Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on January 25th, 2010

Keyword Selection Mistakes to Avoid

When you are building the foundation of your SEO campaign, the choice of keywords you want to target for your rankings is one of the most important decisions you will make. If you choose the wrong keywords, there may never be hope for results. No matter if you are doing all the work yourself or if you’ve hired an SEO firm to do it for you – getting even the best results from the wrong keyword will bring you less than expected traffic.

Throughout the lifespan of Volacci, our IMCs have seen SEO campaigns barely able to limp into our offices for help after being devastated by bad keyword research or decision making. Learn from the misfortune of others and avoid these five mistakes in keyword selection:

Mistake #1 – Choosing Overly Competitive Keywords

It isn’t entirely impossible to rank for the word “football”, but that is about as close as you can get. There are absolute monster sites that are competing for these obvious keywords and terms. It will not only be extremely difficult, but easily take years to even appear in the top few pages of Google on a small budget. Unless you have mountains of disposable cash to burn, it is seemingly impossible to jump over a site like,, and, of course, the Dallas Cowboys... (insert Dallas Cowboys joke here)

When doing keyword research, don’t just look at numbers of searches, look at difficulty as well. If the keyword is overly competitive, find something that is a bit longer. When you last typed in ‘football’ in search, you probably were a little bit more specific: “football NFL results” to see who won the Conference Championships last night (Saints and Colts). Remember, it doesn’t always matter how many visitors come from a keyword you rank for – it’s how many visitors convert via sign-up, sale, or subscription.

Mistake #2 – Choosing Overly Easy Keywords

There are some people how completely ‘get’ mistake #1, then choose keywords that are too easy, thinking they’ve got it made. This is a totally different type of wrong, but still wrong. It IS true that you want to target keywords that are attainable with ranking, but only targeting the very easiest keywords will not fit into a well-built SEO strategy. There IS a reason why no one is ranking for these keywords and most paths to the answer lead to the same conclusion.

This is one of the many reasons why SEO ‘ain’t easy’, sipping on gin and juice. It’s hard to find a low-traffic, but highly-targeted keyword that generates traffic. But they exist, and they are worth the effort. Easier keywords typically bring less targeted traffic your way, while striking the perfect balance between the difficulty of a keyword and the amount of traffic it brings is money... in more ways than one.

Mistake #3 – Choosing Irrelevant Keywords

There are several ways to choose irrelevant keywords that may appear, at first, to be great keyword selections. You could choose a keyword that illustrates what you have to offer, but doesn’t address the targeted audience. You could also choose a keyword that drives your peers to your site, but not your potential customers and current clients. The most deceptive mistake is when you choose a word that has two different meanings, with either one or both meanings having nothing to do with your targeted audience.

First, think like your targeted audience. What need does your product address? How would your prospective customers phrase their searches? What other sites pop up with these phrases, and how is your product better than theirs? Conduct these searches during your research, interview a few of your potential customers, and incorporate your findings into your keyword research.

In the end, the right keyword(s) bring the right traffic to your site. It is absolutely critical to the foundation of any SEO campaign and organic search efforts. Your campaign’s success is directly related to what keywords you choose, and bad decision-making will only cause you a domino effect of bad results.

Keyword research is one of Volacci’s many passions. Our IMCs go to great efforts for every one of our clients in choosing the perfect keywords for their campaigns. If you or someone you know is struggling with keyword research or has been burned by an SEO firm via bad keyword selection, stop the bleeding immediately and call us now!