Welcome to this lesson on how to research the search volume for potential domain name keywords before buying a domain.
As any savvy domain name investor knows, search volume is one of the most important factors in assessing the value of a domain.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about searching keyword volumes to inform your domain name buying decisions.
Table of Contents
What is search volume and why does it matter for domain investing?
Search volume refers to the number of times a specific keyword or phrase is searched for on search engines like Google and Bing each month.
For example, if the three-word keyword phrase ‘new laptop deals’ is searched 25,000 times over the course of a month, the search volume would be 25,000 monthly searches.
This metric serves as a proxy for consumer demand and traffic potential. In other words, search volume gives you critical insight into how valuable a domain could be.
Domain names that incorporate high search volume keywords in their SLD have much more potential value than domain names with low search volume keywords that few people are searching for.
If you build out a site on a high search volume domain, it’s likely to attract lots of relevant organic search traffic, ultimately driving more leads and sales.
Simply put, high search volume correlates to higher domain value. By researching the search volume for keyword phrases, you can more accurately evaluate a domain’s potential.
Throughout this lesson, we’ll explore different methods for looking up exact match and broad match search volumes so you can make data-driven domain investing decisions.
There are a couple common misconceptions around search volume in the domaining community:
Search volume is not the number of web pages a search engine has indexed for a given term. That metric refers to search results or indexing volume.
Search volume is not the number of search engine results pages (SERPs) that appear for a keyword. The SERPs depend more on the diversity of websites using that keyword.
The only metric that matters for our purposes here is the raw number of times actual users searched for the exact keyword or phrase.
Why is search volume important for evaluating domain names?
Search volume provides a look into consumer search behavior and current trends.
Keywords and phrases with high search volume indicate stronger demand and interest from website visitors.
If you register and develop a domain name that incorporates a high search volume keyword, it has greater potential to rank well for those searches and drive large amounts of organic traffic to the site.
Generally speaking, the higher the search volume, the higher the domain value in most cases. The one exception is brandable domains, which we’ll discuss more later on.
Now that we’re clear on the definition and relevance of search volume, let’s go over some ways to look up this data.
Measuring Exact Match Search Volume
First, let’s talk about getting search volume data for the exact keyword phrase you have in mind for a domain name.
Here are a couple options for finding exact match monthly search volumes.
Estibot provides an exact match search volume data point for domain name keywords based on historical search query data.
There are some limitations with this tool however.
The search volume shown is from archived pre-2019 data since search engines started ‘broad match’ grouping in 2019. So it doesn’t represent current search volumes.
You can only perform one search per day without an Estibot account.
However, Estibot is still a quick way to get an idea of past exact match search volume for domain name keywords.
Let’s walk through an example searching for ‘business loan’ as a domain name keyword.
Go to Estibot.com and enter businessloan.com in the search bar.
Scroll down and you’ll see the ‘Exact Searches’ data under Keywords. This shows an exact match monthly search volume of 12,100 for ‘business loan’.
For comparison, let’s see the data for a similar domain like loanbusiness.com with the keyword phrase reversed. The exact match search volume here is only 260 monthly searches.
So in this example, businessloan.com would have much higher domain value potential based on the dramatically higher historical search volume.
- Example for BusinessLoan.com > Search Volume (Exact) = 12,100 monthly searches
- Example for LoanBusiness.com > Search Volume (Exact) = 260 monthly searches
In summary, Estibot can provide initial insight into exact match search volume to inform domain name investing decisions. Just keep its limitations in mind.
Measuring Broad Match Search Volume
In 2019, Google started reporting search volumes differently using what they call ‘broad match’.
Rather than providing data for the exact keyword phrase only, they now group together similar keyword variations and synonyms based on user search intent.
For example, Google combines the search volume data for ‘business loans’, ‘loan for business’, ‘small business loans’, etc. assuming the searcher intent is basically the same.
As domain investors, we need to look at both exact match and grouped broad match data to fully evaluate search volume.
