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Keyword competition analysis can assist you in determining which keywords to target for your site, whether you’re building your first website or looking to improve the search engine effectiveness of an existing one. To reach the highly sought-after top positions on search engine result pages (SERPs), it is critical to rank higher than your competition, and understanding the importance of keyword difficulty is an important component of developing a strategy that will get you there.

I’ll walk you through the process of determining keyword difficulty in this article. Learn how to assess the market and make the best use of the SEO tools at your disposal.

What exactly is SEO Difficulty?

Keyword difficulty, also known as SEO difficulty or even keyword competitive, assesses the difficulty of ranking in search engine results for a specific keyword. The difficulty of a keyword is determined by several factors, including the domain authority (DA) and page authority, as well as the quality of the content.

  • Keywords that are difficult to rank for have a high level of competition and are therefore more difficult to rank for.
  • Keywords with a low difficulty level are less competitive and, as a result, are easier to rank for.

Broad keywords, in general, can be more difficult to rank for, whereas more specific keywords with a long tail present less of a challenge.

How to Make the Most of Keyword Complexity to Increase Organic Traffic

Following your initial keyword research to determine the Google terms that your clients are searching for, the next step in developing a strategy will be to prioritize your list of keywords based on the SEO search term’s competitors.

You will need to evaluate in order to accomplish this:

  • The quality of the top ten websites currently ranking in SERPs for the specific keyword.
  • What would it take for your optimized website to outperform its competitors?

At the end of the day, you’ll have a good idea of how difficult it will be to rank well for specific terms and whether or not you’ll be able to reap the benefits of your efforts and time spent climbing to the top of SERPs.

Using a Keyword Difficulty Calculator

Many SEO analytics tools, including Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush, provide keyword difficulty scores. Optimizing for SEO would be simple if you created a strategy based on a single keyword’s difficulty score, but you’ll discover there’s a lot more to it than you think.

While a well-designed keyword research tool will make SEO content creation easier, marketers should always look under the hood of each platform to learn how it calculates difficulty for a specific keyword.

How well-known are they? Keyword Research Instruments Calculate the ranking difficulty

In general, each search engine will have its own formula for calculating metrics such as keyword difficulty that is unique to it.


This question astounds me because it gets to the heart of why it is so difficult to rank your main keyword.

Nobody, whether a company, an individual, or an SEO tool, can tell what’s going on inside Google’s black box algorithm. At best, we can look at the top-ranked content and draw conclusions based on what we’ve learned.

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This is a quick overview of how the most popular tools assess the difficulty of a word.

Keyword Difficulty in Ahrefs

Ahrefs calculates their KD score by adding the number of linked domains that point to the first-page result for a specific keyword and then put that number on a logarithmic scale ranging from zero (easy) to 100. (hard).

Other factors are not taken into account in this keyword difficulty score.

Furthermore, keep in mind that because Ahrefs charts its KD score on a logarithmic scale, it is not linear. In practice, this means that a KD of 50 is not a “mediumkeyword difficulty. It’s difficult.

Because the profile of links will be the only element in the score, it can be directly correlated to the number of hyperlinks Ahrefs estimates a website must rank for competitive keywords.

In our article on broken link development, you can learn more about the importance of external link building as a ranking factor.

Keyword Difficulty in SEMrush

SEMrush employs a keyword-related difficulty index that ranges from zero (easy) to percent (hard). SEMrush isn’t as forthcoming as Ahrefs about how they calculate their difficulty score. They claim that their KD calculation is based on the top 20 most popular domains’ “variety of variables.” The median number of domains referred to within each link profile is one of the factors they consider. They also take into account the proportion of do-follow and no-follow links, as well as the authority scores of the rankings (based on their own formula).

Keyword Difficulty in Moz

Moz’s difficulty score ranks keywords on a scale of one (easy) to 100 (difficult) (hard). According to Moz, this score is calculated by looking at the most popular organic links on the page of search engine results.

Moz KD score is based on two additional proprietary metrics: page authority and domain authority. It’s important to note that neither Moz’s domain authority nor page authority metrics are directly related to how search engines evaluate authority.

Which Keyword Difficulty Score is the most effective?

There is no single KD score that is superior to all others. There are several paths that lead to the same destination, which is an educated guess about how Google places pages in response to specific search queries.

There are two things you should remember:

  1. Contrast apples to apples. It is acceptable to cross-reference several tools, but you should incorporate them into your entire keyword list rather than just selecting different results among the tools.
  2. Contrast a proprietary keyword tool measurement with a prediction of how a search engine will rank your website.

