Keyword Research Mistakes That Can Sink Your SEO
Search engine optimization can be incredibly complicated — even for experienced professionals. Because Google is always changing its algorithm, and best practices rapidly fall out of favor, business owners need to stay on their toes and keep up-to-date with the latest developments. In many cases, businesses will turn to an SEO reseller who can provide necessary digital marketing or web design services so that desired growth can be achieved. But if you’re looking to expand your personal knowledge of SEO so that you can supplement those services (or you may want to provide these kinds of services for others in the future), there’s always something to learn.
If you’ve had any exposure to search engine optimization before, you’ve probably heard about the importance of keywords. Even business owners who don’t handle their own SEO strategies have certain keywords on which they’d like to focus and rank. However, determining the right keywords to target is a lot more complex than you might realize. Keyword research plays an essential role in designing and maintaining an SEO strategy, but you’d be surprised by just how many people try to rush through this process or make huge missteps that can derail their efforts entirely. When trying to improve your SEO, here are just some of the biggest keyword research mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Selecting Keywords Your Audience Doesn’t Use
The keywords you choose shouldn’t merely act as the best descriptors for your products or services. They should also be relevant to what your target audience is searching for. There are phrases your company might use internally or that are well-known amongst others in your industry, but that doesn’t mean your customers will be familiar with and use those words when conducting searches. You may regularly use branded terms that aren’t part of the widespread lexicon or a particular version of a keyword that doesn’t show up in searches. But because the main goal of SEO is to allow users to find you online and go to your website, you’ll want to appeal to the vocabulary choices those users are more comfortable with. Not sure about whether a given keyword is something a potential customer might use? You’ll want to check the search volume of the phrase and ask your employees about the feedback and questions they hear from customers. This can give you a better indication of which keywords are truly relevant and which ones won’t help you rank.
Targeting Keywords That Are Too Competitive
Search volume can and should play an important role in the keywords you select. But just because a keyword’s search volume is high doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for your SEO strategy. You’ll need to be realistic about your keyword choices if you want to accomplish your SEO goals. Some marketers will view a highly competitive keyword as one that has a lot of potential for a given business, but sometimes that can spell disaster. Going after a keyword that’s overly broad and hugely competitive will result in wasted time and money. While knowing what your competition is doing right is extremely important, you’ll need to realize that you won’t have a good chance of knocking a high-quality page out of the top 10 search results if the keyword is extremely general or in an aggressive niche. If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to target long-tail keywords, which are typically less competitive and will increase your chances of moving up in the ranks. Even if a keyword has a lower search volume, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad option; in many cases, you might be able to increase your ranking by targeting more specific (but less popular) keywords — and thereby increase your leads and conversions much faster than sinking a substantial budget into trying to rank on one competitive keyword.
Overlooking Keywords for Local SEO
If your business has a physical location or your services pertain to customers in a specific area, local SEO should be a vital component of your marketing strategy. Including some global keywords is usually a good idea for context or if you can theoretically offer your products to customers located anywhere, of course. But local keywords can allow you to rank more regionally, which can have a huge impact on your lead generation and conversion optimization. Including geographical locations in keywords can make a lot of sense (assuming you are actually located in or serve those areas), as web users will often add their location when they enter a search query in an attempt to be served results close by. Google already prioritizes local search results, so using these kinds of keywords can allow you to be featured more prominently and thus increase your business.
Choosing Too Few Keywords
Going after too many keywords can cause you to spend more on your marketing budget than you’d like. However, you shouldn’t focus on just one keyword, either. Because most keywords will have multiple meanings, you need others to provide some kind of context for Google (and for human users). A single keyword will typically be too vague and confusing. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is never going to be the best strategy. Diversifying your portfolio, on the other hand, is a far better option. While you should put ample thought into the keywords you decide to target, you’ll need to have a high enough quantity of them that visitors can understand what you do and to increase your chances of ranking on multiple terms.
Conducting your own keyword research can be difficult — especially if you have no idea where to start. There are a number of tools you can use to determine the terms deemed relevant to your business and your industry, but these may not always guide you in the right direction. Before deciding on the list of keywords you want to highlight in web copy and blog posts, refer to this list of mistakes and ensure you aren’t making any of the ones mentioned. This can keep you from wasting time on irrelevant search terms or devoting a large portion of your budget to a keyword that’s simply too popular.