Avoid these 5 common pitfalls
Trap # 1: you include brand keywords in the mix
Organic branded traffic is not SEO traffic.
Navigation keywords related to your client’s website or other websites (even competitors) will not be useful for your SEO campaign because you cannot influence them directly.
In addition, your customer owns all of the brand’s keywords and uses other channels to amplify them (marketing campaigns, advertising, paid search, etc.).
You don’t need rank tracking or SEO for this.
Mixing the two will confuse your data and make your client’s position in the search landscape better than it actually is, which in turn will alter the desired strategy and goals.
Consider this extreme example: including “amazon” or “facebook” in your targeted keyword group. All the relevant metrics would be artificially inflated – imagine the number of search volumes soaring into the hundreds of millions all of a sudden.
That’s why, when curating your initial keyword research, it’s important to define your brand’s keywords and group them separately. Or use a tool like SEOmonitor that automatically segments this for you and further identifies “branding others” keywords, so you know how to exclude them from your strategy and subsequent tracking.
Pitfall # 2: you ignore relevance
One crucial pitfall that you can run into when maintaining your keyword list is disregarding the relevance of each keyword included. Relevance defines, in this case, the ability of the customer’s website to satisfy the search intent.
Here is a successful example. Let’s say “London” slipped into your keyword list when you have a client like “University of London”. What is the user actually looking for when typing “London”?
It’s a broad search, so Google will try to guess the intent and come up with different answers on the first page, from travel articles to institutional websites or wiki entries.
An irrelevant keyword will inflate your aggregate data with high search volumes without bringing any search value to your customer. Even if you manage to rank there, which is quite difficult, it wouldn’t matter in terms of ROI.
That’s why you need to identify them and exclude them from your list. Large clients are especially prone to this, so take a closer look when you are optimizing your keywords for them.
To continue our example from the University of London, if you look at the ranking of competitors, there is a good chance that “Oxford” or “Cambridge” is not in the Top 20 for “London”.
With SEOmonitor, once you have correctly selected your competitors, the algorithm is able to detect if a potential keyword of low relevance appears in the Top 100 for any of them. If not, it’s clearly not a relevant keyword for both of you.
Trap # 3: you include keywords with great SEO difficulty
You may consider this category to be “impossible at this time”.
These are relevant keywords, but resource intensive: they will take too much energy and time.
Looking at the interplay between the difficulty of making the top 10 positions and their potential, including the competition already there, it’s clear that you should be concerned about that for now.
For example, a recently launched fashion retailer might want to target “black dresses”, but it has to fight giants like H&M or ASOS.
Passing the keyword through a difficulty metric system would likely indicate that this is a difficult effort and that it would be a waste of resources to compete there now.
But after a few years, if the fashion brand is very specialized in “short cocktail dresses” and is essential on the market, There is a good chance that it could outperform its big competitors and the SEO difficulty metric would indicate that this is an achievable feat.
Trap # 4: you don’t tag highly localized keywords
The problem with these keywords appears when you follow the keywords at the country or region level.
This is because search volume aggregates all locations, while ranking expresses only a fraction of what users performing those searches actually see – the result associated with a single location.
So you might end up thinking that you’re accessing all of the search volume, but you’re not.
“Restaurants near me” is a prime example here. When optimizing for such a highly localized keyword, you need to think about it in terms of a keyword, landing page, location, which will involve different SEO tactics.
So be aware of these keywords in a larger market and group them accordingly.
Trap # 5: You Include Tanking Keywords In Your Target List
This pitfall is delicate, so it is important to spot it as quickly as possible. Tanking keywords are keywords with significantly reduced search volume over the past 12 months, but still looking good on average.
Here’s a quick example. In 2020, research into “how to cut your hair” increased as people adjusted to lockdown. This spring peak completely disappeared in 2021.
Keeping it in an SEO strategy would have been a mistake.
This is a classic case of mean error.
Examine search trends from year to year to narrow your list. Understanding the current trends in your customer’s industry and changing consumer demand and behavior is essential to saving your resources and future performance.
In a word
Keyword research is just the start of a well-rounded keyword strategy that helps you avoid wasting resources, time, and the trust of your agency and client.
But to go from a huge list of keywords to a strategic selection, you have to look at the big picture and identify what needs to happen and what needs to be avoided.
In terms of keyword strategy pitfalls, this includes:
- No branded keywords mixed with unbranded keywords.
- Watch out for irrelevant keywords that could infiltrate your list and skew your aggregate data, without creating value for your customers.
- By excluding keywords with high SEO difficulty at this time, you can come back to them after you develop your client’s website.
- Spot highly localized keywords, so they don’t mix up all of their search volume with a ranking for a location.
- Take a look at year-over-year search trends and quickly spot a tanking keyword.
These are just a few of the common pitfalls we identified as part of SEOmonitor masterclass on keyword strategy. If you want to dig deeper into this lesson and many others designed just for SEO agencies, you can free registration and learn how to refine a keyword strategy or use forecasts for better SEO propositions.
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