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Popularity of Search Terms: Key to Keyword Choice

The popularity of search terms is crucial for choosing the right keywords for your blog posts. In keyword research tools, this is measured as “Monthly search volume,” which indicates how often people search for these terms.

Keyword research can often be challenging, especially for new bloggers or content creators. You might find easily rankable keywords that few people search for, or face tough competition for the most popular phrases.

Ranking on the first page of Google is a common goal, and understanding the popularity of search terms is key to effective keyword selection.

Now, let’s delve deeper into this topic!

Popularity of Search Terms: Table of Contents

Popularity of Search Terms: Decoding Monthly Search Volume

The definition of monthly search volume will vary depending on the keyword research tool you use. For instance, here is the definition from SE Ranking (a keyword research tool):

popularity of search terms understanding the monthly search volume metric
SE Ranking definition of search volume

In general the monthly search volume metric represents the number of searches for that keyword for a particular country over a period of one month.

Keyword research tools allow you to choose a specific country for your keyword traffic reports.

SE Ranking keyword research start page with country filter
keyword research reports are per country

Now that we understand this crucial metric, let’s explore how search volume impacts keyword research.

The Importance of Monthly Search Volume in Keyword Research

Knowing the monthly search volume for keywords in your niche is important for creating an effective SEO strategy.

Average monthly search volumes for keywords can give you insight into:

  • What is popular among users
  • Where are the potential opportunities
  • Where is the most/least competition
  • Popular keywords per country

In addition to monthly search volume other important keyword research metrics are:

  • Relevance – how relevant is the topic to your target audience
  • Search intent – what is the underlying motive for the searcher (see: a guide to search intent)
  • Competitiveness – how competitive is the keyword
  • Difficulty – how difficult is the keyword to rank for

Improving your knowledge of keyword research will help you in the following areas:

  • Improved SEO
  • Link building
  • Targeting your content for your audience
  • More traffic leading to more sales/revenue or conversions

Should you use Popularity of Search Terms to Select Keywords?

target audience

There are benefit and drawbacks to keywords that have high search volume. The same is true for low search volume keywords. Let’s explain the pros and cons.

High Search Volume Keywords: Pros and Cons

The benefits of high search volume are:

  • popular keywords
  • high traffic potential
  • high backlink potential

The drawbacks of high search volume are:

  • highly competitive, expect ads and rich snippets
  • difficult to rank for
  • likely low word count (1-3 words) so lacking in context
  • longer, and more time consuming, articles needed to rank well
  • more likely to be informational searches (see search intent) so lower conversion rates

Low Search Volume Keywords: Pros and Cons

The benefits of low search volume are:

  • higher click through rates (CTR) because of better search intent
  • easier to write for due to more context
  • shorter articles can still rank well
  • more niche queries so can be easier to answer than open-ended queries

The drawbacks of low search volume are:

  • low traffic potential
  • low backlink potential
  • a large amount of content is necessary to generate website traffic
  • keyword research skills necessary to find low volume keywords

There are tradeoffs and it is not always obvious whether you should target a high or low volume keyword.

You will have to target a mix of high and low volume keywords to effectively cover a niche for your target audience.

Write for people not for search engines. Google’s algorithms will penalise a website that writes content primarily for search engines and not people.

Relationship between Search Volume and Keyword Competitiveness

Popular keywords tend to attract more competition and ads. Occasionally you may find certain high volume keywords without much competition. This could be because they are difficult to make money from or they are too vague and generic to be useful for targeting.

You may be thinking I should only target low search volume keywords because they are easy to rank for. Unfortunately this strategy may not be effective because you will not be able to drive much traffic to your site even if you rank highly for all those keywords.

You need to strike a balance between high-volume keywords that can bring a lot of visitors to your site and low-volume keywords that are easier to rank for.

For instance, by investigating the top ranking sites for a high volume keyword you may determine you can write a higher quality article that will – over time – rank better and drive a lot of traffic to your website.

Use a keyword research tool that reports on important keyword metrics so you can make an informed decision about what keywords you want to target.

For bloggers or website owners on a budget, the SE Ranking keyword research tool is excellent. You can try the keyword research tool out for free below. Just type a keyword phrase into the widget, e.g. “keto diet”

Strike a balance between high and low volume keywords both have advantages – and disadvantages.

How Search Volume Affects Keyword Targeting and Strategy


It’s important to consider a number of metrics when deciding what keywords to target for your niche.

First, remember keyword research reports provide metrics per country.

If you are targeting a single country by sure you select the country before generating the keyword research report.

Here is a list of important metrics:

  • monthly search volume (“popularity of search terms” is measured using this metric)
  • keyword difficulty (an estimation of the difficulty in ranking for that keyword)
  • competitiveness (how much competition there is for the keyword)
  • trend (usually a graph of the search volume over a period of time)
  • search intent (informational, navigational, commercial or transactional)
  • CPC (price of each click in a Google Ads marketing campaign)

In addition to the metrics above it’s usually a good idea to add filters to include or exclude based on certain criteria. Here is example criteria when generating a keyword research report:

  • word count (1-2 word keywords provide little context and are difficult to write for)
  • include word(s) – you may want to force a particular word to be in each keyword
  • exclude word(s) – you may want to exclude certain words such as “free”, “cheap” etc
  • search volume (min/max) – set a min or max search volume
  • search intent
  • difficulty (min/max)

Other filters may be available depending on your keyword research tool.

The reason to apply filters is to reduce the output so you can concentrate on analyzing only the most important keywords for your niche.

Depending on the size and age of your blog or website you criteria will change. Small websites will only be able to target easy keywords without much competition. More established websites can tackle more diffiicult (and higher volume) keywords.

Other important metrics to consider when doing keyword research are Difficulty, Search Intent, Competition

Other Factors to Consider in Keyword Research

Besides the popularity of search terms other important factors need to be considered before deciding what keywords to target. Attracting traffic isn’t the sole objective. It’s also important to consider the quality of the traffic.

When targeting mostly informational keywords, don’t expect many sales or inquiries. To boost conversions, focus on commercial or transactional queries.

Consider the relevance of your keywords to your audience. Blog posts not aimed at your niche or target audience, even in high volumes, won’t grow your business. Additionally, if you’re getting traffic without conversions or sales, enhancing your persuasive writing skills could be beneficial.

Consider not only the amount of traffic to your site but the quality of the traffic

Popularity of Search Terms: Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading! Here’s a summary:

  • ‘Popularity of search terms’ is often termed as ‘monthly search volume’ in keyword tools.
  • Don’t forget to evaluate keyword difficulty, competition, and search intent.
  • Tailor your keyword reports to highlight the most relevant terms.
  • High volume keywords offer more traffic but are harder to rank for and usually informational.
  • Low volume keywords, easier to rank for, may bring less traffic.

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