ZSV Keywords: how to Find Zero Search Volume Keywords that Generate Traffic


16 minutes well-spent

This is the post that inspired today’s note:

Before you go writing me, you can get search volume data in Google Search Console with https://keywordseverywhere.com/ Also, these were not banned keywords from Google Keyword Planner, they were just trending and haven’t had their volume updated.

So as you can see, trend data can be very misleading. Think about it. Google has a huge job to do… serving up billions of results per day, crawling trillions of pages, building and maintaining the infrastructure, not to mention keeping the Google Ads platform running smoothly. When you think about all of these things, maintaining 100% accurate search volume is not at the top of their priority list — especially when there aren’t a lot of people willing to buy ads for them.

So the lesson here is not to rely on what Google or other tools say. They are not perfect, nor can they spot trends as they emerge. With that, I’ve compiled one guest contribution, great Facebook threads, and an article on the topic of zero search volume keywords. You also might want to check out a past note about this and asking your customers about their common problem as a great way to uncover awesome, low-volume keywords. Enjoy!

Let’s kick it off, Ben Adler from KeywordChef weighs in:

Zero volume keywords can be more hit or miss, depending on the keyword.

Here are a few questions to ask when targeting zero volume keywords to make sure they are worth it:

  1. How popular is the keyword? I know it’s “zero” volume, but googling your keyword and finding a lot of forum discussions about it is a good sign. If instead, you find absolutely no relevant results in the SERPs, or results that are very old, it probably means it’s not very popular and you may want to reconsider.
  2. How many “related” keywords are there? Can the question be asked in many different ways? If you find multiple keywords that are zero volume that means that have the same search intent, this means more people are searching for it, another great sign.
  3. How much effort will the article take? You don’t necessarily want to write a 2000-3000 word article on a zero volume keyword. Even if it does rank, there’s a risk it will bring in little traffic for a lot of effort. Instead, try to find easy articles to write about. The same time and effort spent writing one 2000 word article could be spent writing two or three 700-1000 word articles that bring in more traffic.

Be sure to check out Ben’s tool KeywordChef that will help you identify lucrative zero search volume keywords. Thanks for the contribution, Ben!

Next up are two valuable Facebook threads, the first is from Ben’s group Affiliate niche builders:

The thread outlines a case study where Vishal Mahadik published 22 articles with “zero search volume” keywords and 3000 clicks a month several months after publishing. Go here to read the case study, but if you want to check out the raw numbers, see this table:

Noticed the word count on these articles. As Ben said, you probably don’t need a 2000-3000 word article to rank for these keywords.

Here are a couple of highlights from the comments:

Then there was this post by Pablo Rosales of SEO Ruler Lab on SEO Signals Lab:

Here’s what Pablo does to find lucrative keywords no or low volume:

and here are some other highlights from the comments:

and here are some other highlights from the comments:

and here are some other highlights from the comments:

There was one more article mentioned in the threads, I gave it a read and it’s also worth checking out: https://nichesiteproject.com/faq/zero-search-volume-keywords/

How To Find Keywords/Topics that don’t Exist in Tools, i.e. zero search volume.

I’m going to start this note off with some hard evidence on why you shouldn’t trust search volume and especially why search volume should not be the determining factor about whether or not you decide to create a piece of content or not.

The following is a screenshot of one of my clients’ Search Console with the following regex filter applied:

The keyword data is overlaid in Search Console using keywordseverywhere.com (fantastic, affordable tool). The main thing to note here is that while the global search volume shows zero, you can see that some of these keywords show thousands of impressions.

This shows me search queries with 16 or more words.

You can do it too by entering:

([^” “]*\s){15,}?


Ok Steve, but that’s for keywords with 16 or more words, what keywords that people type vs. copy and paste?

Let’s try 6 or more words:

([^” “]*\s){5,}?

Data over a 6 month period for keywords with 6 or more words:

These keywords bring over 70 visits per month and the beauty is that there is less competition because other SEOs and content writers are probably disregarding them due to low search volume: advantage you.

I’m going to show you two tangible real-world examples of this now. Both of these come by way of LinkedIn (my favorite social network, add me).

Example #1

The first comes from Content and SEO Manager at Oracle Lauren Pope who gets topics for astrology blog in unconventional places.

Here’s the full post (go show it some love)

Lauren answers questions asked by her TikTok followers. She checks the comments for inspiration and writes about them. She looks for repeat questions because they’re an indication of greater interest.

You’re not going to find these types of topics in keyword tools. I’m not saying don’t use keyword tools like Ahrefs or Semrush, but do realize that that is where everyone else is looking for inspiration. You may want to try lesser-known tools since fewer SEOs will be using those tools e.g. growkeywords.com.

Here’s Lauren’s answer to the follow-up question I asked her about this:

The takeaway?

If you don’t have 100k TikTok followers (wow, way to go, Lauren), dig deep into comment sections and places like Facebook groups, Quora, Reddit and niche forums and look for poorly answered questions people ask. If you see the same question being asked repeatedly, that is a sign that it’s a great topic!

You could even go into groups and ask people something like: “what’s the number one question you have about X?” Or “How do you balance A vs. B?” “What are some things you don’t understand?” The more specific you are, the better. You are almost guaranteed to find real questions you can write about for your blog.

Example #2

This one comes by way of someone I also met on Linkedin: Shaun Lee Wei Rong. Shaun actually works for LinkedIn as a Senior Client Solutions Manager and in his job, he gets asked a ton of questions my his clients. Questions like:

He notes down all the questions his clients asks him and he blogs about them. Shaun ranks #2 for this keyword right behind socialmediaexaminer.com and he assured me that his LinkedIn Ad Benchmarks Post does super well and also gets him leads for this side hustle. Remember, Ahrefs or Semrush are not going to tell the full story because so many of these niche question keywords are not in their keyword database (just like the ones I showed you at the beginning of this post).

