Why it’s worth targeting keywords with no-to-low monthly search volume

Why it’s worth targeting keywords with no-to-low monthly search volume

July 2, 2019 Off By esential1@

The ultimate goldmine for an SEO expert is finding a high-volume, high-converting, low-competition keyword. What could be better than an influx of organic traffic that’s itching to buy what you have to offer?

These keywords tend to be the “sweet spot” – a high number of searches with low competition – so they’re often the priority when SEOs conduct their keyword research.

Because of this, low volume keywords (those below 250 searches per month) often get overlooked. But could SEOs be missing out on organic traffic and leads by disregarding low volume keywords?

This guide uncovers the high value that could be hiding behind these low search volume terms (and how to incorporate them into your SEO strategy).

Are you overlooking ‘the little guys?’

A few days ago I was doing keyword research for an elopement planner and photographer. The photographer primarily serves couples venturing to Patagonia (Argentina and Chile) and Iceland.

Due to her relatively small and unique niche, there weren’t a ton of high-volume keywords available.

Outside of rather broad terms like “chile wedding,” there weren’t many terms that were 1) over 100 searches per month and 2) fitting for her audience.

What we came up with were keywords like:

  • Chile destination wedding (20)
  • Chile wedding venues (10)
  • Wedding planner chile (20)
  • Wedding in patagonia (10)
  • Destination wedding patagonia (0)

All of these keywords have a measly search volume of 20 searches per month or less. Does that mean we should skip these terms altogether?

Definitely not. Here’s why…

The high value of low volume keywords

Low volume keywords often give you a unique opportunity to target terms that are highly relevant to your audience – ones that your competitors aren’t likely targeting at all.

While you may not see an influx of thousands of new users per month, you do know that you’ll have a good chance of ranking for that term and converting that small number of users into customers.

In the case of my client, we noticed that the top-ranking sites for these focus keywords weren’t completely out of reach. We have a good chance of ranking for these keywords by creating better content and upping her SEO.

Now imagine if we were to convert just one of those visitors per month. Her photography packages start at $6,000. That more than offsets the cost of the content (approximately $1500 for five blog posts).

Why wouldn’t we take the chance at targeting keywords that are hyper-relevant to her audience? We could be leaving $6000 (or more) on the table.

If you skip low volume keywords altogether, you may miss out on some conversion-ready traffic. You also give your competitors the chance to snag that traffic. Later on down the road, you may regret not targeting these terms.

Main benefits of targeting low volume keywords

The value of targeting low volume keywords goes far beyond just being able to get ahead of your competitors or driving a little more traffic.

Here are some other benefits of incorporating these terms into your SEO strategy:

  • Super relevantLong-tail keywords are typically low-volume keywords that are super relevant to your target audience. The more relevant the content, the more likely users are to convert.
  • Build interest – Low volume keywords can give you opportunities to build interest around a small or new niche.
  • Great ROI – Even the lowest volume keywords can drive conversions that offset the cost of the content itself.
  • Diversity – Your content can rank for a wide variety of low-volume keywords at once, multiplying your traffic potential.
  • Commercial intent – You can capitalize on those specific “buying” keywords that draw in users ready to buy your product or sign up to work with you.

Below, I’m going to cover some tips for harnessing the benefits of low volume keywords in order to reap some of these benefits for yourself.

8 tips for targeting low-volume keywords in your SEO strategy

Not all low volume keywords are created equal.

Just because a keyword exists – no matter the search volume – doesn’t mean it’s worth going after. You need to be selective about which keywords are worth your time (and money).

Here’s how to pick the right ones to incorporate into your SEO strategy.

1. Identify low-hanging fruit

When you start your keyword research, you likely already have a seed list of terms you want to go after. However, you may discover that some or all of these keywords don’t get much search volume at all.

Before you toss out your whole list, comb through the keywords that do get 0-200 searches per month to identify which ones may be “low-hanging fruit.”

“Low-hanging fruit” here refers to keywords that you are fairly confident you can rank for with little effort. Further, they are keywords where just one conversion would be enough to cover the cost of content creation and optimization. In other words, they are keywords that carry very little risk.

These “low-hanging fruit” keywords typically are ones that:

  • Have very low competition
  • Are super relevant to your target audience and the services your offer
  • Show a user’s intent to buy/sign up/join
  • Your competitors are not targeting yet

If you’re confident that you can rank for these keywords with little effort, and convert even one user into a paying customer, that keyword is worth going after.

2. Target keywords that are 100% relevant to your audience

To piggyback off the previous tip, you want to be sure that the keyword is super relevant to your audience’s interests.

For example, for my client, we could target keywords like “chile wedding dress” or “chile wedding customs”, but neither appeal to users that are looking to hire an elopement photographer. While we may decide to target these keywords to cast a wider net later on, it’s not worth my client’s budget to target users that aren’t likely to convert.

Dana Flannery, a digital strategist at TAC Digital, is familiar with the value of targeting low volume keywords for her clients.

“Some of the best converting keywords on just about every site I work on are the teeny tiny ones. There’s nothing like an epic conversion rate on targeting exactly what users want. For example, one of my clients is a psychologist. We go after a very specific topic that has 70 searches per month. It’s super easy to rank number one. While it only gets a handful of visitors per month, almost all move through the funnel.”

The payoff for targeting these keywords is significant due to the long customer lifetime for this niche. Even the smallest volume keywords can pay off for years to come.

“Psychologists have a long customer lifetime – generally a minimum of ten initial sessions and then blocks of ten over the human life span. So this keyword, in essence, ranks with nothing but optimized content and a handful of internal links, and brings a steady low flow of high converting traffic that provides up to 50 years of return business.”

