Traffic potential more important than volumes

Traffic potential in Ahrefs Ahrefs provides a realistic representation of the potential of certain search terms. Looking at volumes is less relevant because certain search results consistently receive lower CTR from the SERP. In this article, I explain how to find out the traffic potential of search terms.

Several forms of noise arise on a search results page, including:

  • Ads above organic search results that “steal” clicks
  • Google Shopping ads that appear above organic search results
  • Local search results listed at the top
  • Frequently asked questions (also above organic search results).
  • Competitors that will always be at the top (such as branded results)

In this roadmap, I’ll walk you through how I determine the traffic potential of search terms as well as URLs. I do this primarily with the program Ahrefs.

Roadmap traffic potential

The traffic potential of search terms can be determined through Ahrefs, a widely used tool in the SEO roadmap. The keyword research can be conducted as follows:

Step 1: go to the Keyword Explorer

  1. Use the Keyword Explorer tool.
    • Enter the search term(s) whose potency you want to know.
    • Choose the right location and language, as search volume and competition can vary by region and language.

Step 2: analysis of the results

  1. For proper keyword analysis, these are the most important metrics:
    • Search volume: search volume shows how often the search term is searched per month. As such, it is a direct indicator of traffic potential.
    • Clicks: the average number of clicks from search results provides information about whether or not searchers are clicking through.
    • Keyword Difficulty (KD): the Keyword Difficulty provides an estimate in the difficulty of the term with respect to ranking in search results. For good ranking, it is important that the KD is not too high.
    • Cost per Click (CPC): the Cost per Click represents the cost to a business per click made. This is important to assess the commercial value of the search terms.
    • Traffic potential: Traffic potential itself is another important metric to analyze.

Step 3: SERP Analysis

A SERP Analysis also provides useful insights. Assume the following SERP summary:

  • View websites that rank high with the same search term
  • Examine the type of content on these websites – think blogs or product pages) and the quality of the texts
  • Please note any advertisements. These show the commercial goals of a Web site.

Step 4: long-term potential

Do research on the search terms that have the most potential and also use long-tail keywords. The search volume for these types of keywords may be lower, but the competition is often lower and also searchers are more likely to use these words for a specific search intent.

Step 5: trends

Ahref’s Keywords Explorer helps view trends in search terms. It may be that search terms are trending or especially searched for in a particular season.

Step 6: competitive analysis

Analyzing competitor data can provide many insights into a new approach to SEO optimization. Not only are competitors’ strengths instructive, but also their weaknesses. Find out what keywords competitors are using and what their backlink profile looks like.

Step 7: competitive analysis

Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. See what keywords they use and what their backlink profile looks like.

Continue reading about Ahrefs?

Continue reading about Ahrefs? Check out all my articles below about how I use Ahrefs on a daily basis for my clients.

Additional tips

After implementing the above roadmap, new search terms should be analyzed regularly because the market and search behavior keep changing. In addition, Ahref’s Rank Tracker can help track the progress of the website’s rankings for the selected search terms.

Not only keywords are important to improve SEO, content must also be relevant and qualitative.

Traffic potential based on top 3 results

Look specifically at Google’s top 3 ranking results via Ahrefs and perform the steps below:

Step 1: do a SERP analysis

View Search Engine Results Page (SERP) analysis in Ahrefs. In doing so, it is important to focus on the top 3 URLs for this term:

  • Position: confirm that the three URLs at the top are actually in the top 3/
  • Page authority and domain authority: this can be used to determine the strength of the competition.
  • Quality and number of backlinks: these components provide insight into the effort it may take to achieve a top 3 position.

Step 2: traffic potential top 3 URLs

Now that the top three have been determined with certainty, it is important to examine the individual traffic of these URLs.

  • Click on each URL in the SERP analysis for detailed page analysis
  • View estimate of monthly organic traffic
  • Look at the distribution of keywords from each page and the contribution of the primary keyword.

Step 3: the relationship between keyword and URL

To see the relationship between the keyword and the URL, it is important to analyze how much traffic the keyword generates compared to the other traffic to the page.

  • In case the main keyword accounts for a significant portion of the traffic, the keyword has high traffic potential.
  • If a large number of other terms are ranked, the top 3 position is not determined by the main keyword alone.

Step 4: competitive analysis

For proper competitive analysis, you need to look at the content and optimization of the top 3 URLs.

  • What kind of content do competitors use? Consider topics, media files and text length.
  • What does the competitors’ on-page SEO look like compared to yours? Consider title tags, meta-description and header tags

Step 5: considerations

After the competitive analysis, consider the following points:

  • Realism: consider whether it is realistic to achieve a position in the top 3.
  • Resources: does the website meet the appropriate resources to compete? Think backlinks and content.
  • Strategy: is the strategy used appropriate or should it be modified? Consider using long-tail keywords. A different strategy can help increase traffic potential in order to rank higher in Google.

Step 6: make adjustments

Implement the SEO strategy and monitor progress. Depending on changes in search algorithms, website performance and competition, the SEO specialist may need to make adjustments.

Additional Tips

  • ‘Featured Snippets’ and other SERP features have a big impact on the CTR of the top 3 results. Pay attention to this in the SEO roadmap.
  • Seasonal influences and trends affect search volumes. Check if the keywords are seasonal or trending and respond accordingly.

The above steps provide a more accurate picture of the top 3 positions in Google for a given keyword. This is where the SEO strategy can be adjusted.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 27 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 27 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.