With no doubt, keyword research is one of the fundamental SEO activities, which has a major impact on further long-term success. However, it often happens that when analyzing keyword, people tend to forget a few basic rules. As a result, they don’t achieve the expected goals - the website doesn't appear in the search results, which means they don't increase traffic or conversion rate either. That's why in this article I will present the 8 most common mistakes made during keyword research.
If you are aware of these mistakes and of what to pay special attention to, you will certainly conduct successful keyword research, which will certainly improve your rankings.
1. Focusing on Irrelevant Keywords
Let's get this settled right at the very beginning: if you choose the wrong keywords that do not meet your potential users' expectations, your SEO strategy will actually be worth nothing. I know it may sound cliché, but actually many people tend to forget about it - they choose the wrong keywords that will not really increase traffic on the site or influence conversion rate.
Try not to optimize your website with keywords that users and your potential customers do not really use. Look at this example: imagine you run a clothing online store. Which keyword do you think has more potential to increase traffic on the site - shoes or boots? Or maybe it doesn't really matter? Well, it matters! It turns out that customers in the United States are more likely to look for shoes-related keywords in search engines than boots-related.
Another important issue: I've noticed that many people don't even realize the difference between British English and American English. If you think that it doesn't really matter, you're terribly mistaken. It's true that British English and American English have much in common, but there are differences between them, for example in terms of spelling.
Search engine optimistion vs. search engine optimization in the United States:
This comparison shows that spelling really matters, especially when it comes to doing SEO in English.
2. Ignoring Long-Tail Keywords
Ignoring long-tail keywords and building SEO strategies on unrealistic keywords is one of the most critical mistakes that will prevent your website from appearing in the search results. Sounds serious, right?
However, this rule applies to most websites. Just think: if you run a small online clothing store, you don't really have much chance to appear in TOP 10 search results on such general keywords as dresses or shoes. Why is that? Because these keywords are way too competitive and most probably popular worldwide brands such as Zalando, H&M, Zara or Next will rank much higher in the search results.
Look at the search volume for keywords dress and dresses! Wouldn’t it better to choose more precise keywords that have a much lower search volume? It will give you a better chance of appearing in the search results, and not just, for example, in position 168, but even in TOP 10!
What types of long-tail keywords are the most effective? Personally, I recommend choosing phrases that have from 3 to 5 words. Longer keywords may be too detailed and have no search volume (however, in some cases longer long-tail keywords will also work well).
Let's return to the example of dresses. Imagine that your online store offers mostly elegant dresses - why not to focus on what makes your offer unique? Consider the features of each of your products and choose appropriate long-tail keywords. For example, you sell elegant black dresses, just look at the search volume:
Such volume gives you a much better chance to succeed in the search results.
3. Not analyzing Competitors
Competitive analysis is one of the fundamental SEO activities that should be carried out quite often. This allows you to keep an eye on what campaigns or products they are introducing and, as a result, you have a better chance of not falling behind.
If you want to fully analyze your competitors, you should also check on which keywords they appear in Google search results. Fortunately, you have many tools for this (most of them require full subscription), which will allow you to verify competitors' visibility and keywords. Recently on our blog I presented the best, in my opinion, SEO tools for competitor analysis - check them out!
This time I will focus on SEMrush - when it comes to analysis of competition and keywords, it is definitely number 1 among SEO tools to be found. If you want to check which of your competitors are particularly strong, there are several steps to identify them.
Step 1: Enter your domain name in the Search bar.
Step 2: Choose the Organic research option.
Step 3: You'll be able to check your keywords or traffic. But now our main focus is on Competitors.
Now you see which competitors, according to SEMrush, you should analyze. Thanks to the competitive analysis you will certainly discover many keywords that have great potential to increase conversion rate and web traffic.
Step 4: Analyze Common Keywords.
Check which keywords you and your competitor have in common. This will tell you which ones should be higher in the search results to beat your competitors.
I suggest you carry out a general competitive analysis at least once a week and an analysis of your competitors' keywords minimum once a month. This way you will not miss anything!
4. Ignoring Search Intent
Have you ever heard of search intent? Does that term ring any bells? Well, if you still don’t know search intent and its impact on SEO, it's time to catch up!
Search intent is, to put it simply, the purpose for which users enter a given keyword in the “Search” bar. A search engine should respond to users' needs so that they can find the exact answer to what they are looking for. Are they searching for information? Or maybe they want to visit a particular website? If you interpret the search intent correctly, you will understand users better and match keywords to their needs. Keep in mind that even if you introduce well-optimized high quality content, but it will not correspond to searcher's intent, you will probably not increase traffic to your website anyway.
