avoid these keyword research mistakes

7 keyword research mistakes you should avoid

7 keyword research mistakes you should avoid

September 13th, 2016 – 17 Comments

Keyword research should be the first step of every SEO strategy. Thinking about the words you want to rank for is really the first and foremost step you need to take. Still, keyword research can be quite daunting. So, which keyword research mistakes should you avoid at all times? In this post, I’ll talk you through the most common keyword research mistakes people seem to be making. Avoiding these mistakes will help you to set up a successful keyword research strategy.

1. Not executing your keyword research correctly

Doing proper keyword research can be a tough job. Perhaps you think that you don’t need to do it very extensively. You just know what your audience will search for, right? Do not make that mistake! Take some time to really dive into the language of your audience. Which words do they use? What terms do they search for?

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 regularly. Your audience may change, as may your business focus and business needs. That could have implications for your keyword strategy as well.

Read more: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

SEO copywriting training$ 199 - Buy now » Info

2. Aiming at unrealistic keywords

Make sure to aim for realistic keywords. Some niches are very competitive. Ranking in competitive niches is hard if you’re just starting your website or business. If you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t aim on the competitive ‘head’ keywords (yet). Instead, you should focus on long tail keywords (which are easier to rank for and have a higher chance to convert).

For instance, if you start a blog about fitness it will be too hard to start ranking for the term ‘fitness’. Find out which aspects of your blog are unique and try ranking for those terms. Perhaps you are writing about fitness exercises for retired people. Aiming to rank for ‘fitness for retired people’ could be a good strategy. In that case, you should also aim for ‘fitness for seniors’, ‘fitness for older adults’ and so on.

If you have been around in your niche for a little longer and you’re succeeding in ranking on long tail keywords, you could aim to rank for more head terms as well. Ranking for competitive keywords should be part of a long-term successful keyword research strategy.

Keep reading: ‘Long tail keywords: why they deserve your focus’ »

3. Using irrelevant keywords

The keywords you are aiming to rank for should be the same words your customers use. You should always 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, people do not search for gala dresses. 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’.

Schermafbeelding 2016-09-07 om 11.37.13

4. Focusing on singular instead of plural

Always check whether you should use 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’.  Always check whether you should use singular or plural with Google Trends. Whether you should use a singular or a plural depends on your specific keyword.

5. Aiming for keywords without traffic

Long tail keywords are a great way to start your keyword strategy. These words gain less traffic, but you’ll have a higher chance to convert your visitors into buyers or returning visitors. People that use specific terms to search for exactly that thing you’re writing about are just a very good match. However, if your keyword is too specific and doesn’t get any traffic, it won’t help your SEO. So make sure to aim for those long tail keywords that actually have some traffic!

6. Forgetting to evaluate

If you’re aiming to rank for certain terms, make sure to check whether you succeed. You need to evaluate regularly if people actually find your articles. In order to do so, you should definitely google your proposed focus keyword every now and then. Just check if your article turns up in the results. If you forget to evaluate, you don’t know whether you could aim for more competitive keywords or you should focus on long tail variants.

7. Focusing on only one keyword per post

If you write a decent blog post, you could aim to rank for more than one search term. If you’re able to do that (without just stretching it), you should definitely do so. For this blog post about keyword research mistakes, for instance, I am aiming to rank for ‘keyword research mistakes’ and on ‘successful keyword research strategy’. Our Yoast SEO premium plugin helps you to optimize your post for more than one focus keyword.

Schermafbeelding 2016-09-07 om 12.24.32

Conclusion: avoid these mistakes and have a successful keyword research strategy

Executing keyword research takes a lot of time. It’s important that you take that time and really think about the terms you want to rank for. Read Keyword research: the ultimate guide for lots of practical tips that’ll help you to set up a successful keyword research strategy.


17 Responses to 7 keyword research mistakes you should avoid

  1. Cassiano
    By Cassiano on 26 September, 2016

    excellent article helped me a lot, thanks for sharing these tips

  2. bbmodifikasi
    By bbmodifikasi on 23 September, 2016

    Thank you for your info in researching keywords, but most bloggers like I made a mistake in entering the keyword into the web.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 23 September, 2016

      Could you elaborate on that? Not sure what you mean.

  3. Jack
    By Jack on 16 September, 2016

    I totally agree with the last point. Many people miss out on the additional search traffic that they might tap on by just slightly adjusting and optimizing their pages for other keywords. Generally I focus on LSI keywords along with my main focus keyword. And since I own the free version, I have to manually add one by one every keyword and then optimize the pages.
    It gets very hectic. :P

  4. Richard williams
    By Richard williams on 16 September, 2016

    The 2,3,4 and 7 point which I like the most because its look like a very basic point but it plays a very important role. Sometimes some basic things are helpful to rank any article.

    Thank you so much for creating this article and this article is helpful for newbies.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 16 September, 2016

      And thank you for your comment, Richard!

  5. 7 Little Words
    By 7 Little Words on 15 September, 2016

    I used to just focusing on only one keyword back then, haha. Well, thanks for pointing these mistakes. I think this post will help people to do their “keyword research” correctly.

  6. harman singh
    By harman singh on 14 September, 2016

    Hi, I want to know, Is it important to verify “web Master tool” for a website. and can we use one verified “Web Master tool account” for many websites?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 16 September, 2016

      It can give you a lot of insights, heads-ups and more. You should never neglect monitoring your website and verifying helps a lot in this. Have you seen our posts on webmaster tools?

  7. Mandeep Hooda
    By Mandeep Hooda on 14 September, 2016

    Nice suggestions for a better keyword research strategy. We must evaluate new keywords and search terms to get new traffic trends and to drive more traffic on website. How sometimes a high traffic and competitive keyword has very low bid for advertising ??

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 16 September, 2016

      It’s all about the right niche, right ;)

  8. Jack
    By Jack on 13 September, 2016

    Well there are many more dimensions to keyword research. Even after extracting a keyword from a tool like Long Tail Pro, or the Google Keyword Tool, I ask myself, will I want to put that phrase i the search bar or not. And interestingly, many keywords don’t fit in despite high search volumes.

    And trust me or not, this check has always been proved to essential for my online businesses.

    Great Post though, really good insights!

  9. Don Peterson
    By Don Peterson on 13 September, 2016

    The tip about unrealistic keywords is a sober view of the reality of the Web now. Highly competitive keywords tend to be dominated by big brands and media players nowadays. Good post!

    • Bobby
      By Bobby on 13 September, 2016

      I’m not sure I totally agree with that. If you do things right, you will see the results. Remember, ranking in organic search for competitive terms requires patience :-)

  10. François
    By François on 13 September, 2016

    Hello, those are common sense (but still good to remember :) advices, thanks about it!
    I try to apply them to my ecommerce but I have no clue how to find the keywords my customers may like, since google hides the keywords in console search. Would you have a tip to find good long tail keywords for category pages? If I sell some corner sofa in a category, my designs will be different from my competitors but it’s basically a leather corner sofa, not a new technology with some new terms on google, it’s still a classic product so I’m not sure how to “be different” but still searched. That’s where I stuck since a while and my organic is going down, I guess I’m not doing it right :s

    Thank you for any advice!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 16 September, 2016

      Have you ever simply asked your customers? That is fairly easy. If you add a short, optional survey at the end of your checkout process, like on the thank you page, I’m sure you’ll get some insights on that. If you have a newsletter, promote that survey in your newsletter: “We’re always trying to improve our website. For that reason, we’d like to ask you a few questions! This survey only takes two minutes of your time.”

      Just a suggestion!


Check out our must read articles about Content SEO