Writing content for a brand new NGO or charity website? Find out what keywords to optimize for.

SEO Tips for Charities and NGOs

You want to help. You want to make a change for a better world. You set up a charity or an NGO that supports children’s education in Africa. Now, you urgently need donations.

In fundraising, it’s a fiercely competitive digital marketing space. Your organization is up against many others, all vying for a slice of the cake, as well as large national and international charities with huge marketing budgets. All of you are competing for the same search intent.

As a start-up charity, how will you ever be found online? When potential donors stick “donation Africa” or “help children Africa” into Google, when searching for a worthy organization, they’re instantly overwhelmed by thousands of search results, and a myriad of different charity and NGO options.

What keywords do you need to consider as a new charity or NGO? How do you do that keyword analysis?

How do you stand out from the crowd and rank on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page?

Many steps are required for successful online marketing. In this article, we are focusing on competitive keyword research and on optimizing your website for keywords that will help get you found by those potential donors.

Brainstorming keywords that are relevant to your business or organization is an additional step that we will deal with in another blog.

In this “how-to”, we will stay with social organizations and use a specific charity-related example. That said, this step-by-step guide can be used by any business that wishes to improve its online ranking.

Step 1: Research your charity or NGO competition

Ideally, pick out at least four competitors. Two should be leaders in your field, focused on Africa or a specific African country. Two could be more generally oriented organizations helping children around the world.

Using an online visibility tool, such as Sixtrix or Semrush, analyze each competing domain for keywords.

For this article, we are going to look at just one potential charity competitor Plan International (www.plan.de).

Domain Overview using Semrush of charity Plan Germany

Domain Overview using Semrush (Plan.de)

With Semrush’s Domain Overview, we get a snapshot showing the top 5 organic keywords that Plan.de is ranking for in Germany, the main organic competitors, and the number of keywords that they have in common. By deep-diving into the organic research, we discover the list of over 9,500 keywords that plan.de is currently ranking for.

Step 2: Narrow down your competitor’s keyword list

Using Organic Research, we can toggle the “position” column to get keyword ranking in numerical order.  As this first keyword list contains over 9,500 keywords, not all of which are relevant, we need to narrow it down.

Filter out the brand or company name from this initial organic keyword list

When we look closely at the organic research results, we see that the top keywords include the brand name “Plan”. It’s not hard to rank for your brand name. In fact, you should be ranking for your brand or company name. But, by excluding the brand or company name, we can shorten this first organic keyword list. To do this, we use Semrush Advanced Filters to take the company or brand name out of the equation and get a more neutral impression of what Plan.de is ranking for.

SEO Tips for Charities and NGOs

Before Filtering out Brand or Company Name

At this stage, it makes sense to also filter out other words besides company names, for example, with charities, corporate donor names or celebrity influencers can also be removed as they tend to dominate content and keyword rankings.

Using semrush to filter out keywords

After Filtering out Brand or Company Name

Take out very high-volume words

It’s going to be very difficult to compete for keywords that are searched for 50,000 a month. Let’s take out anything with a very high search volume. Semrush provides the appropriate filter. We are now filtering for keywords with a search volume of between 100 and 200 per month. The list is still long, but we are starting to see some interesting information coming through.

Filter the list according to keyword competition, starting with the least competitive keywords

Keywords with a lower search volume are less competitive. As a newbie, we can try to optimize for them. Anything between 100 and 200 searches a month is a good figure with a competitive keyword difficulty percentage of between 40 to 59%. Keyword Difficulty is a Semrush metric. It’s a percentage score from 0 to 100. The higher that score, the more difficult it is to rank for that word.

Here’s how our list looks now:

Keyword Shortlist by Difficulty Level

Keyword List by Level of Difficulty or Competitiveness

We can also see on this list that there are phrases and words that possibly have nothing to do with our charity organization. For example, if we are focusing our development efforts exclusively in Africa, or one specific African country, then “Kinderpatenschaft Indien” (child sponsorship India) isn’t much use to us, so we can remove it and other irrelevant phrases and keywords from the list.

We go through this new list and tick what is getting between 100 and 200 searches a month and is also relevant to our organization to create an optimized keyword shortlist.

Step 3: Compare keyword performance with other NGOs and charities

Semrush has a Keyword Gap option where the domains of up to 5 competitors can be analyzed simultaneously for keyword overlaps and keyword opportunities. Here, thanks to a “missing” column, we can identify keywords used by these competitors where the volume is adequate and competition is low.

Semrush Keyword Overlap

Keyword Overlap of Charity and NGO Competitors

We add these suggested keywords to our keyword shortlist and check to see if there are others worth noting and considering.

Our keyword shortlist now looks like this:

Shortlist of keywords long and shorttail for charities

Charity or NGO Keyword Shortlist

Step 4: Sprinkle some magic over that keyword shortlist

Yes, that’s corny, but seriously… Semrush has a Keyword Magic Tool that will offer phrase and question suggestions to the words on the keyword shortlist. For example, this is what came up for the mid-tail keyword “Brunnen in Afrika” (well in Africa):

long and short and midtail keywords are essenital

Keyword Magic Tool for Questions and Phrases

We can add these suggestions to our keyword shortlist based on volume and competition.

Finally, export this list. Now you are ready to use these keywords in your content and HTML tags and ensure that your website stands out from the crowd.

Of course, this is only the start of the SEO journey but it is definitely a start in the right direction.

Lost in the digital space? Want to ensure that your website is discovered and that your products and services are successful?

Would you like to find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for? English Content provides detailed keyword analyses and guidance on creating content that works.

We offer special rates to charities and NGOs too!