Search Volume Explained

If you browse through any affiliate or webmaster forum where exact match domain names are for sale you will find that many will also state the exact match search volume.. How useful is this data? If an exact match domain has an estimated search volume of 10,000, how much traffic could be expect if we ranked 1st Position in Google for the search phrase? Ask 12 different domain sellers this question; you will get perhaps 12 different answers.

Up until 2006 there was not much solid data to help to us analyse search volume results. During 2006, AOL leaked information on more than 9 million searches that generated fewer than 5 million clicks. Members of Earners Forum spent a great deal of time and effort analysing the data and later published ground breaking results. For some reason the AOL data leak is not mentioned on many SEO or Webmaster forums. This amazes me as the work done by members of the Earners Forum is of benefit to us all.

The first thing that struck me about the results was the percentage of actual clicks to searches. Out of 9,038,794 searches there were only 4,926,624 clicks. From this data we can say that from a given search we should only expect 54.5% of the search volume to generate clicks. So if an exact match domain has an estimated search volume of 10K we should expect 5450 clicks (10,000 * 0.545) from organic search results in total from all positions. We know that a site ranked 1st for the search phrases will generate more clicks than a site ranked 7th, but how much more? Well let’s simply use the AOL data to take a look at the clicks received for the top 10 positions.

AOL Leaked Click Data

Position 1: 2,075,765 clicks (42.13% of clicks)
Position 2: 586,100 clicks (11.9% of clicks)
Position 3: 418,643 clicks (8.5% of clicks)
Position 4: 298,532 clicks (6.1% of clicks)
Position 5: 242,169 clicks (4.92% of clicks)
Position 6: 199,541 clicks (4.05% of clicks)
Position 7: 168,080 clicks (3.41% of clicks)
Position 8: 148,489 clicks (3.01% of clicks)
Position 9: 140,356 clicks (2.85% of clicks)
Position 10: 147,551 clicks (2.99% of clicks)

The total of clicks for position 11 and greater in total was 501.397 (10.18%)

Using the data above you can now get a much better understanding of expected traffic from any key phrases using the Google Adwords External Tool. Going back to our expected 10,000 search volume let say we are confident we can rank 1st position.

The expected traffic we could expect could be calculated as below.

Expected Clicks (traffic) = (10,000 * 0.545) = 5450

Expect traffic for 1st position = 42.13%

(5450 * 0.4213) = 2296 monthly visitors

For 3rd position we could only expect 8.5%

(5450 * 0.085) = 463 monthly visitors

The above explains why many are disappointed by the search volume generated from exact match domains.