The essential metrics to analyze for keyword research success
When it comes time to choose your target keywords, what data should inform your decision? Columnist Paul Shapiro shares some helpful metrics to look at when evaluating which keywords to pursue.
Brainstorming keyword ideas is great, but you won’t get very far if you’re not looking at the right metrics. After all, it’s the metrics — the objective criteria we use to make the data-driven decisions — that make search such an effective marketing channel.
But which keyword research metrics should I be considering? Isn’t search volume sufficient? Let’s explore.
Average monthly search volume is the one metric that is universally used for keyword research. This metric is derived from Google’s Keyword Planner, a free tool intended for use with AdWords, and it forms a foundation for the popularity of a given search query.
Typically, one chooses the exact match type for a more precise representation of search volume for a keyword. If your business is regionally locked, make sure to specify a geography to get regional search volume.
Recently, Russ Jones wrote an excellent article on Moz discussing some of the issues with relying on Keyword Planner search volume. Jones found that search volume numbers are actually rounded to the closest of 85 “buckets” and that the 12-month average is also rounded to one of those traffic buckets. To get a more accurate 12-month average, one must segment monthly search volumes and manually average them.
Jones also found that the Keyword Planner doesn’t combine the search volumes of keyword phrases that are auto-corrected to a shared search engine results page (SERP).
To get more out of the search volume metric:
- Choose the exact match type.
- If your site is geographically dependent, choose the appropriate region.
- Manually average the last 12 months of search volumes, rather than relying on Google’s provided 12-month average.
- Group volumes of keyword variants together.
Search volume over time
Another important keyword research metric that is often ignored is how search volume changes over time. Depending on your budget, it may not make sense to invest in content creation for a keyword that won’t capture traffic in a year.
To make this data more useful for decision-making, one would calculate a 12-month average search volume from one year to another, then boil it down to a single positive or negative number using the slope formula.
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