In the competitive digital landscape, a successful content strategy hinges on understanding factors like keyword difficulty—a metric that directly impacts search engine visibility. We’ll explore the importance of keyword difficulty in crafting effective content strategies to drive organic traffic, engage audiences, and achieve digital marketing goals. Then, you can leverage this metric within a winning content strategy in the fast-paced digital space. Let’s dive in.
What is Keyword difficulty?
Keyword difficulty is a metric that measures the level of competition for a specific keyword in search engine optimization (SEO). It assesses how challenging it would be to rank for a particular keyword in search engine results pages (SERPs). This evaluation is based on the strength of the competition and the authority of the websites already ranking for that keyword.
How is keyword difficulty calculated? Well, keyword difficulty is largely an SEO metric of the number and quality of backlinks to the top 10 pages in the SERPs for that keyword. It’s also an assessment of how competitive those pages are based on how strong their backlinks are. Keyword difficulty metrics are typically expressed through a “difficulty score” expressed as a percentage. The higher the score, the more competitive it is and the harder it will be to rank.
The importance of understanding keyword difficulty: an example
Once you understand how to choose the right keywords for your web content, you can potentially boost your content quality, traffic, lead generation, and sales.
Keyword difficulty is a directional indicator — something to be aware of, but not the final say on targeting content. The keyword difficulty you can feasibly rank for depends on a few factors, particularly your site’s domain authority.
Let’s imagine that you’re a small-to-midsize business selling mid-century modern furniture. One of your best product categories is a selection of solid wood storage shelves with tapered legs in various sizes. You want everyone looking for a bookshelf to come to your website’s landing page. You decide you’re looking to write content that will pull them in from search engines. Your initial thought is to write a blog using the target keyword, “storage shelf.” That’s where you’ll hit some snags.
Keywords like “storage shelf” are also known as “head terms.” These are keywords that are broad or general in nature, typically one or two words. They’ll also have high search volume and competition and, therefore, a high difficulty score. Other websites with high authority on the topic are already ranking for those competitive keywords.
A larger company, like Target, may be able to realistically rank for “head terms.” A company like Target will easily make it to the first page for “storage shelf.” It has an incredibly high domain authority regarding affordable storage solutions. You’ll find that larger companies or well-established websites will always fill the first, second, and even third pages of Google search results with such a broad keyword with high competition.
As a smaller shop or business, you’ll be better off choosing a less-competitive phrase that better describes your niche product. These are often “long-tail keywords,” which are more specific. They might be over two or three words in length.
In this example, the target keywords, “oakwood mid-century modern storage shelves,” would have a lower difficulty score than “storage shelf” and would zero in on your target customer’s search intent. That’s where your small business will potentially have its chance to shine in organic search results.
Note that high-difficulty keywords shouldn’t necessarily be avoided at all costs. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to use a high-difficulty keyword as the focus for a pillar article. Then, you can use topic clusters to build out a more robust spread of content. This can help establish your domain as an authority on the topic, using lots of inbound links throughout. It’s all about the overall strategy.
How to think about keyword difficulty when you are creating a content strategy
A well-defined content strategy can help your business increase brand awareness, engagement, and conversions and improve search engine rankings. Ultimately, it can lead to more satisfied customers and higher revenue. When it comes to content strategy, rellify’s expert services go above and beyond. They’ll walk you through the entire content process. That includes content ideation, topic clusters and keyword research, content creation and distribution, or all of the above.
As a content publisher, you should consider all of the following as you create and evaluate your goals:
- Relevance. To ensure relevance, it’s essential to understand the target audience’s needs, interests, and preferences. Search engines like Google prioritize content relevant to users’ search queries.
- Domain authority. This is strongly tied to having lots of quality backlinks.
- Goals for content. As a content publisher, consider where you’ll have the most impact — going after competitive/high-volume keywords, long-tail keywords, or both. These goals will help inform your overall SEO strategy.
- Resources. If you’re going to go after competitive terms, you need lots of content and investment in strong link-building. You also need expert writers to produce high-quality content.
How do I determine keyword difficulty?
To determine keyword difficulty, you can use keyword research tools. These tools provide a keyword difficulty score or rating for each keyword based on its competition level, search volume, and other factors. The higher the score, the harder it is to rank for that keyword.
Here are some of the top SEO tools you can use in the keyword research process:
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also manually analyze the top-ranking pages for a particular keyword. From this, you can evaluate their domain authority, backlink profile, and on-page optimization factors to get an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for that exact keyword.
Use Keyword Difficulty to Your Advantage
A keyword’s difficulty isn’t necessarily the end-all-be-all when it comes to ranking organically in search engines. However, it’s important to consider within your broader content strategy. If you’re looking for a full-scale content strategy revamp, contact a representative at rellify today.