How many keywords can you rank for with one page? (Ahrefs’ study of 3M searches)

Tim Soulo
Tim is the guy responsible for marketing and product development at Ahrefs. But most importantly he’s the chief evangelist of the company.

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Data: Ahrefs' Content Explorer
    For anyone monitoring their traffic from Google, it’s not really a revelation that a single page can rank for hundreds (or even thousands) of relevant keywords.

    But how many keywords exactly will an average page rank for?

    That’s the question we wanted to answer (plus a few more), so we picked 3 million random search queries and looked at the top-ranking pages and how many other keywords they rank for.

    Let's dive right in!

    How many keywords do the top20 ranking pages “also rank for”?

    Here are the average and median numbers of keywords that we saw top20 pages “also rank for” (studied across 3 million search queries):

    Sidenote.
    By saying “also rank for,” I actually mean “also rank for in top10.” For if you’re not in the top10 search results for a given keyword, you’re hardly getting any traffic from it.

    It looks like the average #1 ranking page will also rank in the top10 for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords (while the median value is more than two times smaller - around 400 keywords).

    And the lower ranking pages tend to rank for less keywords.

    We have also studied three groups of keywords separately:

    1. all keywords in our sample;
    2. keywords with search volume over 1,000 searches per month;
    3. keywords with search volume over 10,000 searches per month.

    We wanted to know if ranking for a more popular keyword would result in ranking for a larger number of relevant keywords. Which appeared to be exactly the case.

    The outliers

    It’s always fun to look at outliers, right?

    Sidenote.
    Outliers are the actual reason why we study average and median numbers separately. Quite a few pages rank for an enormous amount of keywords, which drives the "average" numbers up. For the previous experiment, we removed the biggest outliers to make the data more representative, but even then, the gap between average and median values was quite substantial.

    So let's see which pages rank in Google for an enormous amount of keywords.

    Top10 pages by the number of “also rank for in top100” keywords (across all countries):

    1. (192184) nsfw
    2. (139245) http://www.vidtomp3.com/
    3. (131597) http://www.listentoyoutube.com/
    4. (118070) http://www.youtube-mp3.org/
    5. (113957) http://convert2mp3.net/en/
    6. (113927) http://www.clipconverter.cc/
    7. (108972) https://www.google.com/
    8. (104940) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2476563,00.asp
    9. (100558) http://keepvid.com/
    10. (91594) https://www.pizzahut.com/

    Top10 pages by the number of “also rank for at #1” keywords (across all countries):

    1. (49804) https://www.google.com/
    2. (34930) https://www.google.com/gmail/
    3. (30420) https://www.facebook.com/
    4. (27851) https://www.youtube.com/
    5. (25639) http://www.youtube-mp3.org/es
    6. (24769) nsfw
    7. (22078) nsfw
    8. (21588) https://translate.google.com/?hl=es
    9. (21584) http://www.youtube-mp3.org/
    10. (20613) https://translate.google.com/

    You can put any of these URLs into Ahrefs' Site Explorer tool and navigate to the "Organic keywords" report to see all the keywords they rank for.

    And based on these outlier URLs, it looks like downloading content from YouTube is one of the primary issues that bother humanity these days:

    SMALL BONUS
    I've only listed the top10 outliers, but if you want to get the top100, here you go (no opt-in required):

    • Top100 URLs by "also rank for in top100" keywords: Global / US.
    • Top100 URLs by "also rank for at #1" keywords: Global / US.

    Research these pages with Ahrefs' Site Explorer and learn from their success.

    How many high-volume keywords can you “also rank for”?

    There’s nothing surprising about ranking for thousands of long-tail keywords with a single page.

    But what about the high-volume keywords? How many of them can a single page rank for?

    To study this, we took all the pages from our sample that ranked #1 for a 10k+ keyword and looked at how many other 10k+ keywords these pages also ranked for (at position #1).

    We then replicated a similar experiment for pages that ranked #1 for 1k+ keywords.

    And here’s what we got:

    Unsurprisingly, the majority of URLs have ranked #1 for a single high-volume keyword.

    But the raw numbers on the above graph might seem a little bit misleading, because it's hard to put them on the same scale.

    So we have calculated what % of pages in our sample ranked at the top for one keyword, two keywords, three keywords, etc.

    And got these cool pie charts:

    It turns out that ranking for 2-3 keywords with over 1,000 searches per month is quite common. While ranking for more than one 10k+ keyword with a single page is very rare.

