When conducting keyword research in the earliest stages of search engine optimization, selecting the keywords you would like to use from a list of hundreds of potential keywords (typically a list generated by the Google Keyword Tool) is a decision that has to be made accurately to ensure the success of your optimization efforts.
When viewing a keyword list, often the keyword tool will generate a “competition” ratio – sometimes based on the cost for PPC ads to create an advertisement for that keyword – that illustrates how many competitors are targeting a keyword. The keyword tool also shows a count of the number of monthly searches you can expect on the selected keyword. By taking these two numbers together, you can see that typically keywords with fewer monthly searches have lower competition.
This is because an broad keyword like “golf clubs” is targeted by many major manufacturers and distributors with big advertising budgets, but a long-tail keyword that receives fewer searches often is not worth the time for big agencies to target. That’s why selecting keywords with a low to moderate amount of competition but a decent number of monthly searches is the ideal place to start search engine optimization.
What search volume range is best for you? The answer is not simple, but it generally depends on your budget and the keyword availability of your niche or industry. If you’re planning on operating a major brand in a space, bringing tens of thousands of unique hits a month to your site, the marketing budget required will be greater than the budget required for a small niche site. And the keywords you target will be different as well.
A major brand might target keywords between 20,000 and 400,000 searches per month. A more minor product or a site with a very modest marketing budget might target keywords with less than 10,000 searches a month. These are just very general numbers to be honest because it depends on what your keyword research reveals. You might find that your niche or industry doesn’t have a lot of search volume and the best keyword only gets 1,000 searches per month. But maybe this particular keyword is ultra targeted and will give you better results than a more broad term with 15,000 monthly searches.
The bottom line is it all starts with playing around with some keyword tools to see what you’ve got available to work with. And remember that you generally don’t want to target keywords that the huge brands with their huge marketing budgets target, unless of course you are a huge brand. Your time and money is better spent going after low to moderately competitive targeted keywords with decent search volume. And if possible, don’t forget to sprinkle in some keywords with strong purchase intent (cheap shoes vs. cheap black shoes for men).