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Unpopular ways of searching

A lot of people in search engine optimisation talk about ‘zero volume keywords’ as something that should not be dismissed. These are search terms that are showing no activity in keyword research tools, but the argument goes that they may still be getting some searches, it’s just that the small number is hidden by noise. I’ve written about them before, but there’s a more in-depth recent article here.

The important thing to understand about zero volume keywords is that they’ve traditionally been relatively easy to rank highly on, so SEO consultancies have loved to talk up their effectiveness. However, another way of looking at it is that they’re ‘unpopular ways of searching for something popular‘. And nowadays, Google is quite advanced at understanding search intent, so it can be as hard to rank for a little-used search term as it can for a frequently-used one targeting the same idea – because Google knows they’re the same thing and will dish up the same results.

What we need to do is to identify zero volume keywords that aren’t just less popular ways of expressing something else. Then we can attempt to establish whether they could be worth targeting, despite the numbers being small.