When you’re a business owner, there are a lot of things you need to think about when it comes to digital marketing. You need to think about your budget, your target market, and what kind of strategies you can use to reach that target market.
If you’re even slightly SEO-savvy, or have any experience at all running PPC campaigns, you already know that keywords are a central part of inbound marketing. In SEO, you need to choose the right keywords to target so that your website can rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). In PPC, you need to choose the right keywords so that your ads can be shown to people who are actually searching for what you’re selling.
When you’re inbound marketing for your business, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to target the most popular keywords because you think that’s what will bring you the most traffic.
However, there are some obvious drawbacks to targeting only popular keywords.
First, the SEO competition is usually fierce for these keywords. And it’s the same for PPC—it can be expensive (and inefficient) to bid on these keywords in paid search campaigns.
But what if a keyword has low search volume? What if it has “zero” search volume? Is it still worth targeting?
The answer is yes…
For a few reasons:
- First of all, those metrics in keyword research tools aren’t necessarily accurate. Just because a keyword has low or zero search volume in one tool doesn’t mean that people aren’t actually searching for it.
- The second reason is, as you might have guessed, there’s usually less competition for these keywords. So even if the search volume is low, it might be easy for you to get enough traffic from these keywords to make it worth your while.
- Thirdly—yes, it’s a word—long-tail keywords (keywords that are more specific and usually have lower search volume) tend to convert better than broad keywords. So even if you’re getting less traffic from targeting a long-tail keyword, the traffic you are getting is more likely to convert into leads or customers.
Have you ever wondered how keyword research tools come up with their search volume numbers?
The answer is: they don’t really know.
They make estimates based on a number of factors. Some of them get their metrics directly from Google. Others are transparent about basing their metrics on data they buy from third-party companies. Others are more opaque—we don’t really know where they get their data from.
This is why different tools will show different search volume metrics for the same keyword. They’re all estimates based on data from different sources.
These estimations are (likely) more accurate for popular keywords. But for low-search-volume keywords, they can be pretty far off the mark.
You don’t see any key phrases in these tools with “3” search volume, or anything like that. Everything is rounded up to the nearest 10… or the nearest 40… or the nearest 60… 100… 1,000… 10,000, etc.
So, if keyword research tools can’t really accurately tell us how many people are searching for a particular keyword, how can we know for sure that it’s worth targeting?
The answer is, we can’t really know for sure.
We have to make some assumptions and use our best judgment based on the available data, which isn’t perfect.
That said, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind if you decide to target keywords with low or zero search volume:
Make sure the keyword is relevant to your business.
Just because a keyword has low or zero competition doesn’t mean it’s worth targeting—if it’s not relevant to your business.
SEO and PPC keyword research tools can be bad about giving you suggestions for long tail keywords that you can rank easily for, but that are, really, completely unrelated to your business.
Sometimes in ways that software can’t yet differentiate.
You need to use your human logic to vet each and every one of these low or “no” difficulty keyword suggestions before you start targeting them.
If you’re not sure about one, ask yourself this question: Would I search for this keyword if I wanted to find my company’s content?
If a keyword isn’t relevant, don’t bother targeting it—no matter how low the competition is.
To use a real-life example from a certain SEO Keyword Tool I used under the condition of anonymity: Yes, with a Keyword Difficulty metric of “0,” you probably can rank your coffee roasting company’s “Shipping and Return Policy” page for “how do I get a refund from Wish.com.” Do you want to?
If you see a keyword with low or zero search volume that’s relevant to your content, by all means, target it. If it’s not relevant, move on.
- Keyword Tools Can’t Be Trusted – Just because a tool (or even several tools) says (or say) that a keyword has low or zero search volume, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
- Even “Zero” Search Volume Keywords Can Be Worth Targeting – Don’t be afraid to target low or no volume keywords in your SEO and PPC campaigns—on the other hand, don’t put all your hopes into ranking for them, either.
- Targeting Non-Relevant Keywords Is A Bad Idea – As with anything in inbound marketing, it’s important to keep your goals and target market in mind when choosing which keywords to target. If a keyword isn’t relevant to you, it’s not worth targeting—no matter how easy it is to rank for.
- Diversify Your Keyword Portfolio – It’s true in finance, and it’s true in SEO: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your keyword portfolio by targeting a variety of different keywords, including low-hanging fruit (high search volume, low competition keywords) as well as long-tail keywords.