According to SEO specialists, keyword research is one of the top three most difficult tasks when it comes to SEO marketer’s work (along with link building and creating content); hardly anyone can say that it’s enjoyable. Unfortunately, it’s absolutely necessary if you care about how your website is ranked by search engines and it shouldn’t be postponed. Luckily, there are tools and pages like Rank Tracking that can help you with this task. You still have to be very careful and attentive, though, as there are some mistakes that can have a surprising, undesired outcome. That’s why it’s good to research them to know what you should avoid. So what are some of the most common pitfalls that you don’t want to repeat?
Forgetting The Searcher
Many people tend to forget that SEO is not about driving just any traffic – it’s great to have a lot of people visiting your website but it won’t do you much if they don’t find what they’re looking for; in fact, it can actually make things worse. Think about what kind of queries are matching your website and make sure that people typing that into the search engine will find what they need.
Ignoring Actual SERPs
It’s linked to the previous mistake; to truly understand the searcher’s intent, you need to look in the search engines. Even the best keyword research tool is not enough if you don’t know what the actual SERPs are. So go and see what kind of content is ranking for each keyword and if it matches the content of your page.
Seeing Only Volume Metrics
People want to go for the keywords that will drive the most traffic to their pages – and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you stay reasonable and attentive. Look for the queries that you actually have answers to – you don’t want to aggravate the searchers by providing them with something they don’t need.
No Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords may not drive as much traffic as simpler keywords but they certainly can drive you better traffic. When users use elaborated queries, they usually are more ready to buy your product or choose your services. Even if they don’t decide right away, they will remember you. Long-tail keywords mean fewer competitors and more trust in your brand – you have an answer to a very exact query, that’s why you will be considered as a specialist. Quality over quantity – this rule definitely applies to keyword research.
Doing It Alone
Even if you’re the SEO specialist or a marketer tasked with keyword research, it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone from the beginning to the very end. On the contrary – it’s better to step away from the computer and talk to the actual people who are in contact with your customers and buyers. What are their problems? What are their expectations and desired solutions? Why did they decide to choose your company? All that will help you determine the keywords and queries that truly are relevant to your business.
Writing First, Then Keyword Stuffing
Every SEO strategy should be built on the right keywords – that’s where you should begin, not just consider it as one of many further stages. For Google to rank your website high, the keywords have to be relevant and they must sound natural, that’s why it’s so important to bear them in mind while writing. Google algorithms will know if you force keywords into your text and you may get penalized. Just like it doesn’t like keyword stuffing – it’s not about repeating the relevant words thousands of times. Make sure you do it right.
Chasing Exact Matches
Google gets smarter almost every day and it already knows that when someone searches for the word cake, all kinds of pies should be taken into consideration as well. There’s no need for you to include whole families of words in your content – it sounds terribly unnatural and Google is smarter than that. Your content has to be natural and casual – write it like you would say it sitting in a coffee shop with a friend.
A lot of people avoid even looking at competitors; very often they don’t even realize that their SERPs competitors may be very different from those in real life. It’s essential to see what others are doing, especially if they rank higher in SERPs than you – see what kind of keywords they use, maybe they expanded in the number of covered topics. It’s a very important part of keyword research, as it can help you understand what Google is looking for in your niche.
Now that you know what to avoid, you can start with your keyword research. Remember to think broader, expand if there’s a possibility and don’t forget the users’ needs – try solving their hypothetical problems. Then be patient – SEO solutions need time but they will eventually improve your rankings in SERPs.