Keyword Difficulty: How to Determine Your Chances of keywords Ranking

by Linden Schwark
by Linden Schwark
Keyword Difficulty

When doing keyword research, one of the most critical questions asked is how difficult it will be for the keyword to rank on search engine results that could lead to organic traffic. Unfortunately, most online marketers make a common mistake of focusing only on search volume as a method of prioritizing efforts. If you fail to take other keywords into account, you will end up finding disappointing results and low traffic.

So, how to go about it? Is there any solution?

Yes! Indeed, there is! A smart strategy revolves around the idea of using keyword difficulty along with search volume that balances the ease of ranking. In today’s article, we will talk about how you can measure keyword difficulty and understand your website’s potential to rank for a certain keyword.

 So, we will look at the following:

  1. What does keyword difficulty mean in SEO?
  2. What factors contribute to the keyword’s ranking difficulty?
  3. Is a keyword rank checker a good way to determine keyword difficulty?
  4. What is an ideal keyword difficulty score?

What Does Keyword Difficulty Mean in SEO?

Keyword difficulty is a measure to determine how hard it is to rank for a keyword on the search engine results. By knowing this, you can set your expectations around available resources and accordingly know the likelihood of keyword ranking.

One way to identify keyword difficulty is by using a keyword rank checker. The tool gives a score against your intended keyword, helping you understand its difficulty level. However, relying solely on the score shown by the keyword position checker is dangerous. In order for these insights to be useful, you should first understand what other factors are contributing to your site’s ranking and the possible strategies you need to use.

Keep in mind that keyword difficulty only considers those pages that are already ranking. Hence it is not so simple to launch a website and immediately see it ranking on the first few pages of the search engine result. Search engine optimization takes a considerable amount of time and effort. You need to understand factors contributing towards page ranking and use the score to estimate your chances of gaining visibility for a certain keyword.

What Factors Contribute to The Keyword’s Ranking Difficulty?

Ascertaining a keyword difficulty score with a keyword rank checker is not enough to identify how your webpage will rank. Various other factors should be taken into account, such as:

  • The quality of content
  • The quality of backlinks
  • The authority of the domain

Let’s dive deeper into the above factors to understand them well.

  • Quality of Content

Without quality content, it is next to impossible to rank higher on search engines. Google has issued a clear mission, which states that only the most relevant and reliable information would become available to users. This clearly indicates how important content quality is in the ranking game.

If you want to go high up on search engine results, make sure you produce content that is at least as good as what is already out there on the web. However, if you aim to rank higher, then the quality of content should surpass the quality of all other published work.

  • Backlink Quality

Backlinks are known to be search engines’ one of the top three ranking factors. Just like the content, the quality of backlinks pointing to the page is equally crucial. Quality backlinks can help you rank well on search engines as well as build your domain authority. With a smart link-building strategy in place, you can soon achieve prominent page visibility.

  • Authority of domain

A newly built domain will always struggle to rank for competitive keywords at first. Building up authority takes time as long as six to twelve or more months to establish a presence and start showing an ROI.

Just like a keyword rank checker, there are tools to measure domain authority score, known as domain authority checker. This score is used as a measure for the domain or webpage’s overall quality. Many factors go into building a domain’s authority, which can be used as a measure in determining keyword difficulty.

It is better to compare your domain with others who rank at the top of the search engine results. If their authority score is better than yours, then there are high chances that you will struggle to rank until you work hard on improving your standing.

So, what basically increases domain authority? Yes, you got it, right! It is quality content and backlinks.

So, you see how all these factors go hand in hand and are interlinked to one other.

Is A Keyword Rank Checker a Good Way to Determine Keyword Difficulty?

To check a keyword’s difficulty, a keyword rank checker is an incredible tool to start with. You can put up any keyword and see where it stands. These keyword rank checker tools are extremely easy to use and allow you to enter up to 100 keywords at once. Although the word limit varies from tool to tool but the more limit you have, the better. This is because you can compare the keywords and their difficulty score, giving you a better insight into which one to use in your SEO marketing campaign.

An efficient keyword rank tracker like SmallSeoTools also allows you to check other metrics along with the keyword difficulty. Using an impressive keyword rank checker, you can easily integrate the keyword difficulty score in your keyword research process. Just make sure that you consider your ability to compete as the score does not take into account your own domain’s authority which is the driving force.

Keyword difficulty should always be considered in the context of your own domain by considering the top three factors – content, backlink, and authority. A lower authority of your domain would indicate the difficulty of ranking for that keyword. This means that you need a consistent and solid SEO strategy in place to make things work.

What Is an Ideal Keyword Difficulty Score?

We have talked in detail about how search engine ranking plays an important role in determining keyword difficulty scores. But, one question you probably must be wondering is what makes a good keyword score? Honestly, you will never find an exact answer to this question. This is because a domain with higher authority has better potential to rank for keywords with higher difficulty scores.

How Do You Choose Keywords Based On Their Difficulty?


Accept the fact that SEO is a long-term game:

It is crucial to understand that your overall strategy will not get you instant results, and you should certainly not ignore the fact that it is difficult to rank for the right keywords.

You should accept that it can take 12 to 24 months time to rank for relevant keywords. It is an ongoing process which also demands you to analyze your own authority against different website and pages that sit on Google’s first page.

A higher keyword difficulty score should not be seen as a bad thing, but instead, it should be taken as a sign that you need to invest more resources and time than you do for keywords with lower scores.

Balance lower and difficult ranked keywords with smart strategies:

We understand that you need to start making progress right away, and one way to go about is by balancing easy and difficult keywords in your campaign. This, again, will not help you earn instant visibility, but at least you will have quicker results.

You can choose to build topic clusters where difficult scored keywords can be put in your pillar pages, while the ones with a lower score in your cluster content. You should design your strategy to rank for a keyword over the coming months and find quick win opportunities with both lower and higher value keywords.

Parting Words

The keyword ranking should be coupled with other essential metrics to help you achieve your desired marketing performance. You have incredible tools like keyword rank checker to up your game in the digital world. But remember, you need to put consistent efforts and upgrade strategies as and when required.

When it comes to achieving a top position on search engine result pages, you need to get extra conscious and get your hands on reliable data from well-known sources. You may find keyword rank tracker tools in abundance over the web, but all of them cannot be trusted for giving accurate results. An advanced keyword checker will never disappoint you and help you figure out the current position of any keyword on search results.

As earlier mentioned, besides checking keyword ranking, you also need to ensure other factors that determine how difficult it would be for a webpage to achieve a position on search results. Therefore, you need to dig deeper into various factors and keep tracking the ranking with a reliable keyword position checker.

About the author

Linden Schwark
Linden Schwark is the CEO and Lead SEO Strategist of VSA. For the last 7 years, he has helped business owners reach their goals by dramatically increasing their online presence. In that time, Linden has ranked 100’s of web pages on Google for high competition searches, including his own website

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