National Trust had most charity website traffic last year, report says

08 Jan 2024 News

Logo, National Trust

The National Trust had the most charity website traffic in 2023, according to a recent analysis of 100 prominent charities in the UK.

Marketing firm Salience gave the conservation charity a “traffic score” of 2.3 million in November 2023, an estimation of how much organic search traffic its website gets each month, marking a year-on-year rise of 21%. 

The National Trust was searched for a total of 450,000 times per month in 2023, according to the Online Charities Report, which analysed charities’ search engine optimisation, paid search, social, and digital PR.

Lydia Hunter, head of channels at the National Trust, said: “Over the past year we have rolled out a new website and begun to refresh our social media strategy to reach and engage more audiences with our cause. The online landscape is constantly shifting, and our teams work hard to make sure we are applying best practices from multiple sectors.”

The new website picked up two BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) awards, including Silver for Client of the Year and Bronze for Digital Product Build of the Year.

Salience's top five charities for traffic score were: National Trust, British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK, RSPCA, Woodland Trust.

Olivia Reid, RSPCA assistant director for marketing and communications, said: “The kindness of our supporters - who are eager to learn about, rehome and help animals - drove them to our website in big numbers this year. It's so positive that our strong performance in press, SEO, paid search, social media and digital PR helped us reach so many people, to showcase the amazing work we do improving the lives of animals, whether it’s rescuing and rehoming animals, education, campaigning for change, or teaching children to be more compassionate towards animals.

“Throughout last year, we will continue to develop online platforms to communicate with existing and new supporters - celebrating our rich history by working together - every one of us, for every animal - to create a better world for all.”

BHF’s traffic score rose by around 50%, from 886,843 in 2022 to 1.3 million in 2023.

Claire Sadler, chief marketing and fundraising officer at the BHF said: “At a time our work has never been more needed, our website is essential in raising funds to support lifesaving research and providing vital health information to people in need.”

“The significant uplift in people visiting our website is testament to increased effectiveness of our brand and marketing campaigns, the online information and support we provide to millions of families, and the improvements we’ve made to our site which make it easier for users to find the content they need.”

“A significant source of the growth has come from our focus on supporting families with health information at a time record numbers of people are on waiting lists for vital heart care.”

“These brands are the ones to watch. They’re on the rise with the biggest growth in the market. Whatever they’re doing, search engines are loving it and you’ll want to work out what that is and emulate their strategies, fast,” reads the report.

The report adds industry variance, the average of how much visibility change there has been in the market, shows a 24% increase in the market.

“If the market’s growing, you should be too. If it’s shrinking, you need a precise and targeted search strategy,” the report states.

The top five losses according to Salience were RSPB, Royal British Legion (RBL), Save the Children, Unicef, and BBC Children in Need.

“They’re likely to have been punished by a search algorithm update or have let things slide over the course of the year,” the report states.

RBL contested the results.

The charity told Civil Society that overall organic search traffic increased by 4% in 2023, while visits to the RBL website were the same as the previous year.

It said it also recorded sustained improvements in organic search performance during its key October and November period, covering the launch of the RBL Poppy Appeal, the Festival of Remembrance and the March Past the Cenotaph.

An RBL spokesperson said: “There is no indication of a drop in RBL or non RBL query impressions or site traffic either within 2023 as a whole or post Google’s helpful content update.

“In fact, both our search impressions, and our search traffic rose in 2023 relative to 2022. Our individual page rankings also did not show a site-wide decline at any point in the year.”

Editor's Note: This article has been amended to include additional comments, including from RBL.

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