Keyword difficulty: What it is and why it’s important in SEO

Keywords are among the most important aspects of SEO practice and no website SEO is ever complete without optimizing for them. While targeting keywords, we often search about their difficulty which is between zero to hundred. 

The higher the number, the more difficult it will be to rank for those keywords. If you are new to search engine optimization and keyword difficulty, we have got you covered. In this article, we will have a look at what exactly is keyword difficulty and why it’s important in SEO services

Keyword Difficulty: Basic Overview

Keyword difficulty or keyword competition is a core SEO factor that gives us an estimate of how difficult it would be to rank for a keyword. The more the difficulty, the less will be the chances for coming on top positions. There are multiple factors that affect the difficulty index of the keyword and these factors are both internal and external. From your website’s domain authority to backlinks and website content, many factors contribute to the keyword difficulty. 

Keyword difficulty metric 

The algorithm that works behind the keyword difficulty is very complex, however, the front end for users is quite simple to understand. The keyword metric goes from 0 to 100 and for every website, the difficulty for keywords will be different. There are many free and paid tools available online that let you check the keyword difficulty and plan your content strategy. 

How is it calculated?

When it comes to determining the competition for a keyword from the perspective of a metric, backlinks matter the most. Your website’s backlink profile plays a significant role in determining the difficulty. When you check websites that are ranking on top positions, you will notice that they have a very good backlink profile. 

The competitors’ authority is measured considering various factors. If you use any tool to check the profile strength, the overall score of for example 45 is calculated considering DA, PA, citation flow, trust flow, and many such factors. 

These tools then compile the average score considering all these factors and display an average approx value for the keyword difficulty. For example, for a keyword, the difficulty is showing 53, then it’s the average of multiple top ranking websites. 

Calculating general keyword difficulty for your website

As we saw above, several internal and external factors contribute to the overall keyword difficulty for a particular website. For calculating a particular keyword difficulty for your website, there are multiple factors that you need to keep in mind. Below are some of the key factors that you need to consider while calculating the difficulty:

Competition

The first basic thing you need to consider is your core competitors and their overall SEO performance. For example, you have identified 10 competitors and 5 of them have good DA than you, then you need to outperform them for ranking higher. You need to create better content than them over the same keywords to outperform them. Here, you need to improve three things — content, backlinks, and on-page SEO. 

Domain Authority 

Domain authority metric is developed by Moz is a well-known standard that all SEO practitioners consider while determining the competition. First, you need to check your website’s DA and then compare it with your competitors’ domain authorities. If it’s lower than them — it’s time to work on various aspects of your site. However, if your competitor’s domain age is older and you have just registered one or two years ago, that will also create a difference. 

Content Quality

The quality of content is a major differentiator when it comes to determining the keyword difficulty for your site. Google and other search engines pay great attention to the overall content quality and that’s why you need to put more focus. You can opt for SEO packages that help to generate good-quality content and it’s generating good organic traffic, then it would be easier for you to target difficult keywords. Google and other search engines give higher priority to websites that have better content quality.  

Search intent

There are four types of search intents which are navigational, transactional, informational, and commercial. Keyword difficulty index also varies from the factor that is the search intent behind targeting the keyword. This could be a good audit point while you perform a competitor analysis for keywords. It’s important that you need to keep search intent in mind while running a competitive analysis as it will give you better clarity. With search intent, you can easily shortlist the keywords that you want to target and create content around them. 

Keyword difficulty is an important SEO factor as we saw in the above points. From next time targeting keywords based on their difficulty, keep these points in mind. With these points, it would become easier for you to target and outperform your competitors. Only ranking on the first page is one thing, you also need to keep working around it to retain that position.