Search Volume: Keyword Guide with SEO Best Practices




Updated 2/16/2024

Learn about search volume and what it means for SEO. Find tools and strategies for keyword research that use search volume to make decisions.

search volume featured image - magnifying glass and volume knob

Search volume is an essential keyword research metric. It measures how often searchers use certain queries, which is foundational for search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. This guide walks through the basics of search volume and how to consider it during keyword research.

What is Search Volume?

Search volume refers to the number of times a specific keyword or phrase has been searched for on search engines within a specific period, usually monthly.

It’s an essential factor to consider in SEO as it estimates the potential traffic a keyword can generate. Higher search volumes generally indicate higher user interest in a specific topic or keyword.


Let’s use Ahrefs to look at the basic metrics of a keyword, “plant store”:

The search volume is 7,400. That means users searched “plant store” an average of 7.4K times a month over the past year, according to Ahrefs’ data.

Know that this number is the volume for searches in the United States. The global volume, seen above on the right, is 14K, with various volumes in different locations.

Why is Search Volume Important?

Here are some common uses for search volume:

  • Keyword Selection: It helps you determine the best keywords to use based on the interest they are garnering online. This can be particularly useful when creating new content, optimizing existing content, or when planning a digital marketing strategy.
  • Search Trends: By monitoring changes in search volume, you can understand the evolving trends in your industry or niche. This information can guide your content creation strategy, ensuring that your content remains relevant and valuable to your audience.
  • Predicting Traffic: High-volume keywords can potentially generate more traffic. However, remember that high volume doesn’t always translate into high traffic due to the keyword’s competitiveness.

How to Find Search Volume

Several tools can help you determine volume and other useful metrics:

  • Ahrefs: This paid tool provides similar data, including search volume, keyword difficulty, and keyword suggestions. It also has a feature called “clicks” that shows whether searchers generally click on the results for a particular keyword.
  • Semrush: This is a paid tool that provides comprehensive keyword data, including search volume, keyword difficulty, and more. It also offers additional SEO features that can help optimize your website.
  • Moz Pro: This is a powerful keyword reporting tool and SEO suite. Provides detailed, accurate data that’s easy to understand and use for action plans.
  • Google Keyword Planner: Google’s tool for keyword research. While it’s better for PPC since it doesn’t include difficulty metrics, it’s free and provides broad data for keyword search volume.

How to Use Search Volume

Here are some steps you can follow in your keyword selection process:

  1. Understand Your Audience: Before researching keyword data, you should understand your audience and what they might be looking for. This includes understanding their needs, interests, and the language they use.
  2. Generate a List of Keywords: Based on your understanding of your audience, generate a list of potential keywords. These should include broad terms related to your industry and more specific terms related to your products or services.
  3. Use a Keyword Research Tool: Input your potential keywords into a keyword research tool to get data on search interest, competition, and related keywords.
  4. Evaluate and Choose Keywords: Choose keywords based on their search volume, relevance to your business, and competition level. High-volume keywords with low competition are valuable for SEO strategies, but can be hard to find.

The Role of Long-Tail Keywords

While it can be tempting to target only high search volume keywords, it’s important also to consider long-tail keywords. These are longer, more specific phrases with lower volumes and less competition. They also tend to have higher conversion rates as they are more targeted.

Search volume can fluctuate throughout the year due to seasonal trends.

For example, searches for “Halloween costumes” will spike in October, while searches for “best beaches” might increase during summer. It’s essential to consider these trends when planning your content strategy.

Bottom Line

Understanding and effectively using search volume is a critical part of SEO. It can help guide your keyword selection, inform your content strategy, and help you better understand your audience’s needs and interests. Remember that while high search volume keywords can potentially generate more traffic, they often come with more competition. ?

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