In order to get your site ranking in the search results, you need to conduct solid keyword research. As you work through that process, you will create a list of keywords that you want your site to rank for. Words you can optimize your content for. But keyword research can seem intimidating, especially if you have never really thought about it or done it before. In this post, we share some of the most common mistakes people make when doing keyword research, and include tips for how to avoid them, so you don’t unintentionally sabotage your own chances at ranking online.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Mistake #1: Winging it
Ranking at the top of Google’s search results pages isn’t just a matter of stuffing the right keyword into your content. Attempting to wing your keyword research, or skip it altogether, will lead to your creating content that may not match up with what your audience is looking for. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you instinctively know what your audience wants.
When doing your research, it is crucial that you take time to take a deep dive into your audience and their language. Who are they? Which words do they use and what are they searching for online? Which words are more or less competitive than others? And naturally, as your business expands and your audience changes, your keyword list will also change. If it doesn’t, you risk making mistake number two.
Mistake #2: Forgetting to evaluate and adapt
Just because you might rank for certain terms now, doesn’t mean you always will. When you optimize for a certain keyword, you need to check back in to see if you achieved that top ranking and evaluate your efforts. Are people actually finding your articles? If not, why not? Do you simply need to make some changes to your content, or do you need to choose a new keyword altogether?
Pro tip: Google Search Console is a great keyword research tool you can use to see whether or not your posts are ranking the the keywords you’re hoping for. You can also check the Google search results directly to see where/if your articles are ranking. Just be sure to use a private browser or a tool like valentin.app, so you don’t receive biased results from Google!
Mistake #3: Not thinking about your audience’s search intent
Just as important as what words your audience uses when searching, is the reason behind why they use those words. In other words, their search intent. Are they looking for information? Perhaps trying to find a specific website? Or are they maybe looking to purchase something?
The content you create on your website for a specific keyword needs to make the search intent of your visitor. If it doesn’t, Google won’t want to serve your page in the search results, because it isn’t what your visitor is looking for. You can optimize it perfectly, but unless the intent matches, Google (and your audience) won’t be impressed.
To find out the search intent behind a particular keyword, simply look at the search results themselves (incognito, of course). What pages are ranking the highest, and what kind of content is on them? Does it match the kind of content you’ve been creating? If not, time to rethink your content marketing strategy.
Mistake #4: Choosing the wrong keywords
This mistake ties in with the previous one. You are more likely to choose and optimize for the wrong keywords if you don’t take time to analyze the search intent of your audience. You will either end up either pursuing words that your customers don’t use or ones that don’t bring in any traffic because they are too specific, or long-tail. If you choose words your customers don’t use, they won’t be able to find you. And if your keyword it too specific and doesn’t bring in any traffic, it won’t do anything to help your SEO. Pursuing long-tail keywords is an essential part of any SEO strategy, but only if you aim at long-tail keywords that will actually generate traffic to your site.
There are many great keyword research tools, both free and premium, that you can use to help you with selecting the right keywords for your posts and pages. Use real, verifiable data to back up your SEO strategy. This will make your site more successful in the long-run.
Singular vs. Plural
When deciding what keywords to pursue, don’t forget to check whether you should optimize for the singular or the plural form of a particular keyword. Often, the singular form of a word has a different search intent than the plural form. For instance, someone searching for [Christmas tree] may have informational intent and simply want to know what a Christmas tree is, or where the tradition of the Christmas tree came from. But if someone else searches for the plural form, [Christmas trees], they might be trying to find one online they can buy for their home.
Mistake #5: Aiming at unrealistic keywords
Depending on your niche, you may have a lot of competition. It will be difficult for you to rank for many of those popular (head) keywords, even more so if your website is relatively new and hasn’t been around for all long yet. This is why we recommend setting up a long-tail keyword strategy, where you focus more on keywords and phrases specific to your niche that might not be as difficult to rank for and higher conversion rates. Find what makes your business unique and try to incorporate those things into your keyword strategy.
For example, let’s say you own a bakery and make the most delicious gluten-free, vegan desserts. Instead of trying to rank for a head term like [desserts] that has lots of competition, you could also aim for keywords like [gluten-free vegan desserts] and [dessert baking tips for vegans]. If you can write amazing content to rank for these long-tail keywords, and your site starts to rank in the search results because of all that effort and hard work, you can then pursue those more popular terms with your site’s main pages.
Mistake #6: Not optimizing for related terms
Many people think you can only optimize a post for one exact keyword. However, you can (and should) optimize for related terms and synonyms. Some parts of your audience may use a slightly different keyphrase to search for something, and you don’t want to miss out on their traffic and potential conversions! Just be careful not to stretch things too much, or you could end up doing more damage than good to your overall SEO strategy.
For example, we optimized this post for [keyword research mistakes], but we also optimized the related keyphrase [for keyword research tips], since people may search for that as well. And we want those people to find our post, too!
Implement these keyword research tips and avoid the mistakes!
Executing keyword research properly requires a decent investment on your part. It’s important that you take some time and really think about and research the terms you want to rank for. Just remember our tips in this post, so you can avoid all of these common keyword research mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful, well-optimized website!