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Keyword Difficulty : An Essential Guide for SEO Marketers

In the world of SEO, keywords are the backbone of every successful digital marketing campaign. However, not all keywords are created equal, and some are much more difficult to rank for than others. That’s where keyword difficulty comes in. Keyword difficulty is an essential metric used to determine the ranking potential of a particular keyword. In this blog post, we will explain what keyword difficulty is, why it is important, and how it works.

Keyword difficulty is a score or metric used to measure the relative difficulty of ranking on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). It gives you an indication of how hard it is to rank your website for a particular keyword. This score is calculated based on various factors such as the number of other websites that are currently ranking for the keyword, the quality and authority of those sites, and how optimized the content is for that keyword.

Why use Keyword Difficulty?

SEO marketers use keyword difficulty to determine which keywords they should target. If the keyword is too difficult to rank for, then it will be a waste of time and resources to use it. Marketers also use keyword difficulty to find alternative keywords that may be easier to rank for. Additionally, by understanding the keyword difficulty of your competitors, you can devise a more effective digital marketing strategy.

Why is it important?

Understanding keyword difficulty is critical because it helps you avoid wasting effort and resources on keywords that are too hard to rank for. If you focus on your efforts on keywords that have a lower difficulty score, you will have a higher chance of success. Knowing the keyword difficulty of your target keyword could enable you to optimize your content better, build better backlinks, and improve your website’s overall SEO.

How does it work?

Keyword difficulty is calculated using a logarithmic scale, ranging from 0-100, with higher scores indicating a higher level of difficulty. Scores from 0-30 indicate that the keyword is relatively easy to rank for. However, scores between 30-50 are moderately difficult, and scores of 50 and above are extremely difficult. Tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz can provide you with a keyword difficulty score.


Let’s say that you are looking to rank for a keyword “SEO agency London.” A keyword difficulty score of 60 indicates that this keyword is challenging to rank for. However, an alternative keyword such as “SEO agency Manchester” has a difficulty score of 20, indicating that it is easier to rank for. By focusing on the latter keyword, you may have a higher chance of success.

Common Questions and answers

Can I estimate keyword difficulty without using a tool?

While it is possible to estimate keyword difficulty manually, it requires a lot of time and effort. It’s much easier to use a keyword tool that provides this information.

Should I only target keywords with a low difficulty score?

While targeting keywords with a low difficulty score may be easier to rank for, remember that these keywords may have low search volumes and may not bring in significant traffic. It’s essential to find a balance between keyword difficulty and search volume.


Keyword difficulty is an essential metric used in SEO marketing to help marketers understand how challenging it is to rank for a particular keyword. By using keyword difficulty scores, marketers can identify which keywords are worth targeting and which ones are too difficult to rank for. Understanding keyword difficulty can help improve your SEO strategy, and by targeting easier to rank keywords, you can optimize your content better, build better backlinks, and boost traffic to your website.