website keywords

Why Search Volume Is Important for Finding the Best Website Keywords for SEO

Collectively, humans search Google a staggering 40,000 times per second.

But not all searches are created equal.

Some keywords, such as “how to dispose of a dead body,” are rarely used (or so we hope).

While others, such as “cash me outside meme” were–at least for a brief period–among the most popular on Earth (thankfully that fad has since resided).

Known as “keyword search volume,” understanding this metric is a crucial part of any SEO strategy.

Without it, you’d be taking a stab in the dark when deciding which website keywords to target.

Let’s take a look at the more delicate details.

What Exactly Is Keyword Search Volume?

The term refers to the number of time users, either internationally or within a particular country, type a specific keyword or set of keywords into Google.

The metric is typically averaged out within a specific timeframe to provide an overarching view of its competitiveness.

However, sometimes you need to dig deeper by analyzing when certain keywords are most popular. We refer to this as seasonality.

What’s the Deal with Seasonality?

Searches for “Christmas gifts” pick up in December, while “Christmas in July” is popular in–you guessed it–July. Other common examples of seasonality include “ski” during the winter and “surf” during the summer.

Keywords that aren’t affected by the seasons are known as evergreens, in reference to those resilient trees which never lose their leaves.

In short, don’t bother targeting keywords outside of the correct season.

Why Is Keyword Research Volume Important?

The metric is a cornerstone of SEO keyword research because it gives digital marketers an indication of which keywords are target-worthy and which are not.

For the most part, keywords with a low search volume are unlikely to yield much organic traffic to your site. After all, if hardly anyone is searching for a particular term, then very few people will stumble across your web page through it.

Conversely, keywords with a tremendous search volume may well be too competitive. Good luck getting “cash me outside” onto the front page in January 2017, for example.

Ideally, you want to aim somewhere in-between.

How Can I Conduct Keyword Volume Research?

Thankfully, there are a number of great tools at your disposal, and some of them won’t cost you a dime.

Consider the following organic keyword research tools.

Moz Keyword Explorer

We’re sure you’ve heard of Moz by now. Not only do they run one of the most authoritative SEO blogs on the web, but they’ve also created a few fantastic applications including the Keyword Explorer.

Bundled into the program is essential data such as competitiveness (A.K.A difficulty), a list of related keywords, and in-depth SERP analysis. Users can check out page and authority rankings too.

The lite version is free, while the pro model provides additional features.

SEM Rush

This comprehensive keyword research tool includes a nifty little plugin for keyword research volume. Users can access a graph which clearly shows average search volume, competitiveness, and any changes over time.

Much like Moz, related phrases are included, and the basic service is free.

Google Trends

It may not be as comprehensive as the two above options, but Google Trends is worth having in your SEO arsenal nonetheless.

Specifically, it gives an excellent analysis of popularity within certain geographic zones as well as how keyword volume grows and declines in a set timeframe.

Rather than relying on this completely, Google Trends is best used to complement your other keyword research applications.

What Keyword Search Volume Should I Target?

The answer is 42.

Well, not really. Keyword research isn’t a Douglas Adams novel, unfortunately.

The reality is there’s no hard and fast rule. The ideal search volume for you ultimately depends on your niche, how much money you have to spend on SEO, and how established your site already is.

The aim of the game is to weigh up competitiveness and volume with the authority of your site.

Newcomer sites with low authority are better off targeting lower volume searches. Find these by using the related keyword tools on the programs mentioned above.

On the other hand, well-established high authority sites could jump straight into the deep end and do battle for the best keywords.

Having a sizable budget combined with a solid SEO strategy can considerably help a low authority site rank for a more competitive keyword.

What’s the Deal with Domain Authority?

The metric essentially refers to how highly Google values your site.

Sadly for us, Google is notoriously tight-lipped on how it gauges authority. We do, however, have a basic understanding of the concept.

Building authority up requires external links from other authoritative sites. Don’t bother with random no-name WordPress domains as these will hardly make a dent on your link profile.

The other key strategy is to write killer content. Again, we’re not exactly sure how, but Google is getting frighteningly efficient at detecting what content is useful for the user and what is meaningless fluff.

As your authority score builds over time, you’ll be better equipped to start pursuing those high search volume keywords.

Can I Ignore Search Volume Research and Choose My Own Website Keywords?

You rebel. We like your style.

The good news is that in certain situations you can; either you’re an expert in your niche or the term has strong buying intent.

An Expert in a Niche

If you’ve been writing about a specific subject for years and have built up a following, it sometimes pays to target low volume keywords.

By doing so, you can gradually build up rapport with your readers who appreciate information about an obscure topic. Furthermore, it’ll help develop authority and rankings for related keywords within your niche.

Strong Buying Intent

Let’s say you sell surf vacations in Bolivia. If “book a surf holiday in Bolivia” only receives a small number of searches each month, you might as well target it anyway.


Because that person has their credit card reared and ready to go. This is called strong buying intent.

(Not to mention the fact Bolivia is a landlocked nation).

The Takeaway

Hopefully, by now you’ve got a pretty good understanding of how to undertake volume research to determine your website keywords.

One final note, if you’ve got a niche business which would benefit from targeting low difficulty long-tail keywords, the above tools may not be the best option for you. Instead, give SEMScoop keyword tool a try instead, which is custom built for this specific task and works like a charm.

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