KGR Success

Does The Keyword Golden Ratio Work?

The Keyword Golden Ratio (KGR) is another term that people new to blogging will hear about. But what exactly is it and how does it work?

The Keyword Golden Ratio is a research concept developed by niche site specialist Doug Cunnington of Niche Site Project, which is designed to help bloggers identify which keywords and search terms are less competitive and therefore more likely to draw in more traffic to niche sites.

It is expressed by Doug himself as this: “The number of Google results that have the keyword phrase in the title, divided by the local monthly search volume, where the local monthly search volume is less than 250”

According to Cunnington the ratio should be less then 0.25 and if it is, the KGR states that you should be able to rank in the top 100 when your page in indexed on Google.

It is purported to be a good way to find article titles that can rank quickly on Google and hopefully bring in some early traffic to your site. Search phrases with a higher KGR ratio may still rank, but will likely take longer according to the KGR formula. But does this methodology actually work?

The Keyword Golden Ratio has significant problems, most notably the fact that the search volume figures which are crucial to calculating the formula are often inaccurate.  This means the ratio itself will often be inaccurate, and will not always be a reliable indicator of whether you should write an article.

In the last analysis, search volume figures you get from any keyword research tool need to be taken with a pinch of salt, and therefore by extension, the KGR should be used a rough guide only and not as a definitive yes/no tool to decide whether to write certain articles or not.

Let’s look at how the Keyword Golden Ratio is calulated and used in more detail, and then follow up with some of the potential problems of using this formula alone to decide whether to write blog posts or not.

Doug Cunnington on the Keyword Golden Ratio


The Idea Behind the Keyword Golden Ratio

The entire concept of the KGR revolves around the idea of the competitiveness of search terms on Google and the difference between long tail and short tail search terms. Short tail search terms are the quick, snappy two to four word terms, such as “best golf clubs”. Long tail search terms are the longer, more specific search terms of five or more words like “best golf club for under £50 UK”.

The shorter tail, more generic search terms tend to be more competitive and have often already been covered by very big and authoritative sites, especially for product comparisons. The traffic is very large for these terms but also very competitive, with big sites basically “owning” these phrases. The longer tail keywords are more numerous and have less traffic, but are less competitive.

The idea behind a niche site is to have lots of articles catching little bits of long tail traffic, as opposed to fewer short tail keyword which can potentially capture more traffic but are much harder to rank for, since bigger, more authoritative sites have often “snapped up” these shorter search phrases by producing big articles on them.

Length of search phrases (x axis going across) versus search volume (y axis going up)

Long Tail Keywords Graph

The idea with niche blogs is to target the long tail keywords towards the right, which have lower search volume but are more plentiful and less competitive than the short tail searches

How to Calculate the Keyword Golden Ratio

Let’s run through an example of how to calculate the KGR. Remember, it is defined as the number of articles online which contain the exact search phrase divided by monthly local search volume, provided this search volume is less than 250.

To find all the articles online with the exact search phrase you are interested in, modify your Google search with allintitle: followed by the phrase. This returns all pages on the internet which contain the exact phrase. Note down the number of results; this is the first part of your formula.

Secondly, you need to determine search volume for a certain phrase using a keyword research tool. Plenty of free ones are available – Keywords Everywhere is an easy to use browser add on tool that captures search volumes.

Whenever you search for something in a browser that has the tool installed, it will display monthly local search volume for that term. This is your second figure, as long as it is less than 250.

You then divide your number of results by the monthly search volume to get your KGR. For example, if “best golf clubs under £50 UK” has 20 pages with that exact title, and local monthly search volume is 200, then you KGR is 0.10, which suggests you should write the article, given it is less than the 0.25 golden figure.

If the KGR comes in at less than 0.25, it is considered a high potential search term that could be easy to rank quickly for. If the KGR is between 0.25 and 1, the phrase is more competitive but could still rank given more time. A KGR of 1 or above signals a competitive search term that could be harder to rank for.

