How To Gauge Keyword Difficulty

This tutorial is all about measuring keyword difficulty and then targeting the ones you have a high chance of ranking for in Google’s top 10 search results. 

So for our first example, Open Ahrefs Tool and go to Keywords Explorer and type in “your keyword.” And that’s because this section here is meant to give you a top-level view of how hard it will be to rank on Google for this target keyword. And you can see that it has a keyword difficulty score, and it says that I need some websites to rank in the top 10 for this keyword. But is that so? Not necessarily.

This part here, where it says you’ll need some links from different websites to rank in the top 10 isn’t a super crazy algorithm. We take a weighted average of the top 10 Google rankings. Also, something that keyword difficulty doesn’t take into consideration are on-page factors, the relevance of the topic, and if the backlinks are do follow or contextual. 

So the best way to gauge the difficulty of a keyword is to look at the top 10 Google rankings, manually examine the quality of their backlinks and see what they’re doing. And you can see all of this information by scrolling down to the SERP overview. Now, if you look at the top 10 search results, you might be a bit confused. Vitamin Shoppe ranks quite high with only Four referring domains, ODS or the Office of Dietary Supplements ranks below that even though they have thousands of referring domains. 

And looking even further below that, this page has just less than 20 referring domains, keyword difficulty said that we need almost 300 unique linking websites. When you look at the top ranking pages, you’ll see that the majority of them are eCommerce pages, which shows that there’s a good chance that someone searching for the keyword phrase “supplements,” is looking to shop. Now, looking at this result from ODS, you’ll see that it’s a home page where people have to navigate to find what they’re looking for. 

And in this case, I would suspect that this isn’t really what people are looking for. And even though the page may not perfectly match the searcher’s intent, they still rank quite high because they have way too many backlinks compared to the other ranking sites. For the other site down here that has very few unique sites linking to them, you’ll see that they match what I believe is the searcher’s intent for this keyword, which you can see an eCommerce category page. If you’re new to analyzing keyword difficulty, then that might have been a bit heavy. 

So let me review this quick keyword difficulty process fast. First, search for a keyword phrase in Keywords Explorer

Second, I’ll scroll down to look at the top 10 search results and look at the raw some referring domains. And if you notice something like this one that has vastly more referring domains, but ranks lower than ones like these that have less unique linking websites, then look at the titles and visit the pages to get a better understanding of how Google tries to serve the searcher's intent. And we already know that these are e-commerce categories, which shows that it is likely some intent to shop when people search for “supplements.” And this goes to prove that just using them referring domains alone to gauge keyword difficulty.