Funny, right? It would be logical to assume that zero-volume keywords would, well, give you zero website search visits.
Well, not quite.
Zero and low search volume keywords can provide a ton of traffic that many expensive keyword research tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs tend to miss.
New bloggers or marketers too often base their whole content strategy around hitting high-volume keywords that are too competitive for their current domain rating. This can be a costly mistake, as it will take a longer time for you to see results from your efforts.
On the other hand, zero/low search volume keywords may be underserved and are easier to rank for.
In this article, we will delve into how you can integrate targeting relevant zero and low search volume keywords into your SEO strategy and address the limitations of many SEO tools when determining search volume data.
This is going to be exciting, so let’s go!
Zero and low search volume keywords have a much higher search volume than you think
Zero search volume keywords are typically long-tail terms that show up as having no monthly search volume on tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz. Low search volume keywords are those that get around 250 searches or less every month.
While overlooked by many because of their low search volume presented on search tools, these keywords can be a traffic goldmine.
The reason behind this is quite simple: people have different tendencies when searching for the same topics. For example, let’s pick this query, “How to grow a startup.” Depending on the person, they may type in:
- Person 1: Growing a startup
- Person 2: Startup growth
- Person 3: Startup growth tips
- Person 4: How do I grow a startup
… and so on.
Sometimes, the actual total monthly search volume may surpass the estimates given by keywords research tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs by 3 times or even more. This stems from the way these tools calculate monthly search volume, which is either through the Keyword Planner, clickstream data, or a mixture of both.
These methods can be inaccurate, and this is why keyword research tools tend to publish different search volume estimations on the same keywords.
For example, according to Ahrefs, the keyword backend mentor gets around 0-10 global monthly searches every month.
But one of my clients is ranking for this keyword, so we have Google Search Console (GSC) data that shows how many searches this actually gets every month.
392 monthly search impressions*!
*Impressions is the number of times any URL from your site appears in search results viewed by a user.
Evaluating whether a zero search volume keyword is right for you
Now, it may be tempting to start creating a whole strategy around zero search volume keywords. After all, keyword research tools aren’t always accurate when estimating monthly search volume.
Before doing this, you still need to understand the search behaviors behind your targeted keywords. In particular, you need to look into:
- The search intent of the keyword. Is this a type of keyword searched by people ready to make a purchase? Or will people simply bounce?
- Relevance. Will this keyword provide the right type of search traffic and is it related to other topics you already post? Sometimes a topic may be so specific that it isn’t actually searched by anyone.
- Which keywords will this content rank for? For instance, while product comparison articles may not garner much search volume, they can rank for branded keywords (i.e., the product's name) and get conversions through them. This is why your topics need to be related to others you already write around.
- Actual search volume. Go through relevant forums, groups, and subreddits, and validate whether this question is being asked by real users. Sometimes zero search volume keywords simply don’t get asked by anyone.
- Evergreen or not? You need to know whether a keyword is evergreen (searched throughout the year), seasonal (searched by people during a specific time of the year, like Christmas or Halloween), or just part of the latest news. If it’s the last one, people might not search for the keyword anymore once the current news cycle has passed.
When judged within these criteria, it becomes clear which zero/low search volume keywords to target. For instance, say that you’re a company that provides waterproof phone cases, pouch bags, and so on. You want to target this relevant query:
“How to waterproof phone”
According to Keywords Everywhere, the query gets searched around 70 times a month. But the actual traffic may be significantly well over that, and you may get to rank for adjacent queries.
Now, let’s go through the Related Keywords box:
A little common sense goes a long way.
While it may be tempting to target “how to make your phone waterproof diy”, this query leads to videos of people wrapping their phones with clingfilm and the like. At the same time, it can be safe to assume that the people searching this query might not have the budget or are too cheap to buy a phone pouch. In other words, I wouldn’t target this keyword.
How to find zero search volume keywords
There are many ways to find these keywords. Here are some that do not involve the use of expensive keyword research tools.
- Through your GSC data. If you’re months into your SEO or blogging content marketing efforts, you’re bound to be ranking for some keywords. If these keywords provide a good amount of monthly impressions (more than 250 per month) and the pages ranking aren’t exactly relevant, you can create content (i.e., blog posts and landing pages) that mainly target these keywords.
- Using Keywords Everywhere. This Chrome extension shows the search volume for various queries on the search results page and for $10 per month, you get around 100,000 credits, which should last you a while. It’s the most affordable keyword research tool that I know of and can save you a ton of time in your keyword research process.
- Keyword Planner. This tool provides the search volume range for various keywords and some suggestions on other keywords to target.
- Other less effective methods include going through the Suggested and People Also Ask topics.
With the last method, I suggest using the Keyword Planner to determine these keywords’ search volume estimates. Sometimes, the keywords that you think have low search volume are actually searched by thousands and difficult to rank for.
Do not base your whole strategy on zero search volume keywords
Basing your whole strategy around targeting zero search volume keywords is not effective and you may end up creating content around very specific topics that only a tiny portion of your customer base finds useful.
Ultimately, your potential customers want you to create content around topics that reflect your customers’ diverse set of needs.
For instance, this may include someone who wants to switch products, learn about how you solve a particular pain point, or hear about the many features or offerings that you have.