The 4 Biggest Keyword Research Mistakes

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Keyword research is no rocket science, but many webmasters still struggle with it. If you analyze the pattern, however, you’ll see that most keyword research problems and failures are connected with 4 basic mistakes. They are:

1. Not Doing Keyword Research

The most common mistake around is, well, not doing keyword research at all! Sounds like common sense, but the majority of webmasters are not used to performing keyword research on a regular basis. Sure, they might open the Google AdWords Keyword Tool once in a while, but on a daily basis they just trust their guts when it comes to choosing topics to cover, optimizing title tags and so on. The result? They miss the opportunity to maximize the amount of organic traffic they’ll get.

Example: Suppose you just finished writing a linkbait with the 100 funniest images on the web. But should you title it “Top 100 Funny Images Online” or “Top 100 Funny Pictures Online?” From the end user point of view both titles are equivalent. After performing some keyword research, however, you would discover that the term “funny pictures” is 15 times more searched than “funny images”, so it would be a good idea to use that in your title.

2. Using The “Broad” Match Exclusively

When you open the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, the default match type will be the “Broad” one. This means that the search volume you’ll get is the sum of the exact searches for your keyword, the searches inverting the order of the words inside your keyword, and the searches for your keyword along with other words. This can be a quite misleading, and that is why it is important to always check the “Exact” match as well

Example: Suppose you are researching a potential domain name for your blog about weight loss. You find that the keyword “fat lose” receives 1,800,000 searches per month, so it must be a good one to include in the domain right? Wrong. As soon as you change the match type to “Exact” you’ll discover that “fat lose” only gets 12,000 monthly searches. The rest of the searches are variations of that keyword, such as “lose fat” and “lose fat fast”.

3. Ignoring The Competition Factor

How do most people evaluate the attractiveness of a keyword? By its search volume. While this is part of the equation, it should not be the only part! The other, equally important half is the competition targeting that keyword. Targeting keywords you can’t rank for is one of the easiest ways to waste time and money online.

Example: Suppose there are two guys who want to start blogs in the online games niche. Both perform keyword research before getting started. The first one gets excited with the fact that the keyword “online games” gets 2,700,000 searches per month (under the “Exact” match) and he decides to target it with his blog. The second one, however, thinks that the competition for “online games” makes it not worth his time, so he decides to target the keyword “free online games for kids” instead, which receives 33,000 monthly searches and has a much smaller competition. After one year, which of the two guys do you think will be making more money with his blog?

4. Targeting Keywords That Are Not Profitable

Even if you target a keyword that has a decent amount of traffic and a relatively low competition you might still not make big money with it. Why? Because that keyword might not be a profitable one. If you want to target profitable keywords you need to analyze both the niche and the intent behind the search query.

Example: If you input the keyword “run” into the Google AdWords Keyword Tool you’ll get an interesting set of related keywords. One of them is “dino run”, which is a popular online flash game, and gets 110,000 exact searches per month. Another one is “running watch”, which gets only 22,000 exact searches per month. Should the competition for both terms be similar, which one do you think would be more profitable to target?

Daniel Scocco

Daniel Scocco

Daniel started working on the Internet back in 2005. His latest project,, is a step-by-step tutorial for those who want to make their first... Read Full Bio
Daniel Scocco

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  • upliftmedia

    I think one of the biggest keyword research mistakes is relying on poor keyword data. Which the Google keyword tool can be particularly guilty of. I'd make it 5 biggest keyword research mistakes and add not using PPC for keyword research.

    • Nik Shah

      I somewhat agree with you on this. I use wordtracker as a backup option. What other tools do you use for gathering keyword data apart from Google tool.

  • Samuel Rodriguez

    It's very difficult to find “high search – low competition” niches. Somtimes it's better to divide the keyword selection,

  • Dhiraj Kumar

    People always miss the 4th points, they always choose the keyword on traffic based, I agree on it.

  • medical transcription

    In my experience the Google keyword tools is totally helps us to find a group of keywords for a particular keyword. Because the search volume of a particular keyword is not at all accurate.

  • Jonay Pelluz

    It's good to know these four points, but always and I have seen it many times people prefer to lauch their site first and then think about SEO, so sometimes they until the last moment or when their project is online to start to build their SEO strategy

  • Olga Dyachuk

    Good points. It is necessary to build a keywords strategy. Despite it nobody knows how will work the final list (it depends on many factors). Using SEO you should analyze the results and correct the keyword list regularly.

  • Matt Chandler

    Just a word of caution – how accurate is the Google Keyword Tool anyway…? I commented on another post recently which was discussing this very point. Be careful how much you hang your hat on the data given by the keyword tool – it can be wildly innacurate (or just plain wrong)

  • Kevin from Jersey

    What Churchill said about Democracy fits my opinion to a tee of the Google KW tool.

    “Democracy is the WORST FORM of GOVERNMENT, except for all the others.”

    Do you prefer WordTracker, Alex, SEMRush. None of them are any good. The best source is direct observation, but that is expensive. You have to get to the top of page 2 before you get enough traffic to know. Then when you do know, you need some measurement of the seasonality which Google Tool provide. It is indeed the worst, except for all the others. I use it every day and curse it every day for its inaccuracies.

  • apt marketing and pr

    At our company, we work on SEO and keywording as we build websites for clients and I am forever doing research. I think you have pulled together a fairly comprehensive list, however I was wondering if you cuold tell me how to access Adwords. Up until about 6 weeks ago, I had the link to their free keyword tool, however that is no longer working and they ask you to set up a campaign to access it. I don't want to set up a campaign so 1) is there any way around this and 2) do you have any alternatives?

  • yuregininsesi

    In my experience the Google keyword tools is totally helps us to find a group of keywords for a particular keyword. Because the search volume of a particular keyword is not at all accurate.