7 Long-Tail Keyword Research Mistakes Beginners Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Congratulations on taking the first step towards SEO success! Keyword research is the foundation of any strong SEO strategy, and long-tail keywords are precious for beginners. They offer a targeted approach, allowing you to attract a specific audience with genuine interest in your niche. However, navigating the world of long-tail keywords can be tricky, especially for those starting out.

In this guide, we’ll unveil the seven most common long-tail keyword research mistakes beginners make and equip you with the knowledge to avoid them. By understanding these pitfalls, you can refine your research process and unlock the true potential of long-tail keywords for your website.

Mistake #1: Ignoring Search Intent

Search intent refer to the underlying reason behind a user search query. Are they looking for information, trying to compare products, or ready to purchase? Understanding this intent is crucial for crafting content that resonates with your target audience.

The Mistake: Beginners often focus solely on the keyword itself, neglecting its intent. Let’s say you run a website about vegan baking. Targeting the long-tail keyword “vegan chocolate chip cookies” might seem ideal. However, the user intent could be anything from finding a recipe to searching for nearby bakeries that sell vegan cookies.

The Fix: Before finalizing your keyword list, take a moment to analyze search intent. Here’s how:

  • Utilize Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs): Look at the top-ranking websites for your chosen keyword. What type of content do they offer? Are they recipes, product listings, or blog posts comparing different vegan cookie brands? This can give you valuable clues about user intent.
  • Consider the Keyword Funnel: Keywords can be categorized based on user intent. Informational keywords like “best vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe” indicate users are in the research phase. Transactional keywords with buying intent might be “vegan chocolate chip cookies near me.” Understanding the funnel helps you target keywords aligned with your content goals.

Mistake #2: Focusing Solely on Search Volume

Search volume represents the estimated number of times a specific keyword is searched for per month. While it’s a valuable metric, relying solely on it can be misleading for beginners.

Search Engine Optimization

The Mistake: Beginners might prioritize keywords with high search volume, assuming they’ll generate the most traffic. However, high-volume keywords often have fierce competition, making it difficult for new websites to rank on the first page of search results.

The Fix: Consider a balanced approach. While search volume is important, prioritize keywords with a decent search volume and lower competition. Tools like Google Keyword Planner or Semrush can provide insights into keyword difficulty alongside search volume. Additionally, explore long-tail keywords with lower search volume but higher conversion potential. These targeted keywords can attract users with a strong buying intent, leading to better conversions.

Mistake #3: Neglecting Keyword Competitiveness

Keyword competitiveness refers to the difficulty of ranking for a specific keyword on search engine results pages (SERPs). High competition usually indicates established websites dominate the top rankings, making it challenging for new players to break through.

The Mistake: Beginners might underestimate the level of competition for long-tail keywords. Even long-tail variations can have established websites vying for top positions.

The Fix:Analyze the competition for your chosen keywords. Tools like those mentioned earlier provide a competitive score, indicating how challenging it might be to rank for a particular keyword. While some competition is healthy, aim for keywords where you have a realistic chance of ranking on the first page.

Mistake #4: Ignoring Informational Keywords

While transactional keywords with buying intent are valuable, completely neglecting informational keywords is a mistake.

The Mistake: Beginners might prioritize keywords directly related to purchases, overlooking the power of informational content.

The Fix: Informational keywords serve several purposes. They help establish yourself as an authority in your niche, build trust with potential customers, and attract organic traffic. Users often research products or services before making a purchase. By providing informative content that addresses their questions and concerns, you position your website as a trusted resource, nudging them towards conversion down the line.

Here is a breakdown of the different types of keywords to consider:

  • Informational: These keywords focus on education and research (“best vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe”).
  • Transactional: These keywords indicate purchase intent (“buy vegan chocolate chip cookies online”).
  • Navigational: Users know exactly where they want to go (“vegan bakery near me”).

A well-rounded long-tail keyword strategy incorporates a mix of these types, catering to users at various stages of their buying journey.

Mistake #5: Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on your website compete for the same keyword, hindering your overall SEO performance.

The Mistake: Beginners might unknowingly create content targeting the same long-tail keyword, causing confusion for search engines and hindering your overall SEO performance. For instance, you might have separate blog posts about “vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes with nuts” and “vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes for beginners.” Both target variations of the same keyword.

The Fix: Implement a clear content strategy to avoid keyword cannibalization. Here’s how:

  • Conduct Keyword Research Thoroughly: Before creating content, ensure your chosen keywords don’t already have dedicated pages on your website. Utilize keyword research tools or a spreadsheet to organize your target keywords and their corresponding content.
  • Optimize Content for Different Nuances: If targeting similar keywords, ensure your content focuses on distinct aspects. For example, the “vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes with nuts” post could highlight nut-based variations and substitutions, while the “vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes for beginners” could focus on simple techniques and readily available ingredients.

Mistake #6: Neglecting Local SEO

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If your business caters to a local audience, neglecting local SEO is a significant oversight.

The Mistake: Beginners might focus solely on national keywords, overlooking the power of local long-tail variations.

The Fix: Incorporate location-specific keywords into your long-tail keyword research. Here are some examples:

  • Include your city or region: “vegan chocolate chip cookie bakery in [Your City]”
  • Target specific neighbourhoods: “best vegan chocolate chip cookies near [Neighbourhood Name]”
  • Utilize long-tail keywords with local intent: “vegan chocolate chip cookie delivery [Your City]”

By using local long-tail keywords, you increase your website’s visibility for users actively searching for products or services in your area.

Mistake #7: Not Reevaluating Your Keyword Strategy

The SEO landscape is constantly evolving, and user search habits can change over time. Sticking to a stagnant keyword list can hinder your long-term growth.

The Mistake: Beginners might create a set keyword list and neglect to revisit it periodically.

The Fix: Develop a habit of reevaluating your keyword strategy regularly. Here are some tips:

  • Monitor Search Trends: Utilize tools like Google Trends to identify any shifts in user search patterns. Are there new long-tail keywords gaining popularity that align with your niche?
  • Analyze Website Traffic: Look at your website analytics to see which long-tail keywords are driving the most traffic and conversions. Double down on these high-performing keywords and consider refining your content to further optimize their effectiveness.
  • Stay Updated on SEO Trends: Keep yourself informed about the latest SEO developments. Search engine algorithms and user behaviour can change, so staying updated ensures your keyword research and content strategy remain aligned with best practices.

By adopting a dynamic approach and continuously refining your keyword research, you can leverage the ever-evolving SEO landscape to your advantage.


Long-tail keywords are powerful tools for beginners venturing into the world of SEO. By avoiding these common mistakes and implementing the suggested strategies, you can refine your keyword research process, attract a targeted audience, and boost your website’s ranking and overall SEO success. Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient, consistent, and data-driven in your approach, and you’ll witness the long-term benefits of a well-executed long-tail keyword strategy.

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