Zero Search Volume Keywords: Why You Should Target Them

Zero Search Volume Keywords
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First things first: What is search volume?

In simple terms, “search volume” refers to the average number of times users search for a keyword (a term or a query) on search engines within a specified timeframe, typically the previous year. It is a measure of the popularity of any given search query.

As anyone would logically presume, high search volume keywords are more appealing to content marketers.

The competition for these keywords is extremely fierce, unlike low-volume, low-competition, long-tail keywords.

What are Zero Search Volume Keywords?

Zero search volume keywords have no measurable history of searches. These keywords are highly specialized, more detailed, and unique long-tail searches.

Competition for these keywords is almost nonexistent. Most zero-search keywords have 4 or more words within the search string itself.

Let’s understand this topic better by using an example.

Think of a keyword with large search numbers, e.g. “content marketing”. This keyword averages hundreds of thousands of searches every year, which makes it a high-volume keyword.

The competition for this keyword is extremely high. If you add a few more words to make it “content marketing for beauty brands,” for example, you restrict your search phrase to a smaller audience.

The competition and the search volume for the second keyword are lower compared to the first one, and that makes it a low search volume keyword.

Zero search volume keywords are equivalent to low search volume, long-tail keywords. The keyword may not receive any searches, but the words and phrases that form it do receive substantial unique searches. [Editor’s Note: These “keywords inside the keyword” are what we refer to internally as Derivative Keywords]

When combined, these words can have a sizeable search volume. Google’s machine learning algorithms are able to recognize that the words and phrases that make up a zero search volume keyword share the same intent, which improves their Google ranking.

Zero Volume Search Keywords: A Hidden Traffic Goldmine

Don’t be deceived by keyword research tools when they show no searches for a keyword. By truly understanding your target market, you should have a pretty good idea of the keyword phrases an ideal client is likely to search for.

If you, therefore, have a good feeling about a long tail keyword, you can’t just shove it aside because an online tool says otherwise.  These tools aren’t always accurate when estimating keyword search volume.

Tools such as Google Adwords Keyword Tool are mostly inclined towards broad-match commercial intent queries (for business reasons). The tool isn’t keen on broad match informational queries (again, due to business reasons).

Informational queries make up almost 80% of all search queries on the internet. That is to say, keyword research tools miss 8 out of every 10 important keywords.

There is an 80% probability that your “zero search volume keyword” is among the high volume keywords missed by the keyword research tools you might be using.

Zero-volume search keywords have tons of benefits, especially for small brands.

They Give You a Chance to Rank for Trendy Phrases

New trends in any niche bring new words and phrases. These new phrases become high-volume search keywords within days or weeks.

However, as we mentioned in the introduction, keyword research tools may take up to 12 months before they recognize these trendy phrases as high-volume searches.

If you’re an expert in your industry, you can spot a “future high volume” keyword when every tool in the market still regards it as a low or zero search volume keyword.

By optimizing your content for these keywords. you will help web crawlers to find your content first, so your pages rank well early on. You can then use link building and other SEO strategies to stay at the top.

Big Brands Don’t Really Value Zero Search Volume Keywords

That means reduced competition. It is almost impossible to compete with big brands with all their money and SEO expertise.

Without their competition, you will take your small brand all the way to the top by targeting zero-volume keywords. To rank as high as possible, aim to ensure that the keyword use on your website is unique and thoughtful.

Essentially, be sure your content is well optimized for these terms and various derivatives of them.

You Can Show the Industry What Your Brand is Really About

Some zero search volume keywords are unknown because they don’t exist. Basically, nobody has thought of them yet.

If you trust your creativity and innovation, you can give answers and solutions to questions and problems that the old guard has always neglected.

Someone is looking for those solutions through relevant (zero-search) keywords. If you’re the one to offer the solutions, then you will automatically become an authority in the subject and your niche.

Pro tip: Always conduct competitor research to identify the important information that their content lacks. Use that knowledge to create keywords that are pertinent to your ideal customer’s knowledge and needs.

They are Hyper-Focused on the Right Audience

How does a keyword become “high volume”?

Keywords that are searched for by millions of internet users are relevant to multiple niches and industries. They aren’t specifically targeted to a small, close-knit group.

You can call them ambiguous or generic. The lower the search volume, the more relevant a keyword is to the audiences that really matter. The keyword may not fetch huge numbers, but the few people who do search for it online are highly qualified and ready to convert.

