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Estimating Keyword Search Traffic Volume

Peter Askew over at Domainer’s Gazette posted a nice working example of modern day search volume estimation entitled “How To Estimate Universal Search Volume *Without* Using Yahoo or Wordtracker” (link no longer working). It’s a nice example of how one can use real-world available evidence to estimate traffic volume, in order to act and move along quickly. It ain’t perfectly accurate. It ain’t exact. It ain’t precise. It’s an estimate. But with an estimate in hand, I can act now and start learning, while my competition is still in analysis mode, and that is often my goal.

I like the way it relies solely on Google. Google’s all I care about, and I’ve always wanted to drop WordTracker from my estimation process because I dislike the futzing that I think goes on with the dataset. Yahoo! made it easy to forget them by failing to keep the Overture tool available and up to date.

So here’s Peter’s process, which he outlines well and graphically:

  • Enter your term and it’s bracketed exact match version into Google’s AdWords Traffic Estimator
  • Choose English Language and activate all possible data sources (all terriories, countries, etc)
  • Click to get estimates, and read the “estimated clicks per day” from the exact match line
  • Assume a 5% click thru rate was used to make that estimate, and back up the math to deduce # searches per day
  • (e.g. 30 clicks estimated would mean 5% of all searches is 30. So 30 divided by 5/100 is 600 searches per day estimated.)
  • Assume that estimate of 600 searches per day represents 60% of the search market (Google’s share) and you have estimated that the Internet using world searches for your term 600/.6 or 1000 times per day.

Sometimes it’s helpful to see this process in reverse, so you don’t need a calculator. If your term is searched 30,000 times per month, 60% (18,000) will be on Google and 5% of those (900) will click thru, so Google estimates you’ll see 900 clicks per month (30 clicks per day).

Perhaps most enlightening, what happens when you try and compare two terms for search volume? Using this method, your relative estimates should be much more accurate than they would be if tried to compare terms reported in WordTracker or Overture (or both, as many SEOs suggest) because your basic assumptions remain constant for both terms - it’s pretty safe to assume that however Google is estimating traffic volume it is doing so consistently. In the future that may not be true, because Google could use additional click thru data to deliver better estimates of actual expectations (that 5% assumption above). But if Google did this, wouldn’t it be obvious? I think the consistency of using only Google would enable you to see such a difference, especially if you were active in that keyword space and knew something about the market activity. In fact, that finer detail would be welcomed as it would provide more insight from Google’s data stash.

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9 Responses to “Estimating Keyword Search Traffic Volume”

  1. share.websitemagazine.com Says:

    Estimating Keyword Search Traffic Volume…

    What happens when you try and compare two terms for search volume? Using this method, your relative estimates should be much more accurate than they would be if tried to compare terms reported in WordTracker or Overture….

  2. Graham Says:

    Hi. I’m interested about your comment about “futzing” with data. What kind of twiddling do you think might be going on?

  3. Search Volume Says:

    I have a different take on this subject that relies on a bit of extrapolation from some previously known data.
    Check it out.

  4. Gamil Sawiris Says:

    Another useful tool along these lines is searchforecast.com.

  5. Olivier - mindfulness meditation Says:

    Interesting, since google gives only an indicative search volume (number between 0 and 1). One could use wordtracker of course, but one need to pay for that.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Beth Morgan Says:

    Where does the “assume 5% click through” come from, though? That’s a key part of the formula.

  7. Websiter Says:

    I’m with Beth. Where does the 5% click through come from?
    It is all important in this calculation..

  8. GMS Says:

    I’ll vouch for searchforecast being another useful addition to your arsenal

  9. Simon Howland Says:

    @beth - In the opening paragraph John makes the disclosure that:

    “It’s an estimate. But with an estimate in hand, I can act now and start learning, while my competition is still in analysis mode”

    which I tend to agree with.

    @Graham - “futzing”, a made up word by all accounts, in this context can generally be assumed to mean ‘estimated based on what we know, because unfortunately we do not have a majority share of the search market at this time’ or something similar.

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