Thinking about the keywords you want to rank for is really the first and foremost step you need to take for your SEO strategy. Still, keyword research can be quite daunting. So, which keyword research mistakes should you avoid at all times? In this post, I’ll take you through the most common keyword research mistakes people are making. Being aware of these mistakes helps you set up a successful keyword research strategy and avoid practices that harm your rankings.
#1 Incorrect Keyword Research
Some people seem to think that they can forego keyword research, or that it’s no longer important. Doing proper keyword research can indeed be a tough, time-consuming process. And it’s true that ranking high isn’t just a matter of stuffing the right keyword in your text, and it hasn’t been for a long time. But skipping or winging your keyword research means you create content without a single idea of what your potential users are looking for. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll just instinctively know what your audience wants.
It’s still crucial you take some time to really dive into the language of your audience. Which words do they use? What terms do they search for? Which terms are competitive and which less so? The result of your keyword research should be an extensive list of keywords you would like to rank for. Make sure to update your keyword research list or sheet regularly. Your audience may change, as could your business focus and business needs. That has implications for your keyword strategy as well.
#2 Disconsiderring the Search Intent
More than ever, taking a good look at search intent is a crucial part of keyword research. You need to have a clear idea of the kind of intent that’s behind your keywords. People could be looking for information (informational intent), a specific website (navigational intent), or they might want to buy something (commercial or transactional intent). And that’s not all there is to it, as search engines aim to give users the exact answer they’re looking for. In other words, if your content doesn’t match searcher’s intent, it probably won’t make it to the results pages, no matter how great and well-optimized it is.
So, it’s important to evaluate whether the content you plan to publish for a certain keyword is in line with what people are looking for. You can do that by looking at the search results. Do the types of intent match? What answers do people want? Is your content in the right form? For instance, if you wrote an extensive DIY post to rank for the term [wedding decorations] and all you see in the results pages are online stores selling wedding decorations, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
#3 Using Unpopular Keywords
This mistake is partly related to the previous one. If you don’t look at search intent, you’re more likely to optimize for words that potential visitors or customers won’t use. Two things can happen: either you do offer something people are looking for, but these potential visitors simply use different keywords and therefore won’t find you. Or, your keywords are too long tail and don’t get any traffic.
The keywords you aim to rank for should be the same words your customers use. Always try to use the language of your audience. Imagine yourself selling dresses for gala events. In your marketing, you refer to these dresses as ‘gala dresses’. However, most people do not search for [gala dress]. They search for [gown] or [evening dress]. You won’t get much traffic for the search term [gala dress] compared to the search terms [gown] or [evening dress].
#4 Grammar Mistakes
Always check if you should target the plural or the singular form of a specific keyword. Should you aim to rank for [ballet shoe] or for [ballet shoes]? Do people search for [holiday home] or [holiday homes]? While Google can recognize that the plural and singular versions of a word refer to the same thing, the search result pages and the number of results are often still different, because what users are looking for differs slightly.
In this case, again, it’s important to think about the intent of people searching for your keyword. Someone looking for the singular version of a keyword may be looking for information, while someone looking for the plural version could be looking to compare products and/or buy something. In any case, whether you should use a singular or a plural depends on your specific keyword and its intent, so take that into account.
#5 Lack of Evaluation
If you aim to rank for certain terms, make sure to check whether you succeed. You need to evaluate regularly if people actually find your articles. One way to do that is googling your proposed focus keyword every now and then. But be aware that your search results may be biased because Google has personalized search.