When ranking for keywords, a lot of focus is aimed at the search volume. While it’s important to know how many times a month your target keywords get searched, ignoring keyword difficulty will leave you behind your competitors.
By understanding the level of competition a keyword has and balancing that against the search volume it gets, will help you find viable keywords to target and create organic content around them. It will also help you find suitable keywords to bid on in your PPC campaigns.
So how can you check keyword difficulty? Read on below to find out how so you can find keywords you can easily rank for that your competition is missing out on.
What is Keyword Difficulty?
Keyword difficulty, also known as competition, is a metric used to determine how difficult it is to rank for a particular keyword in organic search results. Assessing keyword difficulty is a good indicator as to whether it’s worth the time and effort to optimise a page for that keyword and/or bid on it in a Google Ads PPC campaign. Targeting keywords that are difficult to rank higher for will not get you the organic traffic you crave.
There are various elements that go into deciding the competitiveness of a keyword, and a few nuances to factoring competition into your marketing campaigns.
Keyword Difficulty and SEO
Keyword difficulty in SEO is usually measured by the number of quality backlinks that go to the top ten pages in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for that keyword, or how competitive those pages are based on how strong their backlinks are. Every SEO keyword tool measures competitiveness of a SERP by analysing domain authorities (domain ratings) and page authorities (URL ratings) of all indexed pages.
Keyword Difficulty and PPC
Keyword difficulty in PPC works a little differently, with more focus on competition. Keywords are graded either Low, Medium or High, which compares the level of competition for that keyword relative to all keywords.
According to Google’s Keyword Planner: “Competition is the number of advertisers that showed on each keyword relative to all keywords across Google. We calculate the number of advertisers bidding on each keyword relative to all keywords across Google. This data is specific to the locations and Search Network targeting option that you’ve selected.”
Much like SEO keywords, the sweet spot of PPC keywords is ones that maintain a high volume to low competition ratio. These keywords potentially have the chance to drive a vast amount of traffic without costing the site owner a lot of money. That is why assessing competition is vital when considering if you should bid on a keyword or not.
Checking Keyword Difficulty
There are various ways to check keyword difficulty. For those who like web browser extensions on Google Chrome, MozBar is very popular and helpful. With the extension installed, you can see the page authority and domain authority of every website that appears in the SERPs.
Generally, where you see sites with high PA and DA, this means the keyword you’re searching for is very competitive. Ideally, you would like to see lower scores, which creates an opportunity for you to take advantage of.
You can also see the number of referring domains, if you have a Pro Account with Moz. Otherwise, you can copy the URL into a tool such as Ahrefs, which can provide you with all the information you need on that particular URL.
It’s here that you can also see the competitor backlinks they have driving traffic to their site.
This gives you an idea of how many backlinks you may need to knock your competition off the top spot.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
For an all-in-one place to analyse competitors, keyword competition, search volumes Cost-per-clicks for PPC and more, Ahrefs keyword explorer is a great keyword research and SEO tool.
First, you’ll notice that Ahrefs provides a clear keyword difficulty score, and also give you an idea of the amount of backlinks you’ll need to go above your competitors for your target keyword.
Furthermore, the tool also suggests other keywords that you will probably want to target in your SEO and PPC campaigns, which you can click through and analyse individually if you so wish.
If you want to analyse the top ranking competitors in one place, without having to go through the SERPs, Ahrefs makes this easy as well in its SERP analysis overview.
Here you can see the domain authority, URL authority, estimated traffic and the amount of keywords they’ve used on each page. With this information, which you can export onto a spreadsheet of your choice, you can analyse whether a particular keyword is worth your time.
If you need support in navigating the pitfalls of keyword difficulty and would like an expert team to find opportunities for your company, you need Birmingham SEO agency, Ricemedia. With access to the tools mentioned above and more to gather a complete picture, we can help drive quality organic traffic to you.
Get in touch with our expert team today to get started.