Whispbar Yakima
Image default

Understanding Keyword Difficulty: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), one of the most critical factors to consider is Keyword Difficulty. This metric helps you understand the level of competition for a specific keyword and determine how challenging it will be to rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs). In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at what keyword difficulty is, why you should use it, and how it works. We will also answer some general questions about this metric and provide an example to illustrate its significance.


Keyword difficulty is a metric that measures the competitiveness of a keyword by analyzing the number of websites that are trying to rank for it. It gives you an idea of how challenging it will be to rank for that keyword relative to other keywords. The metric is usually expressed as a percentage, with higher percentages indicating more challenging keywords. Keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz use algorithms to calculate keyword difficulty based on factors such as the number of backlinks, the authority of the ranking pages, and the relevance of the content.

Why use Keyword Difficulty ?

Keyword difficulty is a valuable metric for several reasons. Firstly, it helps you choose relevant keywords for your SEO strategy while avoiding those keywords that are too competitive. Secondly, it helps you set realistic expectations for your SEO efforts by providing insight into the level of difficulty for each keyword. Finally, it helps you prioritize your efforts and focus on the keywords that are most relevant and feasible to rank for.

Why is it important Keyword Difficulty ?

Keyword difficulty is essential because it helps you avoid wasting time and resources on keywords that are too competitive for your website or business. If you try to rank for highly competitive keywords, you may not see results for months, or even years, and you may end up spending a significant amount of money on SEO efforts without achieving the desired outcome. Keyword difficulty helps you choose keywords that are realistic and achievable, allowing you to see results faster and at a lower cost.

How does it work?

Keyword difficulty is calculated by analyzing various factors, such as the number of backlinks to the ranking pages, the authority of the ranking pages, and the relevance of the content. The metric’s algorithms analyze data from search engines, benchmarking the keyword against other keywords in the industry and providing a score that indicates how challenging it will be to rank for that keyword. Most keyword research tools provide a keyword difficulty score between 0 and 100, with higher scores indicating more challenging keywords.


Suppose you are a small business selling handmade candles online and want to improve your website’s ranking for relevant keywords. Using a keyword research tool like Ahrefs, you type in the keyword “candles” and see that the keyword difficulty score is 75, indicating that it may be challenging to rank for this keyword. However, you notice that the keyword “handmade candles” has a difficulty score of 45, indicating that it may be easier to rank for this specific term. Based on this information, you can prioritize your SEO efforts towards the keyword “handmade candles” and avoid wasting time trying to rank for the highly competitive keyword “candles.”

General questions and answers

Q: Can high keyword difficulty be beneficial in some cases?
A: Yes, high keyword difficulty can be beneficial in some cases, particularly if the keyword has high search volume and is relevant to your business. In such cases, you can invest more time and resources into SEO efforts, expecting higher long-term returns.

Q: Can keyword difficulty change over time?
A: Yes, keyword difficulty can change over time due to various factors such as changes in the search engine algorithms, industry trends, and competitor activity. It is essential to keep track of your keyword difficulty score regularly to adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.

Q: Do all keyword research tools provide the same keyword difficulty score?
A: No, different keyword research tools may use different algorithms and factors to calculate keyword difficulty, leading to variations in scores across platforms. It is advisable to use multiple tools and average out the scores to get a clearer picture of the keyword’s competitiveness.

Keyword difficulty is a crucial metric for any SEO strategy. It helps you understand the level of competition for specific keywords, set realistic expectations, and prioritize your efforts towards achievable goals. By using keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz, you can analyze various factors that contribute to the keyword difficulty score and make informed decisions about your SEO strategy. Remember to keep track of your keyword difficulty score regularly and adjust your efforts accordingly for the best results.