Part 1 of 2: When keywords go to the dogs…

In doing research into the best words to improve search results for three organizations (two related to non profits and one for a commercial site), I stumbled into the apparent popularity of searching for problems related to dogs.  Eight-four people in the past 100 days have searched for information on “dog separation anxiety” while 121 searched for “pain relief for dogs”, for example.  (In fact, far more people search for info about dogs’ separation anxiety than children’s.)


My message du jour is this (441 people searched for something “du jour”)…

If you’re trying to promote non profit organizations and causes, you need powerful keywords because you want to come up high in a search when someone starts typing words into his or her favorite search engine.


Quick “keywords” def:  Those golden little words – or phrases —  that people (and reporters) type into search engines to find what they’re looking for.


Why you should care:  Most of us either never think about how well our elegant copy performs in Internet searches, or we guess.  The consequence is that we lose out to other organizations when people surf the Internet for resources or places to make charitable donations.  This post talks about a free tool that can help you expand your list of potential keywords, so that you can make a strategic choice about the words you build into website pages and news releases.  (News releases are an excellent tool for increasing website traffic, and they aren’t bad for attracting media attention either.)


For this post on keywords, I’ve created a hypothetical non-profit that aims to ease the burden of suffering dogs everywhere.  I’ll call it the Suffering Dog Society.


Our hypothetical Suffering Dog Society needs to think about two things.  Step one, we need to figure out what words people use when searching for help with dog problems.  Tomorrow, we’ll talk about step two:  identifying keywords related to the fundraising aspects of our charitable organization.  No money, no mission, after all.


Initially, our keyword list might include “suffering dog,” “suffering dog relief”, “dog support agency” and so on.  (You can guess a list of 25 or so words or phrases, and if there are other similar organizations, you should see what terms they’re using.)  But how do we know which terms people are really using in searches?  How do we crawl into the minds of suffering dog owners everywhere?


Enter a free tool offered by WordTracker (  You plug in the keyword or phrase that you are considering, and it will tell you how many searches in the last 100 days used that word or phrase.  It will also show you, in descending order of popularity, related terms that people used.  WordTracker is a metacrawler system that checks multiple search engines for you, and combines the results.  Supposedly there are 100 million searches a month, so it’s got a whole bunch of data that can inform your keywords decision.


Turns out that “suffering dog” and “dog suffering” aren’t very popular terms.  There were only nine searches in the last 100 days using either term.  Let’s say we broadened our thinking to certain kinds of problems that dogs might suffer from:  “dog anxiety”, “dog stress,” “anxiety in dogs,” and “dog behavior problems.”


I type “dog anxiety” into the free keywords tool and press “hit me”.  Ah!  It tells me there have been 202 related searches in the past 100 days.  The top term is “dog separation anxiety”, for which there were 84 searches, followed by just “dog anxiety,” with 22 searches.  Note that “dog seperation anxiety” (incorrectly spelled) had 12 searches.  Because people often misspell when searching, some people intentionally put misspelled words into website meta-tags (coded info picked up by search engine robots behind the scenes of a website, but which can’t be seen by us mere mortals unless we know how to view source code).


I try a variation on the theme:  “anxiety in dogs”.  57 searches.  The most popular is “separation in dogs”, followed by “seperation in dogs.”  (By the way, the free tool will periodically make you verify that you’re a human and not a robot…)


I doggedly labor on and try “dog stress”.  While there are 36 related searches, “dog stress relief” had only 11 searches in the last 100 days.  Not good enough.


I think a little more broadly and try:  “dog behavior problems”.  That phrase had 40 searches, of which the exact same phrase was the most popular with 28 searches.


So what’s it tell me?  If I was working on a website or news release for my Suffering Dog Society, I would want to be sure that I find a way to smoothly write copy that includes “dog separation anxiety”.  Or given that not that many people seem to be struggling for help with suffering dogs, I might give up on the idea of starting a non-profit to help them.


There’s more I could do to identify the very best phrases, but I’d have to buy the WordTracker service for at least a few days.  The big thing is this:

Expanding our thinking about keywords that people use in searches would have saved us from using terms that either no one uses (in the case of the Suffering Dog Society), or that so many organizations use that we would be lost in the noise as a small, start-up non-profit.  That is the bigger risk for small organizations and causes.


Next:  Keywords to assist in fundraising – what keywords do people use if they want to give money and are searching for opportunities to “give”, “donate,” “support,” etc.?


Disclaimer:  I am a dog lover (but I still poked a bit of fun at dog owners in this post)!

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