Andrew Zarudnyi
May 14, 2020 | 20 min read

If you want to get positive results from your digital organic and advertising campaigns on Google, you must first understand what your customers need, and secondly, match it with your promo activities.

Although measuring what your customers want can be difficult, tools like SE Ranking give marketers and advertisers the power to take user data and leverage it to get their web pages to show up in front of people who are likely to want it the most.

To achieve this, we use various Google data along with our own metrics to provide our customers with all the information they could possibly need to put together the perfect campaign for organic and paid search. 

By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be able to fully understand all the data that is offered to you in different SE Ranking tools and will ultimately be able to use it to your competitive advantage.

Now, without further ado, let’s get cracking!

Keyword parameters

1. Search volume

What is keyword search volume?

The search volume is an essential SEO metric that can help you understand how often a specific search term is being looked for by searchers each month in a specific country and search engine. 

In simple terms, the search volume lets you know how widely used or popular a keyword is. The vast majority of SEO experts look at it to understand how well a keyword will work at promoting a web page in SERPs.

Search volume in SE Ranking

How is keyword search volume calculated?

SE Ranking uses two main sources for gathering keyword search volume data: Google and clickstream data. 

Google search volume

The initial search volume data that we get is calculated by Google. But as of 2016, Google stopped providing exact search volume data if you didn’t spend a fortune in Google Ads. On top of that, Google buckets, or clusters, topically related keywords into groups and provides the same search volume data for the entire group. 

For example, Google provides the same search volume data for search terms like ‘SEO’ and ‘search engine optimization’. But thanks to clickstream data and our algorithms, we are able specify the exact search volume of each keyword.

Clickstream data

Clickstream data is collected via browser extensions, plugins and other apps installed on computers and other browsing devices. As a rule, they ask your permission before collecting certain data. SE Ranking then aggregates data from all permitted sources.

How often is keyword search volume updated?

We update the search volume in an ongoing, continuous process that involves every country in our database. But we don’t update search volume data for every country database all at the same time. 

Typically, once we finish updating a database, we move on to the next one. As a result, we manage to fully update the search volume for each country database 2 to 3 times a year. You can, however, get more up-to-date rankings data upon request. See when the database was last updated in the upper right corner in the Keyword Research tool:

Search volume update

What if there is no keyword search volume data?

We aim to check the search volume of every keyword in our database. However, some search terms have a very low (or practically no) search volume, and drive very little traffic because people typically don’t tend to repeat the same unique, colloquial search. Such search terms can be found under the Low Search Volume subtab of Keyword Suggestions:

Low search volume keywords tab in SE Ranking

This list contains Google’s autocomplete search suggestions as well as keywords with a very low search volume. Most of them are long-tail keywords. If you run out of keyword ideas from the Similar and Related tabs, you should check Low Search Volume keywords out to discover additional ways of expanding your semantic core. 

Furthermore, if you work in a specific niche that our database doesn’t have any keyword data on, you are welcome to upload a list of all of your search queries, and get all the information you need, including an in-depth overview of organic and paid traffic, search queries and competitor domains.

Expanding keyword database in SE Ranking

How can the keyword search volume help me?

Think of the keyword search volume as the potential number of people who are interested in a given topic and who you can drive to your site by targeting a specific search query. 

Keyword search volume matters because search engines like Google are one of the key drivers of new visitors and traffic to websites. It’s crucial to target keywords in your content that actually have search volumes. Otherwise, no one will read your content, visit your site, and convert.

2. Keyword Difficulty

What is keyword difficulty?

Keyword difficulty gives you a rough idea of how easy it will be to rank for a particular keyword in organic search.

Keyword difficulty data in SE Ranking

How is keyword difficulty calculated?

The formula is based on the quality of domains ranking in the top 10 search results for a given query and the quality of their backlink profiles. The higher a keyword’s difficulty is, the more efforts you will have to put into optimization but also the better results it will potentially bring from organic search.

How can keyword difficulty help me?

Consider high-difficulty keywords as those you might benefit from in the long run. For the most part, focus on relevant search queries that don’t have a high difficulty score. 

