HomeBlogThe Top 25 Costliest Keywords in South Africa

The Top 25 Costliest Keywords in South Africa

Author: Meg Lister
Last Updated: November 24, 2021 | Paid Search Marketing

As WordStream’s website manager, I occasionally stumble upon forgotten web pages crafted in the days of yore. For example: I recently read this one from 2009, where Elisa told us Google Wave might just be the next big thing. Our readers probably have a similar feeling of nostalgia when they find our original Most Expensive Keywords post from 2011 (“Insurance keywords at only $25 per click? Those were the days!”)

As you might have guessed, the paid search landscape has changed just a little, teensy bit since 2011. So have we: our product and free tools are light years ahead of where we were then, and it was high time to update our Most Expensive Keywords data.

This time, not only did we update the data, but we created currency-specific iterations of the infographic. They each have their charms: I’ve learned a lot about gambling in Great Britain and the litigiousness of our Australian friends.

Today, we’re bringing you the Top 25 Costliest Keywords, South Africa Edition!

South African Keyword Cost

While there’s some overlap between the ZAR dataset and our other datasets (USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia), there are a few significant differences. Though business services, software, loans, and finance all broke into the top 25, the “money category” (as Allen called it) was much smaller and lower on the list than in other countries.

Car insurance takes the cake

Insurance was the most expensive category in ZAR, by far. Car insurance was particularly prevalent in this data set, which included branded searches for Hippo Insurance (a popular South African insurer.) Interestingly, car insurance isn’t compulsory in South Africa, as it is in many other nations. (Norway, the UK, and the US all legally require drivers to carry third-party insurance.) Some statistics indicate that the majority of cars in South Africa—up to 65%—are uninsured, which means the cost of a vehicle crash could be alarmingly high for all parties involved.

…But you might not have that car for long

Pawn services came in at #12 on our list, at an average of R24.77/click. Interestingly enough for this bike-riding writer, people were almost as eager to pawn their cars as they were to insure them. Many of the keywords in the “pawn services” category dealt with cars – including “pawn and drive,” “pawn my car,” and “pawn my car title.”


South Africa was the only region where “moving” was on the list – and it came in quite high, at #4! Popular keywords in this category were focused around home moves, particularly in Durban, South Africa’s third-largest city in the province of KwaZulu Natal. The province as a whole had the highest estimated inward migration of any province in South Africa over the past 5 years (2011-2016 saw an influx of 1.1m in-migrants) – keeping movers busy!

Costly Keywords in South Africa


Beautiful downtown Durban

Image-conscious categories: Jewelry, Health & Fitness, Cosmetics, and Decorations

The categories that rounded out the last 20% of the list were largely image-focused: jewelry, health & fitness, cosmetics, and decorations! In the “decorations” category, South Africans were searching for flags and banners of all shapes and materials – feather banners, outdoor banners, popup banners, and teardrop banners!

Perhaps you’re getting ready to celebrate a spate of engagements – the jewelry category was full of searches for diamond rings, wedding rings, and engagement rings. Luckily, your wedding guests are going to look fit & gorgeous – we saw lots of searches for skin creams, hair salons, and treadmills and home exercise equipment. I’m sitting at my desk full of FOMO thinking about all the fun South African parties I’m missing out on.

South African Keyword Cost

Is there anything else that stood out to you? Let us know in the comments!

There’s more where this came from:

Most Expensive Keywords in the USA

Most Expensive Keywords in the United Kingdom

Most Expensive Keywords in Australia

About the data:

Here’s how we got the list: We pulled all the data collected from anonymous AdWords Performance Grader reports across all industries between June 1, 2016 and June 12, 2017, then looked at the top 1000 most expensive keywords seen during that time period and categorized them by core intent.

For example, we lumped the keywords “fitness course” and “personal trainer” into a single category since the core intent is the same. Likewise, keywords involving different types of lawyers (which happens to be the most expensive grouping in our AUD data set) or insurance were grouped together. We used a similar methodology when we created our first “Most Expensive Keywords” infographic back in 2011 so as to avoid featuring too many specific long-tail or local keywords that wouldn’t have broad applicability to a large number of businesses. We separated distinct services (pest control vs. termites) as much as possible.

We also filtered out keywords with less than 100 clicks from our data set. We only looked at advertisers bidding in USD, AUD, CAD, and ZAR, and analyzed different currencies separately. We also eliminated non-English ads and duplicates (where both the keyword and the CPC were exactly the same) from that set. The results you’re reading about in this article are in ZAR.

(Thank you to everyone who helped compile, analyze, and illustrate the data, including our data analyst Josh Brackett and our designer Kate Lindsay!)

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Meet The Author

Meg Lister

Meg is WordStream’s Director of Ecommerce. She is very good at air hockey and a little too competitive at board games.


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