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Isabelle Banas
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Understanding Your Average Monthly Search Volume

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There are many keyword research tools which are used to build both SEO and AdWords campaigns. The most common of these tools are Google’s Keyword Planner, Wordtracker, Moz, Ubersuggest and Wordstream. There are a lot of statistics on these platforms that help determine the right keywords to shortlist and add to a campaign, such as keyword difficulty or competition level, average cost per click and the most common one: average monthly searches. Although keyword research is largely dependent on the average monthly search volume metric, it is crucial to understand the common misconceptions to ensure it is used and viewed appropriately.

Not 100% accurate

Firstly, it is not 100% accurate. Google’s Keyword Planner rounds the search volume number to the nearest 10; you will never see 199 average monthly searches.

By default, Google uses search data from the past 12 months for the particular location setting you have set, and divides the number of searches by 12.  Although the seasonal nature of the keywords are taken into consideration, the months that may have less than half the search volume than other months, will not show a different statistic, as the average is the same. Therefore, the average monthly search volume for a particular keyword should not be used to forecast campaign potential. Note: Keyword Planner does show search volume monthly trends for individual keywords using historic data for the last 12 months.

Your site will only get a portion of the search share

Even if the average monthly search volume was accurate. Depending on where your website ranks in the SERPS and the quality of your ad copy for AdWords or your meta description and title for SEO, you will only get a portion of the total traffic for that search query. It is important to remember that you are not the only option, there are 9+ other options for searchers to click on.

Absence of broad and phrase match search volume
Google’s previous keyword research platform, Keyword Tool, used to show broad and phrase match search volume. However, Keyword Planner only shows average search volume for exact matches. Therefore, average monthly searches only best describes the average search volume for exact match keywords, not for other match type variations. This statistic is best used to understand how your target market searches, in particular how popular a particular search query is and whether or not it is worth adding to an AdWords campaign.

google-adwords-keyword-planner

Example of Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner.

Not a measure for SEO potential

Unlike AdWords, the search queries that bring traffic to your website aren’t as clear, as only a portion can be viewed via Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools. The potential traffic for your SEO campaign can come from all sorts of variations of your target keywords or related queries. For example, your campaign may only include the following keywords, which could bring in a large portion of your organic traffic:

kitchen bench tops Melbourne
bench tops Melbourne
stone tops Melbourne
stone bench tops Melbourne

But you may also rank on page 1 on Google for these search terms:

kitchen stone benchtops Melbourne

kitchen benchtops Melbourne

stone benchtops Melbourne

kitchen benchtops Brisbane

Therefore, adding up the average search volume for just your target SEO keywords is not an accurate measure of the organic traffic potential, as the traffic received can come from other search queries your site also ranks for as a result of the SEO techniques used.

Keyword research tools are great indicators of keyword potential, but these statistics should not be taken literally when determining website traffic potential of SEO or AdWords campaigns.

Written by Isabelle Banas — Senior Client Relationship Manager at WME.

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By Isabelle Banas


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