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  • Search Clicks versus Search Volume

    Search Clicks vs. Search Volume: What’s the Difference, Where Should I Focus?

    It is easy to get lost in SEO metrics and KPIs. Frequently, marketer’s vision can obscured by which metric actually represents customer acquisition and how to best target marketing efforts to get the best results.

    Understanding the difference between search clicks and search volume can help you to properly focus your marketing attention and more importantly, your marketing dollars so that they produce the best results.

    One such metric is the difference between search volume and search clicks and why it matters.

    The Difference Explained

    Before we get into a long “this or that” comparison of the two, we’ll briefly explain the meaning of both search volume and search clicks so that you understand (or understand more fully) the difference between the two and how they translate to marketing.

    Search Volume

    Search Volume

    Without breaking it down into core components, search volume is a measurement of how much search traffic you can expect to get within a given period, for a particular keyword.

    This data is easily accessible by tools like Google Analytics and is an easy way to see an estimate of the traffic to your site given the keywords you are trying to rank for. Your keyword strategy is the main component of these numbers.

    At one time this was the go-to metric for determining site traffic as search volume can be directly correlated to site visits in a sense. However, with recent advancements in search engine technology that show answer boxes and related search questions, oftentimes people no longer click to visit a page to obtain the information they seek.

    Keyword relevance is still a large part of traffic generation and most marketers still use search volume as a means to get good customer acquisition data. The key to reading your search volume data is to find out from those searches, how many translate to site visits and from site visits to active customers.

    Search Clicks

    Search Clicks

    Search clicks are the measure of how often there is click-through for a given search term. If you think of it in terms of marketing data, how often do they search for something related to your product/service and click to go to your webpage?

    Because of the way Google displays information, your search click rate is likely to be much lower than your actual search volume. If it is a question or piece of information that the user needs, they can likely get it from the results page without ever having to click on a link.

    This means that question and answer queries are less effective at getting clicks than specific search queries. For example, if a user searches for “average cost of a new roof” they will likely get a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that shows an answer box with a rough estimate of the cost of a new roof.

    This means they never have to click on a link to get the information they were seeking. This is where search volume can be inaccurate as compared to search clicks. However, if the user searches for “roofers near me” they are more likely to click on one of the many results based on their needs, the roofer’s online reputation, or any number of other factors.

    That all sounds a bit convoluted, but suffice it to say, search clicks are a more accurate representation of how much traffic is going to your site.

    Where to Focus

    The trouble with marketing data is figuring out where to focus your efforts. Now you know a bit more about search volume versus search clicks and which metrics are more accurate, but that doesn’t make the decision so clear-cut.

    Since search clicks give you more accurate traffic data, marketing should be focused on getting clicks. This doesn’t eliminate search volume relevance though. The trick is to incorporate high search volume keywords with those that show higher search click rates.

    To put it into terms that are easier to understand, you can think of search volume as your brand’s visibility. Good visibility means more people will see and be aware of your products and services. Awareness and sales are two separate things though.

    That’s where search clicks come in. Search clicks show you how many are buying. So, of course, you want to focus on search clicks as your most relevant piece of marketing data. The problem is figuring out how to mesh the two metrics together to form a cohesive digital marketing strategy.

    Blending Search Volume Data With Search Clicks

    Blending Search Volume Data With Search Clicks

    Thankfully, there are tools available that can tell you the true numbers in terms of accurate search volume and search clicks. Using all of this information will allow you to change your marketing strategy to focus away from solely using search volume-oriented keywords and more towards search clicks and keywords that have higher click rates.

    A proper marketing strategy will combine relevant high volume keywords with high click rate words so that traffic is generated towards your site. It may be the case that higher search clicks come with less traffic. The idea is to gradually shift your keyword habits toward query results that promote clicking on a site to get more information rather than easily answerable questions.

    Once you have the data you need, you can start to generate and write content that generates clicks and not just searches. We’re not ruling out the validity of high search volumes, just suggesting that it’s not the be-all, end all of marketing metrics that it used to be.

    And, if you’re looking to rank for high-volume, commercial keywords, then building links will also be a separate strategy you’ll need to undertake. But link builder beware. There are natural ways and unnatural ways of building links.

    Final Thoughts

    Ok, so that was probably a lot to take in. To sum it all up, you should focus on search clicks, not search volume. Volume is useless without sales. The key is to generate content that will get people searching for you, finding you, and then clicking that link to buy products and services.

    All of the tools and data are there for you to track your click-through rate and your search volume, so now all you have to do is put it to work for you by creating a market strategy that capitalizes on it.

    Remember, a good blue ocean strategy also includes targeting zero volume search keywords in SEO, as doing so is less expensive and allows you to rank and garner traffic more quickly for new websites.

    Chief Marketing Officer at SEO Company
    In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. As a technical SEO strategist, Sam leads all paid and organic operations teams for client SEO services, link building services and white label SEO partnerships. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building. Connect with Sam on Linkedin.
    Samuel Edwards