Validating Search Volume

By now, you should have a few ideas for your head term. If not, read the section on Researching a Head Term first.

Free tools like Keyword Planner are usually more than enough to gauge volume, but paid services like SEMRush and Ahrefs can give you more insights if you’ve got the budget.

Today we’ll be using Google’s Keyword Planner in our examples.

Head to Keyword Planner and access it using your Google account

If this is your first time using Keyword Planner, Google may prompt you to set up a campaign. This is optional, although they’ve made skipping it a little tricky.

On the first page, click ‘View more goal types’.

You’ll be taken to a new setup screen. Click ‘Skip’ to jump through the setup, then click ‘Submit’ on the ‘Confirm your business information’ page.

You should now be in the Keyword Planner! If you decide to set up a paid ad campaign with Google, you can access the setup from the same dashboard as the Keyword Planner.

In the sidebar, click Tools > Planning > Keyword Planner
Click ‘Get search volume and forecasts’ and enter some of your head terms

Replace your variables with keywords that you plan on targeting. To test a head term thoroughly, enter a few variations, which can be on new lines or separated by commas.

Another approach: 'Discover new keywords'

Another approach is to use the ‘Discover new keywords’ module in Keyword Planner. This gives you results from related keywords. Follow a similar approach, entering a handful of your head terms with variables and click ‘Get results’.

Keyword Planner also allows you to use wildcards by inserting an asterisk. Replace your head term variables with the asterisks and see what results you get.

Analyse the results

Pay attention to the Avg. monthly searches. This tells us how many people are looking for our term. Above 1K is excellent, and above 100 is good. Less than 100 means we need to be sure we’re targeting our audience well and that our pSEO strategy covers enough keywords.

If all the keywords you check have low volume, it’s time to return to the drawing board. Try some different head terms or begin researching another approach.

If you have some volume, we can move to the next step: checking difficulty.

Difficulty tells us how easy it will be to beat other sites for the top spot. If your site is new, keywords with high difficulty are likely out of reach. As you get more traffic and build backlinks to your site, it’ll become easier to rank on these.

For now, let’s try to get some easy ranking.

  1. Head to Ahref’s Keyword Difficulty Checker.

  2. Type in one of your head terms with the variables replaced by placeholders. Try starting with one that has lots of volume.

  3. Take a look at the difficulty: the lower, the better. If the difficulty is medium or above, try a few variations of your head term to see if it could be viable on other keywords. If it’s only easy on keywords with no volume, consider another approach.

You’ve hopefully found a head term with high volume and low difficulty by now. Make sure you try out variations on your chosen head term to see how viable it is in a broader sense.

The more variables you have, the lower the search volume, but the easier it is to rank.

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