Keyword Difficulty

What Is Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword difficulty (KD) is an SEO metric that estimates how hard it would be to rank for a specific keyword.

The keyword difficulty score is typically measured on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the harder it is to rank for that keyword.

keyword difficulty

Keyword difficulty considers a range of Google ranking factors for each individual keyword.

It takes into account critical metrics of the top-ranking websites and pages including:

All of this is then combined into one keyword difficulty score!

While Google doesn’t disclose every factor needed to rank in the SERPs, keyword difficulty considers key known ranking factors.

That’s why it’s often a good measurement of how hard it is to rank!

It’s worth mentioning that there are many keyword research tools available.

Each tool has a unique way of measuring difficulty, but the exact term “Keyword Difficulty” or “KD” usually references the Ahrefs interpretation of difficulty.

Why Is Keyword Difficulty Important?

Keyword difficulty is important because it’s an accurate and efficient way to understand whether you can rank for any keyword.

Within seconds, you have a good idea of whether you should be targeting the keyword.

Keyword difficulty can help you:

  • Choose profitable keywords
  • Optimise your SEO campaigns
  • Assist in resource allocation
  • Realist goal setting
  • Avoid targeting too competitive keywords

I could go on!

Our SEO agency uses keyword difficulty to assess a niche or topic’s competition level quickly.

The key takeaway is this…

Think of keyword difficulty as a way to find that sweet spot between keywords that are too hard to rank for and keywords that don’t get any traffic.

The metric helps you land right in the middle!

What Is A Good Keyword Difficulty Score To Target?

A good keyword difficulty score to target depends on a number of factors including your:

  • Domain Authority
  • Topical Relevance
  • Content Quality
  • Website User Experience
  • Level Of Competition

For example, the higher your domain authority, the higher the keyword difficulty you can target.

It ultimately comes down to whether your website has the authority and content quality to compete for that keyword.

Here’s an overview of what a good keyword difficult score is:

  • Easy Difficulty (0-10) – Easiest keywords to target, great for new websites
  • Medium (11 to 30) – Not too difficult, requires good content and a few links
  • Hard (31 to 70) – Requires an established site with a strong backlink profile and great content
  • Very Difficult (70+) – Must be an ultra-authoritative website with excellent content


The scale of keyword difficulty will depend on the tool you are using. It’s best to choose one tool and become familiar with its keyword difficulty score.

How To Check Keyword Difficulty

To check the Keyword Difficulty of a specific keyword, we recommend using Ahrefs. They have the best platform and a huge amount of data.

That means their keyword difficulty score metric is one of the most accurate.

The best part?

You can use a free version of the tool to test it for yourself.

Head over to Ahref’s free keyword difficulty checker, type in your target keyword and click Check Keyword.

Ahrefs free keyword difficulty checker

Make sure you also select the country you are targeting!

Ahrefs will then show you the keyword difficulty score for that specific keyword.

Ahrefs keyword difficulty score

You’ll also be able to see the topic ranking website and some important metrics such as Domain Rating and number of Backlinks.

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