Search quantity might be essentially the most often used metric in SEO. It helps us gauge the recognition of varied key phrases and predict the search visitors we could get from rating for them.

However all too usually, inexperienced SEOs take the key phrase search quantity metric at its face worth, which leads to poor advertising and marketing selections and waste of invaluable enterprise sources.

On this submit, we’re going to take a better have a look at the search quantity metric, clarify what it’s, the place it comes from, and the way it could typically lead you astray.

What’s key phrase search quantity?

Keyword search quantity is an SEO metric that tells you what number of occasions per thirty days, on common, a sure key phrase is looked for in a particular location. Most of the time, search quantity refers to the variety of searches in Google, however this metric also can refer to different search engines like google and yahoo too.

One necessary distinction to level out is that search quantity displays the variety of precise searches of a key phrase somewhat than the variety of distinctive individuals looking for it.

Thus, if a key phrase has a month-to-month search quantity of 100, these searches may have been carried out by 100 totally different individuals, or it may have been simply 10 individuals making 10 searches every.

That small clarification is simply the tip of the iceberg of all of the issues that folks usually get fallacious when analyzing the search quantity of a key phrase.

So let’s focus on 5 extra belongings you want to know so as to make higher use of this metric.

1. Search quantity numbers are annual averages

Most SEO instruments report search quantity as an annual common. 

It’s not a giant deal for search queries which have a comparatively constant search demand all year long. However it may be fairly deceptive for seasonal search queries or scorching tendencies.

Let’s evaluate the search quantity tendencies of the next two key phrases: “content marketing” and “NFT.”

'Content marketing' search volume via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

The key phrase “content marketing” has been hovering between 12k and 17k searches a month in the midst of the yr. So its annual common of 16k is an inexpensive prediction of the search quantity that it’s doubtless to get within the months to come.

'NFT' search volume via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

It’s a wholly totally different story for the key phrase “NFT,” although. In the midst of one yr, it went from virtually nothing to a whopping 2.3 million searches in March. Then it dropped to 374k in June and went up to 952k in August.

In different phrases, it’s fairly laborious to predict how its search quantity goes to fluctuate within the coming months and the place it would finally settle as soon as the craze over NFTs subsides.

What I need to illustrate with these two examples is that search volumes may be fairly unstable. And the 12-month common quantity that SEO instruments report could not completely match the month-to-month search quantity of that key phrase by the point you rank for it. 

2. Not all searches lead to clicks

The truth that individuals seek for one thing doesn’t essentially imply they’re going to click on on any of the search outcomes.

In truth, Google’s purpose is to fulfill its customers proper there after which with out having them “waste time” clicking on any of the search outcomes. In accordance to a latest research, two-thirds of Google searches in 2020 ended with no click on.

Two-thirds of Google searches in 2020 ended with no click on. 

For instance, the key phrase “elon musk age” will get 37k searches per thirty days (on common). However the variety of clicks on the search outcomes (in accordance to Ahrefs) is simply 6.3k.

'Elon Musk age' search volume via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

That occurs as a result of Google offers an prompt reply to that query, dissuading customers from clicking on any of the search outcomes:

'Elon musk age' instant answer in Google search

So if a search question has a big search quantity, it doesn’t essentially imply that it’s going to deliver you a number of search visitors. Google could merely show the reply proper in its search outcomes.

3. Advertisers could steal your clicks

There’s one different factor which will steal these valuable clicks away from you: Google Adverts.

As of as we speak, Google shows up to 4 paid search listings above the natural search outcomes. And in the event you hint the visible historical past of those paid placements, it turns into painfully apparent Google is making an attempt to make these advertisements practically indistinguishable from the natural search outcomes.

It additionally tends to embellish these advertisements with photographs and sitelinks to maximize the true property they occupy and push the natural search outcomes additional down under.

In different phrases, rating on the high for some common key phrase not ensures that you just’re going to get a number of clicks from it.

Even in the event you examine the search outcomes for the key phrase you need to rank for and there are not any advertisements there, there’s no assure advertisements received’t seem sooner or later. In truth, by rating on the high for a key phrase, you’re pushing the pages of your opponents down under and leaving them with out search visitors; this will very nicely provoke them to begin working advertisements. 

4. Search volumes aren’t very correct

Google Keyword Planner is broadly considered the most effective supply of key phrase search quantity information, because it comes straight from Google itself. And it’s not a secret the overwhelming majority of SEO instruments pull their key phrase search volumes from GKP.

However how correct are the search quantity numbers in GKP?

Properly, there’s one supply of knowledge that’s universally deemed the “single source of truth” when it comes to search volumes: Google Search Console.

In case your web site constantly ranks on the high of Google for a sure key phrase, the variety of “impressions” your web page will get for that key phrase shall be its precise search quantity.

Because of this we will simply research the accuracy of search volumes in GKP if we evaluate the search volumes with the precise impressions of the identical key phrases from GSC.

And that’s precisely what we did in our latest experiment.

