In organic search, keywords are critical to your rankings, but not always in the way you think they are. From your research to how you integrate keywords, it’s impossible to rank without fully understanding all aspects.
For example, if you need the best law firm SEO, it starts from a foundation of good keyword research and best practices.
Below, we provide an overview of what you should know about SEO and some of the major mistakes to avoid in this area.
An Overview of Keywords
In SEO, keywords are the concepts that define your content. When we’re talking more specifically about SEO, they’re phrases and words people enter into Google and other search engines as they’re trying to find information products and services. In this context, they can also be called search queries.
Your overall goal with your SEO strategy, regardless of your business, site, or industry, is to have keywords on your page relevant to what your targeted audience is searching for. You’re doing this to improve the chances they’re going to find your content in search results.
Ranking on search engines helps you drive organic traffic to your site based on the keywords you’re targeting.
With that in mind, the following are some of the key mistakes that often happen regarding keywords.
Not Using Long-Tail Keywords
If you’re only targeting one or two-word phrases, it’s going to be hard to rank, and you’re also going to be missing out on a lot of site visitors. Instead, you should use long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are phrases that usually have anywhere from three to five words. They’re more specific than generic phrases, and so you can target more tailored demographics. These keywords are also less competitive for the most part and are more geared toward how people actually create their search queries.
You can attract more high-quality traffic to your site when you use long-tail keywords.
In fact, more than 70% of search queries utilize long-tail keywords, which is only growing as people are increasingly using voice search.
Your Keywords Are Too Competitive
We mentioned generic and shorter keywords tend to be more competitive, but long-tail keywords can also be highly competitive. If you’re targeting highly competitive keywords, it’s going to be tough to rank. Yes, you want to feel like you’re aiming for the stars, but you also need to balance this with what will get you actual results.
Not Considering Intent
Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, and often the focus of that evolution is on providing people with results that are contextually relevant and centered on their search intent.
Search intent is something you need to emphasize, beginning with keyword research. We typically can break keywords into a few categories of intent.
There’s informational intent, navigational intent when the audience is looking for a particular site or page, and commercial or transactional purpose when the audience is ready to buy.
As you’re doing keyword research with a focus on intent, you want to consider whether you’re going to offer content in the correct form based on the answers people are looking for.
No One Is Using Your Keywords
Are you using keywords no one is using or looking for? There are a couple of different scenarios to think about here.
First, you might be using keywords that people are interested in, but searchers are using different keywords and not connecting with your content as a result. You might also be using keywords that are too long tail, so they don’t get traffic.
When you’re doing research, to avoid this problem, you want to find a good balance between the competitiveness of a keyword and search volume. That doesn’t mean you only use keywords with massive search volumes, because again, this is going to be tough to rank for. These are almost always highly competitive.
You also don’t want to waste your time on keywords with search volumes that are way too low.
Don’t be afraid to look for volume in the hundreds versus the thousands, though. Those keywords are often easier to rank for, and that traffic can add up over time.
Targeting the Same Keyword on Multiple Pages
If you’re optimizing more than one page for the same keyword, it’s called keyword cannibalization. This is going to have a negative effect on your SEO strategy. Search engines won’t know which of your pages they should show and may end up showing neither.
If you’ve already got multiple pages, you optimized for the same keywords, work on them. For example, maybe you combine multiple pages into one longer-form piece of content.
Using Plural Keywords Instead of Singular
This can be a simple one to deal with—rather than only using plural keywords, think about targeting singulars. The singular version of a keyword often turns out to be the one people are looking for, especially when it comes to eCommerce.
Only Targeting One Keyword for Each Piece of Content
Google is getting increasingly better at understanding context, and with that in mind, don’t optimize your content for just one keyword.
Look for related terms that you can also rank for, but make sure they’re contextually relevant and support your main keyword.
Focusing Too Much on Exact Match Keywords
Finally, when you do keyword research, you’ll often find that long-tail keywords in particular, are phrased awkwardly. As an example, the keyword might be “best hotels Los Angeles.”
Using this as your primary keyword will create clunky content, and it will feel awkward for the reader. That can translate to a poor user experience, which is the last thing you want.
Google is not nearly as picky about keywords matching exactly as maybe you think.
For example, you could add “in” to the above phrase and get much better content as a result, plus contextually, Google is likely going to understand what you’re writing about. Google’s ability to understand natural language processing and context is pretty amazing.