Finding high-volume keywords with low competition and great conversion rates is an SEO’s dream. No matter what training you did, formal or on-the-job, you’re often told at some stage in your career to target high-volume keywords. But it’s not all about these flashy terms when it comes to building overall visibility or boosting on-site conversions.
Knowing what to do with low search volume keywords can be the difference between creating pages that rank, draw users in and convert, and ones that stay stuck on pages 5,6 or 7 of the SERPs.
There isn’t always an ideal search volume. One of the best practices for keyword research is to not get caught up in the numbers. The number of monthly searches of a worthwhile keyword in one industry may be over 10,000 but for another, smaller, one it could be under 100.
It's no secret that search volume is one of the most important factors in choosing your target keyword. After all, other than polishing your writing skills, it’s no use publishing content for terms that no one is searching for. That doesn’t mean that high-volume always trumps low-volume keywords though.
Using high-volume keywords can increase traffic to your content, but they may not always be the best choice. They are often too broad, not optimized for intent and can be misunderstood by the person writing the content—resulting in pages that don’t satisfy the user.
Your goal should be to have a good mix of low and medium-volume keywords. This way you’ll be able to compete in SERPs with keywords that only have moderate competition while still having the ability to drive targeted traffic to your site.
The answer to this again depends completely on your industry. If your services, or advice, are pretty niche then you can afford to fight it out on the SERPs with high-volume keywords.
However, you’ll probably find there aren’t many of these widely-searched terms (when compared to bigger fields). If you’re unsure, a good SEO agency will be able to decipher the worthwhile keywords from the ones that will just waste your time.
If you’re operating within a saturated market then don’t be afraid to go low with your search volumes. Even if there are only 40 people searching for these keywords, chances are you’ll have more traffic than trying to battle with the biggest companies in your industry for ranking positions for high-volume terms.
The nature of long-tail keywords means that they often come with a low search volume when compared to short-tail keywords. After all, the likelihood of someone typing ‘white trainers with red detailing’ is far lower than them simply opting for ‘white trainers’. Don’t be fooled though, this doesn’t mean short-tail keywords are best for your brand—knowing how to use long-tail keywords comes with heaps of rewards.
Say you’re in the cleaning business. You’re looking to promote your services to a wider audience and reap the influx of cleaning appointments this will bring. After you’ve done a bit of keyword research and analysis you see that ‘house cleaning’ has thousands of searches a month. Great, right?
Now, let’s think of the intent of this search. They could be wanting information on cleaning products, how best to clean their house or how often they should clean it, not necessarily looking for a professional service.
If you want to build up your conversions, try the longer terms with a lower search volume - ‘professional house cleaning service’, ‘professional commercial cleaning’ or ‘professional flat cleaning’.
Although they receive fewer monthly searches, they are easier to rank for and will, most importantly, drive the right type of traffic to your website. You know they are looking for more information on professional cleaning services, or even be ready to book a cleaner right there and then.
Let’s start with the obvious (to some). A lot of your competitors won’t bother or won’t know what to do with low search volume keywords—meaning the market won’t be as saturated.
This lack of competition means that when someone does type in this query (remember, low search volume doesn’t mean no search volume—people are still searching it!), you should have no problem achieving successful ranking positions as long as your pages are optimized well, helpful to the reader and answer their queries.
The purpose of intent optimisation (also known as user or search intent optimisation) is to tailor your site content to meet the expectations and needs of searchers. It makes sure that searches on your page will turn up valuable and useful information that satisfies their search needs.
Long-tail keywords with low search volumes will often be more descriptive. They give you a better idea of the intent. Because of this, you can create content that will be more valuable to your target audience by identifying which of these intents are the most relevant for those searching your keywords.
In essence, creating pages for long-tail keywords with a low search volume will help you to optimize for intent too. They’re more specific in nature and so will give you a better idea of what the user is looking for than the high-volume, short-tail keywords.
One reason for a low volume of keywords could be that the subject, or trend, is still quite new. Get in there quickly, make your mark and continue to update these pages with the flowing nature of the trend once they’re ranking.
Short strings of specific keywords with low search volume could be a sign of the latest train of thought popping up, new customer needs and emerging pain points within your industry.
Take the term ‘bitcoin’ for example. If you had done some keyword research on this in early 2014 you may have written it off only for the popularity (and searches) to boom in 2017.
You and your competitors all have a share of the voice of your industry. How big a share is completely up to you.
When you rank for many terms (both high and low search volume keywords) in a niche industry, you begin to look like the go-to expert in the field. For example, if your pages rank at the top for ‘how often you should have your carpets cleaned’, ‘regular oven cleaning appointments’, ‘after-tenant cleaning’, and others, people will see you as the number one resource for professional cleaning.
If you have an eCommerce site, product descriptions are the perfect place for long-tail, low-volume keywords. If you’re able to present the user with the exact product they’re looking for, rather than having to trawl through all of the suggestions, the chance of purchase goes right up.
Not only is it great for you, but it also benefits the customer to know exactly what they’re buying.
Cornerstone content such as FAQ pages is an ideal hub of low-volume keywords. Although these pages aren’t likely to convert, you’ll boost your brand visibility, highlight your expertise in the industry and build trust in that specific user.
Think about it, you’re frantically searching for a particular issue and you keep running into generic pages that aren’t answering your query. You decide to describe the problem—what can you lose? You get really specific.
Up pops a page that gives you your answer within an FAQ page. You’re relieved and thankful, although you haven’t heard of the company you’ll hold them in high regard.
Long-tail, low-volume keywords lend themselves to blog posts. Doing some keyword research and finding a low-volume term that is directly related to your niche? Do a bit of competitive analysis to see whether it’s been covered. If it has then see if they’ve missed anything and make your post even more valuable by adding more tips, expert comments or a video explaining the concept.
If your competitor hasn’t jumped on these keywords with low search volume then you can rustle up a quick blog post. For informational keywords, you can then direct them to pages of higher value on your site. Either service pages or your homepage.
The thought of using low-volume keywords may not be showy or exciting, but they can add a tonne of value to your site. Try it out for your next piece of content—they are often well worth the time, money, and effort you put in.