#81 | My 6 Worst Keyword Research Mistakes

Call me a nerd, but I bloody love keyword research.

It’s my strong suit.

And it’s a task I’ll never outsource to anyone else.

I’ve been doing keyword research most days for over 15 years now.

So I have a lot of golden nugs to share.

If I were money-savvy, I’d make a keyword research course.

But honestly,

1) I can’t be bothered

2) I want to help as many people as possible

So instead, I’m going to share my best keyword research tips for free in this newsletter.

This is the first email of the series, and I’d like to kick things off by listing the worst keyword research mistakes that I’ve made.

I wanna make sure you avoid these pitfalls, then in future emails, I’ll share some more juicy tactics that are working well for me.

For these examples, I’m going to pretend I have a site in the campervan niche. (Just because I’d bloody love a campervan if I had the time for one.)

Now, let’s get to the mistakes…

1. Not using a paid keyword research tool

Look, I used to be a big fan of Income School too.

So I know all the ‘free’ keyword research methods like typing ‘campervan a’, ‘campervan b’ into Google and seeing what comes up.

Email # 81

Not only are these suggestions absolute dogshit (I wouldn’t write articles based on any of them)

But when something’s free, all that means is you’re paying with your time instead of your money.

I don’t have time to spend hours doing something a robot could do in seconds, and neither do you.

And no, you shouldn’t be using ChatGPT for keyword research either!

You can get your KW research done for the price of two coffees per month, don’t be tight.

2. Paying too much for a keyword research tool

A good keyword research tool is like a treasure map for the internet.

But, most of them are waaaay overpriced.

Let’s say you make $1,000 per month from your site.

Should you spend 10% of that on a keyword research tool?

I don’t think so. That’s a HUGE chunk of your profits!

Look, I’m all for investing in your business,

But I just cancelled my ahrefs subscription because I found a cheaper option that works just as well for me.


Email # 81 (Cancel Ahref Subscription)

(Don’t tell anyone, but until June, I was using a friend’s login. Then ahrefs started requiring email verification each time so I had to buy my own.)

I was paying $99/month, plus 20% tax, so $118.80 per month for the ‘Lite’ version. Yikes.

I tried a few cheaper options, but I didn’t like them.

Another friend gave me their login for Ubersuggest so I could use that for free, but I didn’t persevere with it. Soz, Neil.

Then, I saw Mike from Niche Twins raving about KeySearch (which is $17 per month).

I found that KeySearch does pretty much everything that ahrefs used to do for me, as well as some cool things that it didn’t!

If you want to give KeySearch a try, then you can use code NICHESITELADY to get 30% off forever.

In my opinion, it’s the best-value keyword research tool by a mile. But don’t take my word for it.

3. Going after the wrong keywords

We all want those nice high-search/low-competition keywords – you already know that.

But, most high-search/low-competition KWs are still duds.

There’s way more to it.

For one, you have to think about the intention of the searcher.

Search Intent can be broken down into:

  • Informational – “Campervan travel tips”
  • Navigational – “VW campervan official website”
  • Transactional – “Buy used campervan”
  • Commercial investigation – “Best new campervans”
  • Local – “Campervan repair Chicago”

Most of us should only go for number 1 (monetised with display ads) and number 4 (monetised with affiliate).

But, even within those categories, there are a lot that I wouldn’t recommend going after.

For example…

Email # 81 (Serp Screenshot)

Here, Google gives the answer. There’s no need to click through to a website.

As Google SGE is used more and more, fewer people will visit websites to get answers to questions.

So now, I’m only writing informational articles if the answer is “it depends”.

And even then, I want to be able to add unique info that’s not on the web.

So, I’d write a post about “Are campers a lot of work?” and break down exactly how much work it is each month, based on the experiences of me and my campervan geek friends.

But, seeing as I don’t actually have a campervan (I did hire one once), there’s NO WAY I would try to enter this niche IRL.

4. Not including all the KW variations

A question I’m often asked is “what’s the lowest keyword volume you’ll go for”.

And there’s no quick answer for that.

  1. All of the KW tools underestimate, sometimes massively
  2. It depends how many KW variations there are

Let’s say I want to write about ‘How to install air conditioning in a camper van’

  • Instead of air conditioning, people may search for AC, air con, climate control, cooling system, HVAC, etc.
  • Instead of campervan, they may search for camper, RV, motorhome, etc.
  • Instead of install, they may search for set up, put in, fit, etc

When you add these up, it’s a lot!

You’ll want to cover all of these in your article.

You can add these after the fact, using your Google Search Console data, and Query Hunter is a great too to do that.

But ideally, you want to include them all from the get-go.

How do you make sure you covered them all?

I like to use the KeySearch Content Assistant because it analyses the first page of Google to find all the words you should use.

There aren’t just synonyms, but related words that will be helpful to include (like solar panels).

Email # 81 (Keysearch conent Assisstant sceenshot)

5. Not analysing the competition

If your strategy is bulk publishing, then fine, go for every keyword on your list.

But for anyone like me, who invests hundreds of dollars (or many hours) into each article, then it’s definitely worth taking a proper look at the competition before you start.

Most keyword research tools offer some kind of ‘keyword difficulty score’.

This can be handy to filter out keywords that are very hard to win.

But I really wouldn’t recommend relying on it without further analysis.

You can’t just sort your KW list from low to high difficulty and get cracking (unless you’re bulk publishing).

First (once you’ve established your KW isn’t a dud with point 3), you need to open up every site on the first page and make sure you’re confident that you can do a better job.

If you can’t, don’t invest your time or money into it!

Yesterday, I found a keyword where the same page ranks for the top 23 results.

Unless you want to rank number 24, don’t go for this keyword!

6. Not keeping lists

If you ever sit down at your computer and think “what should I write about today?” – you’re doing it wrong.

You need a list of keywords to investigate.

You need a list of keywords that are verified and ready to work on.

And, you need a list of briefs that have all the keywords included and are ready to write.

You can keep your lists in Google sheets, Trello, KeySearch, or anywhere you want…

But always, always, have a list!

I could continue with the mistakes I’ve made over the years, but I think this email is long enough for now.

I already have notes about loads more KW research tips I want to share with you.

But next week, my email will be all about Facebook.

I promised you this, so expect a deep dive…

See you next Tuesday for that one!

P.S. Don’t forget to use code NICHESITELADY if you want 30% off KeySearch.