When you're responsible for bringing in more website visitors or attracting more leads for your company, it can feel like there are a million things you're supposed to be doing. It can also feel like it's impossible to keep up. However, there's one task that can make those goals easier to reach and make your website work harder for you.
One of those many things on your to-do list is probably keyword optimization. You know it's important, but what does it mean and how do you achieve it?
Say you run an eCommerce site that sells women’s clothing. Just because your site has the words “women’s clothing” in it doesn’t mean you’re optimally using keywords on your site.
Whether you’re running an entire company or just one aspect of it, something as seemingly low on the priority list as keywords can get lost under a pile of higher priority to-dos. However, just keyword optimizing can make your site easier to find and increase business, all while you're busy checking off the rest of your list.
It's easy to make simple keywords mistakes, but taking the time to think about them and create a keyword strategy will have lasting effects. Here are 7 common keyword mistakes you might be making and how you can avoid them to improve your SEO.
Mistake 1: Not Thinking About Keywords at All
The absolute biggest mistake you can make regarding keywords is simply not thinking about them at all. By not doing any research or putting thought into a keyword strategy you’re essentially hoping that people will find you in the dark. Unless your strategy is to try and keep your business a secret, you’re going to want to think through the keywords that people are most likely to use when searching for your product or service. The fix to this mistake is simple: Recognize that keywords are important and put thought and effort into using them throughout your site.
Mistake 2: Not Doing the Research
This mistake is twofold. One, you may not be doing persona research. It’s crucial to research your buyer personas before diving into keyword research. Your personas represent your ideal customers and these too must be researched (because you know what they say about assumptions). You might think your customers are searching for “women’s blouses” when actually they’re searching for “women’s shirts.” You get the idea; it’s important to make sure you’re optimizing for the actual words your customers are using to find you.
The second part of this mistake is not doing keyword research but just guessing at what terms are being searched for. If there are a few ways people could be looking for your product, you want to make sure you’re using the appropriate term. If you sell sit stand desks you’ll need to think about which other, relevant terms are being searched for more often, but also which terms are going to bring you the most qualified visitors. People may be searching for "standing desk" more frequently, but also those who search for "sit stand desk" may be more relevant visitors.
You can compare different possible search terms using Google Trends.
Mistake 3: Using One Kind of Keyword
Similar to the second half of Mistake 2, if you’re selling sit stand desks, you don’t want to only be concerned about the keyword “desk.” That would be considered a “short-tail keyword.” You want to be using a mix of short and long-tail keywords to get the most highly-qualified visits to your site. If you’re ranking very highly for the word desk, you might get tons of traffic but only a fraction of those people will be interested in your product. If you rank more highly for sit stand desk, you may get a lower search volume but a higher percentage of those people are actually seeking out products like yours.
Other examples would be “software” vs “custom software solutions.” Or “phones” vs “Grand Rapids smartphone retailer.” Short-tail keywords can be very useful, but they shouldn’t be the only tool in your keyword tool belt.
Google Trends or Hubspot's Keyword Tool can both help you brainstorm relevant long-tail keywords for your business.
Mistake 4: Forgetting to Use Them
One of the most frequent keyword mistakes and most important to fix is simply forgetting to use keywords in the right places. Most people will remember to use their keywords in the content of the page, but that’s not the only place search engines are looking. Of course make sure you’re including them in the content, but don’t forget about the URL, alt text, page title, meta description, and headers.
By using keywords correctly in these places you'll make it easier for people to find your content organically. While meta descriptions don't have a direct effect on search rank, describing the content on your page will help searchers recognize if it's relevant to them.
Mistake 5: Stuffing Keywords
Search engines are pretty smart and at this point they’re very good at recognizing sites that try to undermine their algorithms. Keyword stuffing is a sneaky practice of unnaturally overusing keywords so your site will rank higher in searches. This is a problem because generally, while these sites have all the right words, the content is thin and only optimized for search, not the user. The great keyword rule is to always put the user first. Google recognizes keyword stuffing and will penalize sites for it. Just use your keywords naturally in the locations mentioned above.
The solution to this mistake is simple: Just don’t do it.
Mistake 6: Not Tracking Keywords
Everything you do on your website and with your marketing should be tracked and measured, keywords included. Simply inputting your keywords to the appropriate places and then ignoring them isn’t a good strategy. Actually, it’s not a strategy at all. Not ranking highly for an important keyword? Write a few blog posts about that topic and measure any difference in your search rank over time. This lets you make the most of keywords and SEO. If you aren’t tracking your keywords, you’ll have no idea if you’re making any progress.
There are plenty of tools available, like Husbpot, Google Adwords, or Moz.
Mistake 7: Not Adjusting
The purpose of tracking and measuring something is so you can adjust it. You have to be monitoring your keywords to know if your strategy isn’t working, and then adjust that strategy to find more success. Like anything in your marketing plan, testing certain keywords and to see which ones work best for your business will bring you the most success.