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September 27, 2020

Why Zero Volume Search Keywords Are a Traffic Goldmine

New bloggers want every post they write to be a home run. They inevitably turn to keyword research tools to target the phrases with the most search volume, and it’s a huge mistake!

Let’s talk about why that is.

“Zero Volume” Search Keywords Actually Get Lots of Traffic

You’re probably wondering how this is possible. The keyword research tools say nobody searches it, how could a post targeting that phrase get you lots of traffic?

Keyword research tools are entirely inaccurate when guessing search volume, specifically low volume informational queries.

Why? Most keyword research tools get their data from either the Google Adwords Keyword Tool or from clickstream data they get from companies like JumpShot. And JumpShot filed for bankruptcy in 2020 over complaints about selling user data, keyword tools might be forced to abandon that method in the future.

Google Adwords is a terrible tool for traffic data. It only returns data for broad match commercial intent queries, not exact-match or informational queries.

google keyword planner broad match example

That may not seem like a huge distinction, but it has vast implications. It means queries without ads are reporting a big fat 0 for search volume. Since keyword research tools get their data from the Adwords planner, they will also show informational queries as having 0 traffic. Since 80% of queries are informational, they wildly undercount the traffic on most keywords.

Conversely, the Google Adwords tool also conflates search volumes due to their use of broad match keyword data. Here’s a literal example from Google about how broad match queries work.

Google broad match examples

What About ClickStream Data?

JumpShot (the company aHrefs was getting their data from) went bankrupt in 2020. I’m not sure how many clickstream companies exist, so this may not even be an option for keyword research companies anymore.

But, let’s assume ClickStream data is an option. The problem is if a long-tail query is Googled 100 times per month worldwide, that’s incredibly unlikely to be found by the ClickStream company. Meaning it will get a traffic estimate of 0.

70% of search queries are long-tail search phrases. If you wrote an article that ranked for 30 long-tail phrases, each getting 100 searches per month, that’s 3,000 monthly impressions. Keyword research tools will estimate those queries as getting 0 traffic.

To prove it, go into your Google Search Console and lookup real-life page-1 traffic data. Then compare that to what shows up in aHrefs or Ubersuggest. I guarantee they’ll vastly underreport the real-life impressions data.

How To Target Zero Search Volume Queries

You’ve hopefully accepted that just because a keyword research tool tells you a query gets 0 search volume doesn’t make it so. That was step 1.

Step 2 is realizing the exact opposite. It’s not exactly a great sign that these keyword research tools tell you a query gets 0 traffic either. While these posts can easily bring in a few thousand clicks per month when they hit, they’re also doubtful to be the home runs that bring in 10’s of thousands of clicks per month.

There also might be a few duds mixed in. There’s no way to guarantee a zero volume search keyword has volume; you’re taking a small risk. I’ve written plenty of posts that seemed reasonable, ranked #1, and it turned out only a few hundred people Googled it per month even with the long tail.

The next step is to figure out which keywords are more likely to be studs than duds. The key is to minimize the number of posts you write that get little to no traffic.

How To Tell if a Zero Volume Search Query Has Search Volume

If you’re an experienced blogger, the first place to look is your own Google Search Console data. Look for keywords that get decent volume numbers but that you didn’t explicitly write an article about. This method works wonders fast!

Next, use your intuition. Identify a topic you want to write about within your niche. Ask yourself if this is something you’ve ever Googled before, and if not, how would a person brand new to the subject Google it.

Then head on over to Google and start typing how you think somebody would Google this topic into the search bar. The autosuggest should come up with things that people type into Google.

Google keyword auto suggest

This won’t tell you exactly how much search volume something gets. But, if you do this step, it’ll considerably cut down on the number of posts you write that get zero traffic whatsoever. Which is what we’re trying to do.

How To Win Zero Volume Search Queries

This is the same as how you’d win any search query. I highly recommend checking out my keyword research guide for a more in-depth explanation. The main thing you want to do is Google your primary search phrase and make sure this is a topic you can actually win.

low competition SERP example

You’re really doing this because you want to avoid keywords where the top 10+ results from Google are all spot on and from high domain authority websites. You may also want to avoid any results with Google Shopping or zero-click search queries where giant snippets at the top solve the user’s query.

power saw google shopping example

Speed Up Your Writing To Win With Zero Volume Search Queries!

As I said earlier, you’re not going to be hitting home runs with these blog posts. The plan is to hit 100 singles. The faster you can write and publish posts of medium quality, the better you’ll do.

The idea is that if you average 1,000 clicks per post, you’ll get to 100,000 page-views per month after only 100 posts. At 3 posts per week, you could be looking at full-time income numbers within a year or two.

Post Frequency Time to 100 Posts Time to 400 Posts
Once a Month 8 years 32 years
Bi-Weekly 4 years 16 years
Once a Week 2 years 8 years
Twice a week 1 year 4 years
Three Times a Week 33 weeks 2.5 years

Shaun works as a professional software developer while blogging about the creator economy (With a focus on Blogging, YouTube, and Virtual Reality).

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