High Volume Vs. Low Volume Keywords – Which Ones are Worth Targeting and Why?

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By Boris Dzhingarov

Whether the goal is to produce a superior pay-per-click marketing campaign or target niche audiences through the power of search engine optimization, understanding the value of keywords is essential to the process. Many years ago, the art of keyword planning and research was simple: find potential targets, stuff content with mentions and reap the rewards. However, due to an increasingly rigid set of criteria set by search engines and more competition than ever, benefiting from keyword research is anything but a guarantee.

Particularly true for keyword advertising campaigns, there are numerous differences and variables to consider when selecting specific keywords. Before you place a bid on one or more keywords, understanding what obstacles -as well as benefits – might exist is crucial to overall success.

In order to shed light on this subject and guide readers in the right direction, let’s take a look at the differences between high volume and low volume keywords, which variations may be right for your specific efforts, and why they are worth targeting in the first place.

What Are High/Low Volume Keywords?

Before we can begin to unravel the benefits of carefully selecting the right keywords for PPC and/or other keyword advertising campaigns, we must first look at the differences between keywords based on volume. Both high and low volume keywords each offer advantages to brands and businesses when targeted properly, but understanding how they differ from one another is crucial.

The main distinction is easy enough to understand: high volume keywords are variations and queries that generate a large amount of search volume, while low volume keywords have a small search volume. High volume keywords may have hundreds of thousands or even millions of monthly searches on average, while low volume keywords may only have literally a few searches each month.

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Most potential targets will fall somewhere in between these two extremes – and while there is certainly some nuance in determining whether a keyword is high or low volume, most keywords with more than 250 global monthly searches can effectively be considered “high volume”.

Why Target High Volume Keywords?

Now that the main differences between the two types of keywords have been explained, some may be wondering why each type is worth targeting in the first place. Let’s start with the reasons why high volume keywords should be targeted by brands.

First of all, high volume keywords – by definition – will likely result in your campaigns and content being seen by more people. Likewise, exposure among a larger audience also tends to result in more clicks, purchases, subscriptions, and other desired actions.

For brands seeking short-term gains and/or increased visibility within one or more niches, targeting high volume keywords simply makes sense. Whereas organic efforts such as SEO may take months or even years to yield a large and steady stream of traffic, targeting high volume variations via marketing campaigns can produce immediate benefits.

Why Target Low Volume Keywords?

As mentioned prior, low volume keywords are alternatives that provide brands with the ability to target less congested search niches. At first glance, many may wonder why any brand would choose to target a smaller audience when compared to a larger one. However, there are numerous reasons why this may be the better choice for your specific campaigns.

Perhaps most importantly, the costs associated with targeting low volume keywords tends to be lower. While you may need to run more ads and target more low volume keywords to generate the same overall number of clicks and/or sales, the cost per click will be less. Whereas you might spend $12 for 10 clicks in a high-volume niche, the same 10 clicks might only cost half of that when using low volume keyword alternatives.

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Additionally, research suggests that clicks generated via low volume keyword campaigns tend to be more relevant and qualified. In real terms, this can even further lower the effective cost per click for your PPC campaigns.

Low volume keywords are also the superior choice when focusing on niche audiences. Given that most specialized products and services won’t enjoy a high search volume, focusing on lower volume variants tends to yield better results when balancing traffic, sales and overall cost.

Which High Volume Keywords Should Be Targeted?

As with any long-term campaign effort, a bit of trial and error is required. As you experiment with keywords, you’ll begin to uncover which variations provide more benefit to the brand and which do not. As such, there are broad guidelines for targeting high volume keywords that must be considered – with additional, specific findings to improve the process after a variety of campaigns have been executed.

With high volume keywords specifically, it is crucial to focus on those with a low effective cost per click (eCPC). Attracting ten times the amount of traffic may not inherently be worth it to your brand if it likewise costs twenty times more than through a variety of low volume keywords.

High volume keywords that relate directly to your brand should definitely be targeted. When facing a competitive niche or industry, businesses will often bid on their competitors’ names and brands via PPC campaigns. You do not want to leave your own brand-specific keywords untargeted.

Which Low Volume Keywords Should be Targeted?

Given the relatively low cost and flexibility of low volume keywords, many brands decide to bid on dozens of unique options. For brands wishing to generate similar levels of traffic as they would via high volume keywords, targeting a vast array of low volume variants is practically mandatory.

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One example of low volume keywords that should be targeted is location-specific keywords. Given the tendency for entities such as Google to prioritize location in many of its SERPs, targeting locations – even if your brand is not location-specific – can attract qualified niche audiences with minimal competition.

Low volume keywords that help brands target audiences for the purposes of securing big sales should also never be overlooked. Given that low volume niches tend to have highly relevant searches, expensive product, and service pitches can actually generate big revenues when the campaign and ad copy resonate with readers. From the perspective of digital marketing – and more specifically, PPC campaigns – it’s important to understand that every single keyword has value. While most keywords will not provide inherent benefit in every situation, overlooking low volume or high volume options due to their broader connotations can result in many missed opportunities. Now that you know when low and high volume keywords provide benefit, which ones are worth targeting and why, you’ll be better equipped to make the best decision possible for each and every future campaign.