Do you know how many Google searches happen each month for your brand or product? Search volume data is essential for business owners, but it isn’t always easy to find—or understand. Here are the best tools and DIY methods for finding your Google search volume—and what to do with these numbers.
What is Google search volume?
Google search volume measures how often a given keyword is searched for on Google. It’s a data point typically expressed as average monthly searches or monthly search volume (MSV). This number is an estimate, since Google doesn’t make exact keyword search volume data public.
Google search volume reflects the total number of searches a keyword receives, not the number of unique users. If one person makes the same query multiple times, each search counts toward MSV.
Understanding search volume can empower you to align your web pages with customer search behavior, optimize your content strategy, and enhance your visibility in search results, making it easier for new customers to find your products.
Factors that affect Google search volume
Search volume isn’t static. It fluctuates over time for reasons that include:
- Seasonality. If the search volume for a particular query rises and falls in a predictable pattern each year, it can be said to be “seasonal.” For example, interest in the search term “bbq grill” peaks every June in the United States. Google Trends can help you explore the seasonality of keywords relevant to your business.
- Trends. Some spikes in search volume are less predictable, such as those tied to breaking news, current events, and other popular topics. Check out today’s search trends to see which queries have the highest volume now.
- Advertising. Special promotions and ads can generate awareness and interest in your brand or products, which may translate to an increase in search volume for your pages.
- Search engine optimization. Optimizing your content for search (known as SEO) can help your website rank higher on search engine results pages, leading to increased search volume.
- User behavior. As technology evolves, so do search patterns. Increasing use of mobile search, for example, has shifted search volume to favor different keywords and mobile-optimized sites.
Tools for assessing the Google search volume for a keyword
Before finding the MSV for a keyword, it’s essential to understand the limitations of search volume data. MSV is a rough estimate, and, like all estimates, sometimes Google (or your favorite keyword research tool) gets it wrong. A high-MSV keyword could bring in very little traffic; a lower-MSV keyword could be a boon for your business. Ensure MSV is one of several metrics you use when evaluating keywords.
Search volume doesn’t appear on the SERP by default (although, if you want it to, you can download a browser extension like MozBar). To find search volume, you can use a paid third-party keyword research tool or a combination of three free tools from Google: Google Ads Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and Google Search Console. Each serves a different purpose:
- Google Keyword Planner. Google Keyword Planner is a free tool by Google to help businesses find keywords to target with Google Ads. To use it, input a search term (or several) related to your business, and it will return a list of related keyword ideas with average monthly search volume, CPC (cost per click), and competition (for ad placement, not organic search) for each.
- Google Trends. Google Trends is another free tool by Google that can show you how a keyword’s popularity has changed over time and how it compares to other keywords. Instead of absolute search volume, Google Trends shows relative search volume out of 100. If you want absolute numbers, combine Google Trends with another tool, like Google Search Console. Google Trends is helpful If all you need to know is how search volume changes over time (for example, if you just want to see the seasonality of a query).
- Google Search Console. Google Search Console is a free service for anyone who owns or operates a web domain. It allows you to see important information about how Google interacts with your site so that you can fix technical issues that might prevent your web pages from displaying in search results. With a bit of math, you can also use Google Search Console to find MSV.
Other popular keyword research tools include third-party options Ahrefs, Keyword Finder, Moz, Semrush, and Ubersuggest. These tools typically cost money but offer a free trial or free option with fewer features.
How to use Google Search Console to calculate search volume
- Set Search Console and log in
- Sort by impressions
- Find a keyword you rank for in the top 10
- Use this volume to extrapolate
Google Search Console is a must for business owners; it shows key data about how Google users interact with your site. While Search Console alone doesn’t provide keyword search volume, you can extrapolate this data.
This method is time-consuming and only works if there’s useful keyword data from Google Search Console (so it won’t be helpful if you have a brand-new site that isn’t ranking for anything). However, since this data comes from Google and is specific (it shows the actual search volume for a given period rather than an estimate), it can provide the most accurate data. Here’s how to do it:
1. Set Search Console and log in
If you haven’t set up Google Search Console, sign in to your Google account, add your URL, and follow the prompts to verify that you’re the owner of your site.
