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What Is Keyword Difficulty and Why Is Keyword Difficulty Important?

Keyword difficulty is a metric that tells you how hard it would be for your content to rank on the first page of Google for a certain keyword. In other words, if a keyword is hard, you will need to spend a lot of time and pay close attention to it in order to get results.

But what does that mean for researching keywords? Should you only worry about search terms that are easy to find?

No, not always. A good strategy takes into account both how hard the keywords are and how often people search for them. So, you can make a plan that gives you both opportunities and makes it easy to rank.

We’ll talk more about keyword difficulty below, including what it is, how to understand it, and how to use it in your strategy.

Why Is Keyword Difficulty Important?

Whether you know it or not, the difficulty of your keywords affects both your strategy and the way you plan your resources. If you understand it, you can choose the best keywords for your site and give your team the help they need to make good content.

For example, say you choose “project management” as the next keyword for your blog based only on how relevant it is and how many people search for it. You give it to one of your writers without thinking at all about how hard it is.

Will your new article show up on page one? Maybe, but I think you’d need a lot of support for it first. You might not know how to do that if you don’t know how hard it is to rank for that keyword and why.

In other words, the difficulty of a keyword can help you figure out how likely it is that you will rank a new page. You can use this information to make a plan for your content and decide where to put your resources.

But how do you know if a keyword is easy or hard? Several different things come into play, such as:

What Is Keyword Difficulty

  • Competitors
  • Content quality
  • Search intent
  • Backlinks
  • Domain authority

What Is a Good Keyword Difficulty Score?

In the end, you need to know your site to know what a good keyword difficulty score is. If you have a domain with a lot of authority, it may be easier for you to rank for keywords that are harder to rank for. In that case, it might be worth your time to focus on search terms that are hard to find.

On the other hand, if your site is brand new, it might not be so easy to decide whether or not to focus on the most difficult search terms. In some situations, it might be better to avoid the hardest keywords for now and focus on the easier ones while you build your authority over time.

But if the hardest keywords to rank for are also the most important to your business, you might decide it’s worth the extra work to go after them even if it takes longer to rank.

Let’s say you work at a car lot that also does repairs on cars. Even if auto repair keywords in your area are hard to rank for, you should still have a landing page for your service center.

So, how do you choose keywords based on how hard they are to find?

  • SEO is a long-term game, so keep that in mind. Even if a keyword seems impossible to rank for right now, that doesn’t mean you should ignore all keywords that are hard to rank for. Just realize that it will take time to win them over. Instead, keep comparing your site’s authority to that of the sites and pages that already rank for those highly sought-after keywords and build them into a longer-term plan.
  • Smart strategies include both keywords that are easy to rank for and ones that are harder. We get that you need to start making progress, so it makes sense to find a balance between keywords that are easy to rank for and those that will take longer. Putting together groups of related topics is a great way to do this. Target broader terms with a higher Keyword Difficulty Score for your pillar pages and terms with a lower score for your cluster content.

What Is an Easy Keyword Difficulty Score?

From an objective point of view, an easy keyword difficulty score is between 0 and 29. But the answer can vary in practice, just like “good” keyword difficulty scores.

What Is Keyword Difficulty

For example, if your domain is seen as a major authority in your field, it will be much easier for you to rank for keywords that may be too hard for newer sites. So, a keyword difficulty score that you think is “easy” might be hard for someone else.

Consider both the KD% and your own experience when figuring out how hard or easy a keyword is.

How Do Long Tail Keywords Impact Keyword Difficulty?

Long-tail keywords are phrases that are more than three words long and have fewer searches and less competition. They are less likely to have a lot of competition, so their conversion rates are likely to be higher.

Let’s go back to the auto repair example from above. Your local dealership may have a hard time ranking for “oil changes,” but it will do much better if it focuses on “oil changes in Scottsdale.”

So even if you get less overall traffic, you’re much more likely to get relevant traffic (i.e., people actually looking for oil changes in Scottsdale in this example).

From the user’s point of view, they want the most specific answer to their question. If someone typed “tomato plan,” the SERPs would show them a wide range of results.

But if they typed in “why are my tomato plants turning yellow?,” they would get a much more specific answer.

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Don’t make the mistake of doing keyword research based only on how often people search for them.

When you do this, it will be hard to set realistic goals or figure out how much time and money you will need to succeed.

Take the time to figure out how likely it is that you can rank for the keywords you want, find quick-win opportunities (keywords with lower difficulty and higher value), and get buy-in for your strategy based on solid but realistic projections.

Use the Keyword Difficulty Score as a guide and combine it with information about your own domain’s authority and ability to rank to make a plan for growth.

You can try out a lot of keyword research tools to get started.

I am the Senior Team Leader and SEO Specialist at News Degree. I am responsible for editing and publishing content on the website. Specifically, I am an expert in covering stories on celebrities and other public figures in the entertainment industry.

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