"Doing keyword research is like being a detective: you're always searching for those tiny but valuable clues that decide the fate and future of a case you are handling," writes Lior Levin in an article at MarketingProfs.

If you're serious about words like sales, profits, and conversions, Levin argues, your research will require the nuanced investigative finesse to avoid common pitfalls like these:

Targeting keywords based on market research. Your data may tell you customers want 'blue sportswear for men,' but that doesn't mean they'll use that phrase in online searches. Never "prejudge and arrive at a decision from your perspective," Levin warns. Instead, study analytics to see which keywords bring customers to your site, and try methods like an online poll that asks visitors to type the name of products they like.

Failing to respect the competition. Choosing keywords on the basis of their popularity is a good way to get lost in the crowd. "If you are targeting a very popular keyword, you have to cut through enormous competition," notes Levin. "And that competition will most likely increase over time." Instead, start small. Choose keywords with less competition and build a strong platform for future success with more competitive terms.

Prioritizing single-word keywords over phrases. "Web users are more search-savvy by the day, and webmasters are seeing many more variations and combinations of central keywords." In other words, even novice Internet users quickly realize that single-word searches often return an unfocused mess of results.

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