SEO Question: I am trying to do keyword research for a client, and he is focused on a niche phrase that does not show up on any of the major keyword research tools. I was wondering if there was an accurate way to estimate search volume for these long tail keywords.
Answer: In this case, almost any sampling method you can think of is going to be wildly inaccurate.
If something does not get much search volume the easiest way to estimate search volume is to pull out your credit card and run a Google AdWords campaign targeting the keyword. Make sure your targeting is for search only and that your daily spend limit and bid prices are high enough that your keyword is showing for most (if not all) searches. If your ads are targeted to broad match (instead of phrase or exact) Google will also show your ads for many related keywords based on your keyword list. It also helps if you have an AdWords account that is aged and trusted so that they give you significant exposure right away.
I think a more practical solution than to look for exact keyword volume for niche terms is to use the keyword research tools to show their low search frequency, then use the same tools to show what words are important, and for parallel keywords to come up with rough estimates for search volumes for the relevant basket of related keywords. Then use a tool like my keyword list generator to come up with a relevant list of keywords to bid on.
After you get some market feedback from that PPC account, use your server logs and ad campaign stats to track short and long keywords your ads were relevant for, adjust your page copy, internal anchor text, and inbound link anchor text to help focus on the most important phrases, while also covering related phrases in a way that avoids keyword cannibalization.
A few other ways you can come up with relevant keyword phrases are:
- track what you are ranking for in organic search results
- look at the navigational structures, page titles, and page copy from competing sites
- see what keywords Google recommends based on your URL
- see what AdSense ads Google would target to your pages. Look at their ad copy, copy from their landing pages, and copy from other relevant parts of their website.
- On rare occassions competitors may make their stats public for one reason or another.
- You can also pose as an interested potential site buyer to acquire statistics.
There are also services such as HitTail that aim to help you extract other useful keywords based on the keywords you are already ranking for, and private tools such as HitWise and KeyCompete may show you a few keywords that public tools do not.
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