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Understanding Keyword Value: It’s More Than Just The Dollars

Header image for How To Understand Keyword Value
Header image for How To Understand Keyword Value

Finding high search volume keywords is easy.

But judging the value of a keyword can be difficult.

You must determine relevance, search intent, and chances of outranking the competition to decide if a keyword is worth targeting.

Whether you are doing your own SEO work, or are an agency working on behalf of your clients, chasing generic keywords with sky-high competition wastes your time and resources.

In this guide, we will explore:

  • Factors that SEOs use to judge keyword value
  • Free and paid tools you can use to find high-value keywords
  • How to measure the value of keywords
  • How to put a dollar value on keywords

Keyword Value and SEO

Keywords help search engines understand what you’re looking for and find the most relevant content.

This is done by analyzing the words used in the query and on each webpage they crawl through (i.e. the keywords).

Targeting keywords in your content can help you drive organic search traffic to your website.

But not all keywords are created equal. Some have a higher value than others.

Determining a set keyword value is difficult, as it combines multiple factors.

“Keyword value” is not just the monetary value assigned to a set keyword, should you be able to rank for it, but also the overall desirability of a keyword in driving organic traffic and helping you achieve your SEO goals.

Across this guide, we’ll cover several angles from which you can consider keyword value before closing out with some advice on approaching the difficult task of assigning a set monetary value to a given keyword.

Here’s a quick example of how it can be difficult to determine keyword value, even when it seems simple at first.

Let’s say your agency has a client that sells kitchen appliances.

Ranking for a keyword like “kitchen blender for smoothies” will be much more immediately valuable than a more informational and less relevant keyword like “Can I put hot soup in a blender.”

It seems simple, right? The thing is, targeting that juicy sales-y keyword might take much more time, effort, and expenditure than targeting the informational keyword.

The informational keyword is less likely to make you an immediate sale, but it will help improve your topical authority and semantic SEO if you can demonstrate a wide range of topic-relevant expertise across multiple pages and posts.

In this post, we’ll naturally focus on assigning set values to given keywords, but just bear in mind SEO is a holistic practice, and the best way to secure long-term results is to demonstrate overall topical authority.

How to Calculate Keyword Value

There are four primary factors that determine keyword value.

Search Intent

Search intent is the underlying motivation behind a user’s search query.

Search intent can be broken down into four main categories, or “the reason behind a searcher’s query.”

These are:

Informational: The user is searching for information about a given topic. (i.e., “Is there paint for houses?”)

Navigational: The user is looking for a specific website or page. (i.e., “BEHR paint”)

Commercial investigation: The user is looking to purchase something later down the line. (i.e., “Best exterior paint”)

Transactional: The user has already made up their mind and wants to conduct a transaction. (i.e., “BEHR exterior paint near me”)

A keyword with a clear search intent tends to have a higher keyword value.

This is because optimizing for the keyword and satisfying the users’ needs is easier. That can translate into higher engagement and increased conversions.

For example, a transactional keyword like “buy running shoes online” has a high value for a website that sells running shoes.

It’s super relevant to the products the business sells.

Search Volume

Search volume measures how often a specific keyword is searched for. A higher search volume means lots of people are looking for that particular topic.

But that doesn’t always mean the keyword has a high value to you or your client.

For example, a keyword with a high search volume but intense competition may be challenging to rank for.

On the other hand, a keyword with a lower search volume but less competition and high conversion potential may be more valuable in the long run. You can attract a targeted audience more likely to take your desired action.

semrush keyword overview

When comparing the above example to the previous one, the search volume is much lower; however, the keyword difficulty (chances of ranking) is much more appealing. The search intent is still commercial, and the CPC (Cost-Per-Click) is much higher, which is indicative of strong buying intent behind the search query.

A high search volume is always ideal, but don’t get bogged down in chasing higher traffic potential. There is likely a long-tail alternative that can be easier to target and more valuable in terms of a faster return on investment.

Conversion Potential

Conversion potential is the likelihood that users who search for a specific keyword will take a desired action.

That could be signing up for a free trial, making a purchase, or any other action you want visitors to take.

A high-value keyword may have good conversion potential.

For example, somebody searching for “dentist san jose” is looking for a specific type of business in a specific location.

It attracts a target audience actively seeking the services offered by the business. The more specific and intent-driven the keyword, the higher the conversion potential.

Aside from analyzing the intent of the keyword, two things to look out for are Trend data and CPC (Cost-Per-Click).

An upwards trend in searches indicates that the search volume and conversion potential for a query are likely to increase over time.

CPC is a metric for Pay-Per-Click campaigns, but this data is useful for SEOs too. If people are bidding a relatively high amount for a keyword in their PPC campaign, then chances are it’s one with high conversion potential.


Competition is another key factor in keyword value.

Some keywords may have high search volumes but low levels of competition. Others have lower search volumes and intense competition from other sites trying to rank for those same terms.

Let’s say you want to create a blog post about photography tips.

If there are already thousands of high-quality articles on that topic, ranking high will take a lot of work.

SEO tools often use a Keyword Difficulty metric to show the level of competition for a search query:

That’s why researching your competitors is critical when choosing the right keywords for SEO.

Consider the following as you conduct research:

Keyword prevalence: How many results appear for that particular query?

Type of content: Do they have lots of images? Videos? Infographics?

Authority of the website domain: Are there any .edu or .gov sites ranking?

All these factors will help you understand more about each keyword’s value.

Example Of A High-Value Keyword – “Women’s Running Shoes With Arch Support”

The keyword is specific and directly relates to the products the business offers.

It targets a specific audience (women) and addresses a particular need (running shoes with arch support).

The searcher is actively looking for this type of product, so there’s a high potential for conversions.

