We Analyzed 306M Keywords. Here's What We Learned About Google Searches

We Analyzed 306M KeywordsHere's What We Learned
About Google Searches

Google Keyword Study
Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Dec. 01, 2020

We analyzed 306M keywords to understand the types of queries that people use in Google search.

Specifically, we looked at keyword distribution, query length, keyword difficulty, CPC, SERP features, and more.

Using data from DataForSEO and Ahrefs, we uncovered some very interesting findings.

Now it’s time to share what we found.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. 91.8% of all search queries are long tail keywords. However, long tails are responsible for a relatively small percentage of total search volume (3.3%).

2. Search demand is concentrated in a small percentage of high volume terms. In fact, the top 500 most popular search terms make up 8.4% of all search volume. And the top 2000 keywords are responsible for 12.2% of all searches conducted in Google.

3. The average keyword gets 989 searches per month. However, the median search volume for a keyword is only 10 searches per month. Which shows that low-volume long tail keywords are extremely prevalent in Google search.

4. 14.1% of searches are in the form of a question.

5. “How” keywords are the most common type of question keyword. Followed by “what”, “where” and “who”.

6. The mean CPC of a keyword is $0.61. Search terms related to finance and real estate have the highest average CPC.

7. The average keyword is 1.9 total words.

8. Not surprisingly, longer keywords get searched for less often than shorter keywords. In fact, keywords with 5+ words get an average of 10x fewer searches than search terms that are 1-3 words in length.

9. Industries with the highest search volume are “News and Media”, “Internet & Telecom”, “Arts & Entertainment” and “Consumer Electronics”.

10. Popular keywords have significantly higher keyword difficulty scores. In fact, each time search volume doubles, keyword difficulty goes up by 1.63.

11. SERP features are extremely common in Google search. In fact, only 2.4% of all Google search results don’t contain at least one SERP feature.

12. The most common SERP features present in Google are People Also Ask (19.5%), image packs (19.4%), video results (17.9%) and Top Stories (15.5%).

We have detailed data and information on our findings below.

According to our analysis of 306M US keywords, the vast majority of search terms (91.8%) are long tail keywords.

91 Percent Of Search Terms Are Long Tail Keywords

However, we also discovered that long tails don’t account for a large percentage of search volume.

Head Terms Account For The Vast Majority Of Search Volume

In fact, all long tails combined only account for 3.3% of total search volume.

In other words, we found that most keywords tend to be long tails. But even when added together, long tails only make up a small part of global search demand.

(For this study we considered any keyword with 1-100 searches per month as “long tail”).

This finding is largely in-line with a keyword analysis conducted by Ahrefs earlier this year.

Like the Ahrefs analysis, we defined long tail keywords as any keyword getting less than 100 searches per month. The exact numbers differed due to differences in sample size and analysis. But we both found that a) long tails account for most keywords and b) long tail keywords represent a relatively small slice of the search demand pie.

Key Takeaway: 91.8% of keywords are long tail keywords. However, even when added together, long tails only account for 3.3% of overall search demand.

Search Demand is Largely Concentrated Among a Relatively Small Number of Keywords

A relatively small number of search terms make up a large percentage of total search demand.

Specifically, the 500 most popular search terms make up 8.4% of all search volume.

Search Demand Is Largely Concentrated Among A Relatively Small Number Of Keywords

It’s not surprising to see that monthly search volume is not evenly distributed. But we were surprised to see how skewed search behavior is towards a small number of search terms.

For example, when including misspellings, 2-3% of all searches conducted in Google are for 4 keywords: YouTube, Facebook, Amazon and Google.

