Keyword Difficulty: The All-In-One Guide

Keyword Difficulty: The All-In-One Guide

The search volume indicator is frequently more lauded than the keyword difficulty meter in a world where large and stunning figures are rewarded. However, it’s as crucial to understanding the degree to which competitors are competing for ranking dominance on that term as it is to know how often your keyword is usually submitted as a query in a given month.

Researching keywords is one of the most difficult blogging or SEO duties. You can’t only focus on extremely competitive keywords for a brand-new blog. You should put your attention on keywords that are simple to rank for, or perhaps I should say keywords with low keyword difficulty.

Keyword difficulty is the terminology we’re going to discuss in this article is one of the most controversial and confusing in the industry. Keep reading below!

What is keyword difficulty?

A statistic or measure called “keyword difficulty” shows you how challenging it is to rank a certain term in the top spot on the Google Search Result Page (SERP).

You may assess keyword difficulty to decide if it will be worthwhile for you to:

  1. Place a bid on that term in a Google Ads campaign.
  2. Make an organic page more keyword-optimized.

A keyword’s high keyword difficulty merely indicates that it is extremely competitive and difficult to rank for. The best course of action if you want to start a blog is to look for keywords with less competition. It’s that simple!

Incorporating keyword competition into different marketing efforts involves a variety of subtleties and considerations that depend on a number of variables, including how competitive a keyword is. Let’s begin by discussing how to employ keyword difficulty to improve SEO.

What factors contribute to keyword difficulty?

The following are the factors that are most frequently used to determine how difficult a keyword is to use:

1. Keyword intent

What the keyword or search phrase truly asks for is the “Keyword Intent,” right? For instance, if you search “My IP Address,” Google will display your device’s IP address on the search results page.

This increases difficulty since not only are these terms challenging, but they are also unattractive. Many websites will be pursuing this particular phrase, but since Google is displaying the results, those websites are practically in direct competition with Google on the Google Search Page. That is ironic right there!

2. Competitors

When considering keyword difficulty, it’s also important to take competitors or other search results into account. The difficulty of the term may be inferred from the presence of large authority sites on the first page.

3. Backlinks

The amount and quality of backlinks to the top 10 pages of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a given phrase, or how competitive those sites are depending on how strong their backlinks are, are the main factors that determine how tough a keyword is to rank for in SEO.

In terms of SEO, “backlinks” are the most important component. If you find that websites are ranked for a keyword using “excellent backlinks,” it is a solid indication that the phrase is challenging to rank for.

4. Content

The importance of content is equally important for keyword difficulty. You may presume that a lot of effort has already been put in if the first page is full of high-quality material (or that of your competitors). You will find it harder as a result, and the keyword will gradually get harder.

5. SERP volatility or movements

A lot may be learned about keyword difficulty from SERP movements. If there is no movement, it also means that the reader’s demands are being met by the text. Therefore, if you consistently see the top 10 to 20 results or see no progress, it may be a sign that the term is challenging to rank for.

For instance, there are no SERP movements for the keyword “on-page SEO,” indicating that extremely powerful articles and pages are already ranked for the phrase.

6. Current condition of your blog

Last but not least, the authority/current state of your website also affects the difficulty of a keyword if you are conducting keyword research for an existing blog of yours.

For instance, it is exceedingly tough to rank for the phrase “coronavirus” (SEO tools would also suggest 70+), but the competition will be less for Wikipedia if they wish to do so.

Understanding domain authority, page authority, and link equity

Similar to “keyword difficulty,” “domain authority” and “page authority” are not Google-approved terminology. Depending on the program you use, you may also see them referred to as “domain rating” and “URL rating.”

Instead, they are measures developed by SEO software providers to gauge the amount of link equity present on a page or site. As a result, there will be some differences in the metrics themselves, both in terms of how accurately they represent the quality of the pages they are evaluating and between products.

The best place to begin when defining domain authority and page authority is with link equity. A page’s inbound (internal and external) connections and outbound links both contribute equally to its link equity.

How keyword difficulty fits in SEO?

By examining the domain and page authorities of the sites provided, you can judge how “tough” a phrase will be to rank for since keyword difficulty measures the competitiveness of the top 10 pages in the SERP you’re contending for. By examining the strength of your rivals’ backlink profiles on a page-by-page basis, you may perform some competitive analysis.

