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What's Google's Keyword Threshold?

Sometimes the keywords that you want to rank for and the keywords that you actually rank for aren't the same.

Last Updated:October 1, 2018


Reading Time:7 minutes

I recently deployed a free tool on this site that I’m calling the Keyword Detector (you can try it out here).

It was pulled from the algorithm that I used at PerfectPage to record a URL’s most index-worthy keywords. Once we pulled these keywords, we can better measure the search engine optimization for the page.

The Keyword Detector will determine the keywords that a page is most likely to rank for, as well as a percentage level of commitment to those keywords.

Here’s an example. For the key-phrase “candy cane desserts”, I scanned a highly-ranking URL and received these results:

The results give you a peak inside the mind of a Google bot and what it will see and index as this page’s keywords.

Now, there’s a lot more to SEO than just keywords. And, honestly, Google has almost taken the negative view on keywords as a result of the keyword-stuffing issues early on in their company’s existence.

But, keywords are still necessary in order to rank and be found in search results for certain queries.

In an effort to determine how important keywords are to Google, I decided to use the Keyword Detector tool to determine the “commitment level” to a keyword or key-phrase required to rank inside the top 10 search results, top 20, and so on all of the way until the bottom of the top 100 results.

What do I mean by “commitment level”?

When constructing a webpage for SEO, you have to choose a couple main keywords/key-phrases that you want to rank for. If you try to rank for too many and don’t emphasize the few, most important words relevant to the content, your page won’t rank for anything.

“Commitment level” will determine the words/phrases that are emphasized the most (by looking at the page content, headers, page title, URL, etc.) and assign a percentage up to 100%. The higher the percentage is for a word or group of words, the more likely that search engines are going to index your content for those words. The lower the percentage equals the opposite.

So …

In my case study, I recorded commitment percentages for queries such as “candy cane desserts”, “pizza recipe”, “how to learn web development”, and “what are the best leadership traits” as well as a handful of others.

Here are the results:

I wasn’t sure what I’d get, but after seeing the results I have two thoughts:

  1. To have a serious chance to rank inside the top-100 for a search query, a commitment level of at least 20% is required. To rank inside the top-40, it takes a 30% commitment.
  2. Aside from a few extreme outliers, a URL with a commitment level of less than 10% to a certain keyword or key-phrase is not likely to rank inside the top-100 of Google’s search results. And, in the outlier scenarios, most of the rankings were likely due to the sites being very large with an assumed large number of overall backlinks.

Anyway, I feel a little smarter – for sure! Feel free to perform your own research and, at the very least, add the Keyword Detector to your list of go-to SEO tools.

I now use it to review my newly-published content (and my client's content) to be sure I’m focusing on the keywords I think I am! This page?

Hey, I'm Tyler

I help businesses use digital marketing to generate leads & sales.

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