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Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty helps marketers understand the level of competition and effort required to rank for a specific keyword. It serves as a metric that determines the competitiveness of a keyword within search engine result pages (SERPs). By evaluating keyword difficulty, SEO professionals can gauge the feasibility and effectiveness of targeting certain keywords in their content and marketing strategies. These scores typically range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating greater levels of difficulty.

The challenge in using this metric is that it’s primarily based on the number of links to ‌top-ranking search results. The assumption is that a search engine results page (SERP) with more backlinks from many referring domains is more competitive. In other words, it’s harder to rank. 

Keyword difficulty score is a generic metric. It doesn’t consider the unique strengths, weaknesses, or expertise of a particular website or its content. So, a site about coffee and another about pro football would find it equally difficult ranking for the term “espresso”. Intuitively, we know that doesn’t make sense.

A site’s existing content and topical relevance can greatly impact its ability to rank for a given keyword. A site with a lot of content related to a specific topic may be more likely to rank well for related keywords than a site with little or no relevant content, regardless of the generic keyword difficulty score.

The concept of keyword competition and SEO difficulty dates back to a time when search engine results were driven primarily by the presence of backlinks. Although Google has evolved, the tools that employ this metric have been slow to change their calculation methods.

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