Using the wrong keywords can get you in some hot SEO water. Here is what you can expect from poor keyword selection – and what to do about it.

Search Keywords – SEO Performance

How do your keywords affect SEO performance?

O.K., so maybe this blog starts out a little “gloom and doom,” but we feel this is a very important topic for those of you embarking on an SEO mission, and even for those who have been doing it for a while. We want to make sure you are set up for success, and your keywords have a lot to do with that.

When you are in charge of keyword research and selection for SEO-related projects, it can be tempting to choose keywords purely based on performance. You see a term with high search volume, and you run with it. Or, if you are doing more sophisticated analyses with KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index), perhaps you select keywords based on the highest percentages.

In essence, these are not bad practices, but what you may not be considering here is the other side of the equation: whether or not the keywords make sense for your copy.

Why Keywords Need Context

In order for SEO to work, your keywords need to apply to the content that is on the page. For example, if you have a website page about an educational software product, then you want to use keywords that reflect the product.

You might be tempted to use keywords like “computer” or “technology” because they have high search volumes and are marginally related. There are two issues with this:

• No context – You are not selling a computer nor are you educating people about the broad concept of technology. You are selling educational software, and your keywords should assist that initiative.
• Too much competition – These two keywords are so generic that your website page would likely never get high enough in search rankings to make a measurable difference.

An Even Bigger Issue with Wrong Keywords

When you choose keywords that are not directly related to on-page content, you are setting up your SEO to fail. Why? Because even if you generate clicks for your keywords, site visitors will see right away that your content does not match the keywords. And then they leave.

This hurts you in two ways:

• Bounce rate – An important part of SEO is keeping your bounce rate (the rate at which people leave your page) in check. If visitors see your page is not related to the keywords used, then you can expect a spike in bounce rate. This hurts SEO.
• Conversions – If part of your objective for doing SEO in the first place is to sell more products or services, then using the wrong keywords is not the way to do it. Even if you are able to keep visitors on the page longer, at some point they are going to realize your content is not delivering on the promise of its keywords. No sales for you.

If all of this is sounding familiar, then you may need to revisit your keyword research or conduct a new analysis. Doing so will help you discover keywords that have solid performance data and match your page content.

Once you have your new keywords, try plugging them in with your on-page content. Then, make sure you track analytics over time to see if these changes are doing their job to improve your SEO work.