Example Of A Low Value Keyword – “Footwear”

semrush keyword overview

The biggest problem with this keyword is that it’s very broad and generic.

While it may have a high search volume, it lacks relevance. “Footwear” could include everything from sandals and slippers to boots and high heels.

Attracting a targeted audience and converting users would be challenging.

There’s also high competition for the term making it difficult to rank high in search results.

Sure, if you can secure the top spot for a term like that, it’s an amazing signal of authority, but it’s also simply not realistic for most sites or clients to be able to compete for a term like that and wouldn’t serve them well in the long term to waste effort trying to.

Helpful SEO Keyword Research Tools

A high-value keyword has a good balance of relevance, search volume, competition, and conversion potential.

So how do you find them?

The easiest way is to use keyword research tools.

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool you can use to understand the value and relevance of keywords. It provides insights into monthly search volume, competition, and cost-per-click (CPC) estimates.

CPC is an important metric for keyword value. It gives you an idea of the average amount advertisers are willing to pay for clicks on their ads triggered by the keyword.

A higher CPC suggests a high-value keyword. But it can also mean increased competition.

You can also use paid tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz to gain more in-depth keyword insights.

Google Trends is another excellent option for getting insights into specific keywords’ popularity over time.

Current events, fads, and the latest releases often dominate the top of the keyword list for a while. This is because these terms are highly searched in a short period of time.

This doesn’t necessarily mean these search queries should always be embedded into your website. Even if a term has a high search volume, it may still not be as relevant as similar terms.

To remove some of the guesswork, a tool like LowFruits can help find the best keyword opportunities for you. By analyzing your keyword list, the output will highlight ‘Weak Spots’ based on a variety of factors, giving you an indication of which keywords are easier to rank for.

If you don’t have access to any of these tools, don’t worry!

You can outsource your keyword research and receive done-for-you reports with suggested actions. Cross-reference reports like these with your estimations of keyword value, and you’ll be able to create an actionable SEO plan for you or your clients.

Assessing Keyword Value on the Search Engine Results Page

Head to Google and search for the keyword you’re evaluating.

Look at the top-ranking results on the search engine results page (SERP).

Note the types of content that are ranking well for your keyword. Are they blog posts, product pages, or videos?

Understanding the content format helps you evaluate the search intent behind the keyword.

Are people searching for information or looking to make a purchase?

You can also evaluate the competition. Are there many well-established websites targeting the keyword, or is there room for smaller sites to compete?

TIP: If forums like Reddit or Quora are appearing near the top of the results, there’s a good chance you can outrank them with a highly-informative article. You can even use some of the user-generated comments in the forum threads to find important points to cover.

Look at the number of backlinks a page receives and how high the domain authority scores are to understand how competitive the other results are and what off-page SEO work you’ll need to consider.

You should also check if paid ads are displayed on the SERP.

Many ads could indicate a higher commercial intent and potentially higher keyword value.

Analyzing Keyword Performance

Understanding how well the keywords you currently rank for are performing can also provide insights into keyword value.

Google Analytics and Google Search Console are your go-to tools for this task.

You can measure the following:

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

See how your impressions measure up to clicks. A low CTR could signify a lack of relevance, or your meta title/description or SERP feature needs optimizing.

Conversion Rate

Look at the conversion rate of your focus pages. If it’s low, it could indicate a UX/UI issue, poor content, OR you’re generating traffic from the wrong keywords.

Bounce Rate

A high bounce rate could be the same issue as a low conversion rate.

If you use pay-per-click (PPC), you can see your keyword performance in Google Ads to help inform your keyword value for SEO. You’ll be able to see which keywords are driving the most conversions/revenue.

Google Analytics doesn’t show which keywords drive conversions for organic traffic. But there are tools like Keyword Hero that retrieve conversion data in analytics for you.

Regularly monitoring and analyzing keyword performance helps you understand keyword value and which search terms you should prioritize.

Putting a Value on Keywords

So can you put a dollar amount on a keyword?

Some paid tools provide an estimate. For example, Ahrefs uses a traffic value metric:

This metric is based on the estimated monthly cost of traffic from all keywords that a website or URL ranks for if paid via PPC instead of ranking organically.

But you can go a step further and estimate the value of a specific keyword.

Let’s say you have a client that sells garden furniture.

You’re interested in targeting the keyword “outdoor lounge chair.”

The search volume is 8,000 per month. And the average CTR for websites that rank third for this keyword is 15%.

Your average conversion rate is 1%.

Your average order value is $120.

To calculate the keyword value, you multiply the search volume by the CTR, the conversion rate, and the average order value.

This gives a value of $1440 per month.

If you were to rank in the third position for the keyword “outdoor lounge chair,” you could expect to attract 1,200 visitors to your website every month.

With a conversion rate of 1%, your client would make 12 sales per month at an average value of $120.

Over a year, you would generate an additional $17,280 in revenue for your client from this keyword alone.

This is just a simplified estimate for a commercial keyword.

But it shows how you can use keyword value to estimate the potential revenue you could generate from a particular keyword.

This information can be helpful in making decisions about your SEO strategy, and we have a handy tool that can do this for you!

Check out our SEO Value Calculator to remove the guesswork for you!

Don’t Neglect The Value Of Keywords In Your SEO

Assessing keyword value is a crucial step in building a successful SEO keyword strategy. It’s about finding the sweet spot between:

  • Search intent
  • Search volume
  • Conversion potential
  • Competition

Make sure you don’t neglect longtail keywords.

While they may have lower search volume than broader keywords, they often have higher intent and lower competition, making them a perfect target for your link building.

Use targeted keyword research to build out the foundations of your longtail keywords before you and your clients can move on to the bigger, badder, keywords for overall SERP domination!


Daniel Trick
Daniel Trick

Head of Content

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