The secret to success in the new year may lie in divining the right keywords. As Christine Churchill says at Search Engine Land, the words you buy in pay-per-click, the terms you target for organic, the phrases you focus on in your images and videos, all depend on making good keyword choices up front. Yet, "the process of identifying keywords is wrought with pitfalls," she says. She identifies a few common mistakes companies make, and offers some advice:

Targeting keywords that people never use. Don't use insider jargon or off-the-wall phrases.

Confusing keyword popularity with keyword appropriateness. "Pursue more focused, more relevant terms that are less popular," says Churchill. "They're better choices because they convert better."

Not considering user intent in keyword selection. Selecting good keywords requires the ability to get inside the mind of users to learn what they wanted when they entered the phrase.

Selecting single-word keywords. They tend to be overly broad and too competitive, and don't perform well.

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