Most popular keywords in Google (ranked by % of all searches)
Keyword Volume
YouTube 0.546%
Facebook 0.530%
Amazon 0.407%
Gmail 0.296%
Google 0.271%
Weather 0.164%
Yahoo 0.161%
Ebay 0.161%
Walmart 0.145%
Yahoo Mail 0.143%
Netflix 0.139%
Google Docs 0.100%
Translate 0.098%
USPs tracking 0.093%
News 0.091%
Craigslist 0.091%
Fox News 0.091%
CNN 0.083%
Calculator 0.073%
Hotmail 0.064%
Roblox 0.063%
Target 0.063%
Instagram 0.057%
MSN 0.057%
Trump 0.054%
Twitter 0.054%
Bank of America 0.051%
New Year 0.051%
Maps 0.050%
NFL 0.044%
UPS Tracking 0.042%
Pinterest 0.041%
Linkedin 0.041%
ESPN 0.038%
Disney Plus 0.037%
Etsy 0.036%
USPs 0.035%
Finance 0.033%
AOL 0.029%
Women’s World Cup 2019 0.026%
NBA 0.024%
You 0.023%
Amazon Prime Video 0.022%
Internet Speed Test 0.021%
Bed Bath and Beyond 0.021%
Ikea 0.020%
Dow 0.018%
Food Near Me 0.018%
United Airlines 0.018%
Speedtest 0.017%

This finding is interesting for two reasons. First, it shows that a large amount of Google searches are navigational.

Second, it demonstrates the popularity of the four dominant internet brands compared to all other brands.

Key Takeaway: The 500 top keywords account for 8.4% of all search volume.

Average Search Volume for a Keyword Is 989 Searches Per Month

The typical keyword gets an average of 989 monthly searches.

The Typical Keyword Gets An Average Of 989 Monthly Searches In Google

However, this number is slightly skewed due to the concentration of extremely high-volume terms that we just talked about. Which is why we decided to also analyze median search volume.

And we discovered that median search volume is only 10 searches per month.

Median Search Volume Is Only 10 Searches Per Month

This shows that, again, the vast majority of keywords are “long tails” with relatively low monthly search volume.

Key Takeaway: The average keyword in Google gets searched for 989 times per month. However, it’s likely that this number is impacted by the top 500 search terms. And when we analyzed the median search volume, we found that the typical search volume for a keyword was only 10 searches per month.

14.1% of Search Queries are Question Keywords

As the name suggests, a question keyword is any keyword that contains “who”, “what”, “where”, “why” or “how”.

Considering that many people use Google to search for information, it should come as no surprise that question keywords are relatively common.

Indeed, we found that 14.1% of searches in Google were conducted via a question keyword.

14 Percent Of Search Queries Are Question Keywords

We also brokedown the most common types of questions that people used.

How What Where Are The Most Common Types Of Question Keywords

As you can see, the most common types of question keywords were: “how” (8.07%), “what” (3.4%), “where” (.88%), “why” (.82%), “who” (.6%), and “which” (.33%).

Questions, by their nature of being relatively long and specific, are typically long tail terms. And as we also previously outlined, long tails are common in terms of keyword frequency. But they typically have low search volume (even when added together).

Key Takeaway: Making up 14.1% of all search terms, question keywords are relatively common in Google search.

The Average Keyword Has a CPC of $0.61

One of the main insights we wanted to look at for this research was Google Ads cost per click (CPC). And how CPCs varied between different industries.

We found that the typical keyword has a Google Ad CPC of $0.61.

The Average Keyword Has A CPC Of 61 Cents

We also broke down CPC by industry.

Finance Real Estate And Health Industries Have The Highest CPC

Overall, keywords in the real estate, finance, health, legal and home have the highest average CPCs.

On the other side of the spectrum, keywords related to the news, arts & entertainment, food and fitness have the lowest CPCs.

Key Takeaway: CPCs vary greatly between different keywords. When averaged together, the typical keyword costs $.61 per click. The finance, real estate and health verticals have the highest Google Ads CPCs. While fitness, food, and arts have relatively low CPCs.

The US Has Higher Average Search Volumes and CPCs Compared to Other English-Speaking Countries

For this analysis, we used a dataset of English language keywords from 5 countries: the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

When adjusted for population size, Americans search in Google far more often than any other English-speaking country.

Americans Search In Google More Than Any Other English Speaking Country

In fact, Americans use Google 38% more than the UK. And 90% more than Australia.

The US also has significantly higher CPCs on average.

The US Has Higher CPCs Compared To Other English Speaking Countries

While the absolute numbers are different between the US and other countries, search patterns tend to be fairly similar.

For example, with some exceptions, searches that have high US volume tend to have high international volume, and vice versa.

Popular Searches In The US Tend To Be Popular Internationally

Key Takeaway: The US uses Google far more than other English speaking countries. In fact, Americans search in Google 38% more than the UK and 90% more than Australia.

