Ahrefs “On Page” 2 Million Keyword Case Study Interview

I sat down with Tim Soulo from Ahrefs to talk about their recent case study regarding the importance of “on page SEO”.



Exact match keywords in the title, on the page and in your URL does not equate to higher rankings for that exact keyword




  • The team at Ahrefs sampled 2 million keywords at random and analyzed the top 10 results in Google for those keywords
  • They nullified the importance of links by only analyzing keywords with similar domain ratings
  • The goal was to analyze the correlation of having the exact keyword in the title, on page or URL and the rankings for that keyword
  • In other words, does having the exact keyword in your “on page SEO” correlate to higher rankings for that keyword?



  • Tim found having your exact keyword in the page title, URL or even body text does not correlate to higher rankings for that keyword
  • His article generated a lot of attention for claiming that “on page SEO” is dead




Tim and I discuss the findings of the case study, including why the community lashed back against their findings

Essentially, it comes down to how you define “on page SEO”  proper way to optimize pages for



Twitter: https://twitter.com/timsoulo
Full article: https://ahrefs.com/blog/on-page-seo/

Leave a Review.

All Ratings & Reviews

21 user rated
  • Luis Pereira

    Great interview Ryan, thanks
    Really helpful study.
    Thanks Tim keep testing. 🙂

    • Thanks Luis! Glad you enjoyed it

    • Blaze

      Very true! Makes a change to see soenome spell it out like that. 🙂

  • Brad Mason

    Not doing keyword research is going too far. You have to do it – even if you don’t use the exact keyword on the website, you should at least have a general understanding of how much traffic you’re going to get if you’re successful and how difficult it will be to rank for, even just at a topical level. Otherwise you’re randomly sailing off into the sunset with no idea where you’re going.

    • agreed brad! i misspoke in the video to make a point – we do keyword research, but it’s heavily focused on topics, trends and overall context. i.e. we don’t build pages around ‘red shoes’, we build pages around the intent behind the search of ‘red shoes’

      • Kierra

        Initshgs like this liven things up around here.

  • Blair

    Great job Ryan and Tim was very interesting to hear about the results of the study.

    • thanks blair!

    • Shirley

      Wow, this is in every reepsct what I needed to know.

  • Keith Evans

    Would love to see more interviews and insight from top influencers– good stuff Ryan, keep them coming!

    Note- I have found the more competitive keyword, the less powerful exact match keyword SEO helps. You can still rank sites with tiny search volume using exact match keywords, easy SEO tactics apply to easy searches.

    • thanks keith, i think ill be doing more of these in the near future

    • Ellie

      So true. Honesty and everything receingzod.

  • Michael Monaghan

    Guy’s, certainly insightful and appreciate the time both of you spent including the ability to identify the more salient aspects of this topic.

    Most definitely emphasises the importance of creativity in the overall context of things as being an important determining factor of providing a positive overall impact for any on page seo success.

    So, let’s revisit again;

    Is On-Page SEO Dead?: Yes and No!

    Hahahahaha………..as the saga continues…….stay tuned for more…

    • Donte

      You’ve really captured all the eseistnals in this subject area, haven’t you?

  • Igor

    It sounds like a total bs. I bet their results were heavy influenced by semantic relevance of 2,000,000 keywords. Here’s what I mean: let’s say there’s a page website.com/laptops and its title is “Buy Laptops”, it will rank on top for like 100 keywords (cheap laptops, laptops for sale, laptop, laptops, buy a laptop, where to buy a laptop), these are all different keywords but the page ranks for them because of semantic relevance an these keywords are most likelu used on this website too, just not in the title.
    Now let’s look at the stats, the page has 1 title and ranks for 100 keywords, if I were from Ahrefs I would say, as you can see, 99 times out of a 100 having an exact match keyword in title doesn’t do anything, the page still ranks for “where to buy a laptop”.

    • well said

    • Ziggy

      Fidning this post has solved my problem

  • Darryl Addison

    Great interview! I totally agree with your perspective on keyword research. I used to ask, “how can I fit as many different semantic keywords in an article and make it still sound natural?” Now, thanks to RankBrain and the importance of quality content I ask myself, “How can I create the best resource for this particular topic on the web?” This gets my brain going and I go from having a “keyword stuffing/over optimized/cram fest” of an article, to a “neatly sectioned/balanced/easy to read” long lasting resource.

    Keep up the great content man, loving it.

    • thanks darryl!

      • Willie

        Most help articles on the web are inaccurate or incrneoeht. Not this!

  • See All

    Your Review

    Give us your rating here

    Leave a Reply to Igor Cancel reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Ryan Stewart

    Marketing consultant. Best Selling author. Proven entreprenuer.

    I’ve helped hundreds of businesses grow using the internet. I have no doubt I can do the same for yours.

    Read More