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Google eating away our search traffic should be nothing new for SEOs or other digital marketers. That said, there are still legacy concepts from pre-SERP features that lead marketers to less sophisticated thinking. Search volume is one of them.

In this video, I discuss the thought process switch you can make to think in a more useful, high-impact fashion in order to take advantage of the actual clicks that are available to you.

Video Transcription

Hey everybody. I’m Ross, founder of Siege Media, and today I want to talk to you about why we should move our thinking from search volume to search clicks. As all of you probably know, Google is intruding more and more in our search results, taking our clicks, moving those to paid, or otherwise getting people to search again, which means search volume is not a true indicator of how many people are actually going to click results.

Because of Quick Answers, People Also Ask boxes, the Knowledge Graph, and etc., all of those things are slowly eroding at the volume of traffic we can get.

This means that as marketers, we need to start evolving our thinking to instead use how many actual clicks we can generate on a search result, because it’s not always straightforward. And sometimes you can also use that same methodology to actually do the reverse and generate even more clicks than search volume communicates.

An example of this in action would be a search result like “best headphones.” This is actually a positive result, but on a SERP like this, using a tool like Ahrefs, you can actually get clickstream data today and it’ll tell you how many clicks you will get compared to non-clicks.

You can see actual clicks is around 69% of searches on this search, which is not bad for today’s landscape of SEO.

Also, clicks per search is actually 1.2, which means the total clicks is actually 71,000 for this search. If you had been on a very surface level and said, “Hey, we’re getting 59,000 searches per month,” that would be underselling your total opportunity size for this search result.

Therefore, if we instead communicate internally on our spreadsheets to our clients, etc, that there is 71,000 clicks per month for this search result, that better reflects the true value of that search.

The reverse of that would be a search like “content marketing.” This is definitional. It’s more like, “What is content marketing?” Google often will pull in a quick answer that just says that definition, and a lot of people will not click anything.

So in this kind of result, the actual clicks are much lower. 50% of searches don’t have a click on a search like “What is content marketing?” and there are also not as many clicks per search compared to “best headphones.” You can see how this dichotomy is an issue for true traffic that each of these can generate.

So for this result, we could actually say the clicks are 27,000 compared to the searches which are 31,000.

That’s not a massive difference, but you can actually sometimes see a gap of clicks being 50% of what the actual searches are, and that is a pretty big indicator that we should consider when doing searches, and doing our research for our clients.

We had this “ah-ha!” moment because we work with a client in a technical, jargon-filled industry, and there is a lot of search volume around those jargon-type terms.

We noticed that we built a lot of well ranking content, but at the end of the year, the total traffic was good, but it just wasn’t as crazy as what even Ahrefs showed us, because it was so many of those “What is…” type keywords, where true clicks were not the same as true search volume.

Therefore, if we had better optimized our thinking around clicks instead of search volume, we would have had a better campaign overall and more realistically picked terms with higher clicks per search.

So you can see that if we evolve our thinking as marketers by moving from search clicks to search volume using tools like Ahrefs, which are now giving us clickstream data to inform our results, we’ll be better off, we’ll be more sophisticated, we’ll pick content that actually performs, and we’ll also know how much to invest on that content proportional to the upside it has in terms of clicks.

Hopefully you have found this useful and you will move your thinking to search clicks over search volume. If you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up, subscribe, and let us know what you thought in the comments. Thank you for watching!

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Comments

  • Mark Smallwood

    Excellent points, Ross. The search clicks metric seems to be a move toward more accountable metrics. I know my major client is always pushing for more meaningful metrics that help them then adapt content and structure to move the needle. They are in a mature, very technical industry, like the one you mention, and not everything is “funnelizable” or lends itself to a direct conversion. We are trying to move their content into a more “conversion mindset” direction, but some of these old-school companies have numerous departments that are slow to change and have a vested interest in the status quo. The Search Clicks metric seems like it would be a good way to start moving some of these people into a more conversion-oriented mindset. Thanks for the great ideas, as always.

    • Glad to hear it was useful Mark! And I agree, change can be tough. We’re 60 people and even for us it wasn’t instantaneous to switch over, but this is a relatively simple change so hopefully easy for it stick for even your technical, mature client.