What is Keyword Difficulty and how is it used for SEO?

Keyword difficulty in SEO analysis refers to an estimate of how difficult it is to rank a webpage on the first page of search engine results for a particular keyword or search query.  You will see this ranking typically from 1 (low difficulty) to 100 (very high difficulty)

Key Points About Keyword Difficulty

  • Keyword difficulty is determined by analyzing factors like the backlink authority and number of backlinks that the top web page results have pointing to their pages for that specific keyword, as well as other on-page optimization factors.

Authority backlink: A real world analogy

Backlinks are like "word-of-mouth" referrals in the digital world. Just as a recommendation from a trusted friend carries more weight than an advertisement, a backlink from an authoritative, relevant website is more valuable than a link from a low-quality or irrelevant source.

The strength of a backlink is akin to the credibility of the person making the referral. If your friend who is an industry expert recommends a product or service, you're much more likely to trust that recommendation than if it came from a random acquaintance. Similarly, a backlink from a website with high domain authority, relevant content, and a strong backlink profile signals to search engines that your site is also credible and worth ranking higher.

Just as you're more inclined to check out a business if a friend vouches for it, search engines view backlinks as "votes of confidence" in your website's quality and relevance. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more Google and other search engines will deem your content worthy of ranking well.

  • The higher the keyword difficulty, the more established and authoritative the competition is for that keyword, making it harder to rank on the first page of search results.
  • Knowing the keyword difficulty helps our SEO experts prioritize which keywords to target, focusing on those that are more achievable to rank for based on the website’s current authority and resources.  We call these the quick-win keywords.
  • There may also be high search volume keywords (keywords that are highly searched) that are moderate or low competition in your industry such as niche terms.  We call these ‘keyword gems’ because they have not been saturated with competition and can be lucrative quick-wins.
  • As seen in the above example, keyword difficulty is just one factor to consider in keyword research, along with search volume and relevance to the business. A low difficulty keyword may not be worth targeting if search volume is very low.  An ideal strategy consists of a mix of difficulty keywords, niche keywords and branded key words.

In Summary

In summary, keyword difficulty is a crucial metric for SEO analysis that helps determine the competitiveness and ranking challenges associated with targeting a particular keyword or search query. It informs strategic keyword selection and content optimization efforts.

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