How Important is Search Volume in Keyword Research?

Keyword search volume can be an extremely useful metric. It allows you to identify popular search terms and predict how much organic traffic you could bring to your site by ranking for certain keywords.

But without context or a deeper understanding, keyword search volumes can be misleading. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of targeting what seems like the ideal keyword, only for it to return minimal results.

That’s why we’ve set out some of the other factors you should consider when carrying out your keyword research.

Will this keyword bring value to our firm?

Before you focus in on a keyword, you should ask yourself whether it’s likely to bring the right audience to your website if you rank for it. For example, if you’re a firm specialising in personal injury, you would want to target specific keywords relevant to this area of law.

Broad terms like ‘lawyer’ may have a higher search volume and bring more traffic if you rank for them. But they could also increase your bounce rate as visitors to your site realise you don’t offer the legal services they’re looking for. Over time, this could lead to your site data becoming less meaningful.

For instance, if the ‘wrong type’ of traffic is increasing your bounce rate and therefore lowering conversions, it becomes more difficult to accurately evaluate your site’s performance and identify where changes should be made.

So although it’s tempting, we’d advise against targeting keywords simply because they have a high search volume. Consider whether they’re relevant to the services you provide and if they’re likely to add real value to your business.

How difficult is it to rank for this keyword?

Keyword difficulty is a metric that estimates how difficult it would be for you to rank on the first page of Google for any given keyword. This is important as it will provide a further indication as to whether you should focus your efforts on a particular search term.

There are more methods than one for working out a keyword’s difficulty score. But most will consider the authority of the top-ranking pages for the keyword in question, as well as how many sites are linking to them.

Generally, the higher the keyword difficulty, the more challenging it will be to rank on the first page of Google. So even if a keyword has a high search volume, it may not be worth investing your time to target it.

There are numerous keyword research tools that can work out keyword difficulty scores for you. Ahrefs and Semrush are good places to start, with Semrush providing a limited number of keywords’ difficulty rankings for free. But be aware that each platform may bring up a different score.

We’d recommend looking up how your chosen search engine optimisation (SEO) tool calculates keyword difficulty so that you can make a fully informed decision on which search terms to target.

Avoid relying on search volume alone

There’s no denying that search volume is an important metric when it comes to deciding which keywords to target with your online content. But in order for your keyword research to be truly effective, you should use this metric in conjunction with others.

As we’ve mentioned, there are multiple online keyword research tools that can provide you with the information you need to make well-informed SEO decisions. As well as search volume, they can often show you:

  • Clicks per search – provides an average of how many people are clicking onto a web result after searching a keyword
  • Potential traffic – shows the amount of traffic the top-ranking page for your chosen keyword is getting
  • Search engine results page (SERP) position – allows you to review where pages already ranking for a keyword are placed on Google’s results page

This guide has focused mainly on organic search volumes. But if you’re using paid search engine ads, the process of selecting keywords to target will be slightly different. Google Ads’ Keyword Planner can provide search volumes in Expert mode, helping you to decide which keywords to bid on.

You can find out more about the differences between organic and paid search in our Paid vs Organic Search resource guide.

Keyword research can be confusing, and it’s sometimes difficult to know whether you’re making the right decisions. To find out how we could give your marketing efforts a boost and help you to generate quality leads, get in touch.


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