Updated: Oct 30
The first and most important thing to do for your SEO plan is to think about the keywords you want to rank for. Researching keywords can be very hard. So, what are the term mistakes you should never make? In this post, I'll show you the most common mistakes people make when doing topic research. If you know about these mistakes, you can set up a good keyword study plan and avoid bad habits that hurt your rankings.
1. Inadequate research of your keywords.
Some people seem to think that keyword research is no longer important or that they don't need to do it. Doing keyword study the right way can be hard and take a lot of time. And it's true that ranking high isn't just about stuffing the right term into your text, and it hasn't been for a long time. But, if you don't do keyword study or just guess, you won't know what your potential users are looking for when you write content. One of the worst things you can do with keywords is to think that you'll just know what your audience wants.
It's very important that you take the time to really learn the language of your viewers. What are the words they use? What words are they looking for? Which terms are the most and least competitive? When you're done with your keyword study, you should have a long list of keywords for which you want to rank. Make sure to change your list of keywords often. Your business's focus and goals could also change, as could your audience. This influences your keyword approach as well.
2. You have the right keywords, but there’s too much competition.
Make sure you choose terms that make sense. There's a lot of competition in some niches. It's hard to rank in competitive areas, especially if your website or business is new. If you're just getting started, you shouldn't (yet) go after the competitive "head" terms. Instead, you should focus on long-tail keywords, which are easier to rank for and more likely to lead to sales.
For example, if you own a dance studio and start a blog about dancing, it will be hard to start ranking for the word "dancing." Find out what's different about your blog and try to rank for those terms. You could write about ways for older people to learn to dance. A good plan could be to try to rank for [dance steps for old people]. In that case, you should also look for [dance tips for seniors], [dance activities for retirees], and so on. If you've been in your area for a while and you rank well for long-tail keywords, you could also try to rank for more head terms. Ranking for keywords that are hard to rank for should be part of a long-term keyword research plan that works.
3. Not thinking about search intent.
When doing topic research, it's more important than ever to pay close attention to what people mean when they search. You need to know exactly what your keywords are trying to accomplish. People could be looking for information (informational intent), a specific website (navigational intent), or they could want to buy something (commercial or business intent). And that's not all, because search engines try to give people the exact answer they want. In other words, no matter how great and well-optimized your content is, if it doesn't fit what people are looking for, it probably won't make it to the results pages.
So, it's important to think about whether the content you want to post for a certain keyword matches what people are looking for. This is possible if you look at the search results. Are the types of goals the same? What do people want to know? Is the format of your material right? For example, if you wrote a long DIY post to rank for the term "yard decorations" and all you see in the search results are online stores selling yard decorations, you need to rethink your approach.
4. Using keywords that no one is looking for.
This mistake is related to the previous one. If you don't look at what people are looking for when they search, you're more likely to optimize for words that guests or customers won't use. There are two things that could happen. Either you give what people are looking for, but they use different search terms and don't find you. Or, your keywords don't get any attention because they are too long.
The words your customers use should be the same as the words you want to rank for. Always try to talk the way your audience does. Imagine that you are selling bracelets for an event. You call these bracelets "fundraiser bracelets" in your advertising. But not many people look for [fundraiser bracelets]. They look for a wristband or a wristband for fundraisers. When compared to [bracelet] and [fundraiser bracelet] is not a very popular search word.
The second problem could happen if you focus on long-tail keywords that are so odd that they don't bring in any traffic. Long-tail keywords are a great place to start with your keyword plan. You'll get less traffic, but you'll have a better chance of turning those visitors into buyers or people who come back again. People who use certain search terms to find exactly what you're writing about are a very good match. But your SEO won't improve if your keyword is too narrow and doesn't bring in any traffic. So, try to use long-tail terms that actually bring in traffic.
5. Focus on exact keywords only.
If you write a good blog post, it may rank for more than just one exact keyword. It may also rank for words that are similar to the keyword. You should definitely optimize for similar (long tail) keywords if you can do it without making it too long. For example, we have a post with SEO tips that will always be useful. It's optimized for [timeless SEO tips], as well as the related phrases [universal SEO tactics] and [universal SEO improvements], and it does pretty well for all of these keywords. Not sure how to optimize your content for similar terms and words that mean the same thing? Yoast SEO Premium app is very helpful! It lets you optimize for related focus key phrases and gives you the option to describe synonyms for your focus key phrase so that it can take them into account. Isn't that cool?
6. Not verifying whether singular or plural is appropriate.
Always determine whether you should target the singular or plural form of a keyword. Should you optimize your site for [bowling shoe] or [bowling shoes]? People seek for [log home] or [log homes]? Google is able to recognize that the plural and singular forms of a word refer to the same object; however, search result pages and the number of results are frequently different because users' queries vary slightly.
In this case, it is crucial to consider the intent of individuals who search for your keyword. A user searching for the singular version of a keyword may be seeking information, whereas a user searching for the plural version may be looking to compare and/or purchase products. Regardless, whether you should use the singular or plural depends on your keyword and its intended meaning, so keep that in mind.
7. Utilizing the same keyword on multiple pages.
By optimizing multiple pages for the same search term (known as keyword cannibalization), you will undermine your own success. If you make this keyword error, your rankings may suffer because search engines cannot determine which of your pages to display to users.
If you've already optimized multiple pages for the same keywords, the good news is that you can solve your cannibalization problems, however, it may require some effort and perhaps some difficult choices as well, so it is best to avoid this pitfall if at all possible.
8.Not taking the time to assess results.
If you aim to rank for certain terms, make sure to check whether you succeed. You need to evaluate regularly if people actually find your pieces. One way to do that is Googling your suggested focus keyword every now and then. But be aware that your search results may be skewed because Google has personalized search. So, use a private browser session, or a tool like https://valentin.app/ and check if your story turns up in the results. If you forget to assess, you won’t know whether you could aim for more competitive keywords, or you should focus on long-tail variants.
Avoid these keyword mistakes if you want your SEO plan to work. It takes time to do keyword study. It's important to take the time to really think about the terms you want to rank for.