So in summary you are looking for a ratio of a quarter or less between the number of articles online with the exact phrase, and the local monthly search volume for that phrase. The KGR is designed to help your prioritize which search terms have the best chance of ranking quickly and therefore which articles to put your time into writing for a new blog.

A Potential Problem With The Keyword Golden Ratio

There is a huge potential problem with using the KGR though, mainly that the data on which one half of the formula is constructed – the search volume figures – are not always accurate and reliable. We have covered this in more detail in our article on keyword research tools.

Put simply, the figures given to you on search volumes by all the keyword research tools are not reliable and sometimes way off what the actual figures are. See the video embedded below for some good discussion of this from the guys at Income School. Here is the crucial problem:

If the search volume figures you put into the KGR calculation are wrong, then the ratio it spits out will also be wrong, and will give you a misleading picture of whether to write an article or not.

Sometimes search volumes may be right but often they won’t be and this is the fundamental problem. No one actually knows what real search volumes for terms are except Google, and they don’t make this information public. There is a lot of guesswork there no matter which way you look at it. See our article on this for more details.

Having said that, some bloggers have reported having great success getting articles to rank using the KGR. The founder of the ratio Doug Cunnington himself reports that he gets most of his articles to rank very high on Google in a very short time using this method. See the video at the top for his discussion of the KGR.

There is no getting around the fact though that search term volumes provided by keyword research tools are not always accurate, as none of the tools have access to the actual data and are just estimating volumes as best they can. In many cases, content may have ranked quickly simply because they have produced high quality, useful content for a search term and not because of the KGR specifically.

The Income School guys on the problems with using keyword tools and the KGR

Here are some other problems with the accuracy of the Keyword Golden Ratio, along with the inaccuracy of the keyword search tool’s search volume estimates we already mentioned:

  •  The allintitle aspect of the KGR formula is based on the idea that an exact keyword match is required for an article to rank on Google. This hasn’t been the case for more than a decade, as Google is now very able to tell if an article is answering a certain question, even if the title is using different words to the search term typed into Google (semantic search/equivalent words).
  • The KGR ignores the quality of the search results which currently rank in the top 3 for a given search term. Even if the KGR is low, you may still struggle to rank if the articles which already do exist for that search term are high quality, lengthy articles from authoritative sites.
  • If you have a somewhat established site, you can actually test and audit the KGR by selecting articles that you know you rank #1 for on Google, and therefore know what traffic you get to that page, and compare your actual traffic to the estimated search volumes a keyword tool gives you. You will often find it is way off, and therefore any KGR figure based on those search figures is also going to be way off
  • See the second half of the video just above for an excellent discussion of the KGR.

A Workable KGR Strategy

Given these caveats around the reliability of the search volume figures on which the KGR is largely based, what is the best approach then? We argue it is best to use the KGR as a rough guide around the competitiveness of a search term and not a definitive “yes or no” tool for deciding whether to write an article or not. If the search volume figure is way off then the KGR could tell you not to write and article when you should or vice versa.

Therefore it is not a total substitute for evaluating the quality of the current content for a particular search phrase and using some common sense and good judgement to decide whether you should write a certain post or not. The KGR can help but should not be your only guide.

The KGR can be an excellent tool to help you quickly get some short, sharp response posts of 1000-1500 words ranking on Google for uncompetitive search times that have not been well answered so far.

It can be an excellent way to pick some low hanging fruit as we said and get quick traffic to your site, building some domain authority in the process. Getting your posts to rank quickly on Google can also be a great motivator to keep producing more content.

However, do not let the KGR stop you from writing an article which you think is a sensible question to ask and which you are confident you can rank for. For example, if a search term is quite competitive, but the top ranking article is only 1000 words long or, and you think you can write a 2000-2500 word article answering the same question, then go ahead and write the article, even if the KGR is greater than 0.25.

At the end of the day, rankings are won by those who best serve their users, and using this principle rather than just the KGR can be a broader guide for deciding which article to write. If you think you can answer a topic relevant to your niche site better than the current articles for that search term do, then it is worth spending the time to produce the content.

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