GTM Dictionary

The Go-to-Market Dictionary: Keyword Difficulty

Learn all about keyword difficulty and how it affects your go-to-market strategy with our comprehensive guide.

Are you struggling with the concept of keyword difficulty in your online marketing efforts? In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about keyword difficulty, including its importance, how to measure it, and strategies for targeting keywords of different difficulty levels. By the time you finish reading, you'll have a better understanding of this crucial component of SEO, giving you the tools to make informed decisions on how to improve your online presence.

Understanding Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty is a crucial concept in the world of search engine optimization (SEO). It refers to how challenging it is to rank for a specific keyword in search engine results pages (SERP). In other words, it's a measure of the competition you'll face when trying to rank for a particular keyword.

Keyword difficulty is an essential factor to consider when choosing which keywords to target for your online marketing strategy. If you target keywords with a high level of difficulty, you may have a hard time ranking in the SERPs, whereas targeting keywords with a low difficulty level can help you quickly climb the rankings.

What Influences Keyword Difficulty?

Several factors contribute to keyword difficulty, and it's crucial to understand them to gain a complete understanding of the concept. Some of the key factors that contribute to keyword difficulty include:

  • The number of websites already ranking for that keyword: If many websites are already ranking for a particular keyword, it can be challenging to break into the top results.
  • The quality and relevance of the existing content: If the content that's already ranking for a keyword is of high quality and relevance, it can be challenging to outrank it.
  • The age of the domain and website: Older domains and websites tend to have more authority, which can make it harder to outrank them.
  • The backlinks profile of the ranking sites: Backlinks are a crucial ranking factor, and if the sites that are already ranking for a keyword have a strong backlink profile, it can be challenging to outrank them.

It's important to note that keyword difficulty is not an exact science. While these factors can give you a general idea of how difficult it will be to rank for a particular keyword, other factors, such as the search intent behind the keyword, can also play a role.

How to Determine Keyword Difficulty

Several tools can help you determine the difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword. One of the most popular is the Keyword Difficulty tool in Ahrefs. This tool analyzes the top-ranking pages for a keyword and gives it a difficulty score based on factors such as the number of referring domains and the URL rating of the top-ranking pages.

Other tools that can help you determine keyword difficulty include SEMrush, Moz, and Google's Keyword Planner.


Keyword difficulty is a crucial concept to understand when it comes to SEO. By understanding the factors that influence keyword difficulty and how to determine it, you can choose the best keywords to target for your online marketing strategy and increase your chances of ranking in the SERPs.

Measuring Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty Metrics

Several keyword difficulty metrics can assess the ease or difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword. Some popular metrics include:

  • Moz's Keyword Difficulty
  • Ahrefs' Keyword Difficulty
  • SEMrush's Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty Tools and Resources

Various tools and resources can help you determine the keyword difficulty of a specific keyword, including:

  • Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, or Ubersuggest
  • SEO software like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz
  • Browser plugins like Keywords Everywhere or Keyword Surfer

Interpreting Keyword Difficulty Scores

Understanding how to interpret keyword difficulty scores can help you make informed decisions about which keywords to target. Scores can range from 0 to 100, with high scores indicating more challenging keywords and low scores indicating more accessible keywords. It's essential to consider other factors such as search volume and relevance to select the most appropriate keywords.

Strategies for Targeting Keywords with Different Difficulty Levels

When it comes to SEO, targeting the right keywords can make a significant impact on your website's traffic and overall success. However, not all keywords are created equal, and some may be more difficult to rank for than others. In this article, we'll explore different strategies for targeting keywords with varying difficulty levels.

Targeting Low Difficulty Keywords

Targeting low difficulty keywords is an excellent strategy for new websites or those lacking authority. These types of keywords may have a lower search volume, but they can help you establish your website and gradually generate traffic while building up to targeting higher difficulty keywords.

For example, if you have a website that sells organic skincare products, you could target low difficulty keywords such as "organic skincare for sensitive skin" or "natural skincare for acne-prone skin." These keywords may not have as much search volume as higher difficulty keywords, but they are more specific and can attract a targeted audience.

Another advantage of targeting low difficulty keywords is that they are often more specific and long-tail. Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that are more specific and tend to have a lower search volume. However, they also tend to be less competitive, making them easier to rank for.

Targeting Medium Difficulty Keywords

Medium difficulty keywords can be an excellent starting point if you have an established website or a site that's relatively new but has a considerable backlink profile. These types of keywords may have decent search volume, and ranking for them can help you increase traffic and establish your website's reputation.

For example, if you have a website that sells running shoes, you could target medium difficulty keywords such as "best running shoes for flat feet" or "trail running shoes for women." These keywords have a higher search volume than low difficulty keywords and can attract a broader audience.

When targeting medium difficulty keywords, it's essential to create high-quality content that provides value to your audience. This can include product reviews, how-to guides, or informative articles that address common questions or concerns related to your industry.

Targeting High Difficulty Keywords

Targeting high difficulty keywords should be done once you have an established website with a strong backlink profile. These keywords tend to have the highest search volume and can generate significant traffic when successfully ranked. However, keep in mind that attempting to rank for these keywords can be time-consuming and require an extensive SEO strategy.

For example, if you have a website that sells laptops, you could target high difficulty keywords such as "best laptops for gaming" or "laptops for video editing." These keywords have a high search volume and can attract a large audience, but they are also highly competitive.

When targeting high difficulty keywords, it's essential to have a comprehensive SEO strategy in place. This can include creating high-quality content, building a strong backlink profile, and optimizing your website's technical SEO. It's also important to be patient, as ranking for these keywords can take time and require ongoing effort.

In conclusion, targeting keywords with different difficulty levels can be an effective SEO strategy for any website. By targeting low, medium, and high difficulty keywords, you can attract a targeted audience, increase traffic, and establish your website's reputation and authority in your industry.

When it comes to SEO, keyword targeting is one of the most critical components of your online marketing strategy. However, it's not just about choosing the right keywords; it's about balancing keyword difficulty with other SEO factors to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts.One of the essential factors to consider when targeting keywords is search volume and relevance. While it may be tempting to focus solely on high-difficulty keywords, it's essential to consider whether those keywords have enough search volume to make them worth targeting. Additionally, you must ensure that the keywords you choose are relevant to your target audience and align with your overall business goals.Another critical factor to consider is competition and market saturation. If your competitors are already targeting the same keywords, it may be challenging to rank for them. Additionally, if the market is already oversaturated with content on the topic, it may be difficult to stand out and gain traction with your audience.However, even if you choose the right keywords and assess the competition correctly, your SEO efforts may still fall short if your content quality and user experience are lacking. High-quality content that provides value to your audience is essential for engaging users and keeping them coming back to your site. Additionally, user-friendly design and engaging visuals can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and encourage more significant engagement and conversions.In conclusion, keyword difficulty is a crucial component of SEO, but it's not the only factor to consider. By balancing keyword difficulty with other SEO factors such as search volume, relevance, competition, and content quality, you can create a more effective online marketing strategy and drive traffic to your website. So, take the time to research and assess your options carefully, and you'll be well on your way to SEO success.