Three Easy Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Keyword Research

by Will Reinhardt January 5th, 2010 

In the process of creating targeted keyword lists for any particular project it's easy to simply say "target the keywords with the highest search volume". This is almost never true, of course. Clients often want the moon delivered on a platter but that doesn't mean that's what they actually need. The following tips are a few of the tricks I've learned as I cull a keyword list.

Using Plural when Singular is an Option

This goes hand in hand with realizing what the intentions of your audience are. If your potential customers are searching for a birthday present for their mother, they are not going to look for "PS3 controllers" when "PS3 controller" will do. They're only looking for one.

Google Trends shows this effect:
Google Trends Screenshot

There's nothing wrong with talking about the product in the plural on the page. That should be all the targeting you need for those terms.

Side note: your customers are going to be in trouble for giving a PS3 controller to their mothers.

Targeting Local Keywords when You're not Local

Larger companies often target a global market. When locality comes into play, I usually recommend that a client take full advantage of Google Local, Yahoo Local and Yelp.

If you have an international market, then trying to be in every local search becomes painful. Target the global terms if you're a global company and let the utilities mentioned above do the work for you to get in the local markets.

Targeting Misspellings

MisspellingActively trying to target a misspelling is terrible waste of time. The SERPs are going to realize the mistake and send your customers to the correct spelling anyway, negating any work you may have done.

The current suggested course of action is to include the misspellings in the meta keywords. While it's already known that Google does not use the keywords tag for any of their weighting algorithm, it is suspected that the keywords are used for relevancy -- a perfect place for misspellings.

Side note: "misspellings" is very easy to misspell.

Will Reinhardt

Will Reinhardt helps professionals track their keyword rankings over time

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4 Responses to “Three Easy Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Keyword Research”

  1. I really need to do some research into what you mean by the statement: "keywords are used for relevancy" and then maybe I will better grasp how I can make use of misspellings.

    Since I started making better use of keywords a number of my blog articles are showing up much better in the SERPs even though some people say the keywords don't really matter to blogs. I think that may be wrong, they do seem to make a difference.
    .-= Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella recently posted: Free Blog Reviews – Blog Help & Blog Publicity =-.

  2. Sound advice, Will!

    However, some comments on singular vs. plurals. First of all, this is not universally applicable. In English, people searching for broad categories of items will often search for the plural rather than the singular. In the product realm, somebody interested in purchasing say, a television, will search for "flat screen tvs" (the generic class) as often as "flat screen tv" (an object in that class). This is less the case, but still prevalent, with brand queries.

    Second, numbers returned by search tools can often be misleading. If you were to compare "digital camera" and "digital cameras" in Google Insights for search, the former would be the clear winner. The same would be the case for the Google AdWords Keyword Tool – until you change the default broad match option to exact match. There you would see the plural much more popular as a search term, with the traffic about split for phrase matching. This varies a lot from query to query, but keyword researchers should be aware that broad matches include keywords in queries, rather than returning matches for an isolated (phrase match) query (that is, searches for "nikon digital camera" ends up being added up in the broad match "digital camera" bucket).
    .-= Aaron Bradley recently posted: Pirate SEO Advice =-.

  3. Kai says:

    You don't need Google Trends to figure out which keyword is used more often. You can just see it as you are doing your keyword research with Google's keyword tool. Just type in "ps3 controller" and you have both singular and plural shown.
    .-= Kai recently posted: Advanced Link Building With Blog Comments =-.

  4. I think if you are hardworking enough, it seems researching local market keywords (in Google Keyword tool) gives you more depth — more long tail keywords.

    So I often find major target groups (in terms of location) and drive deep on keywords, rather than just go for "All countries and territories".