SE Ranking uses its own algorithm with the resulting keyword difficulty score ranging from 0 to 100:

Keyword difficulty scale in SE Ranking

Ad metrics and data

 3. CPC (Cost Per Click)

An important metric that helps advertisers understand a keyword’s bidding environment on Google Ads, break down their budgets more effectively, and make sure that high-cost keywords aren’t eating it up is the cost per click (CPC). 

In other words, the cost per click refers to the estimated price that has to be paid for each individual click in your PPC Google Ads campaign.

CPC data in SE Ranking

How is the cost per click calculated?

The CPC data found in our platform is pulled directly from Google Ads along with the search volume and competition.

For more information on cost per click, check out Google’s official documentation:

How can the cost per click help me?

The cost per click is just an estimation but it can help you determine the potential financial success of your paid search campaigns. Even if you don’t run any ads on Google, you can still take the CPC into account when devising your organic strategy to get a better understanding of how competitive each keyword SERP is.

4. Ad variation

What is ad variation?

Ad variation is a Google Ads interface feature that enables you to try out different options of your ad copies. After all, creating better ads is an important step to the success of any advertising campaign.

Ad variations in SE Ranking

How do ad variations work?

When you create a new Google Ads advert for your domain, we create an ad variation in SE Ranking. For example, last month you ran your first ad on Google with the copy ‘used car for sale’. This is ad variation #1 for your entire domain, not a specific web page. Then next month you decided to specify the text and updated it to ‘used Tesla for sale’. As a result, ad variation #2 is created. Then, if you decide to go back to the previous copy option, the system will spot this and will let you know that you went back to ad variation #1.

The ad variation count applies to each domain separately, meaning that if you use the same copy as a competitor in your ads, the system will still mark it as a new ad variation for your domain.

How is ad variation data collected?

It must be noted that when collecting data for this metric, our system pulls Google Ads data from capitals or big cities to represent individual countries. Let me shed some light on that. 

Say you wanted to see all the ads that Nike is running in the United States. The problem is that we can’t really give you that data because we don’t collect nation-wide data. Instead, we take one city, which is New York in the case of the United States, and show you all the ads that are running there.

If an ad is targeting all of the US, you will see it in SE Ranking. If it is targeting New York, you will see it too. But if you want to get data for California or Los Angeles, you have to reach out to our support team to get the necessary data. Due to the load, we can only pull such data upon request. 

How can ad variation help me?

Besides giving you the option to go back in time and analyze all of your competitors’ ads, this feature allows you to filter ads by ad variation and find out if the same copy was used in the past or on different web pages of the same domain.

For example, if a website used the same ad for its Black Friday campaign in 2018 and 2019, you’ll be able to see this and get a preview of the exact copy they used, although this is rarely the case.

To find out more, check out what Google has to say about ad variations.

Competition parameters

5. Competition

What is competition?

According to Google, competition refers to the total number of advertisers who bid on each keyword in relation to all of the keywords present on Google in a specific country. 

Putting it in simple terms, it refers to the number of advertisers who are battling it out for a keyword.

Competition data in SE Ranking

How is competition calculated?

We pull the Competition data directly from Google Ads that provides a general low-to-high quantitative guide to help users understand how competitive ad placement is for a particular search query. If Google doesn’t have enough data on a keyword, the dash (-) will be displayed in SE Ranking.

How can competition help me?

Competition helps you understand whether the level of Google Ads competition for your keywords is low, medium, or high. The higher the number is, the tougher and more expensive it will be to squeeze your web page into the SERPs via Google Ads. 

If a search term has a high level of competition, advertisers may often need to place higher bids to get better ad ranking spots. But, as a result, the keyword CPC may also be higher. 

On the other hand, if the competition is low, meaning not many people are bidding on a keyword, you may not be required to spend huge sums of money to win. This, in turn, also depends on the analyzed keyword’s search volume.

So, we suggest you check your keyword competition before running any ads and use the available data to understand how to best allocate your campaign budget. 

6. Number of search results

What is Results in Rankings?

The Results column in the Rankings tool is an index that shows you the total number of web pages that Google displays in search for a keyword in a specific country.

Number of search results in SE Ranking

For example, below you can see the total number of results for the search term ‘Nike shoes’. It represents the number of documents—or web pages—that have been indexed by Google and that are relevant to the requested search query from the search giant’s point of view.

