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Understanding Demand Using Search Volume

Episode Overview: Understanding the nuances of market demand and how to derive that information from datasets can be time consuming unless you know what to look for. Join host Ben as he continues Market Insights Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services Tyson Stockton as they discuss how to understand the nuances of market demand and which data sets to examine to help you save valuable time.


  • Understanding demand for your products or services begins with asking yourself what’s the cluster of keywords you’re trying to rank for that fall under a generic term like “Running shoes,” or “Watches.”
  • The Keyword search volume tool is valuable for identifying individual search volumes for a particular keyword.
  • Demand insights help in other areas of your business, such as market research studies, conveying the value and increasing the importance of SEO throughout the organization.


Ben:                  Welcome to Market Insights Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, covering how you can use search data to impact your business, outside of SEO.

Ben:                  Joining us for Market Insights Week is Tyson Stockton, who is the vice president of client services at Searchmetrics. Tyson manages Searchmetrics’ SEO content and client success organizations, and outside of shepherding their largest and most strategic clients to SEO success. He’s joining us today to talk about what search data is relevant for mining market insights. So far this week, Tyson and I have talked about why and how you can use search data to improve your business outside of SEO performance. And today we’re going to dive into how you can understand demand using search volume. Okay, here’s the second part of Market Insights Week with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ vice president of client services. Tyson, welcome back to Market Insights Week on The Voices of Search podcast.

Tyson:               Thank you, Ben. Day two, let’s go.

Ben:                    Day two, but this is really our first big topic. We’re going to talk about how to understand demand and which data set you need to look into. First of all, just talk to me about understanding demand. When you hear that somebody says, I want to understand demand for my products or services, what goes through your head?

Tyson:               The first piece is how broad they’re acquiring the data, and I think the simple go to is by grabbing an individual keyword and using that as a proxy for an entire category. Like if I’m looking at watches versus shoes, or maybe within footwear, Nike running shoes versus Adidas running shoes. That individual keyword is just going to give me the search of that term. And really what you’re asking yourself is, what’s the cluster of keywords, what are all the keywords related under, running shoes or under watches, that you want to be ranking for where there’s opportunity. And so I think the biggest piece from that point, I guess it’s like advice but also breaking down the conversation is like, “Okay, are we talking about an individual keyword? Or like a couple keywords for one URL? Or are we talking about maybe an entire category that could be potentially hundreds of URLs and thousands and thousands of keywords?”

Ben:                  So when you start to think about data sets and understanding not just looking at a specific keyword, the example you … Hey, you don’t get all of search traffic when you’re looking for watches by looking at the keyword watch, or you don’t find out running shoes, when you’re looking at the keyword running shoes, there’s lots of variants. Talk to me about the data sets that you’re looking at? And how do you put those together to really get a holistic picture?

Tyson:              Yeah. And there’s several sources out there for keyword search volume, probably the most well known is obviously Google’s keyword planner. Some limitations depending on what your AdWords account is, getting the ranges and things like that. Other tools like, so there’s several other ones that you can get the individual search volume of a keyword. I think one value ad and obviously we always use the Searchmetrics data set is, we’re able to pull in from a couple different sources and then give us a specific search volume for it. Also with the duration of the data set that we have, we’re also able to look back through the rear view mirror and I think it’s a little bit of a catch point to relay okay, yeah why are we looking back? I want to know the direction of the industry? But understanding how it’s evolved, how it’s changed, what the seasonality of that search volume is, can be really helpful and not just understanding the business today, but also where the business or where the industry’s headed.

Ben:                 All right. So you mentioned a couple different tools that are useful for understanding the broader keyword set. You mentioned before that it’s important to really think about where you’re setting the boundaries, when you’re trying to understand demand. The example that you laid out before running shoes, you can put in every brand of running shoes, you can put in different types of shoes, you could just look at the individual keyword. Let’s say I want to understand the demand for running shoes, walk me through the steps that you’re taking to give me an honest answer of how many people or how much people are looking for running shoes?

Tyson:             Yeah. And so, we’ve been working on this with our market insight reports and essentially how we’re going about it is, we’ve created a couple of different algorithms and queries through our existing data set. And what we’re doing is we’re looking for similar related keywords, and then we’re also looking at competing URLs, what other keywords are ranking on those URLs and then using that to then identify other similar related keywords. And so, I’d say from our stands what we’re doing is we’ve actually used some different levers and some different programmatic elements of having this treasure chest of existing ranking data. And so understanding like, “Okay, this running shoes page rates on these thousand keywords.” Google’s interpreting that those are all related to that subject. And then seeing how many of those keywords are ranking on other URLs, and then we’re able to scale that out to an entire category.

