Keyword Difficulty

What is Keyword Difficulty?

Definition: Keyword difficulty (KD) is an SEO metric that estimates how challenging it would be to rank for a specific keyword in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It takes into account various factors such as the strength of competition, the authority of websites currently ranking for that keyword, and the quality of content. A higher keyword difficulty score indicates a more competitive landscape, requiring more effort and higher-quality SEO strategies to achieve top rankings.

Types of Keyword Difficulty

  1. Low Difficulty: Keywords with low difficulty scores are generally easier to rank for. These often include long-tail keywords with specific queries and lower search volumes but can lead to highly targeted traffic.
  2. Medium Difficulty: These keywords represent a moderate level of competition. Ranking for these terms is achievable with a well-optimized site and high-quality content, but it may take some time and effort.
  3. High Difficulty: High difficulty keywords are highly competitive and dominated by authoritative websites. Ranking for these requires significant SEO efforts, including strong backlink profiles, optimized content, and high domain authority.


  1. Niche Blogs: A blog focusing on a specific niche, such as “indoor herb gardening tips,” might target low to medium difficulty keywords to attract targeted readership and rank effectively.
  2. E-commerce Websites: An e-commerce site might aim for medium difficulty keywords in its product categories to balance competitiveness and the potential for traffic, like “organic cotton t-shirts.”
  3. Major Brands: Large, established brands or websites may target high difficulty keywords, such as “best smartphones,” relying on their strong domain authority and comprehensive SEO strategies to compete.

Technical Details

  • Calculation: Keyword difficulty is typically calculated using algorithms that consider factors like the number of referring domains to the ranking pages, the authority of those domains, content relevance, and other SEO metrics.
  • Tools: Various SEO tools provide keyword difficulty scores, including Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz. These tools use proprietary methods to estimate difficulty, so scores can vary across platforms.
  • Strategic Use: SEO professionals use keyword difficulty to prioritize their efforts, focusing on a mix of low, medium, and high difficulty keywords to balance short-term wins with long-term goals.


Understanding keyword difficulty is crucial for effective SEO strategy planning. It helps in allocating resources efficiently, targeting achievable keywords for quicker wins, and setting realistic expectations for ranking efforts. Incorporating a mix of keyword difficulties in content strategies can optimize visibility across search engines and attract a diverse range of traffic to the website.

Nedim Mehic

Nedim is a senior technical SEO specialist, and the co-founder of Beki AI. On the Beki AI blog, we share new and innovative strategies to SEO and content marketing.

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