Keyword Difficulty: What It Is and How to Measure It Properly

Keywords are the bread and butter of search engine optimization (SEO). Without them, it would be pretty difficult to rank in search engines. But what exactly is keyword difficulty, and how can you tell if a keyword is too difficult to rank for?

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about keyword difficulty, including what factors influence it and how you can use it to your advantage.

What Is Keyword Difficulty?

A difficulty score is a metric used in SEO to determine the relative difficulty of ranking for a given keyword in Google’s search results.

If the score is high, it may be worth your while to invest in some professional help, as ranking for that keyword could be a challenge. However, if the score is low, you may be able to rank for the keyword on your own.

How Is Keyword Difficulty Calculated?

In general, difficulty scores range from 0 to 100, with 100 being the most difficult. The score is calculated using several factors, including the number of pages that rank for the keyword, the relevance of those pages, and the authority of the domains that rank for the keyword.

There are many methods for calculating keyword difficulty, but most SEOs use one of two methods: The Moz Difficulty Score and the SEMrush Difficulty Score.

The Moz Difficulty Score uses an algorithmic method to measure the difficulty of ranking for a ‌keyword. In contrast, the SEMrush Difficulty Score is based on the number of backlinks that a ‌page has. 

While both scores can be useful when trying to determine the competitiveness of a keyword, they should not be used interchangeably.

How Does Moz Calculate Keyword Difficulty?

Moz weighs a few different factors to calculate keyword difficulty, including the number of pages that rank for the keyword, the relevance of those pages, and the authority of the domains that rank for the keyword. They also consider things like click-through rate and the relationship between the keyword and other terms that rank for the same query.

The Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool is free to use. Simply enter a keyword into the search bar and hit “search.” The tool will then generate a difficulty score for that keyword, ranging from 1 to 100. A score of 1 indicates that the keyword is very easy to rank for, while 100 shows that the keyword is to rank for.

How Does Keyword Difficulty Affect Content Strategy?

Difficult keywords may take more effort to rank for, but they can be worth the effort. They tend to have high search volume and are often associated with high commercial intent. 

That said, you should never choose a keyword solely based on its difficulty score. Always consider other factors, such as your site’s authority and relevance when choosing keywords to target.

What Is a Good Keyword Difficulty Score?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the ideal keyword difficulty score will vary depending on your website’s authority and the competitiveness of your industry. 

As a general rule, keywords with a difficulty score of less than 40 are considered relatively easy to rank for, while those with a difficulty score of 60 or higher are considered fairly challenging.

How Do I Find Keywords With a Low Difficulty Score?

There are several tools that you can use to find keywords with a low difficulty score, including the Moz Keyword Explorer and the SEMrush Keyword Difficulty Tool.

Both ‌tools allow you to filter keywords by difficulty, so you can easily find ones that are easy to rank for. However, Moz’s Keyword Explorer has a more comprehensive database of keywords and provides more detailed difficulty scores than SEMrush’s Keyword Difficulty Tool.

Target Long-tail Keywords to Decrease Keyword Difficulty

One tactic you can use to  decrease keyword difficulty is to target long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are simply longer and more specific than the average keyword.

For example, rather than targeting the keyword “dog food,” you might target the long-tail keyword “organic dog food for large breeds.”

Long-tail keywords typically have lower search volumes than general keywords, but they are also much easier to rank for. This is because there are far fewer websites that are targeting long-tail keywords, so the competition is much less fierce.

So, if you’re having trouble ranking for a particular keyword, try targeting a long-tail keyword instead. You may be surprised at how much easier it is to rank for.

Try a Lesser-Known Tactic

Something else you can do to decrease keyword difficulty is to target keywords with a high click-through rate.

Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who click on a result in the search engine results page (SERP) after seeing it.

Generally‌, the higher the CTR, the easier it is to rank for a keyword. This is because CTR is a signal to Google that people are finding your result relevant and useful.

So, if you can find keywords with a high CTR, you’re more likely to rank for them.

How Should You Adjust Your Content to Better Address Keyword Difficulty?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best way to adjust your content to better address keyword difficulty will vary depending on your website’s authority and the competitiveness of your industry. 

However, some general tips that may help include targeting long-tail keywords and increasing the relevance of your website.

Also, if you’re having trouble ranking for a particular keyword, you can try reaching out to webmasters who have already achieved a high ranking for that keyword and asking for tips.

Finally, remember that it’s never a good idea to choose a keyword solely based on its difficulty score. You should always consider other factors, such as your site’s authority and relevance when choosing keywords to target.

More Specific Ways to Rank for Difficult Keywords

Some keywords are harder to rank for than others, but they can be worth the effort. Some examples of how to do this could include:

  • Creating content that is highly relevant to the keyword you’re trying to rank for
  • Researching and targeting long-tail keywords
  • Adjusting your content strategy to better address keyword difficulty

Keep in mind that these are just a few examples, and the best way to adjust your content to better address keyword difficulty will vary depending on many factors, including domain authority and the competitiveness of your industry.

On A Final Note

Keyword difficulty is an important factor to consider when developing your content strategy. Just remember, Moz’s keyword difficulty score is just one factor to consider when choosing keywords. You should always consider other factors, such as your website’s authority and relevance when making your decision.

By following these tips, you can develop a content strategy that increases your chances of ranking high in search engine results.

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Daniel Doan

Daniel Doan is a proven direct-response conversion copywriter with over 10 years of expertise writing high-converting sales pages, emails, and ads for the largest B2B companies and digital brands in America. He helps businesses increase their conversions and sales by bridging the gap between what they want to say and what their dream customers need to hear in order to turn into lifelong customers.

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