Why High Search Doesn’t Always Indicate a Good KeywordPosted: December 16, 2011
As the saying goes, it’s not quantity but quality that matters most. In reality, both generally matter, but so often people place a higher focus on quantity when they shouldn’t.
The search traffic a keyword phrase gets is one area where that’s generally true. It’s easy to fall into this mindset because much of the focus across the web is on the highest trafficked sites. A lot of social media sites that make little if any money are touted for their high monthly visitors or active members.
In the end, if it’s not valuable traffic, it won’t matter much. Looking at the social realm, MySpace is a prime example of that. They were at one point 4th highest trafficked site on the web per Alexa, but they could never figure out how to capitalize on it. Ultimately their traffic wasn’t valuable traffic, so the numbers didn’t matter much.
The same can be true when looking at keywords. Sure if you got to #1 ranking for a high traffic term, you can expect to get a free ongoing source of traffic. What if that traffic doesn’t amount to a whole lot?
I learned how traffic value can vary by seeing parking results from different domains. I once had a poker-related domain making much more on only 15 unique visitors per month than a social media related domain getting over 6,000 unique visitors per month. In fact it came out to 1 visitor on the poker domain being worth 1,000 visitors to the social domain.
Granted in that case the sources of traffic were different – natural type-in vs. link traffic. But even looking at only search traffic, even within a particular industry, you can see huge differences.
So looking at keywords, how might a high search keyword not be a good keyword?
1. The searcher only needs a quick reference
Phrases like “How many feet in a mile” or “*word* definition” may get a good amount of search, but searchers only need a quick answer. In fact, starting a few years ago, Google started supplying many of these quick answers. In that case, a searcher may never reach any of the search results.
2. What searcher wants is widely available for free
Sometimes a searcher only wants more information about a particular subject or a certain resource. If it’s widely available for free, they may have no intention of spending money. Usually ads are on the kinds of sites looking to rank for these but even ads wouldn’t generally be effective with this traffic.
3. What searcher wants is being provided by Google
This is not only for questions that Google itself answers at the top of search. Google has many services (Maps, Places, YouTube, etc.) and loves to fill the top of search results with them. Even if you wind up being a top ranking otherwise, you’ll be below the links the searcher will likely wind up clicking.
4. The term is in a low-money category/niche
I’ve mentioned social media earlier in the post – not all social media niches are low-money, but some definitely are. When the money in a particular category/niche is purely driven by advertising, the traffic value is generally very limited. Some social media terms however pertain to services or products and can be very lucrative.
5. The term is a typo
The days of targeting typos are pretty much over. Between Google Instant, showing results of corrected keyword spelling and simply autocorrecting the spelling, Google has pretty handily killed typos as search terms.
The only time they might not correct it is if the typo or misspelling is so common that it’s about as common or more common than the correct version. It’s generally very rare for that to happen, but consider that certain spellings may be correct in other parts of the world.
6. A trademarked term being used in the domain
If your domain infringes upon a trademark, unless you have the trademark holder’s permission to use it, the phrase being high search doesn’t really matter. The risk involved with the domain would make it not worth using. At best, the domain could simply be taken from you – at worst, you could be sued for any legal costs and up to $100,000 in statutory damages.
7. A term tied to another site with low quality traffic
First off, note that even a site without a registered trademark would still have a common law trademark, so still a bad idea to get a domain referencing a site. Besides that, if it’s a site that gets low quality traffic, targeting any terms referencing that site will generally get you the same kind of traffic.
Ultimately, remember that the searches for a particular keyword don’t tell the whole story of its value. If you blindly go after high-search keywords and domains, even if you nab a lot of traffic, you may have little to show for it.
At Domainate, we evaluate keywords and domains on many factors besides simply quantity of search. We specialize in exact match domains that can achieve high search rankings for valuable keyword phrases. Contact us if you need a domain to help you get valuable targeted search traffic for your business.