Mean Keyword Length is 1.9 Words and 8.5 Characters

Our analysis found that, among the 306M keywords that we looked at, the average keyword is 1.9 words and 8.5 characters in length.

Mean Keyword Length Is 2 Words And 8 Characters

We also looked at the relationship between keyword length and search volume. When looking at character count, extremely long and short keywords get relatively few searches.

We found that keywords between 5-10 characters tend to get searched for most often.

Keywords between 5-10 characters get searched for most often

And that 1-2 word terms have the highest average search volume.

1-2 Word Terms Have The Highest Average Search Volume

Key Takeaway: Mean keyword length in Google search is 8.5 characters and 1.9 words in length. We also found that shorter keywords (in terms of word count) have higher search volumes. In fact, short keywords (between 1-3 words) get 10x more searches than longer keywords (5+ words).

Industries With The Highest Mean Search Volume Keywords Include Internet & Telecom, News and Media, and Consumer Electronics

We decided to categorize each keyword in our data set. And investigate which industries had relatively high and low volume search terms.

Here’s what we discovered:

Industries With The Highest Mean Search Volume

When it comes to mean search volume, the most popular keywords in Google tend to fall under the categories: Internet & Telecom, Retailers, News, Arts & Entertainment, and Consumer Electronics.

On the other hand, keywords related to Real Estate, Vehicles, Occasions & Gifts, Home & Garden, and Law get relatively few searches.

We also ran the same analysis with a focus on total searches. In other words, instead of analyzing each keyword’s mean search volume, we looked at the total number of searches conducted under each category.

Industries With The Greatest Total Search Volume

As the chart indicates, the results are similar. But not identical.

Specifically, at 19.5% of all searches, “News & Media” is the most popular search category in Google. With “Internet & Telecom” (17.5%) and “Arts & Entertainment” (17.4%) 2nd and 3rd.

These findings make logical sense. Millions of people use Google to find information on current events. Which is why news-related searches make up nearly 1 out of 5 Google searches. However, each term isn’t going to rack up significant search volume. Which is why mean search volume for news-related keywords tend to be low.

Key Takeaway: “Internet & Telecom” is the most popular search category in terms of average search volume per keyword. However, when looking at the total number of searches per category, “News & Media” comes out on top. In fact, 19.5% of all Google searches fall under the “News & Media” category.

To get keyword difficulty data on our data set 306M keywords, we analyzed a subset of terms (approximately 2.5M) using Ahrefs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, popular search terms have higher average keyword difficulty scores compared to keywords with low search volume.

Popular Keywords Have Higher Keyword Difficulty Scores

For this analysis, we ran a subset of keywords from our dataset in Ahrefs. Although each SEO tool has a different approach for analyzing keyword difficulty, the keyword difficulty measurement in Ahrefs is considered reliable. They’re also transparent about how the metric is calculated.

Overall, we found that popular search terms tend to have more competition in the SERPs.

Specifically, each time search volume doubles, keyword difficulty goes up by approximately 1.63.

For example, as search volume goes from 100 to 3200 (6 doublings), the difficulty increases by roughly 10 (1.63 * 6).

This is likely due to the fact that popular keywords are attractive to SEOs and content marketers. Which leads to heightened SEO competition for those terms.

We also looked into the relationship between keyword difficulty and CPC. We found a clear relationship between those two variables. Specifically, the more competitive the terms, the higher the CPC.

Keywords With High Keyword Difficulty Scores Have Higher CPCs

Again, this finding is something that most digital marketers would expect. Keywords with high CPCs tend to have strong buyer intent. While many businesses are willing to pay to get in front of those searchers via Google Ads, others prefer to rank organically. Which leads to a glut of competition for high CPC terms.

Key Takeaway: Popular keywords have higher average keyword difficulty scores compared to keywords with low search volume. We also found a relationship between keyword difficulty and CPC. Specifically, keywords with high CPCs tend to have higher SERP competition levels.

People Also Ask Boxes, Image Packs and Videos are The Most Common SERP Features In Google Search

Next, we looked at the prevalence of SERP features. And the relationship between SERP features and keyword difficulty.

Firstly, we looked at which SERP features appear most often in Google’s search results.

