It was the late 90s.
I was a kid looking for Transformers merchandise—I’ve always been a fan of the big robots!
But the series had been mostly forgotten in my area (a small Italian town) and there were no toys or books about the giant robots in local stores.
Why the radio silence? There were many like-minded people who loved the Transformers out there.
The Importance of Search Volume
I didn’t understand back then, but after growing up I realized it was a simple matter of supply and demand.
Few people—maybe nobody—in my area wanted Transformers toys. Nobody looked for them or paid for them, so local stores and toy companies didn’t stock them.
If my search for the forgotten robots had been a web search, it would have been a low-volume search.
For these stores to stock them, it would have meant going very “niche,” while they were looking to serve a broader audience and maximize their profits.
Search volume means a lot to companies both online and off.
The way we measure search volume in content marketing is keyword search volume: How many people are searching for particular keywords on a monthly basis. And it means a heck of a lot for your content marketing efforts.
That’s why a whole class of SEO tools have been created to research and display keyword search volume. They’ll give you all the data you need to make the smartest keyword and content decisions.
Best Practices: How to Use a Keyword Search Volume Tool
You could tell me search volume is just search volume.
Just a number that shows how many times a keyword is searched on Google or another search engine.
Therefore, all search volume tools will show you the same thing.
But not all search volume tools are the same.
Some are more basic, providing the volume for only a certain number of selected keywords.
Others provide keyword suggestions and let you order keywords by volume, competition and CPC (other valuable data for content marketing, as you may already know).
When choosing a tool to retrieve search volume for keywords, you have to know the level of detail and the exact data you want to see.
Below are three best practices to help you make sense of search volume data and pick the tools that are spot-on for your needs.
1. For a Broad Audience, Choose High Search Volume and Low or Medium Competition
This is what you go after when you want to target a broader slice of your audience.
On-topic keywords with a high search volume allow you to reach the majority of your audience. But naturally, there’s fierce competition for high-search-volume keywords because, when ranked for, they deliver tons of traffic.
Low-competition to medium-competition keywords (ones that aren’t high-competition) are ones you can feasibly rank for with great content. So, the perfect point of overlap are keywords with high search volume and low or medium competition.
Even better if the search volume is high but the keyword is longtail. The generic keyword “content marketing” will be nigh impossible to rank for. But a big slice of your audience might be interested in a slightly more niche topic like “how to do content marketing for nonprofits.”
This Pipedrive case study shows how to rank #1 for a high-volume keyword—yes, not even a longtail one, but a high-SEO-difficulty keyword such like “sales management.” Creating superlative content, leveraging internal links, guest posting and outreach was the right combination for this company to win the SERPs.
Everything is doable when you know how to play your cards!
2. For Niche Topics, Go Low Volume
This is the realm of low-volume keywords.
Yeah, those only a few among your audience actually search.
Are they worth it?
I used to think they weren’t. For my beloved Transformer toys and books, I was part of a tiny group of “searchers” that wasn’t relevant enough for my local toy stores and comic book shops to justify the investment.
Things might have been different if I had asked specialized collectors’ stores and comic nostalgia shops (nothing like that in town, sadly). In such a case, I would have been part of a tiny but very relevant slice of their target audience, one worth investing in despite the low volume of requests. This tiny niche group is eager to buy certain items, and they’re willing to spend more money for their very specific interests.
A small but specialized—and eager-to-buy—audience like this is worth investing in when you know exactly what they’re looking for. When they find what they’re looking for, they pay for it.
It’s no different for content marketers in the online world. If you want to serve all relevant groups in your niche, low-volume keywords are just as—if not more—important for your content marketing than broader-reach ones.
See this case study that explains how HubSpot managed to get targeted traffic and high conversions with low-volume keywords. Visitors were searching for an unplanned—but relevant—low-volume term that brought in 50% of the site’s traffic. How could they not take advantage of the opportunity?
