SEO Benchmark 2023 - LP bkgd image.v2

2023 Nonprofit SEO Benchmark Report

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Benchmark Findings

Organic search drives 53% of website traffic.

Yet nonprofits often focus their efforts on paid media while ignoring search engine optimization (SEO).

Not only does SEO help drive organic traffic to your nonprofit's website, it's also an extremely cost-effective tool to further enhance your existing paid media strategies - increasing brand awareness, visibility and authority.

In an effort to give SEO the spotlight it deserves, RKD Group conducted an analysis of more than 2,500 regional, national and international nonprofit websites to establish a benchmark for nonprofit SEO standards.

To see how your organization measures up, drop your domain below for a personalized assessment.

As you review the report, you will see how each sector stacks up in key areas, including domain rating, organic traffic, backlinks and more.

Key terms to know

Throughout the report, we'll frequently utilize the following SEO terms:

  • Backlinks: Also known as an inbound or incoming link, a backlink is created when one website links to another. Backlinks are crucial for organic search. Nonprofits can improve the rank of their sites on search engines by increasing high-quality inbound links to their pages. Note the term "high-quality" - buying cheap, spammy backlinks will do more harm than good.
  • Domain Rating: Domain rating is a metric used by Ahrefs that shows the strength of your website's backlink profile. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the strongest possible rating.
  • Keywords: Keywords are words and phrases that users input on search engines to find content. These words and phrases should be used frequently throughout the copy of your website to help ensure your page comes up when a user is looking for something specific, for example, "food bank near me."
  • Organic Traffic: Organic traffic is all unpaid traffic to your website that comes from a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo!.
  • Referring Domain: A referring domain is when another trusted website links to yours, improving your SEO rank. Nonprofits should strategically partner with news outlets, industry publications or sister organizations for referral links for improved rankings.
  • SEO: Search engine optimization is the strategic process of making improvements and optimizations to your website to improve visibility on search engines like Google.

About the research

The charts below include data from more than 2,500 nonprofit organizations across the nation and are broken out by nonprofit sector and location.

It's important to note that while conducting our research, six nonprofits stood out far above the rest: Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, The Smithsonian Institution, AARP Foundation, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and American Cancer Society.

These organizations have spent decades building their brand and reputation as a knowledge resource. Because these organizations had significantly higher SEO rankings, and therefore skewed benchmark findings, we have removed them from the charts below.

Now, let's dive into the results.



Regional organizations rank lowest in domain rating

Domain ratings are scored on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the strongest.

Ranked at the top are relief & development, health & disease, environmental and veterans causes. Ranked among the lowest are regional causes, including rescue missions, animal welfare organizations and food banks.





National organizations lead backlink totals

The number of quality backlinks has a direct correlation with strength of domain rating, which is why it's no surprise to see similar sectors sitting at the top of the rankings.

A couple of sectors that stand out with higher backlink totals compared to their domain rating are education & culture and faith-based. On the other side of that coin, service animals have few backlinks despite a higher domain rating.


When broken out by location, we see a wide variance in number of backlinks. Five of the top 10 states/districts are located in the Northeast, but Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, California and Colorado round out top 10.




Organic traffic varies drastically by industry and location

Our benchmarks revealed a significant gap in average organic traffic—the average number of monthly visits from organic search—based on industry and location.

On average, health & disease, hospitals and environmental nonprofits drive significantly more organic traffic to their websites. Food banks, recue missions and service animals ranked among the lowest.

Similarly, we see a great disparity between average organic traffic by state. The top three states/districts are concentrated once again in the Northeast, but states like Washington, Illinois and South Dakota also rank high.






Hospitals boast top keyword rankings

Once again, we see a significant variance in the average number of keywords ranked in the top three across both industries and locations.



How do you measure up?

If you're curious to see how your nonprofit compares to others in your nonprofit industry, drop your website domain into the field below for a personalized assessment.

Let's keep the ball rolling...

About RKD Group

RKD Group is a leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations. With five decades of experience, RKD Group's omnichannel approach leverages technology, advanced data science and award-winning strategic and creative leadership to accelerate net revenue growth, build long-term donor relationships and drive the best return on investment. RKD Group creates breakthroughs never thought possible.

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