There is one more beautiful thing to this strategy. Think about it, it’s unlikely these blogs are going to seem very successful when you look at them in Semrush or Ahrefs — it’s because the keywords aren’t in their database! So unless your competition physically visits your site and copies the topic, you are less prone to increased competition over time.

The Takeaway?

Talking to your clients and noting down their real-world questions is something I’ve been telling my clients for over a decade (I did this a lot when I worked at agencies). I used to literally tell them to give their receptionist a notebook and write down questions that people asked them on the phone.

Final thoughts on this topic

My advice to my clients was inspired by the 2013 book by Jay Baer called Youtility. This book was a game-changer for me back in my early days as an SEO / content creator. It’s not about SEO per se, but there are a lot of interesting lessons in it. It’s about helping people instead of hyping up yourself (this wasn’t a mainstream topic back in 2013).

My favorite part of the book is the foreword by Marcus Sheridan. In the book, Marcus tells the story of his fiberglass pool company, River Pools and Spas. He talks about what he did when during the 2008 recession where house foreclosures were at an all-time high and very few people had money for discretionary spending for things like a new fiberglass pool.

While his business was losing money, Marcus remembered and wrote down hundreds of questions people asked him about fiberglass pools and spas, sat down at this kitchen table countless nights during the recession, and blogged about them. By the time the recession was over, he had created so much “utility” on his blog, he had earned a ton of links and achieved all the top spots on Google for his keywords. So by the end of the recession, his business was booming and it was all thanks to the real-life questions he answered — without the help of any keyword research tools.

I used to tell this story to my agency clients verbatim and it always inspired them to do the same. So I suggest you give it a read and do that same!

Update, this is a solid thread on zero volume keywords. You’ll need to join the group!

Finding Zero Search Volume “ZSV” Keywords – Part 2

Today’s note comes from Koray Tuğberk Gübür, folllow Koray here:




Also! Koray is in the midst of developing a course and he is soliciting questions about semantic SEO here:

From Koray: I will try to add two small sections to your Notebook, since it should be brief, I will try to summarize “the importance of zero search volume queries”, and “how to find them”.

“Queries with no search demand can show the unique value of a source on the web. A semantic search engine can generate “synthetic queries” to understand the relevance of different phrase variations to each other to improve the overall quality of the SERP. If a “synthetic query” is relevant to other queries, even if there is no search demand, the search engine calls it “seed query” in its patents, to signal its importance for guidance. Most query demand tracking technologies use “ClickStream” technology, thus they miss the real value of minor-rare queries.

In this context, Queries with no search demand and Queries that look like with no search demand are not the same thing. Even if a query doesn’t have a proper search demand, it can increase the relevance of the document to dominant and minor search intents.

Every word has word proximity to another word within a co-occurrence matrix. A zero search volume keyword can improve the phrase-variation count, contribute to the phrase taxonomy, and improve the contextual signals of the document for a cluster of search intents behind the “seed queries.”

“Besides this “theoretical SEO” explanation for Semantic SEO, to find “Assumed Zero Search Volume Keywords” and “Real Zero Search Volume Keywords”, you can also use the methodologies below.

  1. Use “variable portion” of questions. “What is X for Y in C”, “Types of X for P”, “Z Principles for installing C without having a P for V” => “What is Love for Women in 40s”, “Types of Love for Greek Philosophers”, “Socrates’ Principles for having a strong love for family”.

Steve’s take: when you narrow down using variable portion, e.g. “types of bicycles for long commutes” you instantly become more relevant to your ideal searcher. The key is being able to take the same product and create content that positions it for various types of variable portion questions.

  1. Use “lemmatization” of words. “X for P”, “P of X”, “X and P”, “Xed by C”, “Xing”, “X’s definition based on C” => “Love for Animals”, “Love of Animals”, “Love and Animals”, “Being loved by an Animal”, “Love’s definition based on Greek Culture”.

Steve’s take: lemmatization helps you get specific. Use it to name your ecommerce categories, e.g. mountain bikes for men, women, boys, girls, beginners. You get the picture.

  1. Understand the “theme of words”, in other words, “Contextual Domains”. If you search these queries, you will see that Google will find a “representative query” for your possible search intent, and they will rewrite your previous query. It means that they understand the “user and query context”. In other words, these “phrase variations” can signal the context and relevance.

  2. Use your reflexes, since you are a semantic creature. I didn’t check the queries above whether have 0 search volume or not, I just made these queries up. So, use your own brain to generate these queries without search demand. But, also you can use Python for it. You can generate “N-Grams” – “biagrams, trigrams and more”. Most of them won’t have a search demand. You can use lemmatization, and question generation libraries based on text from SERP via Python too. Maybe in the future, I can create some tutorials for these too.”

“Since the search engine is able to open a new query model, people change their search behaviours along with it. And, satisfying these new search behaviours is an opportunity for all of the new content publishers who want to improve their topical authority with granularity and specificity.”

4 Responses to " ZSV Keywords: how to Find Zero Search Volume Keywords that Generate Traffic "

  1. Shahzad Hussain says:

    Extremely practical tips Steve. Surely gonna try them soon.

    Thanks a ton for the post!

  2. Nicolas Cerda Miranda says:

    Nice post!! 👏🏻👏🏻

  3. Ashraf Sherif says:

    Nice post

  4. Thanks Steve for this pretty detailed and really useful post about zero sv keywords..

    I got the chance today to take a look at your article.

    And thanks for sharing my little case study about zero SV keywords..

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