Originally posted here in 2020.
Keyword volumes are a common metric in keyword research, that helps decide if a given keyword has enough search volume over a period of time. And then determine if is useful to be targeted in either SEO or paid search and to some extent social and paid social.
In any case keyword research and keyword volumes should be a major pillar of your content and content strategy.
Keyword volumes in most of these tools with the exception of Google Trends (more on that to come) are calculated by dividing the number of searches in a year, by 12 to arrive at a monthly search volume figure.
How Covid impacts keyword volumes?
There are various tools including Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and many other similar proprietary tools. Below we look at how some of these tools might help you with keyword volumes.
The one thing they all have in common, like mostly every other thing in our lives today is that these monthly volumes can be greatly affected by Covid.
Let’s say you get volumes for “keyword research”, the average keyword volume for the UK is 2400 searches per month. It is highly likely this number is different now, possibly higher in this case, given everyone is at home most of the time and everything is moving online where possible.
Let’s try and verify that using Google Trends, while you cannot get the full volumes, looking at the trend for the UK below and USA also, it is noticeable there is a steady increase in interest in the past year over the previous four.
For most small business such as hospitality, travel and tradespeople the trend is likely to be the other way around.
How Google Keyword Planner calculates keyword volumes
Average Monthly Searches: Filters keywords based on average monthly searches for selected dates. Keywords with extremely high search volume (generally 10,000+ average monthly searches) are more difficult to compete for, with a higher suggested bid. If you’re just starting your campaign, focusing on keywords with mid-level search volume may help you avoid spending too much of your budget on too few keywords.
Source: Using Google Ads Keyord Planner
You can use Keyword Planner to get insights into how keywords might perform. Google draws on historical search data to make estimates on what you might get from a set of keywords based on your spending.
Source: About Keyword Planner forecasts
How Google Trends calculates keyword volumes
Google trends does not give you a monthly search volume figure as all other tools in this post, but can still be extremely useful to gauge the popularity of a given query over time as we’ve seen above.
For example you can see below that the word “pandemic” itself has never been more popular than around April 2020, and of course for good reason. This trend applies worldwide and virtually any other country you drill down to.
What Google Trends in this case shows is that since March/April 2020 the interest in the word pandemic was in the region of over 90% more than any other time since 2004 (when Google Trends data first exists). The exception being around April 2009 when at around 20 over 100, the trend shows the “Swine flu pandemic” generated about 5 times less interest than Covid.
How SEMrush calculates keyword volumes
SEMrush is one of the most and probably the best out of the “old school” SEO tools in terms of keyword research and tracking.
But even their data in the average monthly volume comes from (Year volume / 12 = monthly volume). So seasonal queries are likely to be either much less or much more in any given month than the reported monthly volume.
Average monthly search volume represents the number of times the keyword was searched over the past twelve months divided by 12. For seasonal and trending keywords, this number could be higher or lower than the average in certain months.
And of course now we have the infamous Covid to contend with when analysing keywords.
How to calculate Covid impact in keyword volumes?
Whether you use SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, ahrefs or any other tool, you can then pass those same keywords through Google Trends and verify the trend in the past 90 days and 12 months and up to 2004.
This adds a layer of complexity and the cost of your time to do it, but this is a minor trouble in the current context given the extra work most business have to deal with, hand sanitiser, screens and so on.
It is certainly worth doing and adding it to your SEO audits.