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Are Important Keywords Limiting Your SEO Success?

Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Keyword Research

One of the easiest traps to fall into when measuring your SEO success is to start siloing your results. It’s especially easy to do this when you only care about how a short list of keywords, even if they are the most important keywords for your business, performs. I had an SEO client that fell into this habit and each month, no matter what the other numbers looked like, it all came down to this list of 20 or so keywords. If those keywords hadn’t made much progress than our SEO efforts were falling short. Never mind the fact that we were keeping tabs on another 300 or long tail and variations of their most important keywords, a lot of which were doing really well! It was these important keywords or bust.

While I can understand where my client was coming from, by worrying so much about their important keywords (which I think were determined by someone way up the food chain long before we ever started working with them) they lost site of the bigger picture and didn’t realize that our SEO efforts were actually having a positive impact on their site. Admittedly their site was getting fewer visitors in the initial months but it actually had a better conversion rate because we removed incredibly broad keywords like “business” and “software” from the rotation and started focusing our efforts on much more specific and actionable keywords. More visitors are great, but more targeted visitors are even better! Some of their most important keywords were incredibly broad and heavily influenced by user-intent, so even traffic they were getting from these keywords wasn’t always the best.

Another point I had to make to my client was that their most important keywords were scattered across a variety of verticals and an outside SEO company can only do so much work at a time! With 20 different keywords and hundreds of long tail variations to work into our link building and content marketing efforts it takes a long time to make any real headway with any one niche they operated in. We could spend a month building links using one chunk of keywords but then not do anything with those important keywords for several months as we tried to work the rest of their keywords into our SEO efforts. Ever since the Penguin update went live it’s been more important than ever to keep you link building and anchor text usage looking as naturally as possible. With so many keywords to work with we couldn’t focus too hard on any one given keyword for too long without risking a red flag. Since they were doing little internal link building we could only tackle so many keywords at a time.

Every business has a list of core keywords that best describe their business and products, and chances are the lion’s share of your visitors comes from these keywords. But that doesn’t mean you should only worry about your most important keywords! The long tail variations of those keywords might send less traffic to your site but chances are it will be much more targeted and those visitors will be further along in their buying cycle, making them that much easier to convert. If you only worry about your most important keywords you are missing a lot of opportunity.

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