Search Volume

Search volume is defined as the number of searches that are expected for a keyword within a certain period. Search volume is used as a measurement in keyword analysis to assess the potential search engine traffic for a given keyword. Calculating the search volume of keywords is also an important part of content optimization, as it shows the relevance of certain keywords.

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The term “search volume” refers to the average number of user queries which users enter in a search engine for a specific keyword in a certain time frame. A high search volume indicates a high level of user interest in a topic, product or service.

Inaccurate and fluctuating results

The metrics involved in calculating the search volume can never be exactly recorded and evaluated, therefore it can only constitute of estimates and projections.

There can also be variations or fluctuations in the search volume of keywords due to various factors. There can be large fluctuations over time when a topic is seasonally of interest. If an event is only of interest to a particular region, the search volume extends primarily to the respective region. An example of this includes an  evaluation from Google Trends showing the interest and thus potential search volume for the term “Oktoberfest”, an annual beer festival in Munich, Germany. Over time, searches peak every year in September and October, with a subsequent rapid drop of interest. As far as region is concerned, the greatest interest is in the federal state of Bavaria with Munich as the event venue.

How to find the search volume of keywords

There are many tools that can be used to find the search volume of keywords. The most popular tool is the Google Keyword Planner, which replaced the former Google Keyword Tool in 2013. The Google Keyword Planner allows users to approximately retrieve the search volume for individual keywords or a keyword list. Once the request has been processed, the user is issued a list of keywords and keyword ideas for possible advertising groups (depending on the search option), which also contains the average searches per month. This column shows the approximate search volume. The values correspond to the average of searches over the past twelve months. Any applicable locations and the desired search network are taken into account.

Other tools for finding search volume include, and KWFinder.

Importance for search engine optimization

In the field of search engine optimization, search volume is an important criterion for researching the most important keywords for which a web page should be optimized. The difficulty is in deciding as to whether keywords with a high or a low search volume should be chosen.

If there is a high search volume, there is usually a lot of competition, but also a high traffic potential from which the site operator can benefit. With a low search volume, however, the competition from other sites is usually low and you can capture a large portion of the resulting traffic. However, the traffic potential is lower because of the overall low search volume. Keywords with a high search volume are usually general, and often just one word. These are referred to as short tail keywords. Keywords with a low search volume are often more specific and may contain more words. These are known as long tail keywords.

In practice, for a sustainable SEO strategy, a combination of both variations is usually best. Firstly, a website should be optimized for keywords with high search volume (short tail keywords). On the other hand, it also makes sense to integrate numerous keywords with low search volume, which are usually part of a long-tail strategy. When searching for keywords, it should also be taken into account that many keywords with a lower search volume can better summarize the "topic" of a page, for example.

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