A new study says that most charities efforts at Search Engine Optimization have been crippled by spelling mistakes and typos.
SEO is the process of “tagging” online content to make it easier for search engines to find. A good SEO system can put a charity at the top of a search engine listings. But a new study of more than 5,000 US charities has found that many charities spell the tags incorrectly or just make obvious typos when entering them.
“When we looked at hospital charities for example we found that the top SEO term that most of them entered was ‘Hopital’. A significant portion also had the tag ‘Helath’. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they misspelled ‘hospital’ and ‘health’,” said Dr. John Snidely, head of the study at the Center for Meaningless Research at the University Eastern South Dakota.
Snidely’s research team found that charities regularly misspelled key tag words, including “chariti”, “Funfraising”, “Bonation” and “Gift Plaming”. In some cases, almost all of the SEO tags on one web page were wrong.
“It’s hard to say why this is happening, but we think it mostly has to do with who controls the SEO at charity websites,” said Dr. Snidely.
In the study, most charities reported that they left SEO planning and maintenance to their IT department or web design agency. Snidely says research shows that most web designers have trouble spelling and often can’t type. Worse, studies have shown that most web designers rarely review their work.
“It appears that these geeks write in the SEO tags without really looking. And despite these being full of errors, they just post them and move on to the next job or play some online first-person shooter,” he said.
The study also found instances of strange and possibly malicious SEO posting at a few charities. In a handful cases, researchers found shopping lists, Christmas wish lists or reminders about upcoming girlfriend birthdays stuck in the middle of the SEO tags. Several charity SEO tags actually contained negative statements about the CEO or the head of IT. And one had “I will kill you” written again and again on every page.
“The bottom line is that most charities aren’t going to show up on a search page because their SEO is so bad. Whether someone is just lazy, can’t type or wants to kill everyone, charity SEO tags just aren’t working,” concluded Dr. Snidely.
Charity leaders say they will follow up on the report with dispatch.
“We plan to make the study public. I’ve just handed it over to our teenage IT guy to put up at our website and make sure it comes up in a Google search,” said Dibble Brewer, CEO of the League of Big Honking