SEO keyword research is notoriously difficult; it doesn’t help that there’s a lot of conflicting advice to be found on the Web.
But without good research, even the best implementation of an SEO plan will lead nowhere as anything built upon it will be hollow and meaningless.
Avoid these 5 simple mistakes anyone can make.
1. Shooting For The Moon
Everyone wants to be number one on those high-volume keywords that rake in the big numbers. However, the problem with those keywords is that everyone wants them, meaning the competition for them is very high.
For most sites, especially those starting out, targeting high-competition keywords just isn’t practical. There is much more to be gained by going after lower-traffic keywords with less competition.
In short, part of something is better than all of nothing, which is exactly what most sites get when they shoot for the top right away.
2. Aiming For Rock Bottom
On the flip side of the coin, many sites make the mistake of targeting keywords with little to no search volume. Though long-tail keywords can generate good traffic and high conversion rates, some keywords just don’t have enough traffic to be worthwhile.
There are still plenty of great niche keywords that still get decent volume but are relatively uncompetitive. These are the keywords your research should be finding rather than the low-hanging fruit without any substance.
3. Looking At Broad Matches, Not Exact Ones
A simple mistake to be certain, but since Google’s Keyword Research Tool is set to show you results for the broad matches by default, many forget to switch to tick the box to view exact ones.
The problem is that looking at broad matches can give you a very skewed view of how many searches a keyword gets. This is especially true for one and two-word queries which will often lose over 90% of their searches when switching to exact matches.
For example, a broad search for “windmill” has some 1,000,000 searches per month, but an exact search only has 49,500, a 95% drop.
This can be the difference between choosing a keyword that is a winner and choosing one that goes nowhere fast.
4. Using Plural Instead Of Singular
A lot of sites fall into the trap of targeting plural keywords when the singular is by far the most popular.
Most searchers use singular keywords when searching, even when they are looking for something that is plural, such as information about windmills.
In that example, “windmills” has only 27,500 monthly searches, compared to the 49,500 for the singular.
However, there are some exceptions to this, namely cases where the singular word is rarely used. For example, “shoes” has 1,000,000 monthly searches where “shoe” has only 60,500.
Normally though, singular is by far the better version to target.
5. Not Reviewing Your Keywords
Finally, it’s important to remember that SEO is not something you do once and then forget about, it’s a game played on a constantly-shifting field.
You need to be regularly looking at your keywords and how well they are performing for you. Specifically, you need to look at:
- Your Ranking: What your position is in the search results.
- Your Traffic: How many visitors you’re getting from the term.
- Your Conversion: How much of that traffic is signing up for your newsletter, buying your product, etc.
With that, you should be able to get a handle on which keywords you want to abandon, which you need to put more work in and which you’ve got just about right.
Important Related Reads:
- Keyword Research with Google Only: No Other Tools Needed (Ann Smarty)
- Use Google Analytics Advanced Segments To Find The Real Questions Your Visitors Ask (Ruud Hein)
- Keyword Research: Beyond the Google AdWords Keyword Tool (Mandy Boyle)