Bottom line: You will make more conversions with unique, thoughtful, and zero-volume keywords than with a generic, uninspired high-volume keyword.

They Help You Add LSI Terms Without Keyword Stuffing

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are terms for which your content could potentially rank, but aren’t necessarily high in search volume.

These keywords help your content rank for additional keywords other than the main targets, and they can potentially multiply your website’s annual traffic.

The challenge that content marketers face when adding LSI keywords is keyword stuffing. In this scenario, they end up with too many keywords and fail to provide real value for their readers.

When Google ranking algorithms eventually take note of the keyword stuffing, the affected pages will rapidly plummet down the rankings.

Zero search volume keywords solve this problem by allowing you to add different variations of the parent “seed” keyword in a natural way. [Editor’s Note: We refer to these terms as Semantic Keywords internally, for future reference]

The online tools available to Google don’t recognize zero search volume LSI phrases as keywords (nobody searches for them according to Google). Chances are that Google will never flag them as unnatural or accuse you of keyword stuffing.

You Get Access to More of Your Target Audience

If you’re a seasoned brand, you probably trust high-volume keywords to generate all the traffic you need. But there is no harm in pivoting your SEO strategy to target zero-volume keywords.

Statistics show that about 15% of queries in Google are new, first-time queries.

Put differently, you’ve consistently ignored about 15% of your target market. Your competitors also don’t target these keywords, so this slice of the market is yours for the taking.

Tips For Finding Quality Zero Search Volume Keywords

All zero search keywords are not equal. Some generate lots of quality traffic, while others yield negligible results.

So, which tactics can you use to find quality queries with zero search volume?

On Google Search Console, use the Regular Expressions (Regex) filter to identify long-tail queries that are relevant to your niche. Enter: ([^” “]*\s){N,}to get these keywords. “N” here is the number of words that you want the search query to have.

Dive into Q&A sites, e.g. Quora and Reddit. Use search operators in these sites to discover long-tail keywords/queries that popular keyword research tools miss, but that are relevant to your niche.

If use Reddit, for example, enter:

site:reddit.com/r/your niche “question”.

“Your niche” in this case is the topic you’re writing about. If you are writing about how to build links, for example, this is what you will enter:

site:reddit.com/r/linkbuilding “how to”

Explore forum discussions, social media, and the SERPs. You can use tools such as SEMrush or Moz for effective, thorough exploration. Take note of the unanswered questions on these platforms.

The questions were asked in the first place because someone needs answers. Be the one to offer those answers!

Conduct Thorough SEO Keyword Research

What wording do people search for when looking for the products or services that you offer?

Which long-tail keyword phrases lead people to your competitors’ websites?

Use this knowledge to come up with better, more relevant keywords.

Analyze Google’s “People Also Ask” Section

This section tells you which queries people ask when their main queries give unsatisfactory answers or when they have follow-up queries. You can find many relevant long-tail keywords there.

See What Google Autocomplete Suggests

If Google guesses a search query before you complete it, there is a high chance that people ask it quite often.

Tips for Using Zero Search Volume Keywords Effectively

Go big with “Buy” keywords. People who use these keywords have a strong intent to spend money.

“Buy” keywords include adjectives such as “best,” “affordable”, “top,” etc. They help you increase your sales conversions.

Ensure that your keywords speak to the problems your product/service solves. It is never about the quantity of the keywords you use. It is always about relevance and quality.

Capture the intent of as many online searchers as possible by adding as many relevant words as you naturally can.

Let’s say your keyword is “link building services.” Anyone interested in the topic would also be interested in topics such as “what is link building,” “why link building matters,” “workable strategies for effective link building,” and “key benefits of link building.”

Target these keyword phrases even if they have zero search volume.

Final Thoughts

Keywords with low search traffic are not useless or pointless. Their potential to drive natural traffic and conversions may be largely untapped, but it is certainly not inexistent.

It is okay to concentrate your SEO approach on high search volume keywords. Regardless, you cannot afford to ignore zero search volume keywords if you want to edge out competitors.


Feature Image provided by Seobility under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareALike 4.0 International license, adapted and also available under the same creative commons licensing (attribution required).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

This guest post brought to you courtesy of Return On NowProfessional Austin SEO and PPC Services Company.

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Rilind Elezaj

Rilind Elezaj is an experienced Digital Marketing Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. He possesses a strong entrepreneurial mindset and has devoted his career to enhancing the sphere of digital marketing. In his methodological approach, Rilind integrates web development and other digital marketing solutions to create hybrid strategies that bring the best results.

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