Number-of-search-results

However, some of the pages displayed in the SERPs may not be accessible from the search results at all, plus the Results index only gives you a rough idea of how many pages might have information related to the search. 

How is the number of search results calculated?

SE Ranking pulls this data directly from Google. However, this index provides approximate data and may provide different results for the same search query in the same location, as Google tends to take your personal search history into account when providing search results.

How can search results help me?

The purpose of this index is to give you a general idea of how competitive the organic SERP is for a certain search query. Use it to get a feel of how many sites come up in search for a specific topic, which, in turn, gives you a rough idea of how many web pages you are going up against—aka your competition. 

You can also use this data to understand the search query itself and find out if it’s general or specific. For example, if you see a lot of sites in the SERP, you can narrow down the search to find a more specific search query to target. On the flipside, if you don’t see too many results, then you already have a pretty narrow search term. 

As a standalone metric, this metric isn’t that informative, but if you compare it with different keywords, then it’ll be easier for you to find out which ones are most promising.

Domain metrics

7. Keyword total

What is keyword total?

The total number of keywords is an index that lets you know how many keywords a website targets in both organic search campaigns and paid ads. You can access this data in the Organic Traffic and Paid Traffic sections of the Competitive Research tool:

Keyword total in SE Ranking
Keyword total in SE Ranking

How is the total number of keywords calculated?

SE Ranking has 75 keyword databases from across the globe. Each one of these databases contains keywords that are being searched for—as in they have a search volume. Our system uses this list of keywords to scan Google and identify the keywords that advertisers decided to run ads for.

When you start analyzing a domain, SE Ranking goes through the entire database and looks to see if there are any previous records of the analyzed domain. More specifically, it looks for all the keywords that the analyzed domain or web page was displayed in search for, and then provides you with the full list of such keywords. 

The total number of keywords is updated once a month at the same time that we update keyword rankings data.

How can keyword total help me?

If you don’t know what keywords a website is ranking for, you can enter any domain into the system and discover all of the keywords the analyzed web page or domain ranks for in paid and organic search. 

For example, if you notice that one of your top competitors has a strong PPC presence, then you need to step up and improve your own game by targeting more keywords via Google Ads. 

8. Search visibility

What is search visibility?

Search visibility is the share of views a website gets in a given search engine for a specific keyword. In the Rankings tool, you see the overview of the website’s visibility with regard to all the keywords added to the project.

Search visibility in SE Ranking

The number shows the percentage of users who see your website when inputting your targeted keywords. You can check search visibility for all popular search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, and also for Youtube.

How is search visibility calculated?

The system uses a specific formula to analyze each query and the site’s SERP position. Here’s how it looks like:

Search Visibility formula in SE Ranking

In the formula, S stands for the search visibility, F is the search volume, and A is the adjusting ranking factor. The latter depends on the website’s keyword ranking position:

  • Top 3 positions: A=1;
  • 4th position: A=0,85;
  • 5th position: A=0,60; 
  • 6, 7 positions: A=0,50; 
  • 8, 9 positions: A=0,30; 
  • 10th position: A=0,2; 
  • 11th position and lower: A=0.

To put it simply, the higher a website is ranking and the higher is the search volume of targeted keywords, the higher is search visibility and the more people see a website in search results. 

You can analyze not only an overall search visibility but also this parameter for a particular keyword or group of keywords. The formula for an individual query is much simpler: S = A * 100%. 

For more information, read our article dedicated to search visibility.

How can search visibility help me?

By monitoring search visibility percentage, you can get a grasp of your actual search optimization results. If this parameter remains much to be desired, it’s a sign you might need to rethink your strategy, target other keywords, and so on.

Furthermore, if you compare search visibility levels of your competitors, you can understand how solid is the position of your website in its niche. To do so, look for the Search Visibility tab in the module My Competitors. Look through the results across different months to define a surge in search visibility (if there was any).

Competitors' search visibility

9. Traffic forecast

What is traffic forecast?

Traffic forecast gives an estimate of the website’s monthly number of clicks. This value depends on the keywords’ search volume and site’s rankings in search engines.

