5 Things You Need to Know to Avoid SEO Mistakes

Search quantity might be probably the most incessantly used metric in SEO. It helps us gauge the recognition of varied key phrases and predict the search visitors we might get from rating for them.

However all too typically, inexperienced SEOs take the key phrase search quantity metric at its face worth, which leads to poor advertising and marketing selections and waste of priceless enterprise assets.

On this put up, we’re going to take a more in-depth take a look at the search quantity metric, clarify what it’s, the place it comes from, and the way it might generally lead you astray.

What’s key phrase search quantity?

Key phrase search quantity is an SEO metric that tells you what number of instances monthly, on common, a sure key phrase is looked for in a selected location. Most of the time, search quantity refers to the variety of searches in Google, however this metric may also refer to different engines like google too.

One vital distinction to level out is that search quantity displays the variety of precise searches of a key phrase somewhat than the variety of distinctive folks looking for it.

Thus, if a key phrase has a month-to-month search quantity of 100, these searches might have been carried out by 100 totally different folks, or it might have been simply 10 folks making 10 searches every.


That small clarification is barely the tip of the iceberg of all of the issues that individuals typically get improper when analyzing the search quantity of a key phrase.

So let’s talk about 5 extra belongings you want to know so as to make higher use of this metric.

1. Search quantity numbers are annual averages

Most SEO instruments report search quantity as an annual common. 

It’s not a giant deal for search queries which have a comparatively constant search demand all year long. However it may be fairly deceptive for seasonal search queries or sizzling traits.

Let’s evaluate the search quantity traits of the next two key phrases: “content material advertising and marketing” and “NFT.”


The key phrase “content material advertising and marketing” has been hovering between 12k and 17k searches a month in the middle of the yr. So its annual common of 16k is an inexpensive prediction of the search quantity that it’s possible to get within the months to come.

'NFT' search volume via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

It’s a wholly totally different story for the key phrase “NFT,” although. In the midst of one yr, it went from virtually nothing to a whopping 2.3 million searches in March. Then it dropped to 374k in June and went up to 952k in August.

In different phrases, it’s fairly arduous to predict how its search quantity goes to fluctuate within the coming months and the place it would ultimately settle as soon as the craze over NFTs subsides.

What I need to illustrate with these two examples is that search volumes might be fairly risky. And the 12-month common quantity that SEO instruments report might not completely match the month-to-month search quantity of that key phrase by the point you rank for it. 

2. Not all searches lead to clicks

The truth that folks seek for one thing doesn’t essentially imply they’re going to click on on any of the search outcomes.

In actual fact, Google’s purpose is to fulfill its customers proper there after which with out having them “waste time” clicking on any of the search outcomes. In accordance to a recent study, two-thirds of Google searches in 2020 ended with out a click on.

Two-thirds of Google searches in 2020 ended with out a click on. 

For instance, the key phrase “elon musk age” will get 37k searches monthly (on common). However the variety of clicks on the search outcomes (in accordance to Ahrefs) is simply 6.3k.

'Elon Musk age' search volume via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

That occurs as a result of Google offers an instantaneous reply to that query, dissuading customers from clicking on any of the search outcomes:

'Elon musk age' instant answer in Google search

So if a search question has a big search quantity, it doesn’t essentially imply that it’ll convey you a lot of search visitors. Google might merely show the reply proper in its search outcomes.

3. Advertisers might steal your clicks

There’s one different factor which will steal these treasured clicks away from you: Google Advertisements.

As of immediately, Google shows up to 4 paid search listings above the natural search outcomes. And for those who hint the visual history of these paid placements, it turns into painfully apparent Google is attempting to make these advertisements almost indistinguishable from the natural search outcomes.

It additionally tends to embellish these advertisements with photos and sitelinks to maximize the actual property they occupy and push the natural search outcomes additional down beneath.

In different phrases, rating on the prime for some widespread key phrase now not ensures that you just’re going to get a lot of clicks from it.

Even for those who verify the search outcomes for the key phrase you need to rank for and there aren’t any advertisements there, there’s no assure advertisements received’t seem sooner or later. In actual fact, by rating on the prime for a key phrase, you’re pushing the pages of your rivals down beneath and leaving them with out search visitors; this may occasionally very nicely provoke them to begin operating advertisements. 

4. Search volumes aren’t very correct

Google Keyword Planner is extensively considered one of the best supply of key phrase search quantity knowledge, because it comes instantly from Google itself. And it’s not a secret the overwhelming majority of SEO instruments pull their key phrase search volumes from GKP.

However how correct are the search quantity numbers in GKP?

Properly, there’s one supply of knowledge that’s universally deemed the “single supply of reality” when it comes to search volumes: Google Search Console.

In case your web site constantly ranks on the prime of Google for a sure key phrase, the variety of “impressions” your web page will get for that key phrase can be its precise search quantity.

Because of this we are able to simply research the accuracy of search volumes in GKP if we evaluate the search volumes with the precise impressions of the identical key phrases from GSC.

And that’s precisely what we did in our current experiment.