Another thing to consider is your (or your client’s) bandwidth for new clients or customers. Two more clients for my photography client and she is booked for the month. It’s a better use of our time and money to target a smaller, most-likely-to-convert audience than a larger, less interested audience.

3. Capitalize on ‘buying’ keywords

Finding a keyword that relates to something that’s of interest to your audience is great. Finding a keyword that attracts users that already have their hands on their wallets is even better.

Your best bet when it comes to targeting low volume keywords it to find those that match a buying intent. These are keywords that often include qualifiers like “where to buy…”, “best deals for…”, “cheapest…”, “discounts for…” and the like.

These queries tell you that users are simply looking for the right option and price before they decide to buy. If you can get ahead of your competitors in the SERPs – and provide great copy – you’re likely to capture this traffic.

It’s also a good idea to target commercial keywords. These are often keywords that include your brand name or the names of the brands whose products you offers. These keywords are hyper specific and are likely to draw in users that are ready to jump on the best deal.

4. Build relevancy in a small and new niche

One of the reasons why some keywords may not have much search volume is because users haven’t thought to use these terms yet. This is typically the case when you are in a small niche or are a new brand that people have never heard of before.

If you have a unique product sometimes you can get around this issue by targeting keywords that relate to the problem your product solves. For instance, if you have an automatic back scratcher, you may target keywords like “how to scratch an itch” or “dry skin solutions.”

But a lot of times you are starting from scratch (pun not intended). Your audience doesn’t quite know what they need or that your service/product exists. This is where low volume keywords can come in to “prime the pump.”

You can create content that targets 100 and below search volume keywords in order to build awareness around your product or service. You target these easy keywords with dedicated pages, solid content, and good on-page SEO in order to build relevance for high-volume, high-competition keywords in the future.

That way, when users search for a given keyword related to their issue or question, they may “accidentally” stumble across your content. This plants the seed that your product or service could be a solution to their problem.

Getting that little bit of traffic (and even word-of-mouth advertising) can go a long way.

5. Aim for a wide variety of low volume terms

1 + 1 = 2. 

10 searches + 10 searches = 20.

You can potentially rank for several low volume keywords with a single piece of content. By incorporating many variations of the same parent term, you can compound your potential for organic traffic.

If you can find a solid money keyword and related variations, you can generate some rock-solid results from a single article.

Chris Castillo is an SEO strategist at Propel Digital Media Solutions. He was able to attract over 1000 visitors per month to a single article that targeted a primary keyword with a search volume of 150.

The article ranks for “voip troubleshooting” and over 200 other keyword variations. The collective search volume of all of these keywords has resulted in a steady stream of 1000-plus visitors to a single article. 

Just because your focus keyword only gets 20 searches per month does mean your potential for organic traffic stops there. By targeting a variety of keywords, you can potentially attract x2 the amount of traffic.

6. Assess the cost vs. reward

If you are going to invest in SEO content, you want to be confident that your investment is going to pay off. Some low volume keywords are just not worth the time or money it takes to create the content.

Say you sell a $20 product. You’ve found a keyword that gets 100 searches per month. In order to target that keyword and related keyword, you hire a writer to craft a blog post for you for $200. Even if you convert 2% of the traffic, it will take you at least 3 months to earn back what you invested in that blog post.

On the other hand, assume the same situation only you sell a $200 product. At a reasonable conversion rate, you’re likely to see a return much faster, after only one conversion. In that case, the reward is worth the cost.

Always choose keywords where you have a good chance of ranking high, generating traffic, and converting users. Or, simply accept investing in content that may take months to pay off.

7. Test conversions with PPC

Not sure whether a keyword is going to be “high converting” or not?

You can test out your ideas using PPC ads.

Choose a product or offer that your audience that you think your audience would be most interested in.

Then, identify the low volume keyword that fits that offer or product.

You can then run a small budget ad campaign to a landing page to see if users convert based on that keyword.

If it does convert, you can retarget users using Facebook Ads and the like.

You may be surprised to see that some low volume keywords have a higher conversion rate than your medium-to-high volume keywords. Who doesn’t want a bit more money in the bank?

8. Try the KGR Method

While doing my research about low volume keywords, I also came across the Keyword Golden Ratio, or “KGR Method.” I’ll admit that I had never heard of this concept before, but I think it is worth mentioning here.

The idea was coined by affiliate marketing guru Doug Cunningham. He asserts that someone can rank in the top 10 search results in “less than a month” if you follow his “golden ratio.”

“The Keyword Golden Ratio must be less than 0.25. The ratio is…The number of Google results that have the keyword phrase in the title divided by the local monthly search volume, where the LMS is less than 250. If the KGR is less than 0.25, then you should rank in the top 100 when your page is indexed.”

Essentially, his idea involves targeting low volume (under 250), low competition keywords in order to rank in the search results super quickly.

The KGR Method is a culmination of what I talked about earlier in this guide, but it may be worth checking it out if you are looking for more information. You may find some additional tips for how to incorporate low volume keywords into your SEO strategy.

Don’t skip ‘the little guys’

Going after low volume keywords isn’t always a waste of time or money.

Before you skip them altogether, go through the tips above to see whether you have some gold mine opportunities. I suggest going after the low hanging fruit, targeting many keyword variations, and adequately assessing cost vs reward. You may find some unique keywords that will pay off both in terms of traffic and conversions.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Jessica is an SEO content writer and content marketing strategist at Keys&Copy – a content agency that helps marketers get the best ROI on content for their clients. She is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. When she’s not writing, she’s likely jet-setting across the world, laptop in tow.