7 HUGE Keyword Research Mistakes to AVOID

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Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder


Let’s learn what not to do in keyword research land.

But first, a quick definition.

What is a keyword?

A keyword is a search term. It’s literally anything anyone types into any search engine.

Good content marketers (that’s you) are finding the best search terms and turning them into posts. Once published on your site, search engines find your post and help your audience find you.

(It’s slightly more complicated than that, but Content at Scale was built to help you every step of the way.)

If you’re ready to do some keyword research to help you write blog posts that earn real search engine visibility and real traffic to your site – ultimately driving revenue and sales (this is the Content Hacker way), then read on.

The information below will dramatically increase your productivity (no matter what type of content you write).

These are the seven HUGE keyword research mistakes to avoid. Here we go…

Targeting Overly Broad Keywords

One of the most common mistakes people make when conducting keyword research is targeting keywords that are too broad.

An example of a keyword that is too broad is: baseball.

These keywords often have a high search volume, but they are also highly competitive, making it difficult to rank for them.

Instead, it is best to focus on long-tail keywords.

Two examples of long-tail keywords are: how to throw a baseball properly and how to break in a baseball glove.

Those terms are not only more specific, with less competition, but they give your writer (in this case Content at Scale) a defined scope and a firm directive.

Long-tail keywords outperform broad keywords in terms of specificity and ranking potential, particularly for newer websites. Build your website authority with long-tail keywords, and then you may be better prepared to rank for broad keywords in your niche.

Ignoring Search Intent

Another common mistake is ignoring search intent. People often focus on finding keywords with high search volumes, but this can be problematic. If the search intent of a keyword doesn’t align with your strategy, then the content you create using that keyword will also not align with your strategy.

It’s important to understand the search intent behind the keyword and ensure that your content matches that intent. Trying to rank for a keyword using an article with mismatched intent is like trying to interrupt a conversation at a party by rudely telling everyone they’re all wrong (you could very well do it, but your audience likely won’t listen).

You can understand the search intent behind a keyword by typing that keyword into Google. The results on the page will give clues as to what people want and what they expect when they search for that keyword.

Relying on Free Keyword Research Tools

“Free” keyword research tools can often provide misleading data or inaccurate search volumes. Worse than that, the point of free keyword research tools is typically to get you to buy something else–not to give you the best, most accurate, up-to-date information on trending keywords.

Paid keyword research tools are better than free keyword research tools.

We can strongly recommend the following paid keyword research tools:

Mangools – simple, low-cost (did you know you have access to Mangools’ keyword research tools inside Content at Scale? It’s included with any plan).

SEMrush – powerful, agile.

Ahrefs – robust, with countless SEO tools.

Taking it a step further (beyond keyword research tools) you can also conduct manual research by analyzing your competitors, looking at related searches, and understanding your target audience’s language.

Neglecting to Consider Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty refers to how hard it is to rank for a particular keyword. Neglecting to consider keyword difficulty can result in targeting keywords that are too competitive, making it difficult to rank in search results. It’s important to balance the search volume with the keyword difficulty and target keywords that have a good balance of both.

Using Local Intent Keywords to Write Informational Blog Posts

All content on the Internet attracts either foot traffic, or website traffic. To attract foot traffic, optimize your brick-and-mortar (local SEO) marketing strategy. To attract website traffic, create multiple, relevant, quality long form articles using Content at Scale.

Both of these strategies use keywords.

An example of a search term with local intent is “coffee shops near me”. This search query indicates that the user is looking for coffee shops in their current location, making it a local keyword.

An example of a search term about coffee with informational intent is “how to make pour-over coffee”. This search query indicates that the user is looking for information on how to make pour-over coffee, rather than searching for a specific coffee shop or product. It shows an intent to learn or understand more about a particular aspect of coffee, rather than making a purchase or finding a local business.

You’d never ask a writer to write an article about “coffee shops near me”. And luckily you’ll never have to; local SEO keyword research is a simple one-and-done process.

Being Brand-Centric Instead of Customer-Centric

Pro tip: no one cares about your brand.

People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves.

If you make the mistake of assuming your audience is thinking about you and your brand all day, you might think of topics like:

  • Benefits of [insert your product here]
  • Why [insert your product here] is a good idea

But, more than likely, no one is googling terms like that in your industry.

Content marketing is inherently customer-centric.

And so is Content at Scale.

Here’s the solution: put a very general keyword into the suggestions feature in Content at Scale.

We’ll give you a bunch of suggested keywords–keywords people are actually googling.

Here’s what comes up, for example, when you type in “content marketing” to Content at Scale’s keyword research feature (which, by the way, is an API connection to Mangools’ KWFinder – a tool I trust and love!).

You’ll have tons of relevant topic ideas in no time.

Focusing Solely on Keywords and Not on Content Quality

Lastly, people often focus solely on finding the right keywords and forget about the importance of quality content.

While targeting the right keywords is important, it’s equally important to create high-quality, engaging content that provides value to your target audience.

Without quality content, even the best-targeted keywords will not drive traffic to your website.

Continue Your Learning Journey with the Best of the Best

If you avoid these mistakes, you will be ahead of the majority of content marketers out there.

But there’s tons more to learn – this is really just the beginning.

Want to join us on a regular basis and learn in a live, immersive setting?

Check out Content Hacker Community, where you can join live mastermind calls with me every single month, and get inside a powerful group of pros. We’d love to see you there. ❤️

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