                          That’s the approach that we’re taking in our market insights reports. And we know would be the recommendation as far as the most robust way to more encapsulate the entire category. But I think if you’re doing it more on a micro scale or on the individual level, yeah, look at things like, “What are the variants of that keywords? Sort of people’s search best running shoes, or and plus running shoes, or whatever adjective plus running shoes.” And then also seeing, “Okay, what’s my domain? What’s my URL’s ranking on? And then what are the competitors?” And that can give you an idea of that cluster of that group of keywords.

Ben:                I think it goes into understanding what you’re searching for, and honestly it goes back into the definition of demand. Somebody can be searching for the history of running shoes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have demand for running shoes, that they are in the market for running shoes. When you’re looking for indications of interest, when you’re looking to understand who is in market, who is actually in the purchase cycle, how are you filtering your demand and your keyword set?

Tyson:           Yeah. And so for that, we’re pulling in elements of keyword intent a bit for that. So, if someone searches something more granular like an individual model of a product, they’re going to be further along in the buying cycle and they’re going to be more close to making a transaction and making a purchase. So you’re going to see more ecommerce or websites that are selling that product ranking. But then if you’re looking at something that’s more higher funnel of someone that’s not really sure what to purchase, and they’re looking for something like laptops, and it’s like, “Hey I’m not sure if I want to get a Mac or if I want to go with Dell, or whatever brand.”

                       So, on those, that’s where you start seeing more comparison sites, informational queries. And so the way we cluster keywords from a high level is, navigational, informational and transactional. Informational being more of the editorial type content, transactional that’ll typically have an add to cart button, navigational where it’s actually more brand related and you’re navigating to parts of their site. But I’d say that those are the main categories that we’ve been clustering keywords in. And then depending on what the percentage of keywords in each of those categories can give you an indicator of at what stage of the buying cycle the consumers are.

Ben:              It sounds like there is variability when you’re understanding who is actually in market, who has immediate demand, as opposed to who’s in the research phase. How do you adjust for things like seasonality, that are somewhat predictable, but not necessarily an indication of who is in market immediately?

Tyson:           Yeah. And I think the seasonality aspect is key because a lot of times from a high level we’ll cluster, and we’ll say like, “This is the monthly average search volume for a keyword.” And breaking that down and so the search volume by months, so then you can cluster into quarters or whatever’s more relevant to your business, is going to be key because you can take a lot of terms that are going to have a huge spike. Let’s take an extreme like Black Friday related queries. That’s going to be pretty dormant throughout the entire year, and then it’s going to have a huge spike around November. And so that’s something that you’re like, “It’s an obvious one where the spikes are coming.” But also that’s something that gives you a clue as far as when you should be playing content, if you’re using this outside of SEO and you’re using it for more of like a merchandising or when should I time my marketing campaigns, knowing when that volume increases and knowing where the laws are, is going to guide your planning, your timing.

Ben:              So I guess the last question I have for you Tyson is, once you have a good understanding of what demand looks like for your product or services and you’re factoring in seasonality, and you’re understanding who’s in market, where do you go with that data? What do you do with it?

Tyson:          Yeah. I think the most obvious one would be more of like for your SEO strategy, where do you want to be competing? Where’s the greatest opportunity for your site? But I think it also gets to those more interesting larger business conversations, and as far as SEO, we’ve always challenged this recognition companies getting the awareness that SEO should have. And if you’re able to use SEO and search demand to actually show that it can be used as a market research tool for other parts of the business, one, just inherently you’re increasing awareness of search in general. So it’s one, there’s a lot of value and it’s a great lever to pull. And also, in comparatively speaking if you look at what a market research study would cost a business, it can be a very cost effective way to get to those numbers. But also it’s a great way to get the voice and get the recognition and awareness of SEO or search in general throughout an organization.

Ben:             And I appreciate it that you’re talking to the SEOs about how they can use demand to highlight the power of SEO data, their keyword data. I also think from the executive perspective, understanding that your total addressable market, your TAM is going to fluctuate over time, and thinking about how that changes, how you prioritize your products, and honestly your business model, is something that’s incredibly powerful to make sure that you’re always operating with the wind at your back, not in your face.

                      So that wraps up this episode of The Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, Vice President of client services at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is Tyson_Stockton. Or you could visit his company’s website which is,

                     Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about, if you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on The Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media, our handle is VoicesofSearch on Twitter, and my personal handle is BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish an episode every day during the workweek. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning, when we talk about how you can understand historical trends using keyword data. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.

Tyson Stockton

Tyson Stockton

Tyson has over 10 years' experience in the digital marketing industry. As Vice President of Client and Account Management, Tyson manages the Enterprise Client Success team and SEO Consulting efforts at Searchmetrics. Tyson has worked with some of world’s largest enterprise websites including Fortune 500 and global eCommerce leaders. Prior to Searchmetrics, Tyson worked on the in-house side managing the SEO and SEM efforts of a collection of 14 sports specialty eCommerce companies in the US, Europe and Australia.

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