5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid During SEO Keyword Research

A solid keyword research strategy will help focus on creating content that will deliver the best bang for your marketing budget while delivering high-quality traffic and paying customers. Do this process correctly and you’ve struck gold. Do it wrong and you’ll be wasting time and resources with your online marketing!

Biggest mistake #1:

Choosing ‘vanity’ keywords

Many business owners don’t even bother to do proper keyword research—they just want to rank #1 for broad, high-competition phrases that don’t really drive conversions or increase their sales.

For example, we had a client who ran a hotel in Bluff, Utah.

When they came to us, they wanted to rank high in Google for “Utah hotels”—a vanity term with a high monthly search volume but doesn’t produce the best conversion results. We recommended against targeting this keyword because of the following reasons:

  • “Utah hotels” is searched by thousands of people per month, but the results are broad and bring in unqualified visitors who leave the website without looking around. This will increase their bounce rate and make their website look bad in the eyes of Google.
  • “Utah hotels” is also a highly competitive keyword, and the websites that rank for this are large and highly authoritative, like TripAdvisor. It’s a waste of marketing time and money to go up against such giants.
  • “Utah hotels” has a lower conversion rate—it requires more money to optimize but doesn’t bring in real customers.

After doing keyword research, we advised this client that they would be more successful targeting something more specific such as “Bluff Utah hotels,” “luxury Bluff Utah hotels,” or “hotels in Bluff, Utah.”

The monthly search volume for these keywords may be lower, but they ultimately drive qualified traffic into the client’s website—people who are interested booking a hotel in Bluff.

The campaign was a success and the client was extremely happy!

Biggest mistake #2:

Using an exact match

Google has made a lot of progress figuring out Natural Language Processing, so there’s no need to stuff your content with exact matches of every keyword you want to target.

It’s better to write naturally, like you would talk. It’s also important to step back and look at the big picture instead of being obsessed with exact matches. Try to look at broader topics as you do your keyword research. This is a great way to get new ideas, plan the flow of a blog or article, and make your content more authoritative.

Biggest mistake #3:

Ignoring localization

Be careful: A keyword in one language might mean something else in a different one!

If you are trying to rank for a specific region or country, accurate keyword localization is absolutely critical. You’ll rank much better if your keywords are what your potential customers actually use when they search online.

Biggest mistake #4:

Not knowing what the audience is using to search

Google is no longer the only player in the search game. These days, people use other platforms to look for the information they need—such as YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook. So as you do your keyword research, don’t forget to check where your audience is actually going for information.

For example, if you’re targeting keywords related to DIY plumbing repair, you might find that most searchers actually use YouTube (not Google) to find the info they need. Many people rely on Twitter to find political news, on Reddit for advice on everything under the sun, and on Facebook marketplace to find products. Don’t ignore these platforms.

Biggest mistake #5:

Inserting keywords as an afterthought

Don’t just cram your keywords into a blog post that’s been written for something else. It will sound awkward and won’t help your rankings.

Do things in the right order. Perform keyword research first, and then write something around those words.

Keyword research is the foundation upon which all content strategy, SEO, and PPC is built. It’s not a hasty add-on. 

Tip: Leave keyword research to the experts

Keyword research is the basis of any SEO campaign, but it is often the hardest thing to do. In fact, studies show that it is among the top three “most difficult” tasks even for SEO professionals. This technical process involves many steps, and the only way to really master it is to fail along the way.

But if you’re a small business that relies on your website for sales and leads, there is no room for errors. Even the smallest mistakes can potentially tank your rankings and even cause your website to get penalized by Google.

It’s often better to simply outsource your SEO processes to experts.

Here at SEOValley, we have a dedicated team of keyword research specialists who can handle the work for you. You can also count on us for all matters SEO—from competition analysis to Google penalty recovery. Shoot us an email with details of what you need.