Google Broad Match
According to Google’s help article, broad match includes:
- Singular or plural forms
- Stemmings (e.g. floor vs. flooring)
- Reordered words with the same meaning
- Addition or removal of function words
- Implied words
- Synonyms and paraphrases
- Similar search intent keywords
The goal is to show your ad to people searching for related keyword variations, not just your exact keyword. This reduces the need for exhaustive keyword research and grouping.
Online Tools to Check Search Volume
Here are some free and paid online tools you can use to find keyword volumes and Google Broad Match volumes:
Google Keyword Planner (Free)
- Free tool from Google Ads
- Provides keyword volumes and forecasts
- Draws data from Google Search
Advantages of Keyword Planner:
- Official data straight from Google Search
- Monthly searches and competition estimates
- Filters for location, language and devices
- Ability to group keywords into campaigns
- Competitive analysis of other keywords
- Integration with Google Ads platform
While Google Keyword Planner doesn’t directly provide broad match volumes, you can view the ‘Questions searched’ section to find broader keyword ideas that people are searching.
Some key tips for using Keyword Planner effectively:
- Use descriptive seed keywords to find related keywords
- Look at avg monthly searches rather than exact numbers
- Check competition metrics under Opportunities
- Expand keyword ideas under Questions
- Export keyword lists for further analysis
Overall, Google Keyword Planner should be a starting point for research due to its first-party Google Search data. But complement it with other tools to uncover more long-tail variations and low competition keywords.
- Generates keyword ideas and volumes
- Provides broad match volumes
- No account required to use
Key features of Ubersuggest:
- Broad match shows number of associated keywords
- Monthly search volume estimates
- Related keywords and top content ideas
- ClickStream data reveals common searcher journeys
- Filters to customize location and language
- No login required to use basic features
Ubersuggest is a free tool which is great for getting quick keyword volume estimates and broad match ideas. The data comes from a variety of sources including Google and Bing.
The broad match volumes show the number of longer-tail variations for a root keyword. This helps expand your keyword research and find hidden opportunities.
While not as robust as paid tools, Ubersuggest is very handy for basic keyword research needs as a free tool. It’s easy to use with no signup required. Definitely worth checking out.
Answer the Public (Free)
- Free tool that generates keyword ideas
- Helps find long-tail broad match questions
- Draws data from Google Autocomplete
How it works:
- Enter a root keyword like “dog training”
- It generates lots of long-tail question variations
- Questions are based on Google Autocomplete data
- Discovers broad match questions people are asking
- Triggers new keyword ideas you may not have considered
- Helpful for content marketing and topic clustering
- No login required and completely free to use
- No direct search volume data
- Results can sometimes be odd or irrelevant
- Mostly limited to question-style keywords
Overall, Answer the Public is a handy free tool for sparking broad match keyword ideas centered around questions. It provides a different perspective from other tools focused on volumes and rankings.
The long-tail questions can help shape content topics and themes.
While it shouldn’t be your only keyword research source, Answer the Public complements other tools nicely as a starting point for keyword inspiration.
- Paid tool but offers free 7-day trial
- Very powerful for in-depth keyword research
- Database of over 6 billion keywords
Features that make Semrush great for keywords:
- Accurate search volume data
- Broad match metrics show variant keyword numbers
- Keyword Difficulty scores for competitiveness
- Clickstream data reveals searcher intent
- Filters for location, language and devices
- Competitor keyword analysis
- Integrates with other Semrush tools
Semrush pulls keyword data from a variety of sources including their own crawler, Google, Bing, App Annie, and others. This results in very accurate search volume and difficulty estimates.
The broad match types show the number of longer-tail keyword variations for a root keyword. This allows you to dig deeper into related keywords.
While Semrush requires a paid plan for full access, the free trial gives you plenty of opportunity to conduct comprehensive keyword research. It’s one of the most powerful keyword tools available.
I recommend you take advantage of the Semrush free trial to uncover keyword research insights beyond what free tools provide. Other than that investing in a monthly subscription may be worth it if keyword data is important for your business.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer (Paid)
- Provides keyword volumes and suggestions
- Shows number of keywords for broad match
- Limited to 3 searches per day for free users
Some key advantages of Ahrefs for keyword research:
- Data is based on their own crawl of the web rather than Google data
- Includes search volume for long-tail keywords
- “Best by AHrefs Rank” helps identify low competition keywords
- Broad match metrics help find additional keyword ideas
- Can research competitors’ top keywords
The broad match volumes indicate how many different keyword variations (related keywords) are driving traffic to each main keyword. This helps you identify related keywords you may be missing.