Study results showing that Google Keyword Planner drastically overestimates search volumes in the majority of cases

It turned out that the search volumes in GKP had been “roughly accurate” in simply 45% of circumstances. In the remainder of the circumstances, GKP search volumes deviated from GSC impressions by a pretty big margin.

In different phrases, it’s fairly a stretch to name the search volumes in GKP “accurate.” And we will’t even criticize GKP for this, as it’s a device for advertisers, not SEOs. 

GKP tends to mix search queries with related that means collectively in a single group with out an possibility to see a definite search quantity for every of these queries. That is fairly useful for advertisers however could be a actual headache for SEOs.

For instance, the next six key phrases will all be blended into one:

  • laptop video games free obtain
  • free laptop video games obtain
  • free video games obtain for laptop
  • obtain free video games for laptop
  • free laptop sport downloads
  • obtain laptop video games free
  • free video games to obtain for laptop
Keyword grouping in Keyword Planner

And most SEO instruments will mimic this conduct as a result of they (allegedly) take their search volumes from GKP. So they are going to show the identical search quantity for every of those key phrase variations.

However right here at Ahrefs, we combine a couple of different information sources into our search quantity estimates (together with a couple of years of historic clickstream information), which permits us to “un-group” lots of such key phrase clusters and show a definite search quantity for every particular person key phrase:

Keyword groupings in Ahrefs vs Semrush

This un-grouping makes Ahrefs’ search volumes a bit extra correct than these of GKP. And but our search volumes are nonetheless simply estimations somewhat than precise values that lots of our customers will love to see.

5. Larger key phrase search quantity ≠ extra visitors

The first use case of the key phrase search quantity metric in SEO is to estimate the potential natural search visitors that your web page could get if it ranks for the key phrase, proper?

Properly, let’s have a look at the next two key phrases:

If we evaluate their International (i.e., worldwide) search quantity, the key phrase “local SEO” appears to be 27 occasions extra common than the key phrase “submit website to search engines.”

So does this imply that the #1 rating web page for “local SEO” ought to get vastly extra search visitors than the #1 rating web page for “submit website to search engines?” 

Let’s examine that in Ahrefs’ Website Explorer:

Estimated monthly search traffic to the top-ranking page for 'local seo'
Estimated monthly search traffic to the top-ranking page for 'submit website to search engines'

It seems our assumption is totally fallacious. The highest-ranking web page for a 27 occasions much less common key phrase appears to be getting two occasions extra search visitors.

How come?

Properly, this occurs as a result of pages don’t simply rank for a single key phrase. Should you look attentively on the two screenshots above, you’ll see that the top-ranking web page for “local SEO” is rating in Google for 311 key phrases (search for the “Organic keywords” tile), with eight of them rating within the high 3 positions.

As for the #1 web page for “submit website to search engines,” it ranks in Google for a complete of 1,400 key phrases, with 201 of them rating within the high 3 positions.

Listed below are a few of these key phrases:

Keyword rankings for the top-ranking page for 'submit website to search engines'

No matter search question you take into consideration, totally different individuals will phrase it otherwise. However Google is sensible sufficient to perceive that every one these individuals are principally on the lookout for the identical factor. It, subsequently, ranks the identical web page for all these search question variations.

We studied this “phenomenon” again within the day, and it turned out the common top-ranking web page would additionally rank for a few thousand related key phrases.

This implies that you would be able to’t blindly depend on the search quantity of particular person key phrases when estimating their search visitors potential. What you want to do as an alternative is look at the top-ranking pages and see how a lot search visitors they get in complete from all of the key phrases they rank for.

Right here at Ahrefs, we obtained so enamored with this idea that now we have created a singular metric referred to as Visitors potential:

Search volume vs traffic potential for the keyword 'submit website to search engines'

For any key phrase that you just see in Key phrases Explorer, we pull the top-ranking web page and lookup how a lot complete search visitors it will get from all of the key phrase variations that it ranks for in Google. That worth turns into the Visitors potential of that key phrase.

Right here in Ahrefs’ content material advertising and marketing staff, we’ve been doing that manually for fairly a couple of years, and it has helped us rather a lot in choosing the proper subjects to goal. However now this metric is lastly added to Key phrases Explorer for everybody to use.

Last ideas

So these are the 5 predominant issues that rookie SEOs usually overlook after they cope with the key phrase search quantity metric.

Now that you just’re armed with this information, I’m certain you’ll not deal with the search quantity metric at its face worth, which ought to vastly enhance the standard of your SEO selections.

And there’s one very last thing I need to point out. It appears a bit too apparent to put it within the physique of this submit, however it’ll really feel sort of incomplete with out it:

By no means choose key phrases primarily based on their search quantity alone.

There’s a lot extra to key phrase analysis than merely on the lookout for key phrases with the most important search quantity.

Listed below are another questions to take into account: 

  • Would this key phrase deliver worth to my enterprise?
  • Would this key phrase lead to any gross sales?
  • Would I have the ability to beat the top-ranking pages for this key phrase?
  • What wouldn’t it take to rank for this key phrase?

At all times maintain these questions in thoughts when selecting what key phrases to go for.