How we grew traffic at Chimp by 27.75% basically overnight

Background

Chimp is a platform that lets people, companies, or groups of people give to any of the 85k registered charities in Canada. Chimp will process the donation, issue a tax receipt, and forward on a check or ACH to the charity minus its ~5% fees.

In 2012, we were trying to grow traffic. I had been reading a lot of Patrick McKenzie’s marketing tactics at the time, and realized we had a large SEO opportunity sitting in front of our noses.

The Opportunity

We had public domain data about 85k Canadian charities. When a Canadian charity files their tax return, they file what’s called a T3010 form. This form has data like:

  • the charity’s charitable activities
  • what programs they run
  • what countries they operate in
  • who they get money from
  • other charities they give money to
  • and lots more data

I realized that we could use this data to create a landing page for each of the 85k Canadian charities.

Execution

Charity Landing Pages

The key points we wanted to hit on for the Landing Page templates were:

  1. Title tag and meta desc with words that searchers would actually type into a search engine 2. H1 with the charity name
  2. Keyword ­rich description of what the charity does
  3. Logos for big charities instead of blank avatars
  4. Lots of internal links
  5. Good­ looking, credible page (charity on the internet is sketchy) 7. Awaytogive
  6. SEO­ optimized URLs

Here’s what the page ended up looking like:

Category Landing Pages

I also realized we could use the categories each charity belonged to to generate what we called “Category Landing Pages” (e.g. a page listing “Homeless charities in Toronto”.)

This resulted in another 40k landing pages.

The key points we wanted to hit on for the Category Landing Pages were:

  1. Title tag and meta desc with words that searchers would actually type into a search engine
  2. H1 with the category
  3. Short paragraph for SEO purposes and to orient the visitor
  4. Lots of internal links
  5. Good­ looking, credible page (charity on the internet is sketchy)
  6. SEO ­optimized URLs (we chose “/give/to/charity_name” rather than “/donate/to/charity_name” because “give to charity_name” had roughly 3x the number of searches as “donate to charity_name”)

Here’s what the category landing page ended up looking like:

We also made all 125k pages available in sitemap.xml so crawlers would pick them up.

Results

I like to measure results for launched features to know if they’re working. Sometimes it’s harder to isolate the impact of a specific feature. In this case, it was easy - we just looked at the traffic to these pages in Google Analytics.

Between mid­-2012 and early 2016, the landing pages accounted for 24.75% of all site traffic, and the category landing pages have accounted for 3% of all traffic.1

This is effectively “found” traffic which we wouldn’t have had gotten if we hadn’t built these pages.

1 Sadly I'm not allowed to share the Google Analytics screenshot. But suffice to say, it was up and to the right 📈