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A Frequently Used Metric: Keyword Search Volume For SEO

This is a key metric when it comes to keyword research, search volume. In this article, we’ll discuss how to make the most of your keyword search volume for SEO.

One of the metrics that are used most frequently when it comes to keyword research, also one that’s most frequently misunderstood. 

Keyword Search Volume: What Is It?

Keyword search volume refers to the number of times a given keyword is searched over a time period across a specific search engine. 

How Is It Used?

Keyword search volume is used in keyword research to find SEO information that’s useful in search optimization, this is of course its main use. Useful information can include the following:

  • Seasonality determination
  • Keyword competitive difficulty level
  • Estimated traffic creation
  • A keyword’s potential to drive traffic

How Do You Determine Keyword Search Volume?

Keyword search volume can be determined by two ways that are commonly used, which are Google Ads Keyword Planner and Clickstream.


Google Ads Keyword Planner

Google reports its keywords to its keyword planner, this is the first and most commonly used way, however, there are a few things to take note of when using this resource.

  • In order to access the keyword planner, you must have a Google Ads account
  • Not all keywords are reported, and its main use is for research related to Google Ads keywords
  • The volume numbers are often rounded off, and the numbers are mere estimates and combined numbers for keywords that are similar.
  • The keywords that are used in the keyword planner work with a time lag, so newer keywords are not always available.

Average search volume is reported by keyword planner by default, this is the keyword average of the last 12 months of search volume. The most recent month’s volume is not stored yet.

Keyword planner also doesn’t distinguish the difference between devices such as mobile vs desktop and the numbers estimated are based on various search mediums and devices. A growing number of keywords that might be sensitive are hidden by Google even though they can potentially still generate ads.

Zero search volume is often reported in areas where volume is shown to exist by Clickstream data-based tools. 


Clickstream data is the other source used for search volume numbers. It collects data from a sample of users that are active, by means of a voluntarily installed search engine extension. Clickstream data is still an estimate and users should keep this in mind when using this resource. 

The currency of this resource depends on what kind of users are polled and how many. However, there are a few advantages to using Clickstream data over keyword planner, which include:

  • It provides more timely data, it’s more real-time, and includes new and trending keywords
  • It doesn’t have a keyword limit such as keywords only showing ads via Google or uncensored keywords by Google
  • It can distinguish between certain variants of a keyword

However, the data provided are only estimates and will only be as good as its sources.

Is Search Volume Data Reliable?

All estimates of search volume data are based on extrapolations, it’s not likely that there will ever be actual search volume data available, however, even the estimated search volume data is useful. In order to compare keywords you don’t need to have the exact data available, it’s not at all necessary.

The overall comparison between keywords is accurate enough to make a solid judgment if they’re from the same source and uses the same methodology. Search volume also doesn’t always remain constant and can sometimes be seasonal as well.

Should Low Volume Keywords Be Ignored In SEO?

Definitely not. When it comes to SEO all things depend. It may seem that the right thing to do is to ignore low-volume keywords, however, if it’s based on the assumption that they are low generators for traffic, there’s no real-time experience of it being true.

And the fact that traffic and search volume are correlated is only a myth and has never been proven either. In content strategies, lower volume keywords can be very useful and also valuable if used correctly.