    How can you rank for more keywords with your page?

    As you can probably tell by looking at the above-mentioned outliers, the best way to rank for more keywords is to choose the right topic.

    Certain topics tend to have a huge search demand and a ton of relevant search queries, while others simply aren’t popular enough to provide you with a variety of keyword searches.

    We've covered this in our guide to long-tail keywords, but I guess it won't hurt to mention it again.

    Research traffic potential

    When planning your content, don't just look at the search volume of the primary keyword you're targeting. You should pull the top-ranking pages for that keyword and see how many other keywords they also rank for and how much search traffic it brings them.

    I often use the keyword "I'm sorry flowers" to illustrate that.

    The monthly search volume of this keyword is only 250 searches per month, which may seem that it is not worth targeting.

    But if you look at the top-ranking pages for that keyword (which you can do with Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer) you'll see this:

    The top5 ranking pages for the keyword "I'm sorry flowers" also rank for over 50 other relevant keywords, which brings each of them around a hundred highly targeted visitors per month.

    Sidenote.
    We have a very large database of keywords at Ahrefs, but it is impossible to include all the existing search queries there. That is why Ahrefs always underestimates the amount of keywords that a page is ranking for and the amount of traffic it brings. Which means the actual search traffic to a given page will always be bigger than what we estimate.

    So if you stick with the old approach to keyword research, you'll decide that it's not worth ranking in top5 for the keyword "I'm sorry flowers."

    And if you adopt this new strategy, you'll be getting around a hundred highly targeted visitors per month from ranking anywhere in the top5 for this keyword.

    But apart from finding the topic with high traffic potential, what else can you do to maximize the amount of keywords that your page will rank for?

    Does content length help?

    To give you the answer to this question, we have distributed all pages in our sample size into 5 buckets by their content length and looked at the average number of keywords they “also ranked for in the top10”:

    Looks like longer form content tends to rank for more keywords, which is not surprising in any way.

    But then we went a little more granular and looked at the amount of keywords that ranked at position #1 for each bucket:

    And still longer form content performed better.

    Do backlinks help?

    There were quite a few studies (ours included) that showed a rather high correlation between the backlink factors of a page and its Google rankings.

    But I don’t think I’ve seen a study of how backlink factors correlate with the number of keywords that a page ranks for.

    So we created 5 buckets by URL Rating (which shows how strong the backlink profile of a given URL is) and looked at the average number of “also rank for in top10” keywords for each of them:

    The above graph shows a pretty strong correlation between URL Rating of a page and the number of keywords that it ranks for in the top10.

    We also went a little more granular and looked at the keywords ranking at position #1:

    And still, pages with a stronger backlink profile performed better.

    Sidenote.
    This is just a quick reminder that correlation does not imply causation. So the above research doesn't allow us to say that backlinks help you rank for more keywords. All we can say is that pages with more backlinks tend to rank for a larger number of keywords.

    How unique are the "also rank for" keywords?

    What we wanted to study in this final experiment was how many search queries a page ranks for have:

    • 1 common word;
    • 2 common words;
    • 3 common words;
    • 4 common words, etc.

    Our goal was to see how many keywords that a page ranks for are unique to the point where they don’t have even a single common keyword with the rest of the group.

    This particular experiment was a bit tricky to study and visualise, but after playing with the data for a while, we got this:

    As you can tell from that graph above, the number of “unique” keywords (that don’t have even a single common word with others) is extremely low.

    Which even further supports the fact that ranking for a huge number of keywords is all about picking a popular topic, which people would search for with the same words but different search queries - as opposed to targeting multiple different topics with one page.

    The End

    So that was our (rather brief) research of the “also rank for” keywords and I hope you've learned something from it.

    Let me know in the comments which takeaway you enjoyed the most and if any of our experiments have raised further questions that you would like us to answer with some follow-up research.

    Tim Soulo
    Tim is the guy responsible for marketing and product development at Ahrefs. But most importantly he’s the chief evangelist of the company.

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    • TL;DR: Long form content + good backlink profile = plenty of organic traffic 🙂

      • Not really 🙂

        Picking a topic with high search volume potential + not going after too many high-volume keywords on one page + long form content + good backlink profile.

        That’s more like it!

        • What’s your definition of high-volume Tim?

