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Approach with Caution: Common Traps when Choosing Keywords

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Keywords are an indispensable part of any SEO strategy. Choosing the right set means you have more chance of rising to the top of the search engine results pages and capturing the perfect audience for your business.

When finding keywords for your website, you have a lot of tools at your disposal. Between Wordtracker, Moz, Wordstream, Ubersuggest and the all-important Google Keyword Planner, you’ll have access to a wealth of statistics and information to help you plan your strategy. These tools help you determine the right keywords, based on a combination of keyword difficultly, competition, cost-per-click and average monthly searches.

But, when it comes to interpreting the results, these tools all require some know-how. It’s crucial to understand how these tools are used (and abused) so you don’t fall into some common traps. While these tools are useful, it’s good to keep these tips in mind.

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The data you receive doesn’t give the whole picture

When you look at the average monthly search column, you’ll notice that each number is rounded to the nearest 10. This means you’ll never gain a perfectly accurate result.

Beyond this, there is another, more important factor that might skew the results. The numbers are just based on averages from the previous 12 months and don’t really take into account seasonal variation. This means that you’ll get the same result year-round, no matter if you search during peak time or not.

This means you won’t be able to accurately forecast the potential of your campaign just by looking at the averages. Instead, dig a little deeper and check out the month-by-month graphs. They’ll give you a better indication of specific historic results.

You’ll have to share the number of searches

It’s clear that your website won’t be the only one on the search results page. You’ll be competing for the user’s attention with 9 other websites. (And that’s just the organic search – you also have to contend against the paid search results, too.)

Put simply, if the keyword planning tools display a high number of searches per month, you won’t receive all of them. You’ll have to share between all the other results on the page. Depending on how attractive your title, meta description and ad copy are, you may receive more or less clicks than your competitors.

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You won’t be able to find related keywords very easily

Using the tools available to you, you’ll only be able to find data on exact match keywords. This means that the tools display the number of monthly searches for the precise keyword a user types into their browser, and not any variations of this.

You’ll be able to understand what your target market searches for but not anything beyond this.

It’s only a small picture of what your website can achieve

If you have an AdWords campaign for your website, you’ll be used to seeing a list of the keywords people searched for before they clicked your link.

When you conduct SEO, it’s not as easy as that. You won’t get a clear overview of how people found your site. They could have found you in any number of ways, using a wide variety of keywords.

You might have chosen a set of 4 keywords for your campaign, and started to measure these over time. You see great progress for each of these and you think your SEO is going well.

What you don’t see, though, is the success that is happening behind the scenes. Without you knowing it – because, let’s face it, there is no way to find the data – your website is also ranking on page one for a whole other set of keywords. Ones you don’t even know about.

What this shows is that you can’t get a picture of how well your whole SEO campaign is performing just by looking at the keywords you chose with the planners. To get a true idea of how well you’re doing SEO you need to look beyond what the planners tell you. Take them with a grain of salt and use them to inform – not determine – your whole campaign.

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By Stefanie Kir


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