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Should I be trying to rank for keywords with high monthly search volumes?

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

It sounds like a no-brainer to want to rank in Google for keywords that have lots of searches per month (say 5,000 for example) because the more people searching the more eyeballs you'll get on your website and the more traffic you'll get, right? 🤔

Actually - no.

Super high search volumes = higher competition for that keyword.

Meaning, you're competing against way more people/other websites to rank for that keyword, and the more competitive the keyword? The harder you have to work to rank for it.

This could mean years, depending on other things like the CPC value (cost per click - paying Google to run an Ad for that keyword and paying Google for every click you get), for example.

If you're doing keyword research and you see that a keyword you're considering trying to rank for has only 250 searches per month, you might think about not going for it because it seems like not many people are searching for that term. But on the contrary, these 'little guys' are your first step to ranking in Google at all.

You see, it's all about getting your foot in the door (of Google); creating some authority, making yourself known, getting Google's attention, generating consistent traffic from Google, and then building up to more competitive, higher volume search terms.

Another reason why you should start with keywords that are lower in search volume is because low search volume still means people are searching for them. And the more specific the better.

Here's an example - I was recently doing a keyword plan for an AI software development company and I was looking at the different search volumes and ranking difficulty between "ai" and "artificial intelligence" - I was trying to work out if people preferred to type the whole word, 'artificial intelligence', or if they shortened it to 'ai'.

My research showed that more people were typing out the whole word 'artificial intelligence' rather than shortening it. The difference was that 'ai consulting' was getting 50 searches per month with an SEO difficulty rating of 5/100 (meaning, it would be super easy to rank for this keyword), compared to 'artificial intelligence consulting' was getting 20 searches per month and an SEO difficulty of 10/100 (also meaning it would be easy to rank for this keyword). So in this case? I assigned the keyword 'ai consulting' because it was a) getting more searches per month, and b) it was deemed easy to rank for it.

Now, if 'ai consulting' actually had 3000 searches per month and an SEO difficulty of 70/100 and 'artificial intelligence consulting' had 500 searches per month with an SEO difficulty of 25/100 per month, which keyword would you be using? The one with lower search volume and lower SEO difficulty because you're likely to rank faster for it than the more competitive keyword.

One of the questions this client asked me was to clarify why I didn't assign "ai consulting" when that's what they advertise as, and what they assumed people would type into search, and the reason why I said no to using it was simple - because according to the data, nobody is searching for that specific wording. They're going to the effort of typing out the whole word, rather than abbreviating it.

This is why it really pays off for you to do your research, rather than just assuming or guessing what your keywords are, or what people will type into google in order to find you.

Data-backed research is helping you to make informed decisions on your SEO and digital marketing. Just taking a guess and hoping for the best will put your business at risk of failure when it comes to SEO.

If this is still all sounding too much - check out my Keywords and On-Page SEO Plan where I conduct your keyword research including competitor research and then create your on-page SEO plan that tells you EXACTLY where your keywords need to go in your website for Google glory.

Got a question about keywords? Add them to the comments 🙂



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