Success Stories

SEO Success Story: Morris Animal Foundation

Case Study

The Morris Animal Foundation – www.morrisanimalfoundation.org
Client since May 2008

Background: The Morris Animal Foundation had been working with their traditional advertising agency that had launched their website two years ago. Unfortunately, this agency did not have much knowledge of online marketing. The Morris Animal Foundation was not seeing the kind of online donations they expected and needed a solid digital strategy to drive donations. Morris had been awarded a Google Grant of $10,000 a month of free advertising, but the grant was not being managed well by the agency with a click–through rate of only .03% and Morris was in jeopardy of losing the grant.

Morris' major goals were:

  • To increase web–based donations
  • To spread brand awareness with those who had never heard of Morris
  • To spread brand awareness with a younger audience
  • To have the ability to easily update the site

To reach those goals, Fusionbox used a combination of search engine marketing, social media marketing, and design and usability improvements. We have outlined those tactics below:

Search Engine Marketing
One of the most effective ways to spread brand awareness is by reaching new eyeballs on the web. Fusionbox began an initiative to bring more donors to the site by making sure that the site came up when users searched for phrases like: "cure canine cancer", "research to cure animals", and "animal health studies". In order to get high organic rank, Fusionbox made some major changes to the structural technology of the site:

  • The content management system did not allow us to create unique titles, metadata, and descriptions for each individual page. We reprogrammed the content management system so that we could implement the unique titles and page descriptions that are so important to achieving high organic rank.
  • The content management system also created URLs that were not search engine–friendly and that contained query strings. We reprogrammed so that the content management system creates dynamic pages without query strings and containing keywords with dashes in between keywords.
  • The site suffered from code bloat because the previous developers used an open source third party content management system that added unnecessary code to HTML pages. The site also used tables and inline style sheets and JavaScript. We re–programmed the HTML using structural CSS and XHTML Strict and put all JavaScript in external files. Code bloat adversely affects SEO.
  • We added an XML sitemap to the site so Google could easily spider all content.
  • We created redirects for page names that had changed.

The site's content had not been optimized properly. Fusionbox did the following:

  • We optimized all existing content with keywords and placed keywords strategically including toward the top of the page, as internal links, and as bulleted and bolded items.
  • We added keywords into H1 header tags, bullets, and internal links.
  • Keywords were placed in all titles, descriptions and tags.
  • We optimized digital asset names to include keywords for videos, images, and documents.

Our goals with the re–launch were to increase traffic, donations, and organic search engine rank by 20% in 3 months. All three goals were met one month after re–launch.

Paid Search Advertising:

The Morris Animal Foundation had procured a Google Grant with a budget of $10k a month to spend on paid search advertising. Unfortunately, the grant was not performing well at all, and Morris was at risk of losing it completely. Morris' advertising agency was only able to spend about $2,000 of the $10,000 budget because it was not created or managed correctly. When Google Grants are not used to their fullest potential, the non–profit is at risk of losing $10k a month of free advertising. The click–through rate for the campaign was only .03% which is well under the national standard of 2%. Further, Morris had chosen keywords that included obscure animal diseases instead keywords meant to drive donations. Fusionbox immediately revised the keyword list, and rewrote all of the Adwords copy in order to compel users to click through and donate.

These initiatives brought major results including a click–through rate of 3.62% and since we had managed the grant so well, Google has awarded the Morris Animal Foundation a Grant of $40k in free advertising a month.

Online PR
Fusionbox took Morris' rich content and distributed across the web by posting online press releases, articles and studies. This content has since spread across the web by users everywhere. We also asked influential bloggers to report on Morris' work, created a Morris presence on forums and sites that serve their target audiences, and formed partnerships with other complimentary sites and organizations like www.dogster.com.

Social Media Marketing
One of Morris' goals was to reach a younger audience. In order to do this, Fusionbox created a YouTube Channel, a Facebook page and a Facebook cause, a MySpace page, and developed a Twitter feed. While these efforts do not drive many donations, they are very easy to manage by Morris' internal marketing staff, and they work very effectively to raise awareness among a younger audience.

Fusionbox is now working with Morris to develop a fundraising campaign on Twitter that will reach out to pet owners to help save shelter cats. We will add an easy option for donors to pay by text message, so they can easily send Morris $5.

Links to each initiative are here:

Facebook Pages:

YouTube Channel

MySpace Page

Twitter Feed

Usability Improvements:
The Morris site has a wealth of information, but according to analytics, users were not accessing information. Fusionbox worked to reorganize the structure of the Morris website so that it was much easier to navigate. We also made the following improvements:

  • Streamlined the donation checkout process resulting in a decrease in shopping cart abandonment of 12%
  • Added revenue–generating content to homepage and calls–to–action throughout the site
  • Added a very visible call–to–action to donate in the header area of the site so it would be available on every page
  • Added a left hand navigation to the internal pages of the site
  • Included an inter–linking structure throughout the site.

Results — 2007 over 2008:

  • An increase in web–based donations of 29% over 2007 despite worsening economic conditions where most non–profits are seeing decreases of at least 30%
  • An increase in traffic of 179% over 2007
  • 75% of online donors are first–time donors to Morris
  • 80% of visitors are first–time visitors
  • A reduction in shopping cart abandonment of 12%
  • Traffic that initiates with a search term has increased by 500%
  • Increased the click–through rate for the Google Grant from .3% to 3.62% which is well above the 2% average
  • Procured a $40k a month Google Grant to spend with Adwords
  • Created presence on social media outlets: YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, to drive traffic
  • Created a partnership with www.dogster.com where Morris receives $1 for each new member that signs up for Dogster
  • Coverage and mention on blogs, online publications and partner sites
  • Increased offline media coverage
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