Several large and small organizations operate in the cancer support field; some lead research, others directly assist cancer patients, and some do both. Some target certain cancer kinds, while others have targeted audiences (such as young people). We sought to comprehend and investigate possibilities to enhance the organic health of the following charities as part of our audit:
Reflections on our data
The average Domain Authority of charities in this sub-sector was 68/100, a measure of a domain’s overall “strength.” Only the Environmental sector had a slightly higher average of 69, making this one of the highest averages among all the sectors we examined. In a similar vein, these websites’ average referring domain count was larger than it was for most other industries (aside from those under the Mental Health umbrella). As we can see in this case, the quantity of referring domains often corresponds with DA. On average, 17,598 referring domains were used by the five organizations we examined.
The largest charity in our study, Cancer Research UK, has the highest Domain Authority of the 52 organizations we checked, 9 “points” ahead of the next closest charity. At the time of writing, the site had more than 37,000 referring domains. This backlink profile is quite powerful.
Core Web Vital Skills (metrics that Google considers important in a webpage’s overall user experience) are generally lower in this sector than in all other sectors. Still, interestingly the range of scores for these metrics is substantial, with Macmillan scoring just 19, particularly in comparison to a score of 62 for Prostate Cancer UK, suggesting there is an opportunity for charities in this sector to gain an advantage over their rivals.
Keyword Gap Analysis
The nonprofit organizations in this subsector offer consumers a wide range of material, including information and assistance for cancer patients, content that generates revenue, and crucial, frequently technical insights into the newest medical advancements and scientific discoveries.
For the pertinent keywords consumers use to search in these sectors, all these charities have high rankings. However, we were startled to find throughout our audit that several of them have wide rating discrepancies. One notable example is the rankings for the following keywords, for which Breast Cancer Now is unavailable on page 1.
- ‘breast self-examination’
- ‘how to check for lumps in your breast.’
- ‘how to examine your breast for lumps’
- ‘how to do a breast exam.’
Tip: The rating discrepancies for all 52 organizations featured in this study are comparable and unexpected. We advise making a list of 30–40 generic keywords for which your company “must positively rank on page one.” Google each and record your precise placements. You will be shocked! Some of the abovementioned keywords have top results belonging to US-based nonprofits and healthcare websites. This is a huge chance for Breast Cancer Now to rank higher for UK people conducting searches. This pattern may be seen in a search on “breast tenderness after menopause” conducted in the UK.
None of the top charities for this search keyword are from the UK, and websites for American medical treatment outrank all the organizations we evaluated. Suppose UK charities, especially those focusing on breast cancer, can convince Google that their well-organized, well-optimized information is more pertinent to searches in the UK. In that case, they will have a genuine chance.
Unique traffic-driving content
Despite its size and influence, research-focused material on Cancer Research UK’s website isn’t driving as much traffic as other content, according to our third-party tools. In light of cancer statistics, the organization receives a lot of traffic, which is unusual for other charities. For more than 500 keywords within the relevant subfolder, such as “how many people die from cancer each year,” “breast cancer survival rate,” and “bowel cancer survival rate,” CRUK is currently ranked in position 1. These pages have received backlinks from The Guardian, NY Times, and the BBC. This stands out among other charities in the industry in terms of performance, and it helps explain why CRUK has many more position 1 rankings than the other organizations.
It may not be fair to single out a much smaller charity in this area in the context of CRUK. Still, we believed it was important to note that the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity website is underperforming compared to all other organizations in this area. The amount of URLs from the website that Google is indexing serves as an example of this. Approximately 600 URLs were indexed by Google at the time of writing on the Royal Marsden website, compared to approximately 8,000 for Prostate Cancer UK and more than 19,000 for Breast Cancer Now.
The fundraising and contribution sections of the Royal Marsden website are the biggest traffic generators, and the majority of their traffic comes from sponsored keywords. The discrepancy between Royal Marsden and the competing organizations suggests a sizable window of opportunity for the charity to provide original material on its website that aligns with a targeted keyword strategy. Although this is a complex undertaking for hospital charities, there are solutions for content development that would enable this organization to control smaller keyword regions more.
However, Royal Marsden does have a hero keyword: “cancer charity,” which receives 1,000 searches each month. Royal Marsden Cancer Charity is listed third on an extremely competitive search engine results page, immediately below Cancer Research UK and Macmillan. The possibility to rank for various material forms is undoubtedly present; all it takes to do so is to use targeted content, which indicates that Google regards Royal Marsden as significant in this situation.
Content should always be structured with both users and Google in mind, as both content designers and SEOs are aware. However, very wise practitioners know that there isn’t much of a distinction between the two—Google is attempting to put the user’s needs first. You can provide users (and Google!) context by utilizing headers and content tables, and you can rapidly respond to their searches by signposting information.
For instance, the thorough Lymphoma page from Macmillan ranks first for highly searched terms like “lymphoma” (77,000) and “lymphoma symptoms” (15,000 m/s). This is large because of how well the material is organized on the page. The content design aspect has received serious consideration.
Four organizations we examined had forum-style material on their websites, giving visitors a place to voice their opinions and ask questions. As a result of our work in this niche, we are aware that there is a frequent internal discussion about whether to keep allowing this forum content—essentially user-generated—to rank higher than “owned” content on a given topic. This content frequently achieves high rankings on Google. Breast Cancer Now, Prostate Cancer UK, and Macmillan all host this forum content on a subdomain, whereas CRUK hosts the content on their main www domain under a subdirectory called “thread.”
