Low Search Volume Keywords - Are They Any Good for SEO?

Low Search Volume Keywords

I came across this question on Quora, and felt this is an important question that merits some critical thinking and attention. In the race to attract more traffic to website, most website owners try to optimise for the most obvious and highly searched keyword. Because more search volume keyword will result in more traffic. Sounds obvious, right? Unfortunately it is not that simple as we would like it to be. And this is the reason, in this post we will try to address the question, whether it makes sense to optimise your website for keywords which have very low search volume (read less than 100 per month).

Scenario 1

You are a publishing platform (for example an online magazine like Techcrunch) with a global audience. For you, the currency is your traffic. More the number of readers to your website, better for you. Because you can monetize your traffic through advertisements on your website. In this case, you may want to go for some big keyword, which has over 10,000 monthly search volume. But how about the small volume keywords. Let us say, you identified a keyword which has only 80 searches per month. At the face of it, this keyword alone is useless. And will not make any difference to your business overall. However, what happens when you find 100 such keywords? In other words, you find 100 keywords each with monthly search volume of 80. The total search volume becomes 100X80 = 8000 monthly search volume. Now all of a sudden, this 8000 becomes a big number to target. So, as a publisher, your role is to find 100 of those keywords which have 80 searches and you will have a big keyword to target. Lesson: Long tail keywords work when clubbed together. Your job is to identify as many of them and club them together. Then it will become a formidable number which can get you lots of traffic.  

Scenario 2

You are a local business. You offer plumbing services in a particular city. And your capacity to offer your services is about 3 houses a day and you work 6 days a week. So essentially you can work roughly 25 days a month. And you can service 75 houses a month. Now let us say, you come across 3 targeted keywords, each with monthly search volume of 80. Therefore, you are targeting 3X80= 240 searches per month. If you manage to rank 1 for those 3 keywords, you will get roughly 30% CTR (click through rate). So, essentially, your total visitor count to your page per month will be 30% of 240 = 70 (approximately). And these 70 visitors are all targeted visitors who are specifically looking for plumbing services in your city. So, even if you manage to convert around 50% of them, you can still get 30-35 customers per month by ranking just those 3 keywords. The remaining 40-45 slots (from your total of 75 slots) for the month can come from other sources such as referrals, offline promotions etc. So from an effective SEO strategy, you can get around 40% of your total business alone. Lesson: If you are a local business, having laser targeted low search volume keywords, can be effective to give you substantial business.   So, what can we infer from case 1 and case 2?

  1. Long tail keywords do not work in isolation. Club long tail keywords together and you will have a massive search volume to target
  2. For small/niche businesses, most keywords will have less search volume. And ranking for those keywords can bring substantial business just from organic SEO.



Long tail keywords are easier to rank, as most businesses do not optimise specifically for long tail keywords. Write 10 blog post of 1000 words targeting 6 keywords each and you will be targeting 60 keywords through your blog, which can start getting you lots of long tail traffic.   What is your long tail keyword strategy? Do let us know below.