Search Engine Optimization

5 International Keyword Research Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

Editor’s note: This is a guest contribution by Udo Leinhäuser from

Want to expand into new markets? Then you’ll want to keep these international keyword research mistakes in mind.

Your website acts as the storefront to your customers in different markets around the globe. What works in one market may completely backfire in another.

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Website localization that is built on cultural insights and a deep understanding of a local markets search habits needs to be brought under the spotlight here. This key concept acts as the core of keyword research in your international SEO strategy.

And that brings us back to our original question – is your business making these 5 keyword research mistakes while entering a new market?

International Keyword Research Mistakes

1. Aiming too high

Very often, we see smaller websites that are still building up their authority by targeting keywords which are way too competitive in comparison to their domain authority.

The focus should clearly be on finding keywords that a business can actually rank for, keeping a safe distance from highly competitive topics or keywords. Low competition, high volume keywords wins with a clear majority here!

Also, it is worth mentioning here that most likely you will be pitted against the big players in your industry with very high domain authority. These are the sites that can pretty easily rank for highly competitive keywords. Faced with such tough competition, smaller websites need to think out of the box to gain traction.

The way out? Spend your time and efforts to find out the low competition, high volume keywords and put a content strategy that is centered around them. Professional tools like Long Tail Pro can give you a clear indication of what is possible or not.

2. Mixing up LSI keywords with the most important keywords on most of the pages erratically

Sometimes we hear our customers say that they are very proud of using the most important keywords on any occasion in their website in order to send Google the right “signals”.

This tactic is probably more confusing to search engines than anything because the search engines won’t know which page should rank for which keywords.

Needless to add, you also risk being seen by Google as providing a poor user experience with an overuse of the keywords. Yes, you heard us right…over-optimization of keywords can be a cause of concern and can actually lead to a lower search engine ranking!

You should optimize every page for one single keyword instead by using LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords. These are supporting keywords that give search engines a clear indication of what this page is all about, e.g. when writing about ice cream, you might need to talk about milk, cream, chocolate, vanilla, waffles, etc.

In a nutshell, the focus should always be on the user experience. If you get this right, a lot of the other things will start falling into place eventually.

3. Keyword translation

If your business operates in different markets, it is essential to understand the nuances of culture and language in order to get your message right.

When it comes to international keyword research, it’s also important to understand that the way people search for products or information online differs from country to country.

Even though many of us think of Google is synonymous with search engines, that’s clearly not the case across all geographies. Yandex takes the lead in Russia and China, the online marketing giant, relies on Baidu as the most preferred search engine. What works in one market can actually give zero results in the other.

Never ever just translate keywords if you have to research for several markets. Cultural and linguistic insights are required in order to know how users are searching in various markets. In fact, even within the same language, users in Spain will show different search behaviour than users in Chile.

4. Not matching the keyword with the searcher’s intent

A content strategy that is centred around a user’s intent behind international keyword research should be the focus here. One must have clarity about the intent behind a target keyword in order to place their SEO game on the right track.

One point to note here is you should not just work towards getting a keyword to rank high. Instead, the focus should be on getting a higher rate of conversions from your users. Having the right kind of content for the target keywords can simplify this process for you to a large extent.

It is always a good idea to put in your target keyword into the search bar and check the results the search engine throws back at you. This will give you a clear indication of the search intent behind any particular keyword, as seen by the search engine.

Always make sure that you match the searcher’s intent with the keyword. Optimizing a page for “usb stick shop” already has a clear intent. Therefore optimizing an informative page for this keyword is not ideal. In fact, it is a lost sales opportunity!

5. Dismissing Long-Tail Keywords

Dominating the search traffic and overtaking your competition on your mind? You can’t risk ignoring the long-tail keywords!

Long-tail keywords may have a lower search volume but they usually have a higher conversion value. Placing our bets on long-tail keywords can be a great SEO strategy.

Remember, it’s easier to rank for these keywords than the ones that are used more commonly. And if you rank well for one long-tail keyword, it will be easier to rank for a very similar one as well. In the end, these smaller search volumes can add up to a substantial traffic source in the long run.

To conclude, finding success with your SEO efforts requires a holistic approach and a long-term view. Working on your content strategy that is aligned with the core keyword research principles is definitely a great way to get started and move up your search rankings.

About the author

Udo Leinhäuser is an International search engine optimization specialist, translator, author and pilot with 20 years’ experience in the language services industry. As the founder of, Udo has extensive experience in the field of International SEO and has shown in numerous large-scale projects that successful International SEO is derived to a large extent from linguistic and intercultural competence.

Editorial Team

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