I recently hosted an SEO training, and at the end our client said “I would have gone after the highest volume term, but now I know to go after a keyword that is more relevant.” And it made me think back to when I first started doing keyword research years ago and how my strategy has evolved to be more well-rounded.
What do I mean by highest search volume?
Search volume is the average number of users searching on Google for a particular term or phrase in a month. Search volume numbers are rounded, so don’t get too attached to the exact number, but by using tools like Keyword Planner to pull search volume you can easily see if a keyword will have 100 searches a month, or 10,000.
Search volume is a great way to discover if people are searching for a keyword, or if that phrase is something no one is looking for. So, don’t get me wrong, it is super useful to look at when doing keyword research, but it is not the only thing you should be looking at.
By highest search volume, I mean the keyword with 10,000 searches. Maybe that term is getting a lot of searches per month, but maybe all of those users are looking for something completely different.
For example, if you sell high-end, reusable water bottles and “water bottle” has 110,000 searches a month, you might want to go after a term that is more relevant, like “reusable water bottle” that only has 5,400 searches a month instead.
And here is why:
- Less competition, so you have a better chance at ranking
- The longer phrase is more qualified and relevant for what you are selling
- The phrase has search volume, people looking for what you are offering
By using a slightly lower search volume term, you have more qualified traffic and a better ability to rank to begin with.
Why shouldn’t you always target the keyword with the highest search volume?
It’s counter intuitive to not go after the highest search volume term, if you’re looking at keyword research from one angle—volume. But if you are looking at keyword research holistically, taking into account relevancy, competitors, current search results, then it is more apparent why the highest volume term is not always the best to target.
Also, I’ve seen keywords that have a huge search volume, but when you type that phrase into Google, users are looking for a completely different product, service, or website and it would not be a good keyword for us to target. So, knowing the user intent is key. And the easiest way to figure that out is to type the phrase into Google and see what is showing up.
By going the extra step beyond search volume, you can attract more qualified traffic to your website. Keyword research is still critical to SEO success, and your strategy will evolve the more you research what terms you want to rank for and how to use them on your website.
Assignment: Pick a keyword that you want to rank for. Type 3-4 variations of this term into Keyword Planner and pull search volume (play around with adding words around your main keyword that are relevant to your website). Type your 3-4 keyword that have search volume into Google and see which is most relevant to your website.
Now that you have your keywords, the next step is to optimize your pages/website to target those terms.