The Most Common Search Features In Google Search

We found that the most prevalent search features in Google’s organic results are People Also Ask (19.4%), image packs (19.4%), video results (17.9%), Top Stories (15.4%) and Sitelinks (11.0%).

And the least common SERP features include Tweet boxes, Google Shopping results and Knowledge cards.

We also looked at which SERP features appeared together in the search results. Here are the most common SERP feature pairings.

The Most Common SERP Feature Pairings

Interestingly, keywords that bring up SERP features tend to be more competitive than those without SERP features.

Search Results With SERP Features Are More Competitive VS Those Without SERP Features

And Google search results with more SERP features have higher mean keyword difficulty.

Google Search Results With More SERP Features Have Higher Mean Keyword Difficulty

All in all, SERP features appear in almost all Google search results. In fact, 97.6% of searches contain at least one SERP feature.

97 Percent Of Searches Contain At Least One SERP Feature

We also noticed that searches without SERP features tend to have low volume.

Search Results Without SERP Features Are Usually Results For Very Low Volume Queries

This is likely due to the fact that these low-volume queries are extremely specific long tails. Which means there’s less likely to be a “match” in terms of a relevant YouTube video or Google Shopping result to use as part of a SERP feature.

We also looked into the impact that various SERP features have on clicks. Interestingly, knowledge cards tend to significantly reduce clicks-per-search. While the other SERP features appear to have limited effect on drawing clicks away from the “10 blue link” organic results.

Knowledge Cards Significantly Reduce Clicks Per Search

Key Takeaway: 97.6% of all Google searches result in a SERP feature. “People also ask” is the most popular SERP feature in Google.

Conclusion

I hope you found this analysis interesting.

I’d like to thank DataForSEO for providing the data on 306M keywords that made up the bulk of this research.

For those that are interested, here is a PDF of our study methods. And a link to a GitHub repository with all of the raw data.

Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:

What’s your #1 learning from today’s research?

Or maybe you have a question about something from the study.

Either way, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

213 Comments

  1. Interesting research as usual, Brian.

    I’m curious what you recommend for SEOs in light of this research?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Harrison. Speaking for myself, my main takeaway was that 14% of keywords were question keywords. Shows that there’s a lot of opportunity there.

      1. Yulia Avatar Yuliasays:

        Thanks, Brian. How do you recommend to optimize blog posts in light of this finding?

        “my main takeaway was that 14% of keywords were question keywords”

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Hi Yulia, I wouldn’t necessarily change the way I optimize my content. But I might keep an eye out for more question keywords to target in the future.

  2. Hi,

    Interesting study.

    From the study am I right in thinking that I should include a greater variety of Longtail Phrases in my content.

    That I should include a People Also Ask section in my content and should try to phrase my content along the lines of How to.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Barry. It was interesting to see how many SERPs have People Also Ask sections. On the other hand, one of our other studies found that only 3% of Google users actually interact with PAA boxes: https://backlinko.com/google-user-behavior

      1. Incredible research as usual, Brian.

        I REALLY love you and your team’s efforts in creating such great resource-based content.

        I’ve been doing SEO for over a decade and I always try to learn something new. In the last couple of months, I noticed that Google is picking question-based keywords.

        Good to found that your research reveals the same.

        Great work, keep it up!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          👍👍👍

  3. Thanks for the great report. Based on your findings do you think it’s still best to focus on medium tail keywords to avoid diluting authority using multiple long-tail keywords? My niches are commercial real estate and restaurants. Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Mark. In my opinion, yes. Long tails can be part of your SEO strategy. The issue is that you need to tank for LOTS of them to actually lead to significant amounts of traffic. Medium tail keywords seem to have the best of both worlds.

    1. Hey Mark,

      Have you been focusing on long-tail?

      Also, are you more focused on SEO for local or national?

      1. Mostly focused on a handful of higher volume keywords for my niche. I need to take a look at actual searches and expect most visits are generated by longer keyword searches. Most of the searches in my niche are low volume. The highest volume is 9,900 per month. Both local and national. Ignored my site for a while just started cleaning things up and upgrading content recently.

  4. So, basically the opportunity lies with shorter mid-volume keywords…

    My PPC keywords are mire long tail and volume is just OK…

    I have gone with shorter keywords, and e volume goes up but the quality goes down.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Matt. Yes, that’s definitely one takeaway from this data for sure.

