There’s No Such Thing as “Accurate” Search Volume

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I often post my favorite new Ahrefs features

Let’s do a thought experiment and imagine that there was an SEO tool which would give you a highly precise search volume for any keyword. What would you use it for? Would you be able to accurately predict your search traffic from that keyword?


You can’t know for sure at which position your page will end up ranking. Today it’s #3, tomorrow it’s #5, the day after is #1. Rankings are volatile and you rarely retain a given position for a long enough period of time.

And even if you did: you can’t get precise data on the click-through rate (CTR) of each position in Google. Each SERP is unique, and Google keeps rolling out more and more SERP features that steal clicks away. So even if you knew precisely the search volume of a keyword and the exact position where your page would sit… you still would not be able to calculate the accurate amount of search traffic that you’ll get.

And finally…

Pages don’t rank for a single keyword! Seven years ago we published a study showing that a typical page that ranks at the top of Google for some keyword would actually rank for about a thousand more related keywords.

So what’s the point of trying to gauge your clicks from a single keyword, when you’ll end up ranking for a thousand of them all at the same time?

And the takeaway from all this is…

Here at Ahrefs we spend a tremendous amount of time, effort and resources to make sure our keyword database is in good shape, both in terms of its coverage of existing search queries, and the SEO metrics we give you for each of these keywords.

None of our SEO metrics are “accurate” though. Not search volume, nor keyword difficulty, nor traffic potential, you name it.

But none of them can be.

They’re designed to be “directionally accurate.” They give you an overall idea of the search demand of a given keyword and if it’s a lot higher (or lower) compared to some other keywords which you are considering.

You can’t use those metrics for doing any precise calculations.

But hundreds of thousands of SEO professionals around the world are using these exact metrics to guide their SEO strategies and they get precisely the results that they expect to get.


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