13 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Choosing Keywords For SEO

By avoiding the 13 common mistakes in keyword research, you can ensure that you're targeting the right audience, meeting their needs, and improving your conversion rates.

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Last updated on December 19, 2023

Hey there, bud! When it comes to starting an SEO marketing campaign, it all begins with keyword research. But let’s face it; sometimes, we can get stuck in our old ways and use outdated techniques that could hold us back.

And with search engine algorithms constantly changing, it’s important to keep up-to-date with the latest methods for finding the best keywords for your campaign.

That’s why I’m here to share with you the 13 most common mistakes in keyword research that you should avoid at all costs.

Trust me, you don’t want to miss opportunities to drive traffic to your site and boost your rankings. So, let’s dive in and ensure you’re on the right track from the get-go.

By avoiding these 13 common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect keywords that target search intent and bring in the right kind of traffic to your website.

Don’t let these common mistakes trip you up – keep an open mind, stay flexible, and be willing to adapt your keyword research strategy to keep up with the ever-evolving world of SEO.

With a bit of know-how and perseverance, you’ll be able to find the best keywords for your campaign and achieve your desired results. Happy researching!

13 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Choosing Keywords For SEO

1. Disregarding Searcher’s Intent

Twenty+ years ago, keyword research was focused on the highest-ranking search term and trying to get that term to fit your site.

Twenty+ years ago, people also believed that the Y2K bug would destroy all computers and send society back into the dark ages.

Today, you not only have to find relevant search words, but you need to ask yourself WHY?

WHY is that person using that search term?

What need are they trying to accomplish?

Your goal when looking for keywords is to find a high-volume phrase and a term that meets your user’s needs.

This is the best way to convert visits to customers.

2. Not Analyzing the Top 10 of Google

Many tools are available that let you conduct a deep search into keywords, learn about trends for a keyword, and study your competitors’ traffic sources.

This is all super important, but you can’t forget to do simple Google searches to see what’s happening in the SERPs.

You can get a lot of inspiration from running a search on your keywords and see what type of content pulls up on the SERP.

Analyzing your competition is also the best way to determine what it will take to climb into the top 3 and get those leads.

3. Not Letting Keywords Flow Naturally

Back in the day, some marketers would stuff as many keywords as possible into a single paragraph or landing page to rank higher on search engines. But let’s be real; that kind of content reads like a pile of garbage. The info on those pages often didn’t make any sense because it was written for search engines, not actual people.

On the other hand, some SEOs went too far in the opposite direction, creating content that only focused on one keyword. While this approach was better, it didn’t take advantage of the wide variety of searches people make.

What you want to aim for is balance. Instead of going all-in on one keyword and repeating it 50 times in 2500 words, make sure to add in related terms that support your main phrase. For example, if you’re creating a landing page for “San Diego car accident lawyer,” also make sure to target related terms like “California texting while driving laws.”

Your goal should be to create a better user experience and meet their intent. That’s how you turn website visitors into leads and sales.

4. Only Using High Volume Keywords

Totally get it – those super popular keywords might seem like the key to unlocking SEO success, but you gotta be careful. While they might get a ton of searches, they can also be a major headache to rank for and take up many resources without giving you the desired results.

Here’s the deal: these high search volume keywords have to match exactly what the searcher is looking for, and that’s not always easy. These days, search engines are all about figuring out the intent behind a search, so you gotta keep that in mind when you’re putting together your campaign.

So, instead of going all-in on these massive keywords, it’s worth exploring some of the more mid-level options. These can be easier to rank for, take less of a toll on your budget and resources, and do a better job of meeting the needs of your audience.

Remember, the goal is to ensure you’re meeting the intent of the people who are searching – not just getting a ton of clicks. Finding those sweet spot keywords that are manageable and narrow enough can strike a balance that works for you and your audience.

Tip: read The Ultimate Google Search Console Guide to learn how to analyze and build upon the keywords you already rank for.

5. Leaving Out Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords can also help you identify a more targeted audience for your content. By addressing the specific concerns and needs of the searcher, you can connect with them on a deeper level and build a relationship of trust.

Another benefit of using long-tail keywords is that they can help diversify your traffic sources. By targeting a variety of specific search terms, you can attract visitors from multiple sources and not rely solely on one or two high-volume keywords.

When incorporating long-tail keywords into your content, it’s essential to focus on creating high-quality, engaging content that meets the needs of your target audience. This means writing for the reader, not just for the search engine.

Long-tail keywords are a valuable asset to your SEO strategy. By targeting specific search terms, you can attract a more targeted audience, improve conversion rates, and diversify traffic sources.

Just remember to use long-tail keywords in moderation and focus on creating high-quality content that meets the needs of your target audience.

6. Inserting Keywords After Content Is Published

Think of it this way: you wouldn’t cram chocolate chips into a cookie that’s already baked.

Well, the same goes for keywords and content. Once your content is published, it’s too late to try and force keywords in.

Google is smart and knows when you’re trying to manipulate the system.

So, do your keyword research first instead of trying to shoehorn keywords into your existing content. This way, you can write your content with the user and the keywords in mind from the get-go.

