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Don't Miss the Mark on Keyword Research

Dec 2, 2009 / by Dustin Williams

A critical part of an SEO campaign is the keyword research. It is during this phase that a website owner will determine what keywords are most popular and most relevant to their business. They will generate some form of keyword list and it may or may not include URL mapping of the most relevant keywords. When doing the keyword research, there are two pitfalls that can have an adverse effect on the entire SEO campaign.

Getting Distracted by the Search Volume

When performing keyword research it can be very easy to get caught up in the search volume numbers of all the potential keywords a site could rank for. Focusing on just the high volume search terms can often cause a person to miss the mark on their SEO strategy. While it would be great to have a top ranking for a search term that gets a million or more searches in a month, the reality is that those types of terms tend to be less targeted and much more competitive. As a result, you end up with a very expensive SEO campaign and nothing to show for the money invested. Even if rankings are achieved some months down the road the traffic will not be well targeted and the bounce rate will be very high.

The better option is to choose keyword phrases that are more specifically targeted and include the higher-volume keyword phase inside them. For example: If I was optimizing SEO.com for the search term of "search engine optimization" I would consider targeting terms like "search engine optimization company" or "professional search engine optimization services" since both of those longtail terms contain the search term of "search engine optimization" inside them. By following this strategy a website owner can quickly reach the top rankings that drive more targeted traffic and produce a smaller bounce rate. Since the longer keyword phrases also contain the broader phrase inside them, those higher volume keyword phrases will not get ignored. Several months into the campaign you may even see the website showing up in the top 30 or top 20 for the higher volume phrases. At this point you can take the increased revenue from the longtail search terms and invest it in securing some of those larger-volume search terms. Now, because of your work with the longtail keywords, it will be much easier to move them the rest of the way up the rankings.

Getting Distracted by the Amount of Relevant Keywords

Another mistake that can hinder the progress of an SEO campaign is targeting a large amount of keywords. Depending on the size of the website there could be thousands of keyword phrases that are all relevant to site content. It is a good idea to record all of the relevant terms in some type of chart to keep track of them and make sure the site has optimized pages for each one. However, if the focus of the SEO campaign is spread out across hundreds or thousands of keywords it is going to slow down the time it takes to achieve the top rankings.

A good idea is to generate a smaller group of keywords out of the larger list and to focus on them. Make sure the keywords are clearly mapped to the best pages of the website and set goals for ranking on those keywords. After top rankings are achieved, the list can then be expanded to include additional keywords.

Be sure to keep the original keywords from the smaller list even after it is expanded. It is important to continue monitoring the rankings of your original terms so they don’t slip and lose some of their search engine rankings.

Both small and large budget SEO campaigns can benefit from focusing on a smaller list of highly targeted keywords that still include some of the larger-volume search terms inside them. In the end, the website will be able to achieve top rankings and produce an ROI much quicker.

Topics: SEO Keyword Research

Dustin Williams

Written by Dustin Williams

Dustin is a former SEO specialist for SEO.com. He has been actively involved with web design and website promotion since 2001.

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