Ahrefs is one of the best tools available for getting accurate keyword volumes and broad match data. It provides more in-depth data than Google Keyword Planner.
The free version has search limits, but provides invaluable intel for keyword research. You could subscribe for a full month and do all the keyword research you can before canceling the subscription.
The best free combo is Google Keyword Planner for exact volumes and Ubersuggest for broad match and suggestions.
Notes on Data Accuracy
While these tools provide useful search volume estimates, it’s always important to apply critical thinking when looking at keyword data.
Here are some tips to take into account when evaluating the data from these tools:
- Data is not 100% accurate. All tools are making estimates based on various sampling methods. Don’t take the numbers as absolute fact.
- Trends matter more than absolutes. Look at the general level of search volume and how it changes over time rather than the exact monthly figure. Use free tools like Google Trends to analyze search volume patterns.
- Consider seasonality. Some keywords will have higher searches at different times of year. Make sure to look at historical monthly data.
- Segment and filter the data. Break keyword data down by country, language, device type and other filters to get more relevant insights.
- Identify outliers. An unusually high or low number for a particular keyword may indicate the data is skewed. Verify against other tools.
- Combine keyword data with other indicators like Google Trends and autocomplete suggestions to create a more complete picture.
- Use tools as a starting point. Keyword research tools provide guidance, but should not be the sole factor in strategy and planning.
- Look at orders of magnitude rather than obsessing over specific numbers. 100K searches is still far more than 500 searches.
- Refresh frequently. Keyword search volumes are constantly evolving so refresh your research regularly to account for changes.
By conducting a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the keyword data you achieve better insights than taking the tools’ output at face value.
Incorporate these tips into your research process to make more informed keyword decisions.
Remember, the goal is to get a general sense of high versus low search volume keywords rather than taking the numbers as absolute fact.
Don’t Forget Keywords Trends
When assessing keywords for a domain purchase, it’s critical to research both search volume and trends over time.
High volumes today don’t guarantee future interest.
For example, keywords related to ‘fidget spinners’ showed skyrocketing growth in 2017 as the toys became a craze. However, interest peaked and then rapidly declined in 2018.
Buying a domain based solely on that spike would have been ill-advised.
Similarly, keywords around ‘HQ Trivia app’ spiked for a short period. While search volumes were temporarily high, the app ultimately failed to retain users.
On the flip side, a keyword like ‘mens joggers’ has shown consistent upward momentum for 5+ years. That’s a positive indicator of an enduring trend for a potential domain name.
To evaluate keyword trends you can use the free Google Trends site, which is provided by Google themselves.
Google Trends provides helpful visualizations for seeing how search volume for a particular keyword has risen or fallen over time. This can reveal emerging opportunities, seasonal spikes, or declining interest.
When evaluating keyword trends:
- Review historical patterns, not just current volumes
- Watch out for temporary spikes tied to fads
- Look for sustained upward momentum over years
- Ensure the trend fits your long-term domain strategy
Rushing to buy a domain based on high volumes for a fleeting trend can be risky.
Vet both search volumes and long-term trends to make informed domain name decisions.
Evaluating trends and seasonality in keyword volumes using Google Trends and keyword research tools can provide more actionable insights than looking just at individual monthly or weekly estimates in isolation.
The patterns and direction of search volume growth often matter more than the standalone numbers.
Researching Name Keywords
First names, last names and full names can also be powerful domain name keywords, especially when you can target common names with high buyer appeal.
Here are some tips for researching name keyword opportunities:
- Target common first names like ‘David’ or ‘Jennifer’ that have broad appeal.
- Consider cultural name trends for growth keywords. For example, Hispanic surnames are growing in the USA.
- Search genealogy sites for common surnames by region and ethnicity.
- Look at name popularity lists. You can find these from the Social Security Administration which provides annual baby name data.
- Search government census data to find frequency of names and surnames by location.