What are the types of search intent?
informational - user wants to learn or understand something, e.g. “what is search intent”, “how to conduct SEO audit”
navigational - user is looking for a specific company, brand or website, e.g. Delante, Zalando, Zara
transactional - user wants to buy something, e.g. “ H&M discount code”, “buy iPhone 8 Plus”
commercial investigation - user has already decided what he/she wants to buy, now he/she is looking for more precise information, e.g. “the best bars in Rome”
5. Not Distinguishing Between Singular And Plural
I have noticed that this is one of the most common mistakes, which unfortunately often leads to failure. People don't notice that singular and plural keywords are not really the same thing.
It is important that single and plural keywords are considered separately as they don't compete with each other for website traffic. It would be best if category pages in an online store appear in the search results in plural (e.g. elegant dresses), while product pages in singular (e.g. long black elegant evening dress).When it comes to promoting services, I also recommend focusing on singular keywords (e.g. web development).
To show you that Google actually considers the singular and plural keywords separately, I checked in Ahrefs the metrics for two keywords (SEO agency and SEO agencies) that differ only by number. And here are the results:
So, as you can see, singular and plural keywords are really not the same thing! So pay attention to it when conducting keyword research.
6. Focusing On One Keyword
This mistake is often made when creating content on websites or blogs and optimizing it. Why shouldn't you focus on just one keyword, even if it has a high search volume? This way you miss the chance of ranking higher on other similar keywords.
When analyzing keywords for your content, try to find synonyms. Include various keywords in the text, thanks to that the content looks more natural and doesn't give the impression of being created just for SEO.
Imagine you are writing an article about the positive and negative aspects of remote working. You have so many different keywords that have the potential to increase traffic to your website.
You want to focus on pros and cons? That's a great idea!
Or maybe users search for advantages and disadvantages? It turns out they do.
You have even more keyword possibilities, e.g. instead of remote working you can search for home office related keywords. Seems like they also have a pretty nice search volume:
In fact, you can come up with plenty of keywords that will effectively increase your visibility in the search results. So why should you focus on just one keyword?
7. Ignoring Conversion
It happens quite often that clients at the beginning of our cooperation specify on which keywords they want to rank in the search results. This is a great approach showing that a client really knows what he/she wants to achieve with SEO. However, it is a common situation that a client ignores the keywords on which the website has been displayed in Google so far.
Well, trying to rank for irrelevant keywords and, at the same time, ignoring keywords that actually have the greatest potential to increase the conversion rate often doesn't lead to anything good. You should keep in mind that if a given keyword doesn't appear on any page within your website at all, then most likely Google will ignore it - so there is simply no chance that you will appear in the search results on every desired keyword.
Remember that the best source of knowledge about keywords is Google Search Console. This tool doesn’t show you estimated website traffic (just like, for example, SEMrush does), but it indicates exactly how many users have visited your domain in a given period and how many times a keyword was displayed in Google. So if you want to identify the keywords with the greatest potential, then Google Search Console will be a hit!
Tip: It is recommended to choose a relatively long period (for example a year or even 16 months) in Google Search Console, so that seasonality will not significantly affect the data in the report.
8. Underestimating Actual SERPs
When analyzing keywords, you probably spend a lot of time using different SEO tools. That's great of course, as long as you don't ignore your actual SERPs at the same time. If you have an account in one of the SERP checkers, you can analyze what the current situation looks like - which keywords are ranking much higher in the search results, resulting in increased web traffic, and which are dropping dramatically. On this basis, you will be able to create content tailored to them.
A well conducted keyword analysis is absolutely one of the key elements of SEO strategy. You have to take into account many factors such as the activities of your competitors and your common keywords, search intent, seasonality and so much more. Fortunately, you have many SEO tools available which will indicate the estimated traffic and keywords with the greatest potential. Unfortunately, most of them are not free-of-charge, and what's more, output is not enough - after all, the data collected from SEO tools still needs to be properly interpreted, and that's far more complicated. Remember that not only search volume matters when it comes to keyword research (even though it is a very important indicator)!
If you are looking for a SEO agency that will carry out professional keyword research for your website, taking into account the actions of your competitors, feel free to contact us! Our SEO specialists will be happy to prepare for you an analysis of keywords that have the greatest potential to increase traffic to your website, conversion rate or simply will respond to searcher intent.
And what are the most common mistakes you've observed when doing keyword research? Let us know in the comments.
Managing Partner, has been building Delante since 2014. Responsible for international SEO strategies. He has a strong analytical approach to online marketing backed by more than 12 years of experience. Previously associated with the IT industry, as well as the automotive, tobacco, and financial markets. Has experience in creating scaled processes based on agile methodologies.
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