9 times bad: Keyword research advice that sucks
Ian Lurie Sep 9 2011
There is some truly horrible keyword advice out there. If you run into any of these in a blog post or e-mail by an ‘expert’, move on. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t take any of their advice.
- “Buy a keyword-rich domain name.” Yep, that worked wonderfully in 2002. Keyword-rich domains have been faltering for years. Don’t spend 3 days researching, finding and then setting up a site for that perfect 100 character-long domain name. Instead, spend that time, I dunno, writing stuff? Getting links? Making friends on Twitter?
- “Use the keywords meta tag.” I. Weep. For. Us. All. There is so much evidence, including statements form the search engines themselves, that the keywords meta tag is worthless. So remove it. Don’t waste time on it.
- “Never go after keywords with less than 4,000 searches/month.” Um. Ever consider the long tail? How about business-to-business? If one conversion is worth $5000, and I can get 2000 visits per month from a single phrase, and convert 1% of those, that seems pretty damned good. Go after the keywords that work. Competition and alignment with customer desires should take precedence over search volumes.
- Related, but different: “Go after keywords that get the most searches.” Really? So, if I sell shoes, I should try to rank #1 for ‘shoes’, ‘cause yeah, *that’s going to happen*. I suggest targeting niche phrases first, checking opportunity gap, and making sure you have a prayer.
- “Automate it.” I understand the desire to automate keyword research. We automate as much of it as we can. But a few recent posts suggest you plug in automatic optimization tools that will go out, grab the ‘best’ phrases and then tweak your site for you. I’m opposed. You’re not selling to computers. So it pays to get a human involved before you embarrass yourself in front of customers.
- “Repeat the keyword on your page at least 3 times.” I won’t say a word. Just imagine what I’m thinking right now.
- “You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing).” From spam sent to us by a concerned citizen. I love that he managed to fit in ‘keyword density’ and ‘LSI’ in a single sentence.
- “Track rankings for thousands of keywords. That way, when some move up, you can show some wins.” And when 900 of them move down, you can look like an idiot. Plus, tracking rankings is a fast route to insanity. I’m already insane, so I’m good with it. But you should focus more on traffic and conversions.
- Vague vagaries of vagueness. More of a category than a statement, but I had to add this one, because several posts made statements like “brainstorm” and “select the keywords your audience uses”. MY GOD WHAT A GENIUS. How about advice that actually means something?
If you want some decent keyword advice:
CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie. Read More