September 16

Top SEO Keyword Research Mistakes You Should Strive to Avoid

Online marketing


Any SEO strategy starts with one critical action: keyword research. If you don’t do this accurately, then all the rest will be nearly worthless. You will not target meaningful keywords for your business and you will not attract qualified traffic to your website. For this reason, we decided to discuss some of the worst SEO keyword research mistakes. We want to help you avoid falling into many pitfalls, which proved tricky even for professional marketers.

Take All the Time You Need to Do SEO Keyword Research

Some businesses believe that SEO keyword research is a matter of using a few online tools and creating a spreadsheet. Just export the files, merge them and you have your keywords. In reality, proper research words can and should take as much time as needed to get it right.

Hurrying up and skipping various steps is probably one of the biggest and most common SEO keyword research mistakes. It is like trying to build a house on a slapdash foundation. You know that house will crack and fall down soon, because it has no stability at the base.

Stay Away from These Common SEO Keyword Research Mistakes

Now that we have gotten your attention, we will dive right into the topic of this article. In our opinion, these are the biggest and most frequent SEO keyword research mistakes:

1. Targeting Only High Volume Keywords

High volume is an appealing factor in determining which keywords to use. This means that a lot of people are looking for these keywords, right? That is true. So, why is this one of the SEO keyword research mistakes?

The answer is simple: because high volume keywords are also highly competitive. Top international brands and all your small and medium sized business competitors are also trying to rank for these keywords. While you may stand a chance against similarly sized businesses, you cannot beat the big companies, which can invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each month on SEO and PPC.

2. Not Taking User Intent into Consideration

Let us compare two keywords “find reliable pre-owned car near me” and “maintenance to keep pre-owned car reliable”. They obviously refer to the same product. But the search intent is different.

In the first instance, someone is looking to buy a car. In the second, the user is looking for advice on caring for their car from aftermarket car parts stores or car repair shops.

Thus, one of the biggest SEO keyword research mistakes is not thinking what a user intends to do when they perform a Google search. If you are a car dealer, you want to sell cars to people looking for good deals. If you are a car repair shops, you are looking for car owners who want to keep their vehicle in good condition.

3. Using Broad Match for Your Keywords

When you are using keyword research tools, you need to know that they offer various types of matches for your main keyword:

  • Broad match – it takes into consideration each word in a phrase as individual words
  • Phrase match – it includes your keywords in a broader phrase, including other words
  • Exact match – it contains only your keywords.

Now, the largest number of results is included in the broad match. You are tempted to select these results, because they offer you more options. But they are not necessarily the right keywords for your business.

Let’s start with the keyword “pre-owned car”. One of the results you may get is “pre-owned tires for car”, or “insurance costs for pre-owned car”. These are not really the types of keywords you want to rank for as a car dealer, right?

4. Focusing Only on Long Tail Keywords

“Now, why did you include this once as good advice and now it is on the list of SEO keyword research mistakes?” It is true that we recommend using long tail keywords. But we do not mean that you should use ONLY this type of keywords.

Google is now ranking content clusters as opposed to individual topics. They want to see consistency in the overall content of a website. To achieve this type of content cluster, you must start from a general keyword and then go in detail.

Long tail keywords tend to be very specific, such as “red handmade leather shoes for women”. You can start with “handmade leather shoes” as the pillar of the topic cluster, and then add topics containing more detailed keywords.

5. Using One Keyword per Content Piece

Here is a secret: the Google AI has gotten so smart, that it can pick out the meaning of a content piece. Thus, you should not optimise your articles for a single keyword. You should also include at least 2-3 secondary keywords, especially for long form content.

In this case, you may get qualified traffic from people typing in the secondary keyword.

6. Using Exact Match Keywords

You did your keyword research and determined that “handmade leather shoes Perth” is the best keyword for you. What do you do next? You include this exact phrase in your content, right?

Wrong. This is one of the most awkward SEO keyword research mistakes: assuming that you have to use an exact match keyword, even if no one ever speaks in this way.

Google is very good at understanding the context of a key phrase. At any rate, it does not include articles and prepositions in the search results. So, what you need to include in your articles is the phrase “handmade leather shoes in Perth”.

7.  Going Back to Optimise Content with New Keywords

In some cases, you can tweak existing keywords in a text – for example, by adding a local term, such as “near me” or “in Perth”. But what happens if you are doing a SEO audit and realise you need to focus on different keywords from the current ones?

Or, you have a bunch of non-optimised texts you want to use, so you just sprinkle a dash of keywords through them? This is definitely not a good idea, in any of the instances. When you create a text for one keyword, you give it a meaning. Doing a “Find/Replace” for keywords will render the text meaningless in many circumstances.

New keywords mean new content pieces. Also, do not start creating content before you have your keyword strategy.


Each of these SEO keyword research mistakes can cost you time and potential sales. It may also cost you in terms of page rank, because Google does not like websites that do not have a clear topic/content strategy.

When you decide that you need a fresh SEO strategy, start from scratch. Start with keyword research. If you are a new business, consider SEO keyword research as step 0 in your entire digital marketing strategy: you do not do anything before you get this right.

Your business does not need a high volume of irrelevant traffic. It needs constant traffic from people who are interested in buying your products and live within your service and delivery area. If you avoid these SEO keyword research mistakes, you will get this kind of traffic, and a growing customer base.

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