Investigate how these charities could increase visibility for many of these keywords and give users more extensive data by creating valuable content on their main domains. All of these charities have forum content that ranks on the first page of Google for high-volume keywords, such as “lump in the armpit,” “lump under the chin,” and “Zoladex weight gain.” In this industry, a tactical content strategy should include the possibility of “migrating” this content from a UGC “format” to being “owned.”
The major branded words for each charity have strong branded SERPs overall. Even though not all of the charities we audited had Organization schema (structured markup that gives search engines information about your organization, including your logo, website address, social media profiles, and contact information), Google appears to be understanding the critical brand signals because all of the charities have knowledge graphs popping up.
A Twitter snippet that appears for most of the charities in the industry beneath the top result takes up a lot of room on the SERP. This is advantageous since these results occupy precious real estate on the SERP and provide consumers and Google with yet another E-A-T signal. If the Twitter feed for your charity needs to show up differently, you should look into why since you’re losing out on important SERPs real estate.
Macmillan and CRUK are at the top of the SERP for the keywords “cancer support” and “cancer research,” which both toe the line between brand and non-brand, and they both have knowledge panel results for each. This is a significant victory since Google is establishing a link between the charities and these non-brand phrases. This is significant: there are 36,000 monthly searches for the phrase “cancer research” as opposed to 13,000 for “cancer research UK.” Both organizations should keep an eye on these keywords to ensure they don’t lose these highlighted snippets since search engines assume they are solely branded.
One of the primary area’s nonprofits struggle with is image search. It’s wonderful to see picture pack results that assist visitors in grasping some of the specifics surrounding cancer near the top of the SERPS for numerous keywords referring to symptoms, treatment, and stages of cancer. For instance, Cancer Research UK’s “stages” type material frequently includes graphics that are brought through to the SERP, such as “ovarian cancer stages” (a phrase with 800 monthly searches):
Not only are picture packs showing up in the search results, but people also seem to be actively searching for photos more frequently in the sub-sector for cancer charities.
There were a sizable number of extremely high-volume searches that expressly included terms like “diagram,” “image,” “picture,” and “photo” in our sample data set of non-branded keywords. This is likely to be anticipated when people are looking for information to understand their symptoms and diagnosis. Concerning monthly searches, some examples of these sorts of questions are:
- skin cancer images (24,000)
- lungs diagram (11,000)
- swollen lymph nodes in female groin pictures (5,600)
- pictures of skin cancer (4,600)
- cancer lumps pictures (3,600)
- mouth cancer images (3,300)
Although image search is typically considered a lesser priority technique in SEO tactics, there is potential to rank with these searches in the picture pack and the main results. 136 image-specific keywords with a total monthly search volume of nearly 91,000 searches were found in our sample keyword study.
Users desire correct images connected to their cancer symptoms by the volume of their searches and their relevant search intent. Cancer charities should take images and image searches seriously, not just for organic search results but also to give service consumers accurate information.
We identified many chances for charity to raise their exposure on picture searches. For instance, CRUK does not show up in the image pack for the keyword “stage 4 pancreatic cancer” (1,100 monthly searches), possibly because the image alt text on the relevant page is not optimized to include this keyword; it is currently “Diagram showing M1 pancreatic cancer from the TNM staging system.”
Breast Cancer Now does not appear prominently in the picture search results for phrases such as “self-exam” or “how to check for lumps in your breast,” even though they offer guidance to people who would unquestionably benefit from visual explainers.
Some Tips to Consider
- Identify high-quality, authoritative domains connecting to those other sites rather than yours by comparing your backlink profile to your rivals. Your PR and communications team should urge websites to link to a page most pertinent to the outreach’s subject while doing outreach activities. Building links to sites besides the homepage will increase the authority of that page, increasing its organic exposure because Google will see it as a reliable source of information.
- Core Web Vitals is now a factor in Google’s algorithm, making it a more crucial area for charity to concentrate on. Over the next 12 months, these indicators should take precedence. Given the relatively low average throughout the sub-sector, charities in this field have a chance to raise their CWV score and differentiate themselves from other organizations.
- Charities in this field examining their rivals should not limit their attention to organizations based in the UK with which they believe they compete. Expand your rival list to include charity and healthcare websites in other countries, as users would prefer to see UK results over US organizations in the top places.
- It will be challenging to rank for “head keywords” like “symptoms of cancer” when examining content through the perspective of keyword rankings. Instead, identify your charity’s long-tail specialty and take advantage of the opportunity to outperform other organizations by producing user-centric content, as CRUK has done in the example above. There will be places where your charity can dominate. While keywords may only attract a few people, controlling keyword markets with lower search volumes will eventually result in high-value sessions.
- The image SERP profile of charities in this subsector should be audited and optimized because the picture alt text impacts it in part. Using optimized alt text for photos increases the likelihood that they will be brought through to the SERP by helping Google understand what the image should be about. It’s a fantastic approach to engaging organic, fresh audiences with information.
Any charity involved in the healthcare industry faces particular SEO issues (and, in fact, a distinct SERP profile). There are several types of “competition.” While US healthcare websites and other US healthcare sites are frequently ranked above UK charities, the NHS leads the ranks for numerous high-volume keywords. The secret to an effective SEO strategy is to take the entire SERP into account: a structured, well-researched keyword strategy that guarantees you own your particular segment and deliver unique traffic, a blend of user-generated content on forums and owned content that needs to meet searchers’ needs, properly optimized images with a specific SEO focus in image search, and a potent backlink profile will all relate to stronger rankings and more organic traffic.