3. Start with Google’s Keyword Planner, but Don’t Stop with It
The Google AdWords Keyword Planner is your first step to assess keyword volumes, volume/competition ratio and related suggestions.
However, as you can see, Google AdWords can only go so far. It provides volume ranges but not exact monthly searches, and volumes are only global—so, if you need to go local, you can’t get that data from AdWords unless you run an active campaign.
Competition data, however, is still valuable for your research when compared with average searches and global volumes.
This is just your starting place, to give you an idea of search volume. To add more elements to your keyword research strategy, below are 10 keyword search volume tools you can choose from to complement what Google gives you.
Search Party! 10 Keyword Search Volume Tools to Uncover Top Terms
The Monitor Backlinks Keyword Rank Tracking Tool displays the search volume, competition and ranking for the keywords you monitor, and then you can export the list as a CSV, Excel file or a PDF report.
- Log into Monitor Backlinks and click the Keywords tab.
- Add any number of keywords you need to track.
- Refresh the page to view the Volume for your newly-added keywords.
- You can order keywords by Volume to have a clearer picture of where your priorities should go.
- Review the level of competition for each keyword along with the CPC, and you’ll also see when competition is ranking for a given keyword.
As you can see from the screenshot, Monitor Backlinks is pretty intuitive—you get the whole picture at a glance, for both volume and competition—and you can see how your rankings change in the SERPs and for what pages.
This is helpful to find out whether your volume-based and SEO-difficulty-based strategy is working.
This is a free tool from StoryBase.com that helps you look up the average monthly searches for specific keywords (max 800, one per line) from 10 Google data centers (US, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Norway, France, Netherlands, Italy, Brazil).
- Input the keywords you want to analyze in the tool.
- Choose a data center and click Submit.
- Results are returned as shown below:
Here you can see what I was saying about going deep in the niche.
If your blog serves a very broad audience interested in content marketing, using the “get paid to write reviews” as your focus keyword for a piece of content can help you reach a good slice of your audience, even though it’s more longtail (and this keyword has a pretty high search volume anyway, 590 isn’t crumbles!).
This tool can be complemented with Demographics.io, another tool by StoryBase to review demographics (example below is for “content marketing”) and make better decisions about how to present your content focused on a specific keyword:
Keywords Everywhere is a free browser add-on for Firefox and Chrome that gives you search volume, CPC and competition data for almost every keyword research tool available online, including Moz, Soovle, Google Trends and Analytics.
- Click the Install button specific to your browser.
- When you’re done, the add-on will redirect you to a welcome page with an email form to sign up for a free API Key, which is necessary to get the tool started.
- Follow the instructions in the email and the provided link that will show you how to configure the tool in your browser.
This is what you see when you type in any keyword in Google Search with Keywords Everywhere enabled:
And how it looks in Soovle:
WordStream’s free tool returns related keywords (longtail) and search volume, and if you connect the tool to your Google AdWords account (with a free trial of WordStream Advisor) you’ll also see competition, CPC and Opportunity Score, WordStream’s own feature that highlights high-opportunity keywords.
The tool is easy to use:
- Enter a keyword (or a URL you want to extract keywords from, which is a good option if you’re studying a competitor’s keywords).
- As optional data, set an industry and a country.
- The tool returns 10 keywords on-screen and the entirety of them via email.
SERPs provides a free keyword research tool that shows quality data like Volume, CPC and Monetary Value.
- You simply enter a keyword and the tool will return that data and related keyword suggestions.
SERPs is an interesting tool: When it displays Keyword Search Results, it gives you the opportunity to save only the keywords you want to use and allows you to export them as a CSV file.
That can save you a ton of time!
This is a free keyword research tool to find up to 1,000 longtail keywords from Google, Amazon, YouTube and WordTracker’s own engine.
- Enter the keyword in WordTracker.
- Set a Time period (only Monthly Average for free users) and a Territory (Global or United States only for free users).
- Hit the Search button.
