Leeds-based homelessness charity Simon on the Streets has received a donation of £35,000 from Channel 4's Secret Millionaire, and it attributes this success to having its website's search engine optimisation (SEO) overhauled.
A chance meeting with Ian Harris, CEO of search marketing company Search Laboratory Ltd led to the charity receiving free SEO recommendations. After the charity implemented them in December 2010/January 2011, its site rose rapidly up the search engine rankings for its targeted phrases to page one.
Within a few months, the charity was contacted by a researcher from Channel 4's Secret Millionaire TV series, although at that stage the charity was not made aware of the programme's title or focus. In due course it was invited to take part in an episode with former Chief Executive of ITV plc and former Chairman of music giant EMI, Charles Allen. The charity is convinced that without its improved search engine rankings the researcher would not have come across it.
Indeed, the episode aired last night shows Charles Allan typing in 'homelessness charity Leeds' into Google. This was the phrase that Search Laboratory had helped the charity optimise its site for. Apparently this was the search phrase used by the original Channel 4 researcher.
Allen spent some time with the charity helping out with the outreach service it provides, and even spent a night sleeping rough on the streets of Leeds to experience the plight of the homeless.
On last night's show he donated £35,000 to Simon on the Streets, which has enabled the charity to open a further outreach service in Bradford.
Clive Sandle, Director at Simon on the Streets, said: "We can't believe what great impact this has had so quickly. We are truly grateful for the work Search Laboratory put into our website; I never thought that we would achieve such wonderful results. A huge thanks goes to Charles and the Channel 4 team. This money will really change lives."
The team at Search Laboratory have also continued their support with Simon on the Streets. As well as donating money to the charity and providing them with ongoing SEO support, some of the team also slept rough in September for the charity's annual sponsored sleep out.
Simon the Streets told UK Fundraising that the SEO work has also resulted in a lot more interest and activity on the site, "not only from C4 but also other volunteers and sponsors".