  5. Thank you for the detailed insight Brain. I found the question keywords statistic very surprising.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Fiona, you’re welcome. That stat stood out to me too. I knew question keywords were common. But I thought they’d be like 5% of all searches. I was surprised to see that questions made up 14% of all searches.

  6. Great in-depth article as usual. Thank you.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No worries, Alex. Glad you enjoyed the study.

  7. Hey Brian,

    Awesome post!

    Read your response to Harrison and was thinking the same thing, that a ton of opportunity with keywords being questions.

    Have a great day!

    Thanks,

    Chris Pontine

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Chris. Plus, I think voice search could increase question keywords even more.

  8. Hi Brian, My #1 learning from today’s research is that

    “Keywords with high CPCs tend to have strong buyer intent + How is the highest searched question.”

    Hence looking to focus on blog content with question starting with “How and this question needs to be related to High CPC keyword.

    Let me know your thoughts Brian, if this is a good way to rank higher.

    Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s not a bad strategy at all. Obviously, the metrics on the specific keyword matter (like keyword difficulty). But that’s not a bad overall approach.

  9. Adam Avatar Adamsays:

    You do realise that nearly every software developer googles things multiple times on a daily basis?

    A lot of those searches are errors logged out by their software, and can explain why there are so many long-tail unique search queries.

    For one dev to google things 50 times in a day isn’t unheard of.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s true. But it’s still a drop in the bucket if you look at the number of searches that happen in Google every day.

  10. Woahh!!…. So much data. Keeping this as a bookmark must be useful to me.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      👍👍👍

  11. Great analysis! The ratio of question keywords has been very useful data for me. Thanks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No worries, Sercan.

  12. Simon Avatar Simonsays:

    Not once in the whole article do you say what you consider a long tail keyword to be. Like, how many words do you consider to be long tail for all this research? 3 or more? 4 or more?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re right. We have it in the chart but not in the post. I’ll add it. We considered long tail keywords any term between 1-100 monthly searches per month.

  13. This is amazing info, and I really appreciate you publishing it. However, I don’t understand the conclusion of the first section.

    You write, “91.8% of all search queries are long tail keywords. However, long tails are responsible for a relatively small percentage of total search volume (3.3%).”

    Can you give an example of what this would mean? Does this mean that 91.8% of all search queries are long tail (like, “how to build an fu machine”) but 96.7% of the links that get clicked would have come up for only “how to fu machine” or something like that?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Scott. Good question there. It is confusing at first. Basically, if you take a giant list of every keyword that exists, 91.8% of them are long tails. And if you add all the search volume of all keywords together, long tails only make up 3.3% of that volume. Does that make sense?

      1. Cj Avatar Cjsays:

        I’m still confused on this.

  14. Interesting about the top 4 brands showing up so big. My takeaway is to expand my clients “amazonseo” “facebookseo” “youtubeseo” and also I was suprised Yahoo was such a key player.
    Tx for your work bringing this info!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      👍👍👍👍

  15. Hello Brian,

    Hats off for your work. That must have taken many hours to put those numbers. And it’s a lot of data to digest. It’ll be a little disappointing for new website owners to find out that the search volume they can effectively compete with is a meager 3.3% of total search traffic. But yeah, that 91.8% different search traffic variations will have untapped topics for new bloggers to rise on SERPs. And thank you for the data!

    Best regards:)

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. You’re right: this study took a lot of work to put together. And you’re right: 3.3% doesn’t sound like a lot. But it’s still billions of searches every month.

  16. Amazing analysis team. I wanted to tell something the Twitter share button above doesn’t include a URL

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Sonali. I’ll look into that.

  17. Awesome post as usual Brian, we need to get together someday as I’m not far from Boston.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Paul. For sure.

  18. You always present in depth and resourceful content. I think no one has any query on this topic anymore.
    I should try with “HOW” keyword for my DIY project. Amazing! Thank you again!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Henry. Glad to hear that this report helped you out.

  19. Always great insight Brian, and straight to the point. However, I read the lines, “91.8% of all search queries are long tail keywords. However, long tails are responsible for a relatively small percentage of total search volume (3.3%)” multiple times and I still don’t understand this. Can you explain, maybe with an example?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Michael. That’s definitely confusing. Basically: 91.8% of every keyword that exists is a long tail. But even when added together, they don’t make up that much of all search volume.

