Keyword Difficulty: What is it and How to Measure it for SEO? -

KeyWord Difficulty SEO Rankings

Keyword Difficulty: What is it and How to Measure it for SEO?

We all are aware that keyword is an essential part of SEO strategy. We look for such keywords that have good search volume before creating content to target those. But creating content and ranking for a keyword is not enough for SEO metrics.

This is why keyword research tools show another metric with keyword search volume known as keyword difficulty or keyword competition.

In this blog, we will cover all the aspects of keyword difficulty: what is it, how to measure it and why is it so important for SEO.

What is keyword difficulty?

Also known as keyword competition, or SEO difficulty, Keyword difficulty is a measure of how difficult it is to rank for a particular keyword in search engine results. Keyword difficulty is a metric to consider when planning out your SEO strategy. 

The higher the keyword difficulty score, the more time, effort, and money it will take to achieve rankings.

This is because there will be more competition for that keyword and more websites competing for the same spot.

Keyword competition can be assessed by monitoring various factors such as search volume, click-through rate, referring domain authority, and backlinks.

By doing the keyword research, and understanding the search intent, search volume, and keyword difficulty level of each keyword you are targeting, you can better plan your SEO strategy by targeting the best keywords.

Which factors impact the keyword difficulty?

Keyword difficulty is an important factor for any SEO campaign. There are certain factors that affect the keyword difficulty score. And the SEO tools we use for keyword research count different aspects before determining the difficulty score of keywords. However, there are several factors that almost every tool considers when measuring the keyword difficulty metric. Those factors are:

Domain authority

Whenever you make any search query on the search engines, the first SERPS results will always be owned by the high-authority domains.

Competing with them is not an easy job, especially if you are a newly developed domain. As your domain has low authority, google will assume that your content will likely be less relevant or better than the domains with high authority.

You can use Ahrefs’ domain rating tool to see the authority of your website against other competitors in form of points. This insight will be helpful to see your position on target keywords compared to your competitors.

Quality of your content

In the world of the internet, content is king. If you are not serving the internet with high-quality content, you don’t have a tiny chance to compete with first-ranking websites especially if you are targeting high-volume difficult keywords.

But before creating content, do proper keyword research, and competitive analysis.

Learn what your competitors are doing and take inspiration from them to create your content.

Make sure your content is:

  • Not only well-researched but also well-written
  • It must have something that your competitors forgot to include
  • Optimized on keywords
  • Highly relevant to the search queries

Search intent

No matter how great is the content you have created, if it does not answer the search query in the right way, there is less chance of its getting ranked. Remember that, highly optimized content does not matter if it does not have the right search intent. 

To have the right audience on your website, you need to understand the search intent of the traffic and use the keyword based on the search intent.

It is basically the terms the user search to get certain information from search results.

There are four types of search intents of SERPS in the SEO world

Informational— the purpose is to get information on a specific topic.

Navigational — the purpose of the user is to find a specific page or website.

Transactional — the purpose is to buy the service or the product.

Commercial — the purpose of the user is to find information about something before they make the purchase.

Quality of backlinks

To compete with high-authority websites, you have to get strong and relevant backlink just like them. And also, as many backlinks as them.

With the number of backlinks, the quality also matters. The backlinks should be from relevant and authoritative sources. This helps to create strong domain authority as well as a strong backlinking profile which in results helps you compete with top-first results.


If the competing websites for target keywords are of high authority, it impacts the keyword difficulty. For instance, the more domains targeting a certain keyword, and those domains are very authoritative, the difficulty of the keyword will increase and the ability to rank for high-difficulty keywords will get more competitive.

There are three types of competitors:

Industry — those who have the same products or services as yours.

SEO — those sites that are targeting the same audience and keywords you want to target.

Keywords — the sites that are ranking for the same keywords you want to rank for.

Why is keyword difficulty important for SEO?

Keyword difficulty is an important part of SEO because it determines which terms you should focus on for your content. It measures the competition for a given keyword, which in turn can indicate how difficult it will be to rank highly for that term.

Knowing the difficulty of a keyword helps you determine whether or not it’s worth targeting. If the difficulty is too high, you may want to consider alternative keywords that are more attainable and could still bring traffic to your website.

 And if you’re competing against other websites with higher authority and more resources, focusing on less competitive keywords might be a better option.

All in all, understanding keyword difficulty is beneficial for SEO efforts because it provides insights into how much effort and resources are needed to compete in SERPs and what terms are most likely to bring success.

How to measure keyword difficulty?

Measuring keyword difficulty is a key step to take when optimizing a website for SEO. The most common way to measure keyword difficulty is through the use of tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool.

These tools use metrics such as the search volume and competition level of a keyword to determine how hard it would be to rank for that particular keyword.

Some other factors to consider are SERPS features, backlinks, domain age, page authority, and content quality. By analyzing these metrics, you can get an idea of how difficult it will be to SEO-optimize your website for a particular keyword.

However, using multiple sources can help you get an even more accurate picture of the overall difficulty of a keyword.

How to find easy-to-rank keywords?

Finding easy-to-rank keywords can be a daunting task, but there are tools and strategies that can help. One of the best ways to find easy-to-rank keywords is by using keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

These tools allow you to input a seed keyword and then generate hundreds of related keywords with search volume and competition data. This data can show you how competitive each keyword is and which ones may be easier to rank for in your niche.

 Another great way to find easy-to-rank keywords is by looking at the top-ranking pages on Google for your targeted keyword. You can use tools like semrush or Moz to get an in-depth look at the backlinking profiles of these pages, allowing you to identify any weak points or opportunities that you could exploit.

If all else fails, you can always do manual research into your competitor’s content and see what they’re targeting and ranking for. By researching these topics in depth, you’ll be better equipped to create content that has a higher chance of ranking well in the SERPs.

 How do long tail keywords impact the keyword difficulty?

It is true that short and generic keywords generate high-volume searches. This is why ranking on those keywords is a heavy task. While on the other hand, more specific keywords also known as long-tail keywords are the best way to tap into the highly competitive niche.

If you use long-tail keywords to target, you will face less keyword difficulty and relatively low search volume as compared to shorter keywords. But they improve the conversion rate as compared to short-tailed keywords.

So if you target long-tail keywords at the start of your SEO journey, it will help you improve the visibility of your website. Once you get a ranking for these, you can move up the ladder by targeting more competitive search terms.

Final thoughts on why keyword difficulty matters

Keyword difficulty is a vital factor to consider when planning your SEO strategy. It can tell you how competitive the keyword is, and whether it’s worth investing time and resources into targeting it.

 If you choose keywords that are too difficult to rank for, you could end up wasting valuable time and resources without seeing any significant return on your investment.

 On the other hand, if you select keywords that are too easy to rank for, then it may not bring your website enough traffic or help to achieve your overall goals. 

Therefore, understanding keyword difficulty is an important element of successful SEO campaigns. It helps to ensure that you’re focusing on the right keywords and investing in the right areas so that you can reach your desired results quickly and efficiently.


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