Study results showing that Google Keyword Planner drastically overestimates search volumes in the majority of cases

It turned out that the search volumes in GKP had been “roughly correct” in simply 45% of instances. In the remainder of the instances, GKP search volumes deviated from GSC impressions by a fairly large margin.

In different phrases, it’s fairly a stretch to name the search volumes in GKP “correct.” And we are able to’t even criticize GKP for this, as it’s a software for advertisers, not SEOs. 

GKP tends to blend search queries with similar meaning together in one group with out an choice to see a definite search quantity for every of these queries. That is fairly useful for advertisers however generally is a actual headache for SEOs.

For instance, the next six key phrases will all be blended into one:

  • laptop video games free obtain
  • free laptop video games obtain
  • free video games obtain for laptop
  • obtain free video games for laptop
  • free laptop sport downloads
  • obtain laptop video games free
  • free video games to obtain for laptop

Keyword grouping in Keyword Planner

And most SEO instruments will mimic this habits as a result of they (allegedly) take their search volumes from GKP. So they are going to show the identical search quantity for every of those key phrase variations.

However right here at Ahrefs, we combine a couple of different knowledge sources into our search quantity estimates (together with a couple of years of historic clickstream knowledge), which permits us to “un-group” a lot of such key phrase clusters and show a definite search quantity for every particular person key phrase:

Keyword groupings in Ahrefs vs Semrush

This un-grouping makes Ahrefs’ search volumes a bit extra correct than these of GKP. And but our search volumes are nonetheless simply estimations somewhat than actual values that a lot of our customers will love to see.

5. Increased key phrase search quantity ≠ extra visitors

The first use case of the key phrase search quantity metric in SEO is to estimate the potential natural search visitors that your web page might get if it ranks for the key phrase, proper?

Properly, let’s take a look at the next two key phrases:

If we evaluate their World (i.e., worldwide) search quantity, the key phrase “native SEO” appears to be 27 instances extra widespread than the key phrase “submit web site to engines like google.”

So does this imply that the #1 rating web page for “native SEO” ought to get vastly extra search visitors than the #1 rating web page for “submit web site to engines like google?” 

Let’s verify that in Ahrefs’ Website Explorer:

(*5*)Estimated monthly search traffic to the top-ranking page for 'submit website to search engines'

It seems our assumption is totally improper. The highest-ranking web page for a 27 instances much less widespread key phrase appears to be getting two instances extra search visitors.

How come?

Properly, this occurs as a result of pages don’t simply rank for a single key phrase. In case you look attentively on the two screenshots above, you’ll see that the top-ranking web page for “native SEO” is rating in Google for 311 key phrases (search for the “Natural key phrases” tile), with eight of them rating within the prime 3 positions.

As for the #1 web page for “submit web site to engines like google,” it ranks in Google for a complete of 1,400 key phrases, with 201 of them rating within the prime 3 positions.

Listed below are a few of these key phrases:

Keyword rankings for the top-ranking page for 'submit website to search engines'

No matter search question you take note of, totally different folks will phrase it in a different way. However Google is sensible sufficient to perceive that every one these persons are principally on the lookout for the identical factor. It, subsequently, ranks the identical web page for all these search question variations.

We studied this “phenomenon” again within the day, and it turned out the typical top-ranking web page would additionally rank for a couple of thousand comparable key phrases.

This implies that you could’t blindly depend on the search quantity of particular person key phrases when estimating their search visitors potential. What you want to do as an alternative is look at the top-ranking pages and see how a lot search visitors they get in whole from all of the key phrases they rank for.

Right here at Ahrefs, we acquired so enamored with this idea that we now have created a novel metric referred to as Site visitors potential:

Search volume vs traffic potential for the keyword 'submit website to search engines'

For any key phrase that you just see in Key phrases Explorer, we pull the top-ranking web page and search for how a lot whole search visitors it will get from all of the key phrase variations that it ranks for in Google. That worth turns into the Site visitors potential of that key phrase.

Right here in Ahrefs’ content material advertising and marketing group, we’ve been doing that manually for fairly a couple of years, and it has helped us quite a bit in choosing the proper subjects to goal. However now this metric is lastly added to Key phrases Explorer for everybody to use.

Ultimate ideas

So these are the 5 essential issues that rookie SEOs typically overlook after they cope with the key phrase search quantity metric.

Now that you just’re armed with this information, I’m positive you’ll now not deal with the search quantity metric at its face worth, which ought to vastly enhance the standard of your SEO selections.

And there’s one very last thing I need to point out. It appears a bit too apparent to put it within the physique of this put up, however it’ll really feel form of incomplete with out it:

By no means choose key phrases based mostly on their search quantity alone.

There’s a lot extra to key phrase analysis than merely on the lookout for key phrases with the most important search quantity.

Listed below are another questions to take into account: 

  • Would this key phrase convey worth to my enterprise?
  • Would this key phrase lead to any gross sales?
  • Would I have the option to beat the top-ranking pages for this key phrase?
  • What would it not take to rank for this key phrase?

All the time hold these questions in thoughts when selecting what key phrases to go for.


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