April 23, 2012

SEO Monday: 4 Keyword Research Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Published: 23 April 2012 

How many keywords do you want your website to rank for? What keywords are the best for your business? When choosing target keywords for an SEO campaign many business owners and webmasters make one of the following mistakes. Find out how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Picking too many keywords


Successful SEO requires focus. Your website can't rank for everything, so you have to wisely choose the keywords that you are going to try to rank for. If you optimise your website for a too wide range of keywords, you'll find yourself spreading your resources too thin and won't rank well for any of the keywords.

Focus on a few good keywords. Since traffic grows exponentially with every position on a search engine results page, it's better to be #1 for one keyword, than be #10 for ten equivalent keywords (seriously!).

Mistake #2: Choosing keywords that are too generic

Although generic keywords (such as "holiday", "Australia" or "dentist") might have a large number of searches they're usually not specific enough to bring traffic that converts. More precise keywords tend to be both easier to rank for and more valuable. For example, a local bathroom renovation company based in Brisbane would be better off ranking for "bathroom renovations Brisbane" than for the phrase "bathroom renovations" on its own. While "bathroom renovations" might be typed into Google much more often, most of these searches will be outside of the company's service area.

If you only service a local area, focus on local keywords. Choose keywords that precisely describe what you provide.

Mistake #3: Misinterpreting the intent of the searcher

Misjudging keyword intent can lead you to invest in keywords that don't bring you any business. Try to imagine who is searching for the keyword you're evaluating. Why are they searching for it? Are they just looking for information? Are they trying to get to a specific website? Or does the keyword suggest that they want to complete a transaction? Answer the who and why, then focus on keywords that are commercially valuable for your business and ignore the ones that don't have enough business intent.

Mistake #4: Getting the statistics wrong


Another serious mistake is misreading data provided by keyword tools. One common error is using "broad match" keyword data in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool instead of "exact match" data. When using the default "broad match" mode, Google will provide you with the search volumes not of the exact keywords you have specified but with combined volumes for groups of similar keywords. This can considerably inflate the search counts and skew your data.

When using Google's keyword tool, be sure you un-check the default "broad match" box and tick "exact match" instead. Notice on the screenshot below that the listed keywords now have square brackets around them.


Changing your keywords after you have started an SEO campaign can be complicated and costly. By putting in the effort early on to identify the right search phrases you are making the first step to rank for keywords that will really matter to your business.


Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *