Keyword research is an integral part of the work of any SEO marketer. But according to a study compiled a few years ago, few people really love keyword research.
Keyword research has been classified as one of the three most difficult tasks by SEO professionals (behind link building and content creation). This is because 66% of us conduct our keyword research internally instead of looking for a specialist or outsource it.
Keyword research can also be a daunting task since almost 44% of us only do it when necessary.
It makes sense.
When you do a little keyword research, it may seem like a great project, and there are some difficulties that make it even more difficult.
When I surveyed SEO professionals on Twitter about what they think are the biggest mistakes that companies and marketing specialists make when researching keywords, I got almost 40 answers, but many covered the same topics.
Here is a list of the biggest keyword search mistake with the most important names to avoid:
#1. Forgetting Searcher Intent
Many people mentioned that the biggest mistake in keyword research was forgetting to really examine the search engine’s intention. What is the point of classifying your site or content for a query that does not match what the user is looking for?
Many marketing specialists are more obsessed with generating traffic than with their results: generating conversions. And that’s where the researcher’s intention comes into play.
The intention of the researcher examines what the user is really looking for when searching for something online. If you have a recipe website, people are likely to want the recipes, not a 2,000-word essay on what this meal meant for you in your childhood.
Match your content to what people are really looking for or make sure that the right types of queries direct traffic to your site.
#2. Not Looking at Actual SERPs
Part of understanding the intention of the researcher and what the search engines understand the intention behind user queries is actually searching the SERPs. Many people spend a lot of time on tools and don’t look at what really qualifies for keywords.
The content that Google serves users for a specific query may not match the content you have for that keyword. You may be writing a blog, but search engines interpret that the query needs a product page result. See what content qualifies for this keyword and model its content in this structure.
#3. Do not see previous “volume” metrics
Often, keyword research involves metrics that do not necessarily indicate what is best for your business. Of course, we want to follow the terms that generate more traffic and help improve important metrics, but it doesn’t always make sense for all companies to search for the highest volume keywords.
It is not only important to understand what is reasonable for your site, but also what types of queries your search engines will actually use to find the solution to your problem. Do not focus too much on the volume alone: consider other factors that may also affect its content.
#4. Ignore long-tail keywords
Part of the exclusive focus on volume is to discard longer keywords. While long-tailed keywords are generally of smaller volume, they often represent a lower stage of the funnel, which means that a user is more ready to buy or closer to a conversion.
But targeting even the main long-tail funnel keywords means that there is probably less competition and is responding to the exact query of a search engine, which increases the likelihood of relying on your brand as an expert in that area and returning when you want to make a purchase.
#5. Not Talking to Real People
In addition to analyzing SEO tools and SERPs, it is crucial that you talk to real people in your keyword research.
Sarah Gurbach gave a great talk at CTAConf this year about easy ways to obtain qualitative data from her clients that inform them about her trip. Use your methods for your keyword research too. You can also talk to the people in your company who are on the front line of customers.
Listen to what language they use, what problems they are experiencing, what questions they ask and which ones can be answered by the content of your site.
#6. Inserting keywords after writing an article
Each SEO expert has seen or received the request: “Can you simply ‘SEO’?”
Unfortunately, keyword research is usually done with already written content. Or writers who are not familiar with SEO best practices think that for “SEO” they only need to repeat the keyword infinitesimal times. Instead, keyword research should be a basis on which the entire SEO, PPC and content strategy is built. It is not a compliment at the end.
Your site may not meet user needs and perform well in rankings when the search is delayed.
#7. Not Knowing Where Your Audience is Searching
In addition to verifying the actual SERPs for the type of content that users search for in each query, it is also important to check other search properties to see where people search for information. As a personal example, if something in our house needs repair, my husband will automatically search YouTube.
But I also did keyword research in places like Twitter, Reddit, and other non-Google platforms.
Expand your search beyond traditional media and tools to places on the web where the target user really looks for answers.
#8. Focus too much on the exact match
If you have heard the old SEO joke (an SEO editor enters a bar, barbecue, bar, pub, Irish, bartender, drink, beer, wine, liquor …), this will make you roll your eyes. With Google’s understanding of natural language processing and related entities, you don’t need to fill your content with every related keyword you can imagine.
Too often, companies and customers cannot guarantee that a keyword exactly matches, and all its variations must be included in a piece to be classified, but this is not the case. Be sure to write the content the way you would explain it to someone on the phone.
You wouldn’t say the same words over and over again, so don’t write it that way.
#9. Ignoring the location
Once I had an account that really wanted to be classified for a specific product I was selling, let’s call it the pantry shelf.
They tracked and searched for keyword ranking related to the pantry product and could never reach number 1 or generate a ton of traffic or conversions for those specific keywords.
When we worked together, I showed them that when someone searched for the keywords they pointed to, Google showed researchers where they could buy pantry shelving systems near them.
The correct results for search engines select many factors, such as seasonality, location, previous searches and more. This is just one more reason to access your search SERPs.
#10. Not Focusing on More Broad Topics
While we avoid creating content strictly for the exact match, it is also crucial to moving away from a little in our search.
Focusing on broader topics in the research and writing process can help you generate new ideas and make the flow of an individual piece or site seem more natural.
The theme cluster model can also help with internal linking. Expand your search beyond specific keywords and expand your content resources.
#11. Ignoring competitors
Companies have an idea of who their main product/service competitors maybe, but this often does not align with who their SERP competitors are.
Knowing who your competition with SERP is for the topics and search terms that you are trying to rank is crucial because you can understand what evaluates search engine modeling based on the type of content users want.
Make sure that the search for competitors is also part of your keyword search process.
#12. Not Evaluating Keyword Difficulty Properly
Many keyword research tools offer a variation of “keyword difficulty,” which is how competitive a given topic is in SERPs.
However, this evaluation generally does not include individual information and the location of your site.
You may appear as a subject matter expert in a particular subject, so ranking for that topic will not be so difficult for your site.
However, if you have a new website or are trying to enter a new market, it can be much harder to classify it because you don’t have the authority on this topic yet.
Consider these factors when conducting keyword research and measure with a little salt.
#13. Allow customers to choose search terms
Have you had a client or potential client who wants “rank # 1 for [complete blank keyword]”?
Who has no right?
Sometimes, however, the keyword they desperately search for is vanity, and it does not generate conversions or help increase results. Be sure to participate as an expert in what really matters in SEO: generate qualified traffic that converts and improves revenue.
What mistakes did you notice?
If you are an SEO professional who conducts keyword research regularly or with clients, what are the biggest mistakes you saw in keyword research?
What are the main misconceptions that people think they have?
Let us know in the comments!
Image Credits: All screenshots taken by the author, 5 November 2019.
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