- Use Google Keyword Planner and social media search volumes for name keyword ideas.
- Check domain availability for short, brandable domain options for each name.
- Evaluate historical trends. Is the name rising or declining in popularity?
Government census databases can provide helpful demographic data on how many people have a particular first or last name in different locations around the world.
This can help surface name keyword opportunities tied to popular names in cultures with increasing populations.
Combine census data with other name popularity and search volume indicators to make informed decisions when investing in name-based domain keywords.
This gives you a proxy for potential buyer appeal. A name like ‘John’ with millions of matches has far more appeal than a rare name with only a few matches.
Here are some links to government census data and name databases that provide demographic information on first and last names by geography:
United States Census Data:
- https://data.census.gov/cedsci/ – Provides access to US census data including name popularity
- https://www.census.gov/topics/population/genealogy/data/2000_surnames.html – US 2000 census data on surnames
- https://www.census.gov/topics/population/genealogy/data/1990_census/1990_census_namefiles.html – 1990 US census name data
- https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/surname-analysis-and-meaning/ – UK surname data and meanings
- https://forebears.io/united-kingdom – Demographic data on surnames in the UK
- https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/dp-pd/chn-cpt/index-eng.cfm – 2021 Canadian census data
- https://www.abs.gov.au/census – Australian Bureau of Statistics census data
- https://forebears.io/australia – Surname demographics in Australia
These government census databases can provide helpful frequency data on first names and surnames by location to uncover name keyword opportunities.
Example for Common Names
Here are some real examples of popular and less common first name and surname keywords based on US census data and name popularity lists:
Popular first names:
- James – Over 4.3 million males named James in the US (#9 most common)
- Mary – Over 3.6 million females named Mary (#127 currently in popularity)
Less common first names:
- Gertrude – Around 13,000 people named Gertrude (#1,746 in popularity)
- Willis – Under 7,000 males named Willis (#1,623 in popularity)
- Smith – Over 2.4 million people with the surname Smith (#1 most common)
- Johnson – Over 1.9 million people have the last name Johnson (#2 most common)
Less common surnames:
- Satterfield – Around 20,000 people with this surname (#3,164 in popularity)
- Templeton – Fewer than 7,000 people with the Templeton surname
This data gives a sense of which first name and surname keywords correspond to hundreds of thousands or millions of potential customers versus just tens of thousands.
Keyword opportunities often exist with less common but still substantial names.
Checking name popularity and census data can help uncover lower competition name keywords with significant search volume potential.
Legal Issues with Names
Be careful when registering domain names related to existing brands or company names.
When investing in domain names, it’s important to be aware of potential legal issues that could arise.
Thoroughly research trademarks before purchasing a domain to avoid conflicts. Using another company’s brand name in your domain could lead to cybersquatting allegations, even if unintended.
So avoid domain names that are identical or very similar to existing trademarks. Adding minor typos or variations does not exclude potential infringement claims.
You can check sources like the USPTO and EU IPO for registered trademarks matching your desired domains.
Keep in mind that just because a domain is available doesn’t mean a matching trademark doesn’t exist.
If you do end up in a situation where a trademark owner contacts you regarding a purchased domain, try negotiating a fair price for transferring ownership. Legal disputes can be prolonged and expensive.
It is best to consult an IP lawyer if you have doubts about whether a desired domain could be infringing on trademark rights.
With diligent research and a proactive approach, domain investing can be done legally and profitably. But trademark conflicts have landed some domainers in hot water, so caution is advised.
Thorough keyword research is a crucial first step in identifying promising domain name opportunities.
While search volume analysis isn’t a perfect science, taking the time to research keywords before investing in domains can give you invaluable context for making data-driven decisions.
With a carefully researched list of keyword opportunities in hand, you can begin your quest to find available domain names matching your top terms.
This leads us to our next article exploring the world of SEO domains. Expired domains with existing authority that can give your investment a valuable head start when it comes to search engine visibility.
An experienced domain investor understands how to assess the SEO potential of an expired domain name and we’ll show you how you can do it too.
Hope you found this guide useful, for other similar articles and our full list of domain investment knowledge guides head on to our Domains Investment Hub.