B2B Articles - January 20, 2020

Keyword Strategy Mistakes to Stop Doing Now

A keyword strategy is definitely a must-have for businesses that want to generate leads online. In this article, we are going to address some common keyword strategy mistakes that businesses should curb.


Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day, according to Internet Live Stats. That’s a big source of potential leads that you can tap into.


And targeting the right keywords is a highly important factor in seeing success with search marketing.

Microsoft's domain analysis: organic search (SEO) performance report

You may have a general direction to aim in with your keyword strategy, but don't get tripped up by these common mistakes. It’s important to focus your resources on writing content for keywords that will bring in qualified leads.

Targeting too many keywords

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and one common mistake that businesses make when they invest in SEO is targeting too many keywords. Too many keywords can hurt your focus and lead to unclear content. You will probably create wide rather than deep keyword authority, which is not easy for a new website to do and very ineffective for beginners.

Unless your website is very well-established and already ranking on the first page of Google for some difficult keywords, it will be hard to have enough search clout to move the needle on many keywords at once. You will have more success by focusing on just a few targets and taking many actions to help them rank.

And too many moving targets is not much of a keyword strategy at all. It's better to focus on just one or even two content clusters when you begin. This means focusing on one main keyword for a central page and plenty of longer-tail variations to branch out around it, often in the form of blog posts.

Putting too much stock in branded keywords

Your brand probably has plenty of branded terms that you use to describe your methods and products. One very common SEO mistake we see businesses make is that they falsely believe their terminology is widespread. In fact, almost every business we work with comes in with some fallacy in thinking their branded terms are more commonly used than they actually are. Additionally, current popularity does not beget growth.

To succeed with search marketing, you often need to strip down your messaging to simple ideas and phrases that are commonly searched and understood.  Anything clever, catchy, or cute will probably not do well for a keyword strategy unless it is extremely "buzzwordy." Even then, the endurance of the keyword strategy will be short-lived. So try to find simple and straightforward vernacular, even if it is a phrase that you've never used before now.

While you're gathering lots of ideas for keyword targets, follow these tips:

  • Run each idea through rigorous testing for volume and difficulty metrics

  • Make sure your keyword target has minimum monthly searches of at least a hundred people and probably more if you're looking for volume and scale

  • Any keyword with a low monthly search volume is not worth the time and effort to pursue, even if it is the buzzword of the moment

Tip: The exception to this rule is this: You do want to rank for your brand name. This will probably start to happen automatically if you use good SEO practices across your website. However, definitely track your ranking for your company names and abbreviations, including your company name with geographic location if relevant, and add your brand name to title tags on your pages. Adding your company to directories will also help earn authority for your brand name (especially if it is less unique.)

Measuring the wrong KPIs for keywords

Sometimes companies get so excited that they are beginning to see keyword traction that they overlook the important metrics. A good keyword strategy means ranking for the right keywords, not just ranking for a high quantity of keywords.

Tip: It's actually fairly normal in a brand new keyword strategy to see your rankings drop for some terms because you are re-optimizing for terms that are better and more relevant. So during this period, you may see traffic go down while the number of leads goes up.

In addition to monitoring your keyword rank for up or down movement:

  • Organic traffic can be another good metric to track.

  • However, you need to make sure that if you're measuring the traffic, the conversion rate of qualified leads is also going up.

  • So organic traffic conversion rate is the metric to watch closely, followed by MQLs from organic search.

  • You can easily see this info in HubSpot or set up a few dimensions in Google Analytics.

The organic conversion rate should grow steadily over time as you refine your keyword strategy. Only keywords that bring in traffic, convert them, and make sense to your product or business are worth pursuing, so pay close attention to which blog posts and SEO pages are contributing the most qualified leads.

Fighting too hard for keywords that aren't viable

Great keywords have relevance to your business, high search volume, and mid to low difficulty. There are some exceptions to this rule, but for beginners, this is a great rule of thumb.

Sometimes businesses fight for keywords that don't meet all these criteria. They may say, "Our competitors rank for that, so we should," even if the term isn't relevant to their business or has an outrageous difficulty level. Being more strategic with your keyword strategy and finding new variations of key phrases is better than going head to head for the same impossible words.

Particularly as you get into paid search, being in a "bidding war" with your competitors is a good way to drain your budget fast.

First, you need to differentiate and build yourself up on longer-tail keywords so you can earn some authority. Differentiation can help prevent costly bidding wars with too-similar competitors.

Tip: Some businesses can compete on high difficulty keywords, but these businesses have a very established presence in search engines already. It's good to keep some "high difficulty, high volume" keywords in your back pocket as a long-term goal and something you can build towards with your content clusters.

Not blogging and optimizing enough to sustain keyword growth

Any keyword strategy, no matter your business type, needs constant attention from content marketing and website optimization. For many businesses, this can mean one blog post per week; For industries that are more content-saturated, blogging twice a week or more may be necessary.

Always bolster your publishing time with optimizations, such as adding plenty of links throughout your website, especially for new keyword pages. Link in the right direction, so all blog posts point to more important pages like those with a conversion offer and a form.

Not using a keyword- and conversion-optimized landing page

That brings us to our next point -- trying to rank for keywords, succeeding, and making sure you have a great reason for someone to convert. A keyword-optimized page isn't enough; Add content offers, run A/B tests on messaging, and always have a very clear call to action to make sure you'll capture those leads.

Again, by refining your SEO or landing page over time, you can see the conversion rate gradually increase.

Tip: SEO pages and landing pages are not much different. Both try to convert people into new business leads by collecting information with a form. However, SEO pages tend to be focused on bottom of funnel keywords closely related to your business offering, while landing pages usually promote a content offer, like an ebook or webinar sign-up.

Focusing only on new content, not old

"Build, build, build" is definitely the mantra of a new keyword strategy. You need to create lots of fresh content and new SEO pages quickly so you can see improvement. So businesses sometimes forget to take advantage of the material they already have or even old keyword pages that could even be holding them back.

Refreshing old content and re-optimizing for a better keyword are both good tactics for your old content. This is as simple as finding a better keyword target with clearer intent or more volume and optimizing your old page while adding some links with the new keyword target across your site. Google loves to see fresh content, so don't be afraid to make minor upgrades to your old posts, such as adding new paragraphs, images, and keyword-rich headlines!

Bonus: Not using Google Ads to scale

Google Ads is a good way to take your organic keyword strategy and scale it up quickly to test and to see leads come into the funnel sooner. It will require some extra work to write ads and specific pages for your AdWords keywords, as well as some ongoing research and maintenance into the best keywords for a paid medium.

But if you have some budget to spend, you should launch an AdWords campaign early alongside your organic search strategy. Thankfully much of the content you create for organic lead generation can also be used for your AdWords campaign, so the two go hand in hand -- it’s good to use a combination of builder and driver strategies.

Companies who rely only on an organic search strategy are often unaware that it takes time, perhaps months, to see true traction. So a paid campaign can help you get new insights early and meet lead goals while you work on building an organic keyword powerhouse of content offers, blogs, and website pages.


Internet Live Stats, live data pulled September 10, 2018


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