The overall goal of digital marketing is to be found online, which means rising to the first page of the SERPs. To help achieve this, content marketers put plenty of time into keyword research, which helps with content optimization. Researching keywords is simple enough in theory, but several layers add complexity. Fortunately, you can create an effective keyword research strategy by learning from the following eight mistakes.
Skipping Customer Research
Without understanding your audience, you have no chance of succeeding with keyword research. Getting inside your audience’s head is the only way to determine user intent and buying habits, which will help you generate keywords.
Over time, you can talk to new customers and find out which questions brought them to your website in the first place. Receiving feedback like this will help you to improve your content and increase traffic to your website.
Not Researching Regularly
When you run a business, you create a plan every half or quarter of the year. The reason you do this is that times change, and existing methods can become stale. Keyword research is exactly the same – one month it will be accurate and the next there will be a different picture. For the best results, we recommend spending a few hours on keyword research every six months, which will give you plenty of time to publish content and assess its impact.
Overlooking Competitor Rankings
You will have countless competitors to try and beat through your SEO efforts. After finding out what questions your audience is looking to answer, check your competitor’s websites to see how they’ve answered the question. Preferably, you need to approach queries from a unique angle.
There are plenty of tools to assist with competitor analytics such as SEMRush’s native keyword tool and SEO Gap Analysis by Moz. However, these can be fairly expensive, which may not suit every business’s budget. If you’d rather use a free tool, we recommend using Google Trends, which will track searches across the leading communities and geographies.
Tailoring Efforts Solely on Longtail Keywords
If you’re an active marketer, you’ll understand that longtail keywords win the game. These are phrases like ‘Men’s red North Face hiking boots’, instead of simply ‘hiking boots.’. Longtail keywords are much more efficient for generating leads and securing a higher rank and will have less competition.
If you’re reaching for the pen and scribbling a list of longtail keywords, stop what you’re doing. Without having an umbrella topic in place, you’ll be shooting in the dark. Google’s algorithm gives favor to websites demonstrating thought leadership in a particular topic, and it uses depth and breadth of content to draw conclusions.
When planning a topic, you need to create a topic cluster. Central to the cluster will be your primary topic. Surrounding that will be content (your subtopics). To bring everything together, you’ll have hyperlinks. Your core topic is referred to as the pillar – a short-tail keyword. Longtail keywords are used in subtopics to relate back to the pillar.
Being Steered by Fear
There are billions of websites out there, and you likely have millions of competitors. On the first page of Google, there are about five spaces for actual websites – the rest is taken up by ads or suggested searches. When you carry out keyword research and see the enormous amount of competition out there, it’s easy to become fearful and demotivated. However, it’s essential to quiet the little voice inside your head and keep pushing forward. For the best chances of reaching the top of the SERPs, give these strategies a go:
- Longform content. Aim to create content with more than 1000 words – usually 1500.
- Blog series. Create a number of blogs targeting the same short-tail keyword.
- Pillar page. Publish a premium page with around 4000 words, and around 8-22 external links. The pillar page must link to subtopic content and vice versa.
- Uber pillar. An uber pillar page lists and links to different content on the same topic, including a pillar page.
Dismissing Search Volume
Search volume is the number of people that search for a particular keyword in any given month. This is an important metric because it tells you how likely a keyword is to drive traffic to your content. Typically, the higher the search volume, the greater chance of finding success. However, you should keep in mind that high-volume keywords will be more competitive. To overcome this obstacle, you need to ensure your content is better overall.
Marketers usually associate keyword research with on-page SEO, but it needs to be carried out for technical and on-site SEO. Here are the three branches of SEO:
- On-site. Optimizing individual web pages. Making improvements to the page content, the title, and alt tags.
- Off-site. Anything you do to increase traffic outside of your website. The most popular example is building a healthy backlink portfolio.
- Technical. This is anything to do with how the page runs. Is it fit for mobile devices? Is it fast enough? Are you on the correct hosting plan?
Concentrating on Exact Match Keywords
The way people interact with search engines has changed over recent years, but they’re still used to finding answers quickly. To achieve this goal, search engines must understand user intent, which used to be based primarily on mathematics. However, the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) made way for latent semantic indexing (LSI). Simply put, Google’s algorithm will scan content and highlight underlying relations between words, which improves its understanding.
This is important to understand because it means exact keywords aren’t enough anymore. Instead, content marketers must focus on generation LSI keywords, which are related phrases or keywords. Fortunately, you can head over to LSIGraph.com to start generating keywords that Google will eat up.
Keyword research is an important part of all aspects of SEO, and there’s more to it than finding a short tail phrase and running with it. The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to keyword research is skipping audience research. When you have an audience persona in place, you’ve got a scaffold for the rest of your marketing strategy.