so important, Google has created numerous tools to help website owners and developers improve their website’s page speed. Page speed impacts user experience and search engine friendliness (your chances of ranking well and appearing in search results), so every website administrator should focus on improving it.
Luckily, you can easily gauge your current page speed by inputting your domain name or specific page URLs to the PageSpeed Insights tool. You’ll receive instant recommendations from Google on exactly which files and images should be updated and how much those optimizations will impact speed. Most recommendations require an engineer or developer so be sure to send them a link to your page speed results.
To better understand your mobile site speed as a whole (rather than on a page by page basis), try this mobile site speed performance comparison tool. With this tool, you can see your mobile site speed rating, how the site speed is trending since the previous month, benchmark to your competitors, evaluate the speed improvement impact on your business, and generate a report on custom fixes to make your pages load faster.
You can also use Google Analytics to view your page speed trends over time and to filter by page under the “site speed” section. Google Analytics even provides page speed recommendations to help you improve. Consider looking at your highest trafficked pages and prioritize page speed improvements there.
3. Mobile-Friendly Test
Starting in 2018, Google began defaulting to mobile-first indexing, meaning it uses the mobile version of your site to evaluate ranking and performance. While this announcement shook the SEO world at the time, Google has provided a variety of mobile-testing tools that have made it really easy to understand if your site is mobile-friendly and if there’s anything you need to improve your mobile-friendliness. Google Search Console also allows you to monitor your website as a whole as it pertains to mobile-friendliness or issues over time.
For a more granular view by page, try this Mobile-Friendly Test. Run certain pages or your homepage URL in the Mobile-Friendly Test and within seconds, you’ll find out how mobile-friendly your page is and areas of improvement to make it even better.
4. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a robust and powerful reporting tool. If implemented correctly (meaning it accurately tracks all of the pages and conversion points), Google Analytics offers insights into top-performing traffic channels, page performance, engagement key performance indicators (KPIs), conversions and goals, and much more.
Familiarize yourself with Google Analytics by exploring each of these major sections within the platform:
- Home view: This is what you’ll see when you log in to your Google Analytics account. The home view is a great starting-off place for various reports and snapshots of data. You can then use the report links below each to see the full report of data and insights.
- Audience: Navigate through the Audience tabs to find out your user’s demographics, mobile usage, interests, and more.
- Acquisition: Take a peek at the acquisition overview for a good high-level view of the channel and conversion data.
- All Traffic: Navigate to All Traffic within Acquisition to discover your traffic sources and channel performance. This section of Google Analytics will help you understand how users are landing on your webpages. Are users finding you through Google organic search, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Ads, or another channel? Are they coming to your website directly or through a referral source? This section will also help you understand what your top-performing channels are once they arrive, how many new users are coming to your site, your bounce rate, how many pages users are viewing and how much time they spend on your site.
- Behavior: Click through the Behavior tabs to find the content your website visitors are engaging with, the speed of your content, and the behavior flow of your users.
- Conversions: Finally, the Conversion section will help you understand the various conversion rates and goals associated with your website.
5. Google Ads
While paying for the ads themselves isn’t always free, Google offers nonprofits Ad Grants as an incentive to run ads and get more exposure through Google advertising.
Within Google Ads, Google offers a Keyword Planner where you can search for new keyword ideas and find search volume, competition, and the estimated cost of placing a paid ad on that keyword. Based on the competition of specific keywords, you can also use these keyword ideas and insights within your paid or organic SEO strategies.
6. Google My Business
Google My Business helps organizations manage their performance for localized searches, such as “San Diego rescues” or “animal rescues near me.” This will also help you show up in local results and Google Maps for relevant searches. Claim your business with Google My Business and manage all your organization’s details such as:
- Business address and hours
- Reviews about your organization
- Contact information
- Add photos and videos
Within Google My Business, you can also monitor insights related to your local listing(s), such as which keywords searchers are using to find your nonprofit and the actions they took in the listing (i.e. visited your website, requested directions, or called your nonprofit). You can also view and reply to reviews left for your nonprofit here.
Take advantage of the second largest search engine in the world by claiming your YouTube channel and uploading relevant, engaging videos. Follow YouTube SEO best practices and include relevant keywords in your video titles, use strategic and targeted tags, write supporting content and/or transcripts for each video, create organized playlists by topic, and then promote your videos on social and on your website.
YouTube Studio is a great reporting and analytics tool in YouTube. You can monitor views, watch time, subscribers, top video metrics, traffic sources, top playlists, and more.
8. Google Alerts
Simply set up Google Alerts based on your nonprofit’s name, mission, cause category, or area of focus. You will receive Google Alerts with a frequency predetermined by your preference to keep you focused throughout the day and off of distracting platforms (looking at you, Facebook).
At Classy, we love Google and use these tools every day. We hope you can start using these free resources to grow your nonprofit’s awareness, increase traffic to your website, uncover new data and deeper insights, and ultimately make a greater impact on your mission.