By Janette Speyer and Katrina McNeill
Keywords might seem basic, but many people still don’t know what to do with them, let alone how to use them well. For a word that has “key” in it, it really can lock you out of some great opportunities if not used properly. Avoid this pitfall by educating yourself on some common misuses of keywords in SEO.
Not researching your keywords
It seems to be a common mistake that businesses choose keywords that they personally would use in search and decide that those words are best for their business. Maybe it seems obvious that you have a cupcake business in Seattle, so your keywords are cupcake and Seattle…but you might be wrong! Take one simple step to avoid losing customers to incorrect keywords. Take the time to use the Google Keyword Tool or some other keyword research tool and find out what you really should be using. Within keyword search tool’s lays another opportunity for a big mistake; don’t assume again that now that you have found the keywords with the highest search numbers that you found your formula for success! It is actually more important to pay attention to the competition. Many search experts suggest that you choose keywords which have a high number of searches but a low total number of competitors.
Choosing single words vs. phrases
Prioritizing single words seems to be another common error. Assume much of your audience is search-savvy and using variations and combinations of keywords because they realize that single-word searches can sometimes return an unfocused mess of results.
Not finding keywords that relate to your products
Watch out as results can match to queries that are completely unrelated to your company’s offering. An example; keyword of “running shoes” could have a phrase match show up for running shoes for women, cheap running shoes, trail running shoes. It could be that not all of these are appropriate for your product. How do you avoid this? Do your research and as part of it, run search queries and expand them until you see where your match is.
Not using a broad range of keywords
Are you among the many that believe that they should only use long tail keywords or short tail keywords? A long tail keyword being a combination of 3 to 6 words that are specific and relevant to the products you sell and a short tail being more generic and only a 1 to 2 word phrase. Using only long tail keywords may earn you a lot of highly qualified traffic, but you’re also going to limit your scope as a result. Short tail keywords used exclusively stands a good chance that your site will never be found because the broad usage will blend you into many other similar results. Hopefully the solution now seems obvious; mix the two for best results!
Not taking advantage of local targeting
Now it’s time to consider geo targeting keywords. These are the keywords that are slowly becoming more popular and more important as localized search is growing stronger. If you want to get local traffic, you have to generate the keywords that will encourage you as a result in a query for that location. Consider your list of related keywords (that include location) to what your company has to offer as a service or product. Examples are “cupcakes San Francisco,” “cupcakes Bay Area,” “pastries San Francisco,” and that pattern continues. Use the keyword research tool again to determine the best result for your product.
Now you are ready to optimize!
What have we learned? Never make assumptions, always do an analysis and remember that variety is important. If you need some examples, go do some searches and look at the top search results to see how they have their content laid out. Keywords are the foundation of good search optimization, but if you want to know what else you can do to be optimized, we are always talking about it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
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