You can order the results by (search) Volume (for column) and you can also assess the quality of a keyword with WordTracker’s other scores, to find out which keywords should have the highest priority in your content marketing efforts:
- IAAT (In Anchor And Title) indicating the number of results in the SERPs where the keywords appear as the post slug and in the title.
- KEI (Keyword’s Effectiveness Index), higher when a keyword is more popular and lower when competition is high.
You don’t have to sign up to use the tool free, but you must upgrade to be able to export results (pricing starts at $27/month).
KWFinder from Mangools
KWFinder is a Mangools.com tool to find longtail keywords that are easy to rank for.
- Sign up for a free account to get started.
- Log into your account and choose if you want to search keywords from Suggestions, Autocomplete or Questions.
- Click the lens button to run a search.
There are three interesting things about this tool:
- Search trends (Trend) and average monthly search volumes (Search) refer to the last 12 months, so they’re always up to date.
- The DIFF data makes the tool extra valuable. It refers to the keyword’s SEO difficulty: The higher this value, the harder it is to rank for that keyword.
- When you click on a keyword in the results, a right-side screen appears (see screenshot) showing the better-ranking existing content using that keyword—good material to assess both the keyword and the competition!
The tool is free to use but you can upgrade starting at $219/year (not bad!) to get more keyword suggestions per search.
Term Explorer is a multi-featured keyword analyzer suite that gives you two tools for search volume:
1. Keyword Analyzer
2. Bulk Keyword Tool
For #1 (the Keyword Analyzer), after you register a free account:
- Go to Keyword Analyzer → Start a Keyword Analyzer Project.
- Fill the Start a New Project form (five keywords).
- There are a few advanced options you can set, too: Country selection (default is Google US), Location in Country if you need to go local and Fetch Traffic Stats (activate by default) from the Bulk Keyword Tool in Term Explorer.
- The tool will add your keyword project to the queue.
- When done, go back to Keyword Analyzer → View Saved Keyword Analyzer Projects and click the View button under Action.
For #2 (the Bulk Keyword Tool), settings are similar to the Keyword Analyzer:
- Input your keywords (seed keywords, that the tool will use to generate suggestions).
- Hit the Start Job button.
Once completed, this is the screen that you’ll be shown:
For each keyword you’re tracking (the ones in [brackets] are suggestions), you’re given PPC Competition values, average monthly searches, CPC and EMD values. You can then export results as a CSV file or as a PDF report.
This is a free longtail keyword research tool that provides search volume (local and global) data per each searched keyword and keyword suggestions, as well as CPC and competition values (competition is only available if you upgrade for $28/month).
- Input your keyword and choose the Full (Slow) option to get more than 11 results.
- Hit the Search Suggestions button.
- The site will return a list of longtail keywords with all the search data you’re looking for.
This simple web app allows you to look up a keyword and set country, language, API (Google is default, but you can also look up on Amazon, for example) and what type of results you want to obtain (Alphabetical, Questions, Buyer Intent, Product Info and Prepositions).
- Enter a keyword.
- Set the options you need.
- Click the lens button to run a search.
I don’t recommend you select Strict Mode for the search, because it will only return keywords containing the searched terms—something to keep in mind if you want more diversity in your content marketing projects.
The interesting thing about this app is that it shows keyword data from not only web search, but even video search—this makes a huge difference if you also do video content marketing!
What’s the Best Keyword Search Volume Tool for You? Concluding Thoughts
When it comes down to content marketing tools, the best route is to go for a combination—what one tool doesn’t do well might be the strong point of another tool, and vice versa.
While I’m absolutely in love with multi-featured tools like Monitor Backlinks and KWFinder by Mangools, I wouldn’t disdain simpler tools like SearchVolume.io because they can help you save time when you already know what keywords to go after and you only need to know what to prioritize in your content marketing plan.
It all comes down to one question:
What kind of search volume data—and other SEO data—do you need?
Answer that question and you’ll have found your tool.