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Are keywords with low search volume worth targeting?

Remember the early days of Uber and Lyft?

People were buzzing about the innovative transportation solution known as a “ride-sharing app.”

Of course, “ride-sharing app” was a brand new industry term. As a result, few people were searching for it by that name.

SEO was never a high-priority marketing channel for Uber and Lyft, but if it had been, what sort of keywords would they have tried to rank for?

Or, more broadly, should you optimize your content for keywords that no one is searching for (yet) or focus on outdated terms that are highly searched?

The answer is: both!

Legacy keywords vs. new industry terms with 0 search volume

In the case of Uber and Lyft, we would have advised them to create two types of content: content optimized for more commonly searched terms like “taxi service NYC” or “taxi cab LA” and content for the low search volume keyword “ride-sharing apps”. More on this rationale below.

Taxi service NYC

You might be thinking, “Wait, Uber is not a taxi service!” This is true, however, search intent is a more important consideration than service offering alignment.

The fundamental intention of someone searching for taxi services is to get from point A to point B, and this is exactly what Uber helps them do. So essentially, our goal is to attract an audience with the target intent to the site, even if their search does not neatly align with the offering.

Ride-sharing apps

Why go after a keyword that no one is searching for? Well, in the case of Uber and Lyft, these companies knew that they were on the verge of something big and could reasonably anticipate searches for “ride-sharing apps” to grow over time.

It’s always best to be the first-mover and rank for keywords early on, even if they’re not highly searched. That way, when late-mover competitors attempt to rank for the target keyword, your content will already be well established with a strong link profile to ensure you maintain the top spot.

In fact, this is the exact strategy we used for one of our SaaS clients. They bring to market an innovative solution for business management–so innovative that they’ve coined a brand new term for it (which we are unable to disclose for privacy reasons).

While they were sold from the get-go on targeting the new term, they were understandably apprehensive about going after legacy keywords.

After explaining that they would be leaving tons of prospective customers on the table–they were willing to give it a shot. They created comprehensive guides optimized for the legacy keywords and used that content to educate prospective customers about their new and improved solution.

Then, our link operations team got to work performing outreach to build up the authority of those pages.

Over the course of their 10-month link building campaign, traffic has increased by more than 50%.

Final thoughts

Thanks to the exponential growth of technology, industries, and the terms they use, are changing at a rapid pace. Anticipating future search volume growth puts you in the driver’s seat, while minding the searchers who still need time to catch up will help ensure valuable traffic doesn’t get left behind.

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