As consumers of the digital market, we use keywords to find our desired products on search engines like Google or Bing. All the results are conveniently ranked according to relevance and tailored to the search bar input, and there is a whole science behind it. 

What can we do as marketers/proprietors to maximally satisfy the needs of our virtual customers? The answer lies in that very science – keyword research.

Why Keyword Research Is Important?

Keyword research is the ultimate blueprint for digital marketing. Conducting keyword research could be the best investment you make for your business because it is the key to understanding the customers’ needs in order to strategize according to their desires.

Keywords are important because they reveal the information necessary to grow your business. Keyword research yields concrete data about what exactly people actively search for and the popularity of what they are looking for. 

Keywords also determine the ranking for specific search queries. Thus, picking target keywords can either make or break your search visibility. 

But how can you pick your target keywords correctly? 

Relying on pure logic – if I own a swimwear business I should target the “buy swimsuits” – would not suffice. Knowing your target audience’s online searching habits will allow you to choose the right keywords efficiently. And the way to learn that is through keyword search volume.

What Is Keyword Search Volume?

Consumer behavior and patterns are a direct reflection of what consumers search for online. The technical term for the ‘popularity’ of keywords is keyword search volume.

It is defined as the number that shows how many times people search for a particular query in a given timeframe. 

Once you have the relevant data, you can start building your SEO strategy to get the maximum impact and traffic. 

Apart from attracting pure user interest, the many merits of keyword search volumes include:

  • understanding the competitiveness of each keyword – the extent of difficulty of showing up in the top ranks for a certain word;
  • prioritizing the most optimal keywords that can potentially drive traffic to your site;
  • finding patterns of seasonality in consumer demand.

Some marketers even take these insights to another level, using them to inform the company’s product strategy as keyword search volume stats can indirectly hint at changes in users’ product preferences. 

Is There Such Thing As Good or Bad Keyword Search Volume?

Now that you understand what search volumes are, you can tell that it’s a number that points to the number of users who are Googling a particular search query in let’s say a month. 

This begs a question of what kind of number you can consider as good or bad.

As with almost anything quantitative, the answer is it’s all relative. 

If you have e-commerce selling the most popular toys, you will likely have to focus on keywords with search volumes that are on the higher end of the spectrum.

If you are selling equipment for oil and gas extraction, you will never see high search volumes, although 100 monthly searches might be an extremely high number for your industry.

Instead of looking at pure search volume numbers, you should shift your focus to the quality of data you receive. Because only Google actually knows how many people use its search engine to look up certain queries.

How to Unearth Keyword Search Volume Data

The concept of keyword search volume comes up in even Google-native tools like Google Keyword Planner.

So you may immediately think that you can simply use your advertiser’s account to unwrap keyword search volumes for your keyword research.

Alas, this is not exactly the case as the tool’s free version (when you aren’t setting up an ad campaign) only shows search volume ranges. And you cannot really build your assumptions based on this.

If you choose to set up an ad campaign, you will finally see the real search volume stats, but it will take a lot of money and resources to air ads for each keyword you want to explore.

That’s why third-party tools are really the only way to go about this. But when it comes to external tools for keyword research, that’s when the notion of quality comes into question. 

Are Third-Party Keyword Tools Returning Accurate Search Volume Data?

First, let’s get a small insight into what defines keyword data quality for third-party keyword research solutions.

As no tool has access to Google’s internal data, they have to rely on the two things that make a strong foundation for data quality:

  • Clickstream data: it’s data from third-party data providers who collect stats on users’ online journeys and behavior. This means that the more data providers the tool have, the more reliable insights it can deliver.
  • Internal data processing: the leading keyword research tools have proprietary AI algorithms that process any data entered into them to bring actionable and accurate insights. So the stronger and smarter the algorithm, the better.

While all of this is confidential information no tool owner will ever share, some solutions are actually more or less transparent about it.

For instance, one of the leading solutions on the market, Semrush recently broke the news that they made substantial improvements to their search volume data that led to 18% more accurate search volume estimates and 19% wider keyword data coverage for the US, bringing the total to up to 99%.

But we can’t just be relying on press release information, rather it’s best to focus on research that gives accurate calculations in relative terms.

Comparing Search Volume Data Accuracy Across the Leading Keyword Research Solutions

You can’t expect to see a big number of studies that explore search volume data accuracy of various solutions.

Because the hardest part of such research is access to the “real” data.

That’s why I want to recap findings from one study that used anonymized and filtered data from Google Search Console (why and how this data reflects the real search volume stats is explained in this post) as a benchmark to run the comparison with the most popular keyword research tools—Semrush, Moz, Ahrefs, Serpstat, Sistrix, and Mangools. You’ll even see Google Keyword Planner’s free version’s data included in the review.

Which Tool Comes Closer to the Real Search Volume Stats? 

The image below showcases how each tool matches the data coming from Google Search Console.

The higher the percentage number, the closer the match. 

Semrush’s search volume stats appear to be closest to those of Google Search Console, which means that it can be considered to be the most accurate tool across the board.

Which tool Covers More Keyword Data?

Remember Semrush’s news release that mentioned a wider data coverage? It wasn’t simply bragging as this is also an important factor when assessing tool quality.

Because while you can have a tool that has accurate data for the keywords it has in its database if the keyword coverage is low, you will simply keep seeing a “not found” message. And that’s not something you want to see when running keyword research.

The image below reflects how many keywords from the study came with that “not found” message across the tools (lower percentage number point to wider coverage).

And…when it comes to keyword data coverage, Semrush wins one more time.

Make a Smart Tool Choice to Start Leveraging Keyword Search Volume Data

In most of my tool reviews, I like to have a well-rounded take on each feature—from pricing to convenience. But when it comes to keyword research, it’s really data quality that should guide your choice. 

Semrush has an absolute lead in all kinds of keyword data quality assessments, which means that if you want to build your SEO and marketing strategy on the right assumptions, it’s an absolute must-have.

Of course, you shouldn’t just take my word for it—just as with third-party research I like to turn to when doing my analysis, I should entice you to try the tool for yourself and see if it meets your needs and expectations.

Luckily, you can now make use of a my-readers-special free trial for Semrush—and experience the power of its keyword tools for yourself!

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