Case Study: A 5-Year SEO Growth Journey with Nonprofit Organization Dedicated to Brighter Futures for Children

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This nonprofit organization teamed up with the best and brightest minds in science, education, and technology to develop a better way to identify individual abilities, skills, and interests for children with Autism or other special needs.

We originally started working with this client on their SEO strategy in late 2014, only 5 months after their domain name was initially established. Five years later, we are still working with them, helping them maintain and continuously improve upon their successful SEO results.


  • Optimize the website to make it more search-engine friendly.
  • Grow SEO traffic to promote awareness of the organization and encourage new user registrations.


  • The domain name was only 5 months old at the time we began working with the organization. It is always challenging to get search engines to trust a brand new website on a brand new domain.
  • In 2017, the organization decided to redesign their website. There is an inherent risk in redesigning a website after it has been SEO optimized and has gained keyword rankings.
  • Being an education-oriented organization, there is seasonality to the interest level in their topics. Traffic from all sources, including SEO traffic, slows down in the summer for this site due to decreased demand for this type of information. It can be challenging to separate normal seasonal traffic pattern changes from other traffic fluctuations due to other things (such as technical issues and search engine algorithm updates.)
  • Like many nonprofits, this organization has limited financial resources to invest in web development tasks to increase the SEO-friendliness of the website.


  • When we started working with this organization in November 2014, the first thing we did was develop an in-depth SEO strategy plan. This took the pulse of their current situation and laid out all of the technical and content optimizations that would need to be performed.
  • By creating a detailed strategy plan, we were able to see our whole “to do” list at once, which allowed us to prioritize the most important and impactful things to work on first. This was especially crucial in this case due to limited web development resources.
  • In January 2015, we began writing keyword-optimized blog articles for the website. Blogging is like “putting gas in the car” for SEO, so we provided this service to ensure that the website always had new keyword-optimized content being posted to the website each month.
  • When the client decided to redesign the website in 2017, we worked closely with their web development team to ensure that all existing SEO optimizations were preserved, and guided them on how to implement even more during the build.
  • To ensure that we were separating seasonal traffic fluctuations from actual SEO traffic fluctuations, we employed several advanced analytics tactics including cross-checking this site’s traffic patterns against what Google Trends showed as fluctuations in search demand. Over the years, we became very familiar with what seasonal traffic patterns to expect each year, making it even easier to measure progress even in light of traffic naturally ramping down each summer due to decreased search demand.


  • This site followed a very typical SEO growth pattern:
  • Phase 1: As is typical at the beginning of any SEO journey, especially for a new website domain, things were slow to get going in the beginning. The website didn’t earn any significant keyword ranking positions until May 2015, approximately 6 months after we began working with this client.
  • Phase 2: SEO rankings and traffic continued to grow slowly and gradually throughout 2016. This is also extremely typical for an SEO journey. The first several months don’t really move the needle at all, then things slowly start to develop over the next year or so. We anticipated this, and kept plugging away at our blogging and further technical optimizations as we patiently waited for search engines to truly start trusting the site.
  • Phase 3: In 2017, the time we were waiting for arrived. Search engines seemed to really start trusting the site, and SEO traffic and rankings started to pick up quite nicely, well before the launch of the redesigned website.
  • When the new website launched in October of 2017, search engine visibility improved even more dramatically, especially amongst keywords in the top 3 positions on page 1 of Google. This shows that not only did we succeed at mitigating any risk of losing SEO optimizations in the redesign, we also achieved our goal of significantly enhancing the SEO-friendliness of the new site.
  • Phase 4: In this phase, the site experienced an expected return to a more gradual rate of growth month-over-month, which will be the case from here on out. The cumulative effect of this still results in impressive year-over-year increases.
  • As of this writing in late 2019, in the most recent 12 month period, the site experienced a +65.66% increase in organic search sessions and a +48.45% increase in new users from organic search (as compared to the prior 12 months).
Typical Phases of SEO Growth
Organic Search results

5 Years and Counting…

We’re about to reach the 5-year anniversary of working successfully with this organization, having brought them from no search engine visibility to averaging over 2,500 organic-search-driven sessions each month. We truly believe in their mission and look forward to continuing this now half-decade-old relationship to bring them even more success in the future.

See Also

We also helped this client obtain and capitalize upon the Google Ads Grant for nonprofits. See that case study here.

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Pam Aungst Cronin
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