If you Google the term “Poverty in Afghanistan,” you’ll find The Borgen Project among the top results. So how did it get there? There are various factors at play, but we’re going to give you insight into one of the biggest factors… SEO (Search Engine Optimization).


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The Process


1. Identify Key Phrases: The first step is for The Borgen Project to identify key phrases for which we want to rank. We want to appear in the top results when people search for these terms. In this case, we wanted our site to appear when people search the term “Poverty in Afghanistan.” How do we select terms? For a term to be selected it has to align with the organization and issues. From there, we narrow it to terms that are either lacking good/relevant info in the search results or the phrase is highly searched, but has low competition. For example, the word “poverty” would be highly competitive and difficult to ever get in the top 5 results. However, the term “Poverty in Afghanistan” is more specific and has fewer websites writing about it.

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2. Writing: As we identify key terms, we add them to the SEO section of the Topics Needing Covered tab. A writer then selects the phrase and writes an article on that topic. For the article to have a chance of being in the top search results, the key phrase must appear in the article, title and url. It’s very important that the article is well-researched and interesting. We don’t simply want people landing our site, we want them to find the information valuable and relevant to their search.


3. Editing: As the article goes through the editing process, Editors need to be careful not to make changes that will prevent the key term from being successful in search results. While it might be tempting to change the title “Poverty in Afghanistan” to something catchy like “Poverty, Afghanistan and a Giant Mess,” doing so will stop the article from appearing in the top results when people search “Poverty in Afghanistan.”


There are other factors that determine a website’s ranking (domain authority, number of sites linking to it, etc.), but making sure SEO is done correctly is the most important thing you can do.


How to Determine a “Focus Keyword”


For our Editors, if the writer didn’t list a key phrase, you’ll need to pick one. In most cases, the focus keyword should be 2-4 words.

Examples of good and bad choices for a focus keyword:

Bad: “Foreign Aid”
Good: “Foreign Aid Stats”

Bad: “Nelson Mandela”
Good: “Nelson Mandela Day 2014”




You’ll hear different terms to describe the SEO key phrase. For our purposes, these all mean the same thing: Key Phrase, Keyword, Key Term, Focus Keyword.