By publishing your content this way, you’ll always be thinking about the consumer’s intent, which is what Google wants. And ultimately, that will help your content rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and lead to better conversion rates.

7. Not Listening To Your Clients/Customers

You can find great keywords by listening to what a customer says about a product or service.

I’ve often asked my law clients, “What do your clients/customers ask you in your first meeting?” and “What do they call your service?”.

What words are they using to describe your products? What terms are they using when they ask for help?

All of these conversations can help you improve your search terms because if one client uses that term, you can assume that others are as well.

Your clients’ terminology may differ significantly from what you would have thought people used to find your product or service.

Use this information to your advantage. If these are standard terms associated with your product, then that is how you need to reach more customers.

8. Letting Non-SEOs Force The Keyword Strategy

Your client may hand you a list of keywords that they believe will help their site.

That’s not a bad starting point, but without a doubt, you need to dig way deeper to get the correct phrases for search volume, user intent, and competition level.

A plastic surgeon in Dallas who tries to force you to rank for “plastic surgeon” without adding Dallas to the phrase will shoot both of you in the foot.

As an SEO, you’ll have to show the value of adding “Dallas eye-brow lift surgeon” to the list. Be aware that the client might think you’re just trying to make your job easy by choosing low-volume keywords.

9. Focusing On One Search Algorithm

When you think of search engines, you automatically think of Google. Who doesn’t?

But there are more search engine algorithms that you must consider.

And no, I am not just talking about Bing.

Your customers are looking for your products on social media sites as well.

You need to know what phrases are being searched on Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter.

Many people are now focusing their searches on social media sites, and missing out on these searches can cost your business customers.

10. Skipping Tight Niche Keywords

One of the ways that your site becomes an authority in the eyes of Google is by providing a load of relevant information about your specific topics.

For example, if you are offering a service, add pages that answer frequently asked questions about that service, do-it-yourself tips, and products that relate to the service.

You should also keep drilling down to find tighter and tighter niche phrases with a process like this:

San Diego injury lawyer
drill down –
San Diego construction accident lawyer
drill down –
San Diego scaffolding collapse injury lawyer
drill down –
San Diego scaffolding collapse injury faq

The tightest niche keyword is easiest to rank and will provide users with specific information, increasing your conversion.

San Diego scaffolding collapse injury lawyer - keyword-research-min

11. Not Localizing Your Content

Adding local information to your content is crucial to attracting national and local visitors to your site. The latest trend in search is to use the term “near me,” and you want to ensure that your site ranks for this type of search.

Millennials and Gen Z internet users rely heavily on mobile devices to conduct most of their searches. When they search for something using the term “near me,” it typically means that they are ready to make a purchase and will likely visit the business they found within the next 24 hours.

So, by adding local information to your content, you can take advantage of this trend and increase your chances of getting more traffic to your business.

You can also create location-specific content, such as local guides, city-specific blog posts, or even local reviews, to attract more local visitors to your site.

By keeping up with these local search trends and adding relevant information to your content, you can attract more potential customers to your business and increase your chances of making a sale.

12. Ignoring Keyword Difficulty Rating

When researching keywords, don’t make the mistake of ignoring their difficulty rating. It may be tempting to go after high-volume keywords, but if you can’t rank in the top 3 of Google, all that traffic will be out of reach.

Instead, consider lower volume keywords with a lower difficulty rating. These may be easier to rank for but still bring in quality traffic. In fact, targeting these keywords can help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

So, don’t overlook the value of these lower-volume keywords. They can be a better choice for your business regarding ranking, costs, and building credibility.

Take the time to research and consider high and low-volume keywords with a focus on their difficulty rating to optimize your SEO strategy.


13. Leaving Conversion Rate Out Of The Equation

Don’t overlook search terms that are going to generate conversions.

Yes, you may get a lot of traffic to your site if you optimize for high volume and common keywords, but that doesn’t guarantee conversions and sales.

Using some lesser-known keywords can help you generate higher conversion rates.

For example, a Family Lawyer in Los Angeles will get plenty of visitors when ranked for “Los Angeles family lawyer”, but might get a higher conversion rate when ranked for “high net worth divorce lawyer Los Angeles”, because the visitor will have found exactly what they’re looking for.

That’s All, Folks!

In conclusion, choosing the right keywords for your SEO campaign can make or break your online success. By avoiding the 13 common mistakes in keyword research, you can ensure that you’re targeting the right audience, meeting their needs, and improving your conversion rates.

It’s essential to keep in mind that the landscape of SEO is constantly evolving, and what worked in the past may not work anymore. You must stay flexible, adaptable, and willing to try new strategies to stay ahead of the curve.

Consider the searcher’s intent, analyze the top 10 of Google, let keywords flow naturally, use long-tail keywords, and focus on conversion rates. Don’t let non-SEOs dictate your keyword strategy; don’t overlook localizing your content or the value of keyword difficulty rating.

By avoiding these common mistakes, creating engaging content, and building excellent backlinks, you can improve your SEO rankings, attract more visitors, and ultimately increase your conversion rates.

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