How to estimate search volume for adult keywords

Without beating around the bush, Google simply won’t give search volumes for certain adult keywords. Whether or not you or your client is in the adult entertainment industry, it could still affect your SEO and PPC tracking and reporting.

Backstory: Why am I writing about adult keywords?

Richard Branson


The backstory here is that we worked with Virgin Holidays. One of their core brand keywords is, of course, “Virgin”. “Virgin” also has adult connotations. We discovered that the term ‘virgin’ gives no search volume in Google. To try and get around this, our wonderful PPC team asked Google “is it possible to get this search volume?” and Google were unable to help us. Frustrated, we decided to build a model to estimate the search volume of the term ‘virgin’.

Note: Google does give search volumes for some adult keywords such as ‘porn’ and ‘sex toys’, but not for all. If you’re pulling keyword data and getting zeroes where you are convinced there shouldn’t be, this blog post is for you.

Methodology: Building a tool to estimate keyword search volume based on rankings and traffic

Tools you will require:

  • Excel
  • Google Analytics (or other) traffic data for your keyword (from Bing)
  • Bing Ranking Data for the keyword in mind
  • CTRs for Bing
  • Share of search data
  • Brainpower (or you can download my spreadsheet and use ‘Copy/Paste Power’ instead)

Assumptions I have made:

  • Your ranking for a keyword was consistent for a certain period of time (a month or a year, for example) in Bing
  • CTR models are still accurate
    • They remain the same for this specific keyword niche
  • Share of Search Models are still accurate (I used this and this)
    • They remain the same for this specific keyword niche
  • Bing won’t suddenly switch to ‘Not Provided’
  • Your website ranks on Bing’s first page for your chosen keyword
  • Your user base behaves the same across all search engines

Bear in mind that this will generate an estimate and not a 100% accurate figure.

Step One – How many visits do you get from this keyword?

Go to Google Analytics’ Source/Medium report:

Google Analytics Emma Barnes

Select “Bing/Organic”

Question: Why do we use Bing?

 Answer: Because Bing does not supply us with the dreaded ‘Not Provided’ keyword.

Google Analytics 2 Emma Barnes

Once Selected, use “Keyword” under “Secondary Dimension”.

Google Analytics 3 Emma Barnes

Find the keyword you want, either through looking manually or through an Advanced Search:

Google Analytics 4 Emma Barnes

Select a date range where that keyword was consistently ranking in the same position. I tend to use a year and my spreadsheet uses a year, but you should be able to use a 1:12 ratio to determine average monthly visits from this term.

If you are interested for search volume for specific regions (e.g. UK and US), you should use an Advanced Segment (I love Advanced Segments) to determine the traffic from that country.

Google Analytics 5

Caption: An advanced segment for UK traffic

Find the number of sessions and record it.

Step Two – Find your Bing Rank

If you have chosen a current/recent time period, you can probably use your ranking in Bing from today. If not, you may have to consult an old report to find the data or use an external data source.

Step Three – Create Your Model

To create a model, you will need to know the following:

  • Click-through rates for Bing
  • Share of search volume for Bing and other search engines you are interested in learning the search volumes for (My spreadsheet contains Google, Bing and Yahoo in the UK and US, as well as worldwide figures)

I use a table that looks like this to output my results:

Google Analytics 6

The only inputs are:

  • Yearly visits (You may use a different timeframe)
  • Average Bing rank

The calculated fields are:

  • Average Monthly Visits (calculated using a ratio of whatever timeframe you are using)
  • Estimated Search Volume

The Final “Estimated Search Volume” is calculated by

  • Using Bing’s CTR to estimate the monthly search volume for Bing. For example, we rank #1 for ‘Branded3’ in Bing and got an average of 15 visits per month from the term ‘Branded3’. Bing’s CTR for #1 position is 9.66%, so we can assume that 15 is around 9.66% of the total search. So, the total search is (15/9.66)*100 ≈ 155 searches per month on Bing Worldwide
  • Using Bing’s estimated monthly search volume and Bing’s share of Search worldwide; we can then estimate the monthly search volume for this term across all engines. In this case, Bing’s share of search worldwide is 8.7%. So, we can assume that 155 searches per month on Bing equates to 8.7% of the searches per month made across the world. Therefore, the total search volume across all engines is (155/8.7)*100 ≈ 1,782 (1,785 without prior rounding) searches per month
  • Once we have this data, we can estimate monthly search volume for any search Engine using their share of search. For example Google has 62.74% of search engine market share worldwide. So to estimate the monthly search volume we need 62.74% of the total search volume. (1,782/100)*62.74 ≈ 1,118 (1,120 without prior rounding) searches/month

The true average search volume for ‘Branded3’ in Google is between 720 and 1,000 searches per month, so our estimate is a little high, but not totally unfeasible. Having an estimate is better than having no idea at all.

Download a spreadsheet that makes a model for you

Why not download my ready-made “Estimate a Search volume by only putting in two numbers” spreadsheet.

If CTRs or market share changes in the future or you want to use your own custom data, I have created two tabs for these so you can amend them easily.

If you need assistance in using my spreadsheet or have any ways in which you think it could be improved, feel free to reach out to us.

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