Five Basic Mistakes Most People Make While Picking Keywords (and End Up Crippling Their Income Significantly)

So you’ve picked out your niche based on fantastic money making ideas. You’re sure it will attract swarms of traffic and catapult you to the top of Google in no time. All you need to do is throw in some content, put up some ads and wait for the cash to roll in, right?

Well, not quite. How are people going to find this terrific site of yours?

They just type in Google what they’re looking for and my site will pop up, right?

Not quite.

The thing is, you can’t take the risk that someone searching for something in your niche will find your site, informative as it is, “magically”. You need to pave the way for this to happen by making sure you have used the right keywords to attract the right kind of traffic. Keywords (or keyword phrases) are the terms people type into Google and other search engines when they need information. How can you be sure that your content contains the right ones?  The key is to do a little bit of keyword research before your build your site.

Here are some of the mistakes most people make when they build a website. Avoid them, and you will increase your earning potential significantly.

Mistake #1: Building a site around a keyword or phrase that you think is “obvious” or “great”

It is critically important to overcome this basic assumption that, given a niche, the keywords that work best are the “obvious” ones. Just because something seems obvious to you doesn’t mean that it is a popular one that people are looking for. This is the source of a lot of frustration to many, especially those that are just starting out.

If you’re an expert on your topic, for example, the words you choose as likely terms may just be jargon to your public. Let’s say, for example, your niche is knitting materials, lessons, and supplies. If you choose “marled yarn” as one of your keywords, you’ll probably attract a few visitors, but you’ll miss the hundreds of beginners who have no idea what “marled” means. So, as you brainstorm for keywords, be sure that you come up with terms that are both broad and narrow in focus. Avoid terms that are simply too general, however. “Yarn,” for example, is a keyword with so much competition that your site is likely to be lost in the avalanche. Since your goal is to get to the top of Google rankings for your niche, move on.

The best thing to do would be to do research (more on this below) around a few core keywords such as “yarn” or “knitting lessons” to find a list of search terms used by people in searches, and then narrow it down to the ones most relevant to you, instead of basing your site on what you think is a great keyword.

Mistake #2: Not adequately researching your keywords

Money Making Ideas: Keyword Research MistakesOnce you’ve settled on a list of keywords (it’s best at this point to have at least a dozen), you need to research them thoroughly by plugging them into a keyword research tool like Google’s free keyword analysis tool or a paid tool like Market Samurai. These handy programs will tell you how many people type those words into search engines, as well as a look at your competition. After all, if no one ever thinks of typing in “nalebinding” when they’re looking for knitting products, you don’t want it for a keyword.

As you start narrowing your list, pay particular attention to both the amount of competition and the strength of the competition, and not just number of searches. For instance, the keyword “knitting” has over 2500 exact searches per day, which is awesome. But it also has 93 million competing pages, and the top 10 slots are filled with authoritative sites that have content published over several years. The fact that the keyword has 2500  searches is totally irrelevant, because it is going to be monumentally impossible to rank on the first page of Google for such keywords.

An important note while we are on this topic: About 35% of all searches end up picking the very first search result. The second and third spots get about 12.5% and 10% of the traffic. The traffic to lower ranks in the search results decrease exponentially, with the results on the second page getting less than 1.5% of the total traffic [Source]. So, if you want to get some tangible traffic from the searches for your keyword to your site, your goal should at the very least be to make it to the first page of Google, and more preferably, rank within the top 3 spots.

Mistake #3: Not balancing your choices between commerce-related words and those typed in for research.

While you hope that all of your visitors have their credit cards out, many are just looking for information. They may come back later to buy, or they may never have any intention of buying at all. They’re window shoppers. Your goal should be to dazzle them by your offerings that they click through (also known as “convert”) – either right away or slowly over a period of time.

For our hypothetical site, your commerce keyword may be “knitting lessons,” while a research term could be “how to knit a sweater.” You should have a good mix of both types of keyword phrases. Commerce keywords are going to have a lot more competition than research terms, but they have much higher impact on your bottom line. Having a good mix of the two types of keywords lets you convert quickly for some keywords, while mellowing the window shoppers in your favor, so when they are ready to buy something, they will likely turn to your site first.

Mistake #4: Not checking whether the chosen keywords have popular, alternative meaning.

If it does, you’re going to attract a lot of irrelevant traffic. This is great for boasting, but since those visitors aren’t interested in your niche, they’re not going to “convert” to buyers. For instance, if you choose “needles” for your knitting site keyword, you’ll find that many of your visitors are actually looking for information on Needles, CA, or diabetes supplies. These are a lot harder to catch, but it is extremely important that you try and rule out keywords that are likely to have alternate meaning.

While we are on this topic, let’s get another related issue out of the way. Don’t use irrelevant keywords intentionally just to drive traffic to your site. If visitors come to your site lured by “racy pictures of Brad and Angelina,” they’re not going to stay to look at your knitting patterns, let alone buy it. It’s just not worth the effort to try and rank for irrelevant keywords. Remember the goal is not to get a truck load of traffic to your site; focus on getting targeted traffic instead, that you can actually sell something to. A handful of traffic that has a high conversion rate is far better than hordes of traffic with less than 0.1% conversion rate.

Mistake #5: Not having optimal keyword density

After you research your keywords, you need to figure out how to use them to advantage. You may think that you should sprinkle them liberally throughout your content. This is not always a good idea. Too many keywords on your page, particularly if they seem out of context, will put off any potential buyers. Optimizing it too much for search engines isn’t the best strategy, because, all said and done, search engines don’t have credit cards. What’s worse, articles with too high keyword density that are out of context may alert the search engine crawlers to potential spam which can hurt your rankings or, if egregious, lead to your site being “de-indexed.”

On the other hand, if you don’t have enough keywords, the search engines may not think you have relevant content for someone looking for those keywords, and not rank you high enough in search results. It’s a fine balancing act. The goal should be to include keywords or keywords phrases whenever it is possible to do so without contorting the flow of the article.

Bottom line: Look for relevant keywords that have relatively high searches and low competition; provide valuable content that is actually helpful to users and use your keywords–at most five per page–in relevant ways. You can also use your keywords in tags, titles, headings, and links. When you follow those basic rules, you will find that creating niche sites to pursue your money making ideas can be quite profitable.

If you have a budget set aside for your money making ventures, you can get the best ROI when you invest in a keyword research tool like Market Samurai.

It was one of the first things I purchased when I decided to relaunch this site. I had spent hours on free tools trying to find some good keywords. I kept reading rave reviews about Market Samurai on many sites, but wan’t sure if I was ready to spend on tools, yet. Finally, I decided to give the trial a shot – only because it was free. I frankly had no intention of buying. The ease of use and the amount of unexpected features (rank tracker, anyone?) really blew me away. I didn’t even wait until the trial period was over to buy it.

Check out the trial version for yourself – its free; you have nothing to lose. If you like it, great! If you don’t… (Not gonna happen, so why bother completing the sentence :))

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  1. Hi
    Glad I came back to this article because I have been struggling with keywords for ages and just went for the top ones but have found a great benefit in trying to rank for more keywords that don’t get so many searches so there isn’t so much competition seems to have bought a lot more traffic my way.

    Thanks lee

  2. Hi
    Came back to this post to read back up on what your ideas are about keyword density because it has been worrying me as I don’t want to over do it and find myself being penalised. I will try to stick to about 5 per page and see how it goes I think I may of been a bit higher than that

    Great info thanks lee

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