Keyword Difficulty and Its Importance in SEO

Staff Writer
Last Updated
May 21, 2024
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Comprehending keyword difficulty aids in shaping SEO strategy and enhancing the likelihood of achieving higher SERP rankings. Keyword difficulty can serve as a great tool in SEO strategy which enables you to make informed decisions for your SEO. Read more below to discover the importance of keyword difficulty for your SEO strategy. 

What Is Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword difficulty is a metric used in SEO to assess how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword in SERPs. The competition level is shown by a value ranging from 1 (low competition) to 100 (extremely high competition). While many SEO analytics tools offer this metric, it’s important to note that this is not an official Google measure. 

Why Is It Important to Understand Keyword Difficulty? 

Understanding keyword difficulty is crucial for effective content planning and keyword research in SEO. Understanding and optimizing keyword difficulty can help you to have the potential and rank highly in SERPs. Here are some of the crucial reasons for understanding keyword difficulty!

  • Resource Allocation: Help you allocate resources effectively by focusing on a keyword that offers the best balance between competitiveness and potential value. This will ensure you invest your time and effort where it’s most likely to yield results.
  • Strategic Planning: It will be easier for you to develop a strategic SEO plan that targets a mix of easy-to-rank and more challenging keywords.
  • Competitive Advantage: Knowing the difficulty of keywords allows you to identify opportunities where competitors may be weak.
  • Performance Tracking: You can track and evaluate the performance of your SEO strategy more efficiently. By monitoring how well you rank for keywords of varying difficulty levels, you can adjust your strategy and optimize your approach over time.
  • ROI Optimization: By targeting keywords with the right level of difficulty, you can optimize your return on investment (ROI) in SEO.

How Does Keyword Difficulty Score Work?

Determining keyword ranking difficulty involves considering relative metrics. Understanding your site's authority score is crucial, as well as comparing it to competitors in terms of organic traffic, backlinks, and referring domains. 

If your site has a high authority score, you might find it easier to rank for challenging SEO keywords. However, if your site is new, targeting high-difficulty keywords could be tough. In this situation, it might be best to steer clear of the most challenging keywords when you first start. Instead, focus on targeting easier ones to gradually establish your authority over time. 

But do keep in mind that certain difficult keywords may be essential to drive targeted traffic and generate leads. In such cases, you might want to invest extra effort in targeting them. Balancing your keyword strategy in this way ensures a strategic approach that aligns with your long-term goals. 

To conclude, this comparison will provide valuable insights into your position within your niche and the challenges you may face in ranking for specific keywords.

What Is a Good Keyword Difficulty Score Work?

  • Low Difficulty (0-30): These are the easiest keywords to rank for. They typically have lower search volumes, but they are ideal for new websites or when targeting long-tail keywords.
  • Medium Difficulty (31-60): These keywords are moderately competitive. They often have a balance between search volume and competition. If you already have an established website with some authority, you can target these effectively.
  • High Difficulty (61-100): These are the most competitive keywords. They usually have high search volumes and are dominated by authoritative websites. Targeting high-difficulty keywords may require significant time, resources, and a well-established online presence.

Ultimately, a good keyword difficulty score will depend on your website's authority, resources, and overall SEO strategy. It's important to strike a balance between targeting achievable keywords and aiming for those that offer higher traffic potential.

How Is Keyword Difficulty Calculated?

Keyword difficulty is a metric that is used in SEO to assess how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword. There isn’t a standardized formula to calculate keyword difficulty, but generally, we can use some factors such as:

  • Competitor Analysis: This involves assessing the strength of competitor websites that are currently highly for the keyword.
  • Backlink Profile: Backlinks are links that a website gets from external sites.
  • Content Quality: If you want to rank for a competitive keyword, it is important to evaluate and focus on improving your content quality.
  • Search Volume: Search volume shows the typical number of monthly searches for a keyword, and it often shows a strong correlation with difficulty scores.

How to Use Keyword Difficulty in SEO Strategy?

1. To Identify and Target Low-Competition Keywords

Low-competition keywords are search terms or phrases that have relatively less competition in search engine result pages (SERPs). This means fewer websites are targeting those specific keywords, thus there will be less competition. 

By being able to identify and target low-competition keywords, it will be easier for your content to rank higher in search engine results. It will also increase the chances of your content being seen by the target audience. This will impact your SEO strategy because when you get a higher rank, it will be easier to generate traffic for your website.

If you just established a new business, then targeting low-competition keywords can be the ultimate SEO strategy that helps to improve your business's chances of being discovered by potential customers.

2. Prioritizing Content Plan Based on Keyword Difficulty Data

From the explanation above, we can understand that keyword difficulty is useful in spotting low-competition keywords. This can help to shape your strategy and prioritize creating a content plan that targets keywords with lower difficulty scores first.

By focusing on low-competition keywords, you can allocate your resources effectively and maximize the impact of your content.

3. To Effectively Select Keywords 

Keyword selection is the process of choosing the most relevant and effective keywords to optimize your content for search engines. Effective keyword selection is crucial for a successful SEO strategy because selecting keywords that align with your content and target audience can help your website attract qualified traffic.

When you understand keyword difficulty, it plays a significant role in the SEO strategy. Knowing how to assess and identify keywords based on their difficulty level will help you to be able to identify keywords with an appropriate level of competition for your business. You will be able to eliminate keywords that have more competition and focus on those that are still low in competition.

Choosing keywords with an appropriate level of competition increases the likelihood of ranking well in SERPs without facing insurmountable competition.

4. To Understand Keyword Competitiveness for SEO and Content Strategies

Keyword difficulty is a metric that can help give you an idea of how challenging it is to rank for a particular keyword in SERPs.  Understanding keyword difficulty can help you gauge the level of competition you’re up against for specific keywords. This helps in planning your SEO and content strategies because you will be able to only focus on keywords that you have a reasonable chance of ranking for.

5. Discover Realistic Target Keywords Which is In Line with Search Intent 

Search intent is the ultimate thing that you have to understand if you want to create content that can rank high. By understanding the goal or motivation behind a user's search query, you will be able to create impactful content. 

By coupling KD with search intent, you can identify keywords that not only have manageable competition but also align with what your target audience is looking for. Targeting keywords with clear and relevant search intent will help you improve the chances of attracting the right visitors who are more likely to engage with your content and convert. This approach leads to a more realistic and effective SEO strategy, enhancing your overall success.

Do keep in mind you should avoid relying solely on keyword difficulty for decision-making. You should also consider other factors such as your backlink profile, search intent, content quality, user experience, and many other important factors.


While highly difficult keywords may seem daunting, they can still be worth targeting if they align with your business goals and offer significant potential rewards. By incorporating these strategies into your SEO approach, you can effectively leverage keyword difficulty to identify valuable keyword opportunities and optimize your content for improved search engine visibility and rankings. 

Want to elevate your SEO strategy effectively? Connect with our team at Cardinal Digital!

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