Although there are numerous keywords tool metrics, the following are commonly thought to influence rankings:

  • Relevance: Does it match the search intent?
  • Qualitative: Is the content authoritative, expert, and credible?
  • Backlinks: How important are they to other websites?
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Certain top-ranked websites will check all of the boxes, while others will not. If you can provide higher-quality content than your competitors, you may be able to rank higher than them.

The time it takes to get your website will depend on the difficulty level of your keywords as well as your commitment to following a link-building strategy.

A More In-Depth Look at Keyword Competition

As previously stated, keyword difficulty scores from a keyword analysis tool can be a good place to start; however, a thorough analysis of the competition will provide additional useful details.

Because Google is the ultimate authority on which content will rank for specific keywords, I recommend starting your competition analysis by looking through the search results. It’s amazing how much a simple search can reveal!

Enter your keyword into Google and look at the first page of results for organic results.

Examine the page that has the highest ranking for:

1. Content Quality

Remember that Google is committed to providing content that both fulfills the user’s desire and provides useful information.

  • How well are the contents written?
  • Are the details it provides up to date?
  • Is there any use of experts or citations in the article? Do you have a lot of references?
  • Do you believe it is a thorough examination of the subject?
  • Are there graphs, images, or videos on the website?

Consider how you can make something better than the current offerings to customers.

2. Domain Authority

Google prefers to rank content from authoritative domains whenever possible. If the top results for your query include pages from an undisputed authority, it may be more difficult to rank.

However, not every top-ranked snippet comes from an authority, and the presence of powerful names isn’t a reason to abandon your favorite search terms.

3. Domains of Reference (Backlinks)

The keyword difficulty metrics of the three most well-known keyword analysis tools I mentioned in the first paragraph have something in common. Each of them considers backlinks as a factor in determining keyword competition. This is because Google has been open about the fact that backlinks are an important search engine ranking factor.

Backlinks are an important ranking indicator that should not be overlooked.

Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Checker is my preferred tool for locating websites that are referred to. Because Ahrefs’ KD metric is solely based on backlinks, it is obvious how steep the ascent to page one is for any keyword.

In this case, an average score of 57 for “Google trends” indicates that the number of backlinks would be required to outnumber the most popular content.

This is where you should think about the term “keyword” in relation to your overall strategy.

  1. What is your company’s strategic value?
  2. Are you able to allocate the necessary funds to connect the construction process?
  3. How quickly would you like this page to rank?

If you are able to rank for a difficult keyword, it is dependent on how much time and resources you are willing to put into the process.

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If you believe that 95 high-quality backlinks are too expensive to justify the expected return on investment, I recommend focusing on niche, longer-tail keywords.

FAQs on Keyword Difficulty

If you understand the level of competition for your keywords, you can decide which ones to prioritize and the best way to do so.

Here are some frequently asked questions to help you decide what to do next.

What exactly is the “Good” keyword difficulty?

Everything is relative. The more competitive the market, in general, the better. You must, however, be aware of the current search volume, as well as click-through rates and traffic potential. In general, you will be ranked higher for less competitive terms, but there may be a trade-off with high search volume.

Some keywords are exceptions to the rule because they have both a high search volume and are difficult to rank for.

Knowing the difficulty of a keyword can help you plan a long-term SEO strategy and estimate the time it will take to take on top-ranked pages.

Is it possible for me to target high-competition keywords?

Yes. It is not necessary to avoid keywords with a high difficulty level. Do it if your company needs to be ranked for a specific keyword. If you put it off, it will become more difficult to rank for hard-to-find keywords. The main point is to approach it with a thorough understanding of the path ahead.

If you are aware that a specific keyword has a high difficulty and you are aware of this, you can design your strategy accordingly and account for the fact that it may take longer to earn a return on your investments.

Should I mix low and high competition keywords?

Yes! You must create the right mix of keywords with varying rank difficulties. One method is to use subject clusters, which target more difficult keywords, broad keywords via pillar content, and lower difficulty keywords via spin-off pages that outline the subject.

How heavily should I rely on Keyword Difficulty?

When conducting keyword research for your SEO campaign, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • Intention to search
  • the volume of organic searches on average
  • Trends in Google Search
  • average click-through rate, as well as
  • Possibility of traffic.

Keyword difficulty is a tool that can assist you in determining the best combination of the most effective keywords. The more you know about your competitors, the better informed your decisions will be.

In conclusion

Manual keyword research to find the right keywords to meet your business’s goals can be time-consuming. Consider working with an SEO expert who can assist you in developing a customized strategy that will propel your company to the first page of search results.

We offer a wide range of SEO solutions to businesses of all sizes, from small businesses to large corporations, to assist you in finding a solution that meets your needs and budget.

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