Understanding Keyword Difficulty What It Means and How to Track It

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Keyword difficulty is a term used to describe the relative difficulty of ranking on a given keyword or phrase across search engine result pages (SERPs). It is an important metric when assessing how competitive a keyword is, in terms of being able to secure a good ranking position in organic search. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of keyword difficulty, examining its definition, factors that influence it, and offering useful tips on how to use it for improving SEO performance.

What Is Keyword Difficulty?

At its core, keyword difficulty measures the competition for a certain keyword or phrase. It is derived from analyzing a wide variety of factors associated with the keyword, including search engine optimization (SEO) metrics, user engagement, and activity, in order to determine how challenging it would be to improve a website's ranking position by targeting that keyword. It is typically expressed as a number, with lower numbers indicating a lower difficulty, and higher numbers indicating that the keyword is more competitive.

Factors Influencing Keyword Difficulty

There are several factors that influence keyword difficulty, including how many competing websites are targeting the same keyword, the type of content they provide, the quality of that content, and the amount of overall search engine traffic for the keyword. Generally speaking, a keyword where the competition is high and the number of backlinks is low is likely to be more difficult to rank for in comparison to a keyword with less competition and more backlinks pointing to it.

In addition, organic search engine algorithms are constantly evolving and adapting to discover the best results for users. Therefore, a keyword that was relatively easy to rank for two years ago, may now be much more challenging to rank on due to the evolving nature of these algorithms. This means that keyword difficulty is not static, and should be regularly monitored and adjusted in order to ensure optimal SEO performance.

Using Keyword Difficulty to Improve SEO Performance

The primary use of keyword difficulty is to identify keywords that have the potential for achieving a higher ranking on organic search engine results pages. When researching keywords to target, it is best to focus on phrases and keywords with lower difficulty scores, as these are likely to be less competitive and easier to rank for. This does not mean that high difficulty keywords should be avoided altogether - they can still be beneficial for SEO, but different tactics (e.g. long-tail keywords) may be required to optimise content for them.


Keyword difficulty is an important metric when assessing the potential to rank for a given keyword or phrase on organic search engine results pages. It should be considered when researching keywords, and regularly monitored as search engine algorithms evolve. By examining the various factors associated with keyword difficulty and targeting those with a lower difficulty, it is possible to improve the chances of success.