  20. This question keyword thing is very interesting. But at the same time very natural, because people are searching for help.
    However, Brian do you think authors should use more their creativity than research results?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Do you mean authors of online content?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Davis, you’re welcome. Glad you learned something new from this research.

  21. I read the summary and immediately saved this article to my “Articles to read” folder. Really excited to dive into your findings.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No worries, Alexander. This study isn’t going anywhere. Hope you enjoy it when you have a chance to dig in.

  22. This is really excellent info, seems to reinforce the idea that search is trending towards voice and natural questions. Thanks for putting it all together and making it so easy to consume, Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Alex. I thought the exact same thing: that the high % of question keywords probably reflects voice search and that people search more conversationally in Google now.

  23. Very detailed study as you always do. We are from finance industry where very less search happens.

    So that we always rely on newsworthy content to get more attention from the top of the funnel audience.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. Sounds like a smart approach. Although I’d try to mix on some evergreen topics too. If the keywords are targeted, they don’t need to have a lot of searches to have a good ROI.

  24. My search on google starts with “How” & it is the most common type of question keyword.

    I am in that 15% 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hehe. Same here.

  25. Jam Avatar Jamsays:

    Thanks Brian for this report.
    How many keywords I must have in my website (average).
    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      There’s really no specific number.

  26. Again with great research data which will be very helpful.

    Study proved that long-tail keywords are very important and question keywords are more valuable for targeting.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No worries, Emma. Happy to help.

  27. Excellently presented, interesting data. Thank you!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Hattie, you’re welcome. Glad you found it interesting.

  28. Brian, again an awesome article with more analyzed data. It really helps a lot.

    Thanks for sharing this article.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No worries, Vinay.

  29. The analysis of these Google searches are extremely useful to me right now. Thank you Brian! The only newsletter I still kept coming back for.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Julius, thanks! Happy to have you as a subscriber.

  30. Great and insightful findings. Keep at it, Brian! Really appreciate what you’re doing here at Backlinko.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi John, thanks. I appreciate that.

  31. Are you sure with «7. The average keyword is 1.9 total words.»?

    How can this be possible if «3. Which shows that low-volume long tail keywords are extremely prevalent in Google search.»?

    I have always believed that most of the keywords are longer then 2 words.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s because we defined “long tail” based on search volume. Not keyword length. Some define long tails as “long keywords”. But that’s actually not accurate. For example, many long keywords get lots of search volume. And vice versa.

  32. Tim Windsor Avatar Tim Windsorsays:

    Thanks for all the effort that went into this.

    Did you ever look at a breakdown of how deep you need to go in top keywords to get to 50% or more of search volume? For example, the top 2,000 keywords get you to 12.2% of all searches. How many for 33%? 50% 75%

    This would be interesting because it would make for a compelling and understandable talking point: Half of all search traffic is driven by just 8% of keywords (just picking a percentage at random). Might help a client to understand what they’re up against.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Tim. We didn’t look into those various thresholds. But that would be interesting for sure. The raw data is in GitHub (I linked to it in the conclusion) if you want to take a look.

  33. Tim Windsor Avatar Tim Windsorsays:

    One other question. When you alerted to all keywords, do you mean all ranking keywords in the first 100 positions (what ahrefs tracks) or all keywords in the dataset that you worked with?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      All keywords in the data set.

  34. Great article Brian and team. We will use your valuable information for our marketing and seo strategy.

    As far as i remember most of the traffic from google regarding the real estate market was coming from short term keywords (usually 2 to 3 words was the 80% of searches aprx.).
    Users still search the same way so this means that the difficulty or competition became even bigger if someone wants to rank on top 10 results since nowadays we have much more websites.

    Best regards
    Olesya

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Olesya. To be clear: some people define long tails based on the number of words in the query. But we used search volume. So I think in real estate, the queries themselves are short (as you said). But each one gets a relatively small number of searches.

  35. Google Voice Search is playing a big role in the huge and increasing number of long tail keywords.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      👍👍👍

  36. one big great post Brian & your team congrats.
    You do not include family search
    Image search based,
    video search based
    Products search based
    video search based…

    Based on keywords, the results are different

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Olivier. Not sure what you mean.

