Keyword research is one of the essential building blocks of effective SEO. If you seek organic traffic or even if you want your PPC ads to work, you need to be spot on with the choice of keywords, it’s that simple. You’re going to need to weave those keywords into the content, and possibly weave content around the keywords. Yes, there’s a difference between the two. Whatever you do, you need to begin by choosing the right keywords and that can happen only with proper research. Avoid these keyword research mistakes. Webmasters who err with keywords often end up going back to the drawing board. You don’t want that waste of time and money.

Keyword research mistakes to avoid

Setting the bar too high

Don’t aim for the sky, at least not in the very beginning. The keywords generating maximum traffic are too hard to compete for when you’ve just established your site. Select long tail keywords with decent traffic and low competition. A big advantage with long tail keywords is that they signify a high degree of intent. The age of your site, authority, and the direction it will take in the future are factors to consider. As a rule of thumb, it pays off to target specific keywords instead of generic ones. The more specific the keyword, the more competitive it becomes and the better returns you’ll get. If you’re operating in a seasonal niche, then you will likely see a marked difference between content optimized for long tail keywords and generic ones. For example, the number of searches for “green shoes” will be higher than the number of searches for “green shoes for teen girls.” This in turn will be greater than the number of searches for “green ballet shoes for 15-year old girls, size 7.” The intent of the visitor is more important with long-tail keywords.

Not using words that searchers use

You should have a feel for what the audience is searching, but you cannot presume their choice of words. This needs more than a feel, it needs study and research. Minor errors for different keywords can add up and prevent you from ranking for terms that can pull in customers. You can target an interested audience only by writing in a language that they are searching for. For example, in the U.S, people search for “vacations,” while in the U.K, the searches are for “holidays.” If you’re targeting keywords in the travel niche for a U.S audience, you need to know that the results will differ for these two words. Use Google Trends to compare how keywords perform. It’s a great tool to weed out non-performing keywords and building long tail phrases around good keywords.

Singular or plural

Google continues to serve different search results for many terms when they are segregated into singular and plural variants. Choose keywords that represent your customer’s intent most closely. Again, use Google Trends to get an idea. The tool may not have enough data for extremely specific terms but get as close as possible to your desired term.

Not knowing the difference between broad searches and exact searches

This has importance if you’re doing your research for a paid campaign such as pay-per-click. The number of monthly searches for a broad search term will always be more than those for a specific search. What do you plan to rank for? A broad search match will include synonyms, variations of a word, and many different prefixes and suffixes. For advertisers using AdWords or some other pay-per-click program, these terms can lead to a quick drain of funds. Depending on your niche, you can select or reject broad match keywords. Phrase match keywords are similar but here the search will serve results where the words are in the same order as your chosen term. So, “plastic bottle” will give results such as “plastic bottle for fruit juice,” “cheap plastic bottle,” etc. Exact matches are exactly that, a perfect match.

Not seeking expert advice

Keyword research requires insight that comes with experience. You may have enthusiasm and conviction, but there’s a good chance that you will end up selecting keywords that drive traffic but does not convert traffic into results. Do not hesitate to get in touch with an SEO expert who can guide you about the right intent-driven keywords that deliver the right kind of traffic, the kind that delivers sales. That is, after all, what you really want? On your part, do not neglect to assess how current keywords are performing, because their performance can guide the course of your website’s content strategy.