The Keyword Golden Ratio

By Leon Tranter | SEO

Oct 31
keyword golden ratio

Keyword research is a really important topic when planning out your content, if you want to approach it from an SEO perspective. Many people advise a long-tail approach, where you target low volume but easy keywords that you can start ranking with and getting traffic from.

But how exactly do you do this? A successful blogger has come up with an interesting technique called the Keyword Golden Ratio. I’m going to explain what it is, how to do it, and whether or not I think it works.

Where did the Golden Keyword Ratio come from?

In 2017, a blogger and niche site owner called Doug Cunnington came up with a strange but interesting theory called the Keyword Golden Ratio. It is a very specific approach he uses for Long Tail keyword research.

What is Long Tail keyword research again?

A lot of people fail at SEO and blogging because they try and rank for very competitive terms. These are known as short and medium tail keywords. This has nothing to do with how many words are in the keyword phrase, but how many searches are made for it.

Popular search phrases (I consider anything above 10,000) are short-tail. Less popular are medium tail (I consider them to be between 1,000 and 10,000). And unusual phrases (less than 1,000 searches per month) are long tail. Note that there is no formal definition, those are my numbers.

A better approach that some bloggers and niche site builders take is to focus on long-tail keywords only. These are much easier to rank for, and they can quickly generate you traffic, which Google likes (and will push up your rankings further), and eventually links (which pushes up your ranking even further).

Sitting on the 12th page for a bunch of keywords with lots of searches does you no good at all – you’ll just never get any clicks. But sitting on page 1 and 2 for dozens or hundreds of keywords with 50 or 100 searches a month can get you a lot of traffic. And that traffic can turn into sales, social shares, and links. Which pushes you up further, and the virtuous cycle continues.

So what is the Keyword Golden Ratio?

So the question of course is how to find the right long tail keywords. Doug Cunnington came up with this particular approach which he now uses and swears by.

The Keyword Golden Ratio (KGR) is the number of Google searches for a phrase with the allintitle search modifier, divided by the number of average monthly searches (i.e. monthly search volume or MSV).

Not a lot of people know about allintitle search. I didn’t when I came across the KGR. When you do a Google search, you can put allintitle: at the beginning of the search, and it will only return results that include the keyword in the title tag of the article.

Basically, an allintitle search for a keyword shows you articles that are having a decent crack at ranking for that keyword. Otherwise they wouldn’t have it in their title.

So you take the number of keyword results that have the keyword in the title, and divide it by the search volume. You are looking for a small number – the smaller the better. If there are hardly any articles on the internet with this keyword in their title, but lots of people are searching for it, you have a winner!

There is a magic number

According to Doug Cunnington, the magic KGR number is 0.25 – that is, you want to try and rank for keywords where the ratio of allintitle results to searches per month is one quarter.

He says between 0.25 and 1 is a maybe, and over 1 is probably a no-go.

There is an important caveat: this ratio only applies to keywords where the monthly search volume is 250 or less. Which kind of makes sense.

A phrase might have 40,000 people searching for it, which sounds great, but if there are 10,000 results, then the ratio is fine but ranking for it is going to be damn hard. You’re going to have to be in the top 10 out of 10,000 (i.e. the top 0.1%) to get on page one for that keyword. If there are only 50 results, you only have to be on the top 10 out of 50 (i.e. the top 20% of results) to get on page 1.

How to use the Keyword Golden Ratio

So using the KGR is pretty simple. Generate some keywords using Keywords Everywhere or Answer The Public. Get their search volume from Ahrefs / SEMRush or searchvolume.io, for a free option.

Then you need to get the allintitle search results. As far as I know there isn’t a tool or automated way to do this. It will just be a lot of manual copy and paste work. Maybe this could be a job for a VA (Virtual Assistant)?

Anyway, when you have those numbers in a spreadsheet, you just create a column with the ratios of the numbers divided by each other. You could put in some conditional formatting to highlight the ones below 0.25 if you wanted.

Does this ratio work?

Now it’s hard for me to say if the ratio works or not. Doug obviously thinks it does, and there are some others who agree with him.

Personally, I haven’t used it. I do definitely focus on long tail keywords, and I sometimes have a quick look at search volume and allintitle results. But I don’t apply the specific formula.

Why? Several reasons.

Reasons why I don’t use the Keyword Golden Ratio

Search volume numbers are wrong

Not a lot of people know this, but search volume numbers are just wrong. The ones from Ahrefs and SEMRush are wrong, the ones from Keywordseverywhere and searchvolume.io are wrong, and even the ones from Google are wrong.

Firstly, they ignore searches from other platforms (yes people do use Bing). Secondly, it’s just estimated. The only people who really know are Google, and they aren’t telling us the truth. Not even Google and not even in their own keyword tool.

It is in their commercial interests to have people give up on ranking for long-tail keywords and hand over piles of money to Google in PPC advertising. It is widely believed that Google’s search volume numbers are under-reported (possibly by hundreds of percentage points).

Allintitle is not a great proxy for search difficulty

This method uses a very quick and dirty metric for search difficulty: allintitle. There are pages that don’t have a keyword in their title but would be very difficult to beat in an SEO battle, because of other important ranking factors.

These include domain age and profile, backlink profile, backlink and internal anchor text distribution, and a hundred (literally a hundred, actually more like two hundred) other factors.

It ignores keyword value

Just because you can rank for a keyword doesn’t mean you should. Buyer keywords are obviously more valuable to rank for than research or information search keywords. Some keywords just don’t match with your site or your approach. Some keywords are just dumb and won’t give you a good article (if the article matches the keyword, which it should).

So I don’t ignore all these numbers and theories. I think there are some interesting ideas here. But I don’t strictly apply the formula.

That doesn’t I’m telling you not to, and it doesn’t mean I won’t at some point. I might give it a try, maybe for some niche sites I’m planning on building in the future. But right now, I’m just doing keyword research using a few tools (mainly Answer the Public), and picking ones that seem long tail and I could write a good informative article about.

Summary

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. While I may not use it right now, Keyword Golden Ratio is a very interesting idea and a fresh approach to the pretty stale tactics used in long tail keyword research. If you have any more questions about this ratio, or if you have tried it yourself and want to share your results, please leave a comment below!