Are you using the right keywords? A good indicator that something might be off is your website traffic. If it’s lacking, there’s a good chance that you’re aiming at the wrong keywords. But how do you identify the problem, then implement a solution?
We’ll walk you through a quick troubleshooting exercise, explain how to avoid these pitfalls and start implementing Keyword Research techniques like a pro.
Common Keyword Research Mistakes
Below are basic mistakes that are easy to make, especially those who have yet to learn SEO thoroughly.
- You chose keywords based on popularity.
Though it makes sense to use keywords with a high search volume, widely used keywords are more difficult to rank for because you’re up against some hefty competition.
- You focused only on transactional keywords.
There is an equivalent in SEO for each stage of the sales conversion funnel, the last being transactional intent. Here is a quick run-down:
- Attention stage: Informational keywords
- Interest stage: Navigational keywords
- Desire stage: Commercial investigation keywords
- Action stage: Transactional keywords
Visitors at the “action” stage are searching with particular keywords, such as “Buy Gucci shoes in Panama City.”
This is the ideal visitor – someone ready to transact with your business. However, if you only use keywords with the intent to transact, you limit your reach for users in other stages.
- You didn’t use a dedicated competitor keyword comparison tool.
Scanning through competitor websites and using your inference has a purpose, but it would be difficult to consolidate all the valuable data needed to rank high in search this way.
Your keyword research tool of choice, such as Ahrefs, Alexa, SEMRush, and Moz, all have competitive analysis tools to help you make more informed decisions about your keywords.
It’s tempting to jump into the latest SEO trends, but without understanding the foundations of keyword analysis, your strategy will be lacking.
That’s why we consulted our friends at a leading web design and development company for the must-know steps when performing a keyword analysis to help your site:
- Climb up the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) over time
- Increased traffic to improve conversions ultimately
1. Identify Your Competitors And Your Competitive Power
Before diving into keywords, evaluate your site against your competition. If your website is new, attempting to rank for difficult keywords is similar to an amateur player going against a professional athlete.
The “professional athlete” in the case of SEO is a business that could adopt SEO ranking techniques such as backlinking and keyword analysis consistently and for some time.
You can get your site competitive power evaluation from Alexa, but how do you know who your competitors are? Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool and SEMrush’s Organic Research Tool produce a report of similar websites that share your audience or another target’s site.
You will see metrics such as search volume and difficulty, which leads us to the next step.
2. Survey The Search Volume And Traffic Potential
Keywords with thousands to millions of monthly searches are highly competitive and hard to rank for. The sweet spot is typically between 100-200 monthly searches, but it depends on factors such as business niche and type of product or service.
It’s important to evaluate when the customer is in their conversion journey when using a keyword and encourage them to stay on the site and eventually convert.
Of course, you’ll want to choose keywords that are relevant to your brand. The general rule of thumb is to determine what you can quickly and naturally insert your product and service.
3. Consider The Keywords Difficulty
Like the amateur versus professional analogy we used above, every keyword has a rated “difficulty.” This difficulty is comprised of a variety of factors, such as:
- Number (and quality) of backlinks
- Domain Rating (DR)
- The content length, relevance, freshness
- Use of the target keyword, synonyms, entities
- Search intent
- The lower the difficulty, the easier it is to appear higher up in search by providing quality SEO content.
Though difficulties between 0-30 are easier to rank in, this doesn’t mean that you should only create content for “low-hanging” keywords.
SEO experts at the web design and development company we consulted advise that this harms ranking in the long run. The reason for this lies in the difficulty factors as mentioned in the bullet points above—with a particular emphasis on backlinks.
High-difficulty keywords should be seen as link opportunities. Having many backlinks gives a sign to the search engine that a topic is “link-worthy.” Sometimes, taking calculated risks can pay off.
4. Take A Hint From Clicks and Cost Per Click (CPC)
Some say that CPC is a metric more for advertisers than SEO, but it’s an invaluable tool to assess a keyword’s value.
CPC shows how much advertisers a willing to pay for each ad click from a keyword. For example, the keyword for “gaming PC” might have a CPC of $15, which means that it costs advertisers $15 per click. Compare this to something like “how to make a gaming PC,” The CPC drops to a few cents.
This information from the CPC metric can tell us the commercial viability of a keyword and the level of competition for the keyword.
The sweet spot is to look for keywords with low search volumes yet very high CPC. Although, if your target keywords have high CPCs and you can rank higher than the competition, that’s guaranteed high-converting traffic and dollars to be made.
5. Key Takeaways On Analyzing Keywords
We hope that you gained a better understanding of these game-changing steps to take for keyword analysis through this article. Though these alone will get you far, this scratches the surface of the rest of the techniques you can acquire when you learn SEO.
To recap, common keyword issues include:
- Choosing keywords based on popularity alone
- Only focusing on transactional keywords
- Failing to use a competitor keyword analysis tool
Steps to analyze keywords include:
- Identify your competitors and your competitive power
- Survey the search volume and traffic potential
- Consider the keyword difficulty
- Take a hint from clicks and cost per click
Ellie Northcott is a long-time marketer, currently working as a freelancer in Miami, Florida. Editor at Digital Strategy One. She is also a passionate writer and loves to explore new, innovative and digital news. In her spare time, she is an eco-activist.
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