5 Common Keyword Mistakes — and How to Avoid Them
The cornerstone of any online advertising — and really, any online content — strategy is to choose the right keywords. When you don’t accurately choose the words that users will search for, or that will lead your ad to be shown on content pages, you might as well be throwing your advertising budget away.
There is no “magic formula” to choosing the right keywords, but there are some best practices for getting the most from them. And a big part of that is avoiding the most common mistakes that often leave marketers scratching their heads and wondering why they are spending money and not getting results.
1. Choosing the Wrong Keywords
The first keyword mistake is possibly the most obvious: choosing the wrong keywords. Many marketers, especially those new to Internet marketing, make exhaustive lists of keywords, thinking that including anything even remotely related to their business is a surefire way to drive traffic. The problem is that having too many keywords that are only peripherally related to your business dilutes your search results and can actual negatively influence your rankings.
Your advertisement might show up on search result pages, but if users do not click on it — or click on it and then immediately click away — you will eventually fall further down the page. In short, you are better off with a smaller number of specific, highly targeted keywords than an exhaustive list that covers every possible search term, but provides little return.
2. Choosing Keywords That Are Too General
If you are an online retailer selling shoes, then you obviously want your content to be keyword optimized for “shoes.” However, if you only sell shoes for women, or wide width shoes, then you want your keywords to be more specific. In other words, if you want to attract people specifically looking for red wedges, your keywords should reflect that — and not just be geared toward wedges in general. Include some long-tail keywords in your strategy. Long-tail keywords are specific phrases (three to five words) that more accurately reflect what a user might be searching for. You might see fewer clicks on those pages, but there’s a greater chance that those clicks will convert.
3. Choosing Keywords That Are Too Specific
“But wait!” you might be thinking. “Didn’t you just say that I should pick specific keywords?” Yes, your keywords should be specific — but not so specific that no one in their right mind would ever search for them. Also, you should be creative in your keyword planning. For example, say that you’re an event planner who specializes in tea parties. Your keyword strategy should include terms related to tea parties, planning tea parties, etc. However, don’t limit your strategy to include only the exact product you offer. Think about who might hire someone to plan a tea party; you could include keywords related to bridal showers, retirement parties, children’s birthdays, and the like. Broaden your scope, and you’ll see an increase in traffic.
4. Choosing Keywords That Are Too Competitive
No matter your industry, you are bound to have competition. In some cases, you may have a lot of competition, and if that competition has a well-established online presence and has recognized domination in your industry, then you will have trouble getting your ad in front of users.
Contracting with a top online advertising company will allow your ad to be placed on appropriate niche sites with users interested in what you have to offer, but you still need to do some research to find keywords that will differentiate you from the competition. For example, if you are a travel agent, including keywords like “travel” and “vacation” seems reasonable, but consider the competition — you’re going against major online travel sites. Instead, find keywords that better describe you, and that users might search for, such as “family vacation travel agent” or “Las Vegas bachelor party travel planner.” You will set yourself apart from the competition.
5. Forgetting to Include Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are often misunderstood, and have the potential to decrease the amount of traffic you see, so they are often ignored. However, negative keywords can help maintain your advertising budget by preventing your ads from appearing to users who aren’t really searching for your product. Essentially, using negative keywords is a way to make your campaign more focused. For example, if you sell used books, you can designate certain terms, like “new books” or “current bestselling books” to be negative keywords. This way, anyone searching for those terms won’t see your ad, but someone searching for “old books” or “used books” will.
Establishing a keyword strategy is not something you do once and move on. It requires constant testing, adjustments, and changes. If you focus on avoiding these mistakes, though, you should see your conversions — and your ROI — improve.