  37. Great info put together. Thank you for your hard work. It truly helps so many of us.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Darshana.

  38. An Avatar Ansays:

    It was good reading. It would be good to get your examples of long tail keywords, as you mean searches per month rather than the amount of words? It is confusing as popular understanding is that long tail keyword refers to number of words rather than searches per month. So is a long tail keyword – search per period of time, or does it refer to specific phrases, amount of words in search. Could you clarify which one is correct.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks An. Yes, we defined long tails based on searches per month. That’s actually the precise definition of the term. If you read the early stuff on “long tails” by Chris Anderson you’ll see what I mean.

  39. Paul Avatar Paulsays:

    Extremely helpful content Brian and of course current with what’s going on in the SEO sector.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Paul. You’re right: especially the SERP feature stuff that we looked at.

  40. Brian Avatar Briansays:

    Hey Brian,

    This is great! I’m curious around the diversity of the queries used in the study.

    For instance – “mens jeans”, “jeans mens”, “jeans for men”. My understanding is that Adwords will provide the same MSV for keywords as such with the same intent.

    Were you able narrow this down to one query in those instances to allow for more unique terms?

    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Brian, I’d have to double check a few examples to be sure. But I believe we counted those as independent keywords. The Keyword Planner lumps them together. But technically they’re independent keywords with different search volumes etc.

  41. I really like reading your analyses and reports! However, I have one question. You talk about the most common SERP features present on Google. Why did you not talk about Local Pack? Was the number of views very low?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question there, Sebastian. We actually didn’t look at the local pack. They’re obviously a common SERP feature for local searches. But we really wanted to look at the non-local search space.

  42. Very insightful stuff as always. “Content is still the king”. Seems that people will never stop searching for information using “how”, “what”, “where” etc. keywords.

    These drive the most traffic for all my websites and help me rank for more competitive keywords too in the long run.

    Everlasting, quality and valuable content never loses.

    Thank you 😌 for everything (you are my inspiration since day one).

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Ilias.

  43. “… a giant list of every keyword that exists, 91.8% of them are long tails. And if you add all the search volume of all keywords together, long tails only make up 3.3% of that volume. Does that make sense?”

    It sounds like significantly less than 2 words (1.9?) is 97% of volume, don’t go heavy with long tail unless they really rock CTR. Did I read this right- you are classifying long tail keywords as those having a search volume <100. Long tail is two or more words, correct?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      We didn’t define long tails by the number of words in the keyword. We used search volume. That’s actually what long tails are: they make up the “long tail” of the curve.

  44. Amazing research post. Glad to know where I should focus my content marketing efforts – Question posts that start with “how” and maybe some of the SERP Features like featured snippets as my website slowly builds up authority to start competing for shorter keyword terms with high search volume and high keyword difficulty. Thank you so much for the amazing post again. You are awesome.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Valentine. That sounds like a smart approach there. Especially if you want to rank for terms while you build links.

  45. Thank you for compiling this exhaustive research. it will drive much of what we do going forward in my high CPC area, real estate.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Nathan. Happy to help.

  46. Super interesting results. Some more surprising than others. I was actually a little surprised to see that Question Searches don’t have a higher share of overall volume. I often find myself even searching with “how to ______” queries. Did you expect this to be higher too, or did it seem about right to you?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Neal. I actually thought question keywords would be less common. I mean, at some level ALL keywords are question keywords. But I assumed that most people would use shorter keywords that don’t contain “what”, “how” etc. That’s why this sort of analysis so interesting.

  47. As always, great work Brian.
    Since the median monthly search volume is 10, is it a good strategy to target low volume, especially when starting out?
    I noticed in your comments that you are targeting higher volume, but I assume that’s because of your authority.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Camp. When you’re first starting out, you definitely want to target keywords with low keyword difficulty. Those are usually also low volume terms. But not always.

  48. so interesting that about the long-tail keywords amounting to vast majority of terms but such a small percentage of searches

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Definitely. Makes sense though. Google has said that a high number of searches each year are 100% unique. Which would lead to lots of long tails. But each long tail may only get a few searches (if that) per month.

  49. Hi Brian,

    Cool any chance you can post the top 500 most popular search terms please.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I’ll look into that, Wade. Shouldn’t be hard to do.

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