Giving Tuesday – Non Profits and Local SEO – Goodwill v Salvation Army
Each year, around Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday, there is a huge spike (+300%) in search queries for keywords around making donations. This trend is consistent every year, showing there is a large number of people looking to make donations during the season of giving. More recently, as mobile has grown to become the #1 device for search, we can see an increase in people using mobile to make on-the-go searches for donation centers. This brings into question, are donation centers optimizing their brand for local search in order to be found during the biggest days of giving?
Search trends over the past 5 years. Legend: Blue = Giving Tuesday, Green = Donation Near Me, Yellow = Where to Donate
Total and Mobile search queries for Giving Tuesday and other donation-related keywords during the past 2 years.
To answer this question, we took two of the most well-known donation centers, Goodwill and Salvation Army, and loaded them into our local SEO platform to see which brand is most optimized for the season of giving. Unfortunately, we couldn’t declare a winner. We were disappointed to find that neither brand was making it easy for people to donate on the days when people are searching most.
Salvation Army vs. Goodwill: A Look at the Data
After running a quick 50-location audit on these two large brands, our platform returned disappointing results. Every brand on our platform earns a Local Brand Visibility (LBV) score, comprised of five different factors; reviews, social presence, listing accuracy, rankings, and competition. This scoring system was carefully created based on over nine years of experience monitoring over 1.8 million locations and billions of reviews and social media mentions. Both brands earned low LBV scores, Salvation Army scored a 52 and Goodwill scored a 55. Most stores who take action to optimize their brand for local search earn a 70 or higher. We decided to look a little deeper at the data to see why these brands were failing in their Local SEO efforts.
Branded vs. Non-Branded Keywords
When diving deep into the data we found one of the biggest areas both brands need to improve is their non-branded keyword strategy. Our platform found that both the Salvation Army and Goodwill are ranking poorly for all relevant non-branded keywords such as Donations, Donate clothes, Thrift store, and Giving Tuesday. Most shocking of all, neither brand is optimizing for the keyword “Giving Tuesday”. We even double-checked, there’s a Goodwill and Salvation Army only a few blocks away from our office so we searched “Giving Tuesday” on both desktop and mobile only to find that neither brand ranked for the keyword at all. Giving Tuesday has an incredibly high search volume during this time of year and by not optimizing, both brands are losing out on thousands of potential new givers.
Goodwill and The Salvation Army both less than 1.5 miles away from Chatmeter and yet still failing to rank for the keyword “Giving Tuesday”
Although these brands are ranking for their branded keywords, it doesn’t help the on-the-go searcher looking to participate in Giving Tuesday. By failing to optimize for non-branded keywords, both brands are losing out on potential customers from voice searches. By not ranking in the #1 spot, these brands aren’t even appearing in voice searches. This is a major concern since 50% of all searches are predicted to be conducted via voice by 2020 and voice-based searches are 3x more likely to be used than text when it comes to local search.
Influencing Consumer Decisions
Because Goodwill and The Salvation Army’s local SEO efforts are neck and neck with that of their competitors, what influences the consumer decision to choose between the businesses? Our research shows there are two areas that play the biggest roles in what makes a customer choose a brand over the competition. First, is the listings; are they ranking and is their information accurate? Second, is the reviews; are they responding and are they taking action to improve the areas that matter most to customers?
Local Business Listings
Where do their local listings rank?
There are many factors that go into the algorithm for local rankings. Although proximity plays a large role in where a business will rank if they’re not optimizing for the right keywords it doesn’t matter. Unless a brand ranks in the top-3 for local search, they’re not even an option for searchers as 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
On average, both Goodwill and the Salvation Army are failing to rank in the top 3 of any relevant non-branded keywords. In fact, The Salvation Army only ranked in the top 3 for their highest performing keyword “Donate Clothes” 40% of the time. Goodwill, on the other hand, ranked in the top 3 about 50% of the time for the same keyword. By only ranking in the top 3 listings 50% of the time or less, both brands are losing out on many potential customers.
Is the information accurate?
Each year, $10.3 billion worth of sales are lost due to inaccurate or missing business listings. Even if one of these brands is on the map, is their listing information correct? There are seven main areas of a listing that needs to be accurate; business name, address, phone number, website, category, hours, and description. Our local listings management team refers to this information as NAPWCHD. It’s no longer enough to have an accurate business name, address, and phone number but listings need to have an accurate website, category, hours and description in order to gain consumer trust.
Both the Goodwill and Salvation Army locations we audited only have 87% overall listing accuracy across every major directory. Consumers expect 100% accuracy at all times. By utilizing things like local pages to improve the customer experience and listing accuracy, a brand builds consumer trust.
Here’s a review from the Salvation Army about their business hours. Had they updated their listing information to match, this customer probably wouldn’t have needed to leave a negative review.
Are they responding to reviews?
13% of Google’s local ranking factors come from review signals. This means there is a direct correlation between responding to reviews and ranking higher in local search. 90% of consumers read reviews before making a purchasing decision. When brands respond to reviews 33% of customers will turn around and post an updated positive review and 34% will turn around and delete the original negative review.
Goodwill has only responded to 7% of their reviews in our audit during the past 6-months. Salvation Army, on the other hand, responded to a mere 2%. This is a huge lost opportunity for both of these brands. By failing to respond to reviews, these brands are missing out on opportunities to improve their star ratings and resolve negative reviews. At a 3.9 rating for both brands, there is plenty of opportunity for improvement.
Are they improving the customer experience?
Review management is not only important for improving rankings, but it can also be used to gain insight into what’s going on at the store location. Sentiment analysis tools like Chatmeter’s Pulse helps brands to break down the feelings of each review. Instead of reading through thousands of reviews, our AI segments the reviews for them and pulls out the sentiment of the topics that mean the most to that brand.
Topics like customer service, staff, cleanliness, and more, are not only important to the customer experience but easy improvements for the brand to make. Multi-location brands can’t be in every location at once, but analyzing sentiment from reviews can help these brands to make vital improvements to their locations. The lack of review management by both Goodwill and Salvation Army leave us to believe that these brands aren’t taking the time to make the necessary improvements at the store-level to bring in more customers.
Our pulse tool identified this negative review about unhelpful staff at Goodwill.
Make It Easy For Consumers To Do Good
As smart as search engines are, it’s not unlikely for consumers to come up short in their search intent. If a brand fails to optimize for the right keywords they could be losing out on customers who aren’t looking for a specific brand. Non-profits like the Salvation Army and Goodwill should be making it easy for consumers to do some good this holiday season. By improving their local SEO not only do they help consumers find them, but they can make an even bigger difference in the world by earning more donations and customers beyond the giving season.
Don’t make the same mistakes as these brands. As much as they do to help build up our communities, they could be reaching more consumers simply by improving their local SEO strategy. Luckily, there are plenty of other organizations optimizing their brand for Giving Tuesday. Second Chance, a local organization that provides “workforce readiness training and job placement programs to youth and adults” and Father Joe’s Villages who helps to prevent and end homelessness in San Diego have both optimized their brands to rank for Giving Tuesday. Second Chance even took it one step further by using Google Posts to announce their Giving Tuesday event.
To learn more about how to improve your local SEO efforts and take a look at your own LBV score, request a free brand audit. We’d love to show you how Chatmeter can help your brand influence customer decisions through local business listing and review management.