7 keyword research mistakes that could harm your SEO ranking

seo keyword research mistakes perth

I know, I know. Yes, we shouldn’t obsess over keywords, but the only way for you to show up in search results is to – wait for it – use the (right) keywords! But, as long as you’re not making costly keyword research mistakes that could kill your ranking.

Keywords are a pain in the ass for many businesses and bloggers, yet keywords are still one of the most fundamental factors that help you get found on search engines and social media.

And while search engine optimisation may seem easy, if you really want your content to rank for the keywords people are typing into Google, then you need to up your game. On top of that, you also need to choose the right keywords.

If you go too broad, too general, or if someone of much higher authority is already dominating search results for these keywords, then you’ll have a hard time to rank high for those.

That’s why I always recommend that you allow enough time for keyword research. It’s too important for you to leave to the last minute. I also recommend that you spend some time reading articles about any news regarding the ranking factors, in case Google recently made some announcement that could affect how you’re optimising your website.

You really need to know how to do it. You don’t need to become an SEO expert, but you just need to know that you’re getting the basics right.

Common keyword research mistakes

Here are some of the mistakes that I’ve had to fix for some of my clients.

Mistake #1: Not using keywords at all

When writing about ANY topic, always choose at least one main keyword phrase. Place it in your headline, first paragraph, in a subheading (H2) and a few times in the body (frequency in the body depends on the length of the copy). This will help search engines determine the keywords to assign when ranking the content.

Mistake #2: Targeting keywords with one or two words

The shorter your keywords, they more you’ll need to work to rank for them. That’s because many people will be using those keywords. For example, it’s harder to rank for “white shoes” than “white leather Adidas shoes”. Or “copywriter” versus “Rockingham copywriter”. We call these keywords long-tail keywords. They’re less popular because less people are searching for them. This means you’ll attract really targeted traffic, people who really need the information or who are ready to buy.

Mistake #3: Not using their local keywords!

If your business is local, or if you want to target local customers, then you should consider researching your local keywords. For example, “Rockingham ghostblogger” could be a local keyword for me. I could even use “Mandurah ghostblogger” if I want to target businesses based in Mandurah. So search for some location-specific keywords and blog or write a page for each location.

Mistake #4: Trying to rank for competitor keywords

I hear this often: “How come these guys are ranking for these keywords? How can I outrank them?” While ranking for a specific keyword sounds easy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your website will eventually outrank your competitor’s website if you start blogging a lot or writing many pages for those keywords. Design your own SEO strategy and stop worrying about the other businesses. Yes, do spy on your competitors, but don’t copy them.

Mistake #5: Not using singular and plural search terms

Although search engines can tell the difference between singular and plural search terms, you should always try to use each of those terms at least once in your copy (e.g. “red car” and “red cars”; “local copywriter” and “local copywriters”; “Perth marketing consultant” and “Perth marketing consultants”). However, choose one as your primary keyword phrase which you’ll then repeat in the headline, subheadings, title tag and meta description.

Mistake #6: Not fixing keyword cannibalisation sooner

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when you use the same keywords on multiple pages and/or blog posts throughout your website. If you’re paying a specialist to update your site, they should know better! Why is this copy-paste or keyword stuffing bad? Because it can harm your search ranking. When search engine crawlers come across those pages, they’ll choose the page they assume is the one you wanted to rank for that set of keywords. Eventually, that random page will rank higher than the one you wanted to rank.

Mistake #7: Using generic text as anchor text

You may have noticed some websites have generic anchor text (link text) such as “download the template”, “click here”, “this page” and other similar text. While these links are great calls to action, they’re not good for SEO. If you have a document or page that you’re linking to, use some relevant keywords in the anchor text. For example, “download your sales email template” and “contact your Perth copywriter”.

Fix your keyword research mistakes

These are only 7 of the common mistakes from a long, long list. If you suspect that your website isn’t optimised properly but you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, feel free to contact me. As an SEO copywriter, I can help you out. I can check your content to determine what could be hurting your rankings.

Reader Interactions


  1. Hi Rhonda,

    I find this blog post extremely relevant and useful. You are absolutely right in listing these as the 7 most common mistakes. More interestingly, the singular and plurals are often overlooked but they are definitely considered by Google.

    Personally, I would have added another mistake that we should avoid when writing blog posts. That is the lack of synonyms and closely related terms. Google’s algorithm is increasingly turning towards a semantic understanding of the web and using these terms could give you a little edge over your competition. To find synonyms or closely related terms, just google your keyword and at the bottom of the search results you will find the “Search related to keyword” section. Use that to enhance your blog post!

  2. Hello Rhonda,
    I completely agree that these are the very common mistakes which people make while writing content. Nowadays, search engines are more advanced and they rank content that is optimized for the users, not for the robots.

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