In SE Ranking, you can get traffic forecast for each of your projects in Rankings:

Traffic forecast in SE Ranking

Also, you can monitor the traffic forecast on any domain by using the Competitive Research tool (where it’s called Total Traffic):

Competitors' traffic forecast in SE Ranking

When analyzing competitor websites, you can see the potential number of clicks in organic search and paid ads, as well as assess the dynamics of their traffic.

What is traffic forecast calculated?

Since it’s only an estimation, you can’t get a 100% accurate traffic forecast. But the formula we use at SE Ranking comes close to give you the most realistic data. It looks like this:

Traffic forecast formula

Here, T is traffic forecast, F is the keyword search volume, R is the current website ranking for the target keyword, and I1 and l2 are two adjusting indexes.

l1 depends on the search engines and their popularity among users: 

  • Google = 1
  • Yahoo = 0.3 
  • Bing = 0.3

I2 depends on the exact position in search:

  • Top 1 — 32.50%
  • Top 2 — 17.60%
  • Top 3 — 11.40%
  • Top 4 — 8.10%
  • Top 5 — 6.10%
  • Top 6 — 4.40%
  • Top 7 — 3.50%
  • Top 8 — 3.10%
  • Top 9 — 2.60%
  • Top 10 — 2.40%

For more details on how it works, read our article on traffic forecast.

How can traffic forecast help me?

Traffic forecast gives an estimated number but it allows you to assess the situation and possibly amend your keyword strategy. In the Rankings tool, you can check an overall monthly forecast and also an estimation based on each added keyword. Analyze this data together with other domain and keyword metrics to set priorities and adjust your SEO if needed.

Traffic forecast for keyword

10. Total Traffic Cost

What is traffic cost?

The traffic cost assessment, or traffic cost, is the estimated maximum cost of driving traffic to a website based on its keywords’ CPC and search volume. You can access this data on any domain using SE Ranking’s Competitive Research tool. Total Traffic Cost shows you the estimated cost of targeting each discovered keyword in organic search and the estimation of a monthly PPC budget.

Total traffic cost in SE Ranking

How is traffic cost calculated?

Let’s say a website’s organically ranking for several hundreds or thousands of keywords. In turn, each keyword has its own CPC value. So, what we do is multiply the total number of potential visitors by the cost of driving those visitors from Google Ads campaigns.

Traffic-Cost-formula

Ultimately, the resulting number—that’s expressed in the equivalent of Google Ads prices—lets you know how much it would cost to bid on every organic keyword via a Google Ads pay-per-click campaign.

How can the traffic cost assessment help me?

This metric offers an additional way of assessing a keyword’s Ads competition and value. While the CPC shows the cost of driving a single user from Google, the Traffic Cost Assessment shows how much it will cost to drive all potential traffic for a given keyword from search via Ads to your site.

In terms of organic search, it also helps you understand the overall level of competition for a keyword, but it remains a primary metric that helps you plan out your Google Ads campaigns.

11. Domain quality

What are Domain Trust and Page Trust?

Domain Trust is a metric that assesses the quality of a domain. SE Ranking uses its own algorithm that is based on the referring domains data, the total number of backlinks, and their quality. Similarly to DT, Page Trust evaluates the quality of a certain web page.

You can see DT and PT scores in the Backlink Checker tool:

Domain quality metrics in SE Ranking

Soon, these metrics will also be available in the Competitive Research tool.

How are Domain Trust and Page Trust calculated?

Domain Trust and Page Trust are based on the same algorithm as Google’s PageRank. It’s a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100 with 100 being the indicator of perfection. DT and PT data is updated each month for any domain.

How can Domain Trust and Page Trust help me?

Domain quality metrics can help you quickly evaluate how trustful a given website is. Applied to your own project, DT and PT scores can signify the need for working harder on your backlink profile.

Closing thoughts

Let me know if you have any questions about any metrics, indexes, or data points you found in SE Ranking and I’ll be sure to expand this blog post to cover all of the information you need. 

If you need some additional help, you can always check out our Knowledge Base or reach out to our support team via live chat!

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6 comments
    1. Thanks for your question, Tomas. As a matter of fact, we will update the search volume sequentially for all countries that we have in our database. Once we roll out this feature, we will draw a vertical line on all graphs in the tool to indicate that the search volume has been updated. Keep an eye on our blog for more details.

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