Keyword research is a big skill. Sure, there are tools on the market that do an OK job helping you out but there is no replacement for the human brain (and eye). Doing manual keyword research, using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool will help you to understand your market, understand your industry and understand you SEO goals far better than any $99 tool. So what NOOB mistakes should you avoid?
- Too Big
Especially with new sites, pursuing MASSIVELY big keywords is a recipe for SEO failure. Firstly, the fabled Google Sandbox is said to be for new sites that have no chance for ranking for their keywords and simply clog up searches. More importantly though, going after big keywords that are "owned" by major brands with hundreds of thousands of links to their credit will land you firmly on page….127 or some other undesirable spot where you'll never be heard from again. Remember 100% of a small number is still bigger than 0% of infinity!
- Too Small
Let's break it down. Say you've found a very specific keyword with few searches but that describes EXACTLY what you do, so it will likely have a great conversion rate. You decide to put your SEO budget into getting it to slot one – no doubt, you'll succeed, and also fail. Here's why.
Lets say the keyword has 260 exact match searches per month. Getting it to number one means you'll likely get around 200 visitors per month from that keyword. Of those, only 10% - 30% will be ready to buy and not just researching. Let's assume your keyword is a converter and we'll opt for the 30%. So now you have best case scenario, 66 visitors per month that are actually looking to buy. Now it's time to look at your conversion rate. The keyword was hand chosen for high conversion….but online, high conversion can be surprisingly low. Let's say your product is the quality, price and exact one they're looking for, that your copy writing speaks to them well and your website gives them the right "impression of your business" to go ahead. Let's say you've got one of the greatest conversion rates of all time. Let's say you convert 50%!
That's 33 sales per month. One-ish per day. What is your mark up? It would want to be high…. This keyword is a good one, a keeper, one to add to the site – but not one to build towards and spend every penny on. It's one to add to the backlink list but not to be the whole backlink list.
- Off Topic
So you found a "kinda relevant" but BRILLIANT keyword. Tons of searches, nobody competing for it, great right? Nope, total fail. Sure, you'll get to number one for it, but you may as well be at number one for "Monkey Tuesday Speaker Fan" for the number of sales conversions you'll get.
- Too Weird or Wrong
If you need to mention your suburb or city a lot, or the keyword contains poor grammar, spelling or other "weirdness' it's going to be hard to include it in your copy writing without looking like you might be a bit daft. Try to stick to quality spelling and grammar – leave the bad stuff to the backlinks.
- Brand name
Nope. Unless your brand name is "Buy Online" you're going to rank for it anyway. Optimize your contact page for your brand name and you're set. Your brand name is not a keyword unless you own Coke. If you own Coke, this is not the article you should be reading!
- Broad Match and Competition Scores
The "Broad Match" setting in Google Adwords is an overview of how many searches there are for the keyword you're researching AND all the related keywords in the industry. It will tell you if your industry is getting a lot of searches but besides that, it is not the number to look for. Be sure you're looking at the "exact match" number.
The competition score on here indicates how many people in your industry are using Adwords to target that keyword. This is a vaguely rough guide to how good a keyword is (high comp = good keyword) but you should check each keyword out yourself. SEO Moz offers great tools for this.
If you can't find a good keyword, try adding the phrase setting and unchecking the box regarding related terms. That will give you a much broader list of keyword ideas.
- Personalised Search
Helpful Google personalizes search to help you see relevant content. For an SEO there is no greater pain in the…..SERP. You will suddenly see that you're in slot one for every word that appears on your website, and yet, you've not had a single buyer…. To avoid seeing this, use incognito mode in Google Chrome. To see where you're really ranking for people searching nearby, use this code: https://www.google.com/search?q=YOUR KEYWORD&gl=au&pws=0
This strips away personalised search and makes it relevant to search in your country. In this example, au&pws=0 refers to
. Ask Google for your own country code. Australia
Keywording is one of the most important things you'll do for your website. It's also one of the most complicated. It pays to call in the experts and spend a little to get this part right.
About the Author: Dana Flannery is a Small Business SEO consultant and specialist SEO Copywriter for Talk About Creative,