Are you using keyword search volume as part of your SEO strategy? You should be. However, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about Google’s keyword search volume. In this guide, we’ll separate the truth from the myths.
Search volume is among the most important measures for SEO tactics, and it’s one of the most commonly used, too. Some businesses build their concept around a single Google search term and have found a lot of success that way.
However, new keyword research tools have recently entered the market to meet this demand. You might notice that different search volumes crop up, depending on what tools you use. And, most importantly, those tools often show totally different numbers from Google Keyword Planner.
Are these tools accurate? What other information might you be missing? We’ll break it all down right here – keep reading to learn more.
What is Keyword Search Volume?
Keyword search volume measures how frequently people search for a given keyword. When you find a keyword that more people are searching for, you’ll want to target content to that term, since that makes it more likely that those searchers will find your site.
How Keyword Tools Get Search Volume Data
When you’re trying to figure out what keywords to rank for, keyword search tools become your best friend. But where do they get their information from – and how do you know it’s accurate?
Most of these tools use the above-mentioned Google Keyword Planner to get their data. They might either pull information from that service directly or use other tools that scrape and re-sell the data.
With every tool using the same source, how come different tools will show different search volumes? And how is it possible that their results don’t match Google’s when that’s where they get the information from?
First, you’ll need to know where Google gets its numbers from. The Google Keyword Planner number is actually a rounded yearly average, which gets recalculated each month.
As a search term decreases in popularity, the annual average will gradually start to go down, month by month. Any keyword search tool using Google Keyword Planner to get its numbers will need to update its own numbers each month to give you more accurate data, coming from Google.
However, these tools often have millions or billions of keywords in their databases, so these frequent updates become very difficult. That’s why each search tool has differing numbers – they don’t update the numbers as frequently as they’d need to for the results to be accurate according to Google. It’s just too much work for too many keywords.
Is the Adwords Search Volume Accurate?
If your keyword tool showed the same numbers that Google Adwords did, you’d probably be satisfied with that. However, many industry professionals now question the data coming from Google, too.
How does Google put together its numbers, anyway? Let’s take a closer look.
Google’s annual average is an interesting piece of the keyword puzzle.
For example, take a seasonal keyword like “Halloween.” Google will likely show a very high search volume for the term. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that in the annual trends the search volume for most of the year is low. But as October approaches, the search volume will peak.
With so many variables, how useful can an annual average really be? This is a pretty extreme example, but it shows a common problem that can through Google’s data off. Few search queries have a search volume that stays consistent throughout the year. The annual average can hide numbers that vary greatly from month to month.
The annual average isn’t just an average – it’s also rounded off into buckets. This throws the average numbers off even further.
Variant Search Terms
As you work keyword optimization into your SEO strategy, you’ll quickly become aware of the importance of variant search terms. “Search engine optimization” and “search engine optimization” are close variants of the same term, but they’re recognizably different. One is likely typed by an American, while the other might come from someone in England.
However, if you type these two terms into Google Keyword Planner, it will combine them into one keyword. There’s surely a difference in popularity between the two terms, but you won’t be able to find out what it is using Google. This is important if you’re trying to rank organically since there might be a big difference between the terms.
If someone is advertising using Adwords, they won’t care about the differences in terms, since their ad will show on top no matter what. Google Keyword Planner makes life easy for advertisers, but not for people trying to rank organically.
Using Google Keyword Planner Strategically
Although the keyword volume from Google isn’t quite accurate, many people still rely on it. However, there are other hidden tools you can use to boost your SEO game.
A different tool, called Performance Forecasts, might help you out. To find it, put some search queries in your plan, then click on “Review plan.” From there, you can get “impressions” data for your keywords, which gives you information for the close variants that you couldn’t see before, too. The impressions numbers will differ from the search volume numbers, giving you a clearer picture.
Google is gradually getting better at seeing and interpreting the different search queries that people enter. This is increasing the value of long-tail keywords, and rendering single words less relevant.
This means that no matter what Google Keyword Planner shows, you should work on creating an SEO strategy based on topics, not individual search terms.
Ready to Refine Your SEO Strategy?
Keyword search volume remains an important part of SEO. However, it’s more important than ever to understand how to use the numbers you see in order to build a winning strategy. Even Google doesn’t tell the whole story.
In addition to keywords, you’ll also need backlinks to drive traffic to your site. Learn more about how to get links here.