          • well, we only studied 10k+ keywords and 1k+ keywords… But in my own opinion “high volume” starts around 5k+.

      • Not always long form content.
        Research from keyword LK21, teknobos-com is ranked, and their content is short. But position just bottom official sites lk21.

      • SIDENOTE. By saying “also rank for,” I actually mean “also rank for in top10.” For if you’re not in the top10 search results for a given keyword, you’re hardly getting any traffic from it.

    • Be compressive and thorough in covering a topic! This further supports the importance of this principle which the Hummingbird algo has at it’s heart.

    • should put a NSFW next to the links that need them as I copied and pasted the #1 for “Top10 pages by the number of “also rank for in top100” keywords (across all countries):”

    • Great sets of data! This will be one of my go to articles on why Silo Content is a major tool for ranking.

    • Great information! Thanks for the update…

    • Great article and well done with all that research. It’d be nice to know the KEI for the multiple keyword pages and how competitive the industries are (saturation). Most industries have low hanging fruit. Sometimes the ranking, age of the page + back links could account for multiple keyword ranking. Tim Soulo nailed my thoughts. I think there are other factors playing here (backlink profile & trust)

    • Hey Tim, I love this idea! But almost every single URL is a homepage. So yes they rank for a lot of terms, but I can’t scale making “home pages” if that makes sense. 

      Would be interesting to see the data on non homepage content to see how many keywords they rank for.

      • Hi benjamin, I think u need to checking my best keyword at search Indo. Type harga hp asus. And I’ve on ranked at #1 from 1y ago until now.

        That’s not my homepage, only page list of product’s.

        Nice to share about this 🙂

    • It’s great.

    • Kasia Perzyńska

      This just confirms what I’ve been thinking it’s right. Now I’m sure about that. Thanks Tim 🙂

    • Very Nice Article Shared Sir. Thank You

    • Very interesting — will forward this to my web development guy!
      Thanks!

    • Very Interesting article and well done with all that research.

    • Lots of information you shared. Thanks for the helpful article.

    • Really interesting read. Lots to mull over here on the quest for better ranking! Thank you.

    • Incredibly interesting data! Agree with a previous commenter that it would be interesting to see data on non-homepage content

    • Thank you Tim Soulo , Great article

    • Gautam Sharma

      Thanks for this great article 🙂

    • As usually a very nice in-depth blogpost about this topic! Thanks for the insights!

    • Miloš Milosavljević

      The real question is for how many keywords do they actually convert for, either on the page itself or further down the funnel.

    • great information . thank you for your update

    • Vỹ Nguyễn

      Very nice post, I’m waiting for further good update in future.

    • Great article and very deep research. I found some great posts rank for thousand keywords and they have many LSI keywords. Do you think add more keywords into title and meta tag will help more rank. Thanks!

    • Great research, thanks for providing valuable information. This will help many of the SEO beginners.

    • so what your are saying is if you have a very strong page with high domain authority you will rank for numerous reflated keywords? So what you are saying is that nothing has changed in the last 10–15 years? Sorry you know me as one of the worlds first SEO’s 🙂 and I am pretty sarcastic

    • Thanks a lot @timsoulo:disqus for sharing these insightful data points.
      This confirms my assumption that long form contents will possibly
      be ranking for multiple search terms at a time. 

      Some of my own search engine user experience proves this as well. 

      You just boosted my confidence about bringing 40 new blog posts
      of 2000+ words each to a certain blog over 40 consecutive days. 

      Want to test out my assumptions around business blogging frequency
      and other interesting concepts.

    • Thanks for the insightful post. I’ve been watching many authority sites rank for multiple competitive keywords in 2017. So you can definitely be ranking for lots of keywords/longtails with a solid post that has everything Google wants 🙂

    • Thanks so much for this awesome post Tim. We’re doing a lot of work on SEO right now, and we have a lot to learn. I had no idea that we could rank for so many words. We might have to rethink our strategy just a bit. Thanks again!

    • This type of case studies are extreamly useful, I will soon publish article with list of seo case studies on the Ahrefs blog (if they allow). Stay tuned!

    • Hey Tim, Love the article. I usually go after maximum 3–4 keywords per page for my clients and have found that is the sweet spot for any industry that is not super competitive but at the same time not super easy to rank for. If an industry is very competitive i find it hard to rank for more than 2 keywords per page. Would you recommend anything I can do either off page or on page that could help? Love your YouTube videos by btw 🙂