Keyword difficulty rating in different SEO tools


According to Ahrefs, it concentrates on the quantity of referring domains. Adding more referring domains to the top results will increase the Ahrefs Scale difficulty. This is what makes Ahrefs KD measurement the most inaccurate among all the SEO tools.


In order to calculate a difficulty score, Moz considers the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) of the top search results. DA and PA are still regarded as extremely solid metrics in the Fancy Metric SEO field.

The Moz tool’s Chrome extension, MozBar, provides precise information on the number of backlinks you are up against on each website, but it is silent regarding the caliber of those links. Compared to Ahrefs, it provides a better picture of how fierce the SEO competition is.


According to SemRush, SEMrush predicts how tough it would be for a new website to outrank its present rivals on the SERP by factoring in the authority of the domains that are showing up on the results page.

Although they don’t explicitly state the metrics, their results are in comparison to Ahrefs’s. SemRush seems to match a lot with manual keyword difficulty research results. So, it’s mostly reliable.


It was initially released as a Free Tool but recently became Paid. This is not something you should get if you want to buy an SEO tool (at least for now). UberSuggest typically looks at the top 20 keyword search results to get a keyword difficulty score.

As a fairly new tool, it is still in the early stages of development and cannot be relied upon to produce accurate SEO research findings.


The most accurate SEO keyword difficulty tool, according to KWFinder by Mangools. Applying the Link Profile Strength, KWFinder assesses each URL on the first SERP (LPS). Based on the LPS ratings of all the URLs, the total Keyword Difficulty is calculated.

Based on Majestic, Moz, and the link profile, KWFinder’s LPS is calculated. Therefore, it is now the finest SEO tool available.

Bringing in volume and Intent for keyword difficulty

Effective keyword research requires consideration of three factors: keyword difficulty, search volume, and intent. Now that you have a better understanding of keyword difficulty from the standpoint of SEO, let’s discuss how to combine it with search volume and intent to find SEO keywords that are profitable for businesses.

Search volume in SEO

In SEO, “search volume” refers to the number of monthly queries made for your term. Generally speaking, the more searches a term receives, the more probable it is that a page optimized for that phrase will bring in customers for your company.

By comparing search volume to pageviews in Analytics, you may determine the potential traffic worth of a keyword. For example, if your top blog articles receive 300 visits per month, a search volume of 300 is a reasonable benchmark to utilize when looking for new keywords on to base your content.

Intent in SEO

There are traditionally foru types of search intent:

  1. A search that is intended to lead to a transaction.
  2. A web search is done with the intention of getting to a specific location.
  3. A search is made with the intent of acquiring information.
  4. A search is made with the intention to buy or sell something.

It’s crucial to optimize for each of the three types of search intent. Product pages, about pages, and other pages that are close to your homepage should have navigational and transactional keywords optimized more aggressively than sites that are distant from your homepage.

For instance, a search for “men’s fur coats” is more likely to result in a purchase than a search for “how to pick a fur coat.” For the first inquiry, a product page is more appropriate; for the second, a blog post is more appropriate.

Compared to navigational or transactional purposes, informational search intent is rather less uniform. You may optimize for informative keywords that are both extremely broadly and very narrowly connected to your brand and goods, depending on your company objectives.

Keyword difficulty: The secret ingredient

Due to the fact that every site wants to rank for high-volume keywords whose intentions align with their business objectives, keyword difficulty is a crucial differentiation factor. Keyword difficulty helps in finding high-volume, high-intent keywords that are easier to rank for than other high-volume and high-intent keywords.

By doing this, you may significantly reduce the amount of time and stress you spend developing content that almost always fails to drive visitors due to the degree of SERP competition.

What can PPC teach us about keyword difficulty?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a method of online advertising where the advertiser pays each time their ad is clicked.

In PPC, keyword difficulty functions a little differently, most noticeably in the term we’ll be using: “competition.” In PPC, each keyword’s degree of competition is frequently assigned a rank—Low, Medium, or High—indicating how fierce it is in comparison to all other keywords.

The quantity of ads that showed on Google for each term in contrast to all other keywords indicates the degree of competition. We estimate the proportion of advertisers placing bids on each term compared to all other keywords on Google. This information is particular to the areas and the Search Network targeting choice you’ve chosen.

Search volume in PPC

Longer terms often have lower search volumes, as you might think, but that’s not always a negative thing. Marketing is what we would refer to as a “head” term, or a wide keyword made up of only one or a few words. Typically, headwords have large volumes.

