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What is Keyword Difficulty & how is it calculated

Wrong Keyword and Wrong Targeting can affect your Ranking.

what is keyword difficulty

Finding a bunch of keywords for your website is easy but the important part is what it’ll take to rank those keywords. Keyword Difficulty is also known as keyword competition, is the process of finding out how difficult to rank your keyword on Google’s organic search result.


Keyword difficulty is based on different terms like domain factors, domain authority, content quality etc. Once you have got the idea about Keyword Difficulty then you can use that information to plan your SEO strategy. 


Nobody knows the exact formula that Google used to rank a website. Even if they did, it won’t change the fact that some keywords are more difficult to rank compared to others.


Keyword difficulty is one of the key challenges in SEO. In this blog, we are going to get to know how to calculate the keyword Difficulty. One thing to keep in mind is that don’t compare keyword difficulty with keyword competition in the Google Keyword Planner tool. Keyword competition shows you how many advertisers are trying for a particular keyword to rank high on the search engine.


Keyword difficulty lets you know how hard to rank a particular keyword in a Search engine.


Why should we determine Keyword Difficulty:-


It is a very important part of the Keyword Research process. Along with different search factors like monthly search volume, keyword difficulty helps you to choose the best keyword for SEO. With the help of any tool like Ahref, Moz you can easily calculate keyword difficulty. One thing you should keep in mind is that every tool measures keyword difficulty differently. So if you want to get a clear idea about keyword difficulty score then you need to dig deeper to get the right score.


How to check the ranking difficulty of a keyword:-

“Ranking difficulty” of a keyword is not about analysing the pages that are already ranked in
Google for known factors.

Ranking Difficulty breaks down in 4 parts:- 

1. Content of the page
2. Searcher intent
3. Backlinks
4. Domain Authority


As we all know Google doesn’t rank irrelevant pages then one thing that comes in mind how to make those irrelevant pages relevant. When you are analyzing a keyword, no need to pay much attention to how many times and where your targeted keyword appears on the page.


Instead, you can do one thing, dig into the content of top-ranking pages to determine where they are targeting their keyword. Most on-page SEO states that you need to mention your target keyword in the title tag, URL, Headline or Content part. 


One thing you should keep in mind when targeting keywords is that the quality of your content and how much value it brings to the user is more important instead of strategic keyword placement.

Here are the steps to figure out term’s keyword difficulty:- 


Step 1:- Install the MozBar


This is one of the best and easiest tools to evaluate Keyword Difficulty faster and easier. To use this tool you need to install this tool to your chrome browser. Now whenever you search in the search engine about any query, you are able to see information from MozBar in the SERPs like DA, PA, number of Backlinks etc. Now you have a setup of MozBar, you can size-up with the competitor. 


Step 2:- Check Page Authority


Domain authority and page authority are important factors to rank your website. With the help of the Mozbar tool, you can check page authority of any web page. When you search any query and then result appears in SERPs it will show you the Page and Domain authority of a particular webpage. One important thing is, keep an eye on low PA pages. These pages are easily knocked by your new keyword. 


Step 3:- Look at Domain Authority


As we all know Google loves ranking pages from major authority sites like Amazon, Wikipedia. But most pages on authority sites get a high effect from the simple fact that they’re on an authoritative domain. Which means that when you evaluate keyword competition , you also want to take a look at the sites  you’re competing against or take a look at domain authority not only page authority. MozBar displays Domain Authority as well as Page Authority on the SERP overlay. Overall results with high PA and DA are more competitive. 

In other words, the Page Authority and Domain Authority both are very important. 


Step 4:- Go through Referring Domains


In simple words, Google is like a vote collection engine. The more votes a page gets the higher the chances to gain the rank. According to one research, the number of referring domains is directly related to a higher ranking. There are many link analysis tools out there. You can use Mozbar or Ahrefs. 


In general, Moz is not as good as Ahref but Mozbar is a more convenient way to evaluate the keyword difficulty because it shows data right in SERPs. When you search any query in a search engine, the result appears in SERPs with all data like domain authority, page authority etc. 


Now you have an idea about how to use Moz to know about the referring domain. Now, let’s take an idea about how to use Ahref for referring domains. For Ahref just take a URL from Google and paste it into Ahref. Then the tool will show you the number of referring domains linking to that page. This process is longer compared to Moz’s toolbar. But the upside is that the data from Ahrefs is more accurate compared to Moz. 


Step 5:- Go through Content Optimization


As we all know, On-Page SEO plays a very important role in ranking your website. That’s why you need to pay more attention to On-page SEO optimization. For example, if you want to rank for “Digital Marketing Services”,  Just look at the title tag of the pages on Google’s first page. Let’s say two results use the same keyword or close variation in the title. To know more click on one of the results then click on the page analysis icon in the MozBar, then this will display basic on-page attributes. 


If your targeted keyword is included in an H1 tag and the URL, that means the page is well optimized. 

On the other hand, if a page is not fully optimized or weak on-page SEO, it can be easy to rank above that content. 


Step 6:- Go with Easy-Target result


As the name suggests, go with easy target results or low competition results. Here are results that indicate a very, very low competition keyword:


  • HubPages
  • eBay
  • Blogspot (or another free blog)
  • Press release sites


For example choose a title that starts with How to, what, and also list like “10 ideas to rank your website high”. In this, you can target your keyword and the possibility of the ranking of the keywords increases. Now we have an idea that Backlinks and On-Page SEO are important terms when we are looking for Keyword Difficulty.


Most SEO tools look at these terms to calculate Keyword Difficulty. But one thing you should keep in mind is that Content plays an important role to crack the top 10. Quality content is very important. For example, just search any term on a search engine and look at the content of the top 10 results. In other words, it will take some good and quality content to stay at position #1. 


Ahref and Mozbar are the best tools to calculate “Keyword Difficulty”. Research about top-ranking pages for your target keyword to decide if you can offer searchers something better than what’s already there. 


Tip:- The best way to learn whether Google is happy with the current search results which show in SERPs is to look at the SERP position history. For SERPs position history graph you can use Ahref’s Keyword Explorer. 

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Don’t hesitate to use the High- difficulty keyword:-


Most articles about keyword research or keyword difficulty tell you to avoid high-difficulty. That’s the wrong attitude. Keyword difficulty isn’t meant to deny you from ranking for a particular keyword. The intention is to help you to know about the resources required to rank for it.


If ranking on a particular keyword is good for your business then it is important to rank it, no matter how long it takes. 


If you are in SEO then Short term thinking is the greatest enemy if you want long-term ranking. So think long term to grow. So don’t shy away from the best competitive keywords that have the potential to skyrocket your business growth.