Once on Search Console, navigate to “Performance” using the menu on the left. Scroll past the visualization at the top of the page and select “Queries.”
2. Sort by impressions
You can sort your top queries by clicks or impressions. To use Google Search Console to calculate absolute search volume, you use impressions data. Impressions represent how many users have seen a link to your page. Basically, Google counts an impression every time one of your links appears within a user’s search results for a given query.
3. Find a keyword you rank for in the top 10
Confirm your website ranks in the top 10 results for at least one keyword. If you rank for a keyword, you can assume that the number of impressions equals the search volume for a given period. This is because every time a user searches for that keyword, it generates an impression for your site. Note that you can change the date range to 30 days at the top of the Performance report—this will tell you impressions per month.
4. Use this volume to extrapolate
Now you know the search volume for one keyword over a particular period, use the Explore feature on Google Trends to calculate the search volume for other relevant keywords. Enter the keyword whose volume you know, followed by a comma, and the keyword whose volume you want to discover. Set the region and the type of search to match the settings you used in Google Search Console.
Google Trends shows the relative popularity of these two keywords over time. You can easily turn this data into a ratio.
For example, say your site ranks for square-toe shoes, and you’re thinking of branching out into ballet flats. Looking at “square toe shoes” versus “ballet flats” over the past month, you can see the average interest in ballet flats was 77 (on a scale of 0–100) and 8 for square toe shoes. You now know that, for past month, “ballet flats” was 9.625 times more popular than “square toe shoes.” You can then take your Google Console data—imagine your site ranks for “square toe shoes” and received 2,400 impressions for this query last month—to find the absolute search volume for “ballet flats,” by multiplying 2,400 by 9.625 to get 23,100.
How to use Google search volume data to improve your business
- Conduct keyword research
- Experiment with long-tail and short-tail keywords
- Estimate traffic potential
Here are a few tips on using information on Google search volume to benefit your business:
1. Conduct keyword research
Use search volume data to help you decide which keywords to include on product pages and blog posts. Incorporate the highest-volume relevant keywords into your content to attract as many shoppers as possible.
2. Experiment with long-tail and short-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords have multiple words attached to a primary keyword, like, “square toe mary jane flats.” These longer keywords typically represent a user further along in the customer journey because they’re searching for something relatively specific and may be ready to purchase. Long-tail keywords tend to have lower search volume than short-tail keywords, which have fewer words and typically represent a user in the information-gathering phase.
3. Estimate traffic potential
Use MSV to estimate how much search traffic you’ll receive from targeting a particular keyword. Multiply MSV by 0.25 for a rough estimate of the maximum amount of organic traffic you can receive per keyword. (The average click-through rate for the top organic result is about 25%.) Ranking for a keyword does not guarantee clicks, but it can get your brand name in front of more eyes.
Google search volume FAQ
What is a good Google search volume?
Search volume should be high enough to provide a solid return on investment. When choosing keywords to include on your site, balance low volume (keywords that are easier to rank for) with high volume (keywords that receive a lot of views).
Should search volume be high or low?
The higher the keyword search volume, the more interest there is in the topic. However, higher isn’t always better—higher-volume keywords are typically broader in scope and harder to rank for. If you’re a small business owner, you may want to focus on low-volume keywords related to your specific brand and product to ensure your customers can find you.
Does Google search volume fluctuate over time?
Yes, some keywords are seasonal, so their Google search volume ebbs and flows throughout the year. For example, search volume for grilling-related topics tends to peak in summer. Google calculates monthly search volume (MSV) over a 12-month average, so MSV might not reflect that seasonality. Keywords can also spike in popularity due to current events or pop culture trends.
How can I find the search volume for a specific keyword or phrase?
Many online keyword research tools can estimate search volume for specific keywords. Google supplies this information through Keyword Planner, a tool to help Google Ads users choose which keywords to select for advertising campaigns, and Google Search Console, which shows website owners which keywords already drive traffic to their site.