On the other hand, because huge volumes are attractive, head phrases are frequently quite competitive; they have the potential to generate a lot of traffic, but only with a high price and a skillfully written ad.

On the other hand, we would classify “pay-per-click marketing software” as a long-tail term. Although long-tail keywords with extremely low search numbers are undesirable, they are sometimes more precise because of their length.

You offer yourself the chance to earn high-value clicks at a very affordable fee if you can locate one with a respectable search volume that is really relevant to your topic.

Intent in PPC

Similar to or even more crucial than purpose in SEO is intent in PPC. A search ad that is optimized for an irrelevant phrase costs you money; a blog post that is optimized for a keyword that turns out to be relevant just costs you the time it took to produce the piece.

What is your ideal consumer searching for, you could ask? The inquiry and the need must be a true fit, right? Does the query produce pointless searches for which negative keywords should be added? Whether you should bid on a keyword and how aggressively you should bid depend on the answers to all of these questions.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads is one efficient technique to add intent to PPC (RSLAs). With the use of RSLAs, you may modify your campaigns for site visitors who have already been to your website and target your bids and advertisements specifically at them when they conduct searches on Google and search partner websites.

This user has already visited your site and looked for your target term when you combine RSLAs with keywords, which enables you to modify your offer, message, and bid strategy appropriately.

How to analyze SEO keyword difficulty manually?

Manually analyzing the search results page is the most effective technique to comprehend the SEO complexity of a term. There are several approaches to competitive analysis. The following are the most crucial actions to take:

Step 1: Look for backlinks

What percentage of the top 10 ranking pages have backlinks on them? How many domains are pointing to the top 10 ranked results’ root domain? Are they reputable links, or are they spam, forum, or comment links?

You can think about focusing on the term if you believe that the backlinks from pages that are ranking poorly are few and of low quality.

There are numerous keywords where the ranking website may have no backlinks pointing to it. It doesn’t imply that there is little competition. The general authority of the website may be contributing to that page’s rating. When you examine the backlinks of the other 9 listings, a clear picture becomes apparent.

Step 2: Content of the ranked pages

What is the typical word count of the articles that made the list? Can you create a more in-depth or thorough article? Does the user’s intent determine which pages rank? Do they genuinely meet the demands of the user? Or do they mislead the reader?

Go for the term if you believe that the majority of the first 10–20 results are of low quality and you can perform better. The ranking may be simple.

Furthermore, keep in mind that content by itself won’t help you rank. It happens frequently that low-quality material ranks on Google for several months just due to backlinks.

Step 3: Overall state of the ranked websites

Which websites fall on the first page of search results? Are they massive giants, specialized sites, or brand-new websites? Which websites are the oldest? Does your brand-new website have a chance against them? Can they defeat your site, which you launched a year ago?

It could be difficult to rank for the term if you find large giants controlling the market. Always search for keywords where tiny sites are at least in the top 1-2 places. After all, your initial goal will be to surpass those little sites in rankings so that you can subsequently take on the large ones.

Step 4: Check the SERP volatility for the keyword difficulty

See how frequently the ranks for that term change by searching for it on Ahrefs or any other SERP History Checker. More modifications might indicate that the ranking pages are not adequately satisfying the users’ desires.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I find my keyword competition for SEO?

Determine the number of websites competing for the precise keyword phrase by looking at search engine results (SERPs). This is to check whether they have good website optimization strategies and link authority.

2. What is good keyword difficulty?

There isn’t a perfect keyword difficulty that works for everyone. It relies on your resources, strategy, and company requirements, as well as on the market and its level of competition. Eventually, you should include a range of keyword difficulty levels in your keyword strategy.

3. How is keyword difficulty calculated?

Traffic and engagement metrics, as well as the quality and quantity of referring domains that lead to a specific keyword’s top results, form the basis for calculating keyword difficulty.

Closing words on keyword difficulty

Reiterating the three components of the “secret sauce” of keyword research: search volume, keyword difficulty (or competition), and purpose. No term can be adequately evaluated, whether you’re working in sponsored or organic search, without taking into consideration all three factors. Find the SERPs where you can compete, keep in mind your budget and campaign objectives, and make your choice.

Also, read about a sitemap is a file that provides search engines with a structured list of pages on a website, aiding in efficient crawling and indexing for better visibility.

Faraz Sayyed, Director of Notion Technologies- an expert delivering a wide range of services from web design, mobile app, eCommerce, SEO, to content marketing services for fast-growing companies be it Fortune 500, entrepreneurs or small businesses.