KPI ExamplesKeyword Difficulty Score

Keyword Difficulty Score

Keyword Difficulty Score is a numerical metric, ranging from 0 to 100, that evaluates the competitiveness of ranking for a particular keyword in search engine results. Vital in keyword research, a higher score indicates increased competition and challenges in achieving top rankings.

Keyword Difficulty Score

Competitive Analysis

Compares scores for target keywords to gauge competitor strength.

Client Reports

Highlight ranking achieved for highly competitive keywords

Strategic Adjustments

Monitors score changes to update and refine ongoing SEO efforts.

Keyword Targeting

Use the Keyword Difficulty Score to identify easier-to-rank keywords.

Decoding Keyword Competition Metrics

Why Keyword Difficulty Score Is Important

Keyword Difficulty Score is pivotal in shaping a successful SEO strategy. A high difficulty score signifies a fiercely competitive environment. Breaking into the first page of organic search results against such odds demands a rigorous, well-planned SEO campaign that may stretch agency and client resources. Conversely, a low difficulty score represents an opportunity for quick wins but may yield lower search volumes.

Keyword research tools (Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, etc.) typically provide a quantitative basis for these scores, streamlining the decision-making and keyword-targeting process. A comprehensive understanding of Keyword Difficulty gives advertisers the insight to allocate resources effectively and set achievable targets.

Why KPIs are Important
An Ecosystem of Ranking Factors

How Keyword Difficulty Relates To Other Vital Metrics

Keyword Difficulty is linked to search volume. A high search volume often correlates with increased competition, elevating the keyword's difficulty score. Understanding volume and Keyword Difficulty helps to pinpoint which terms are worth targeting. For instance, a keyword may have a high difficulty score but a low search volume, making it less appealing for an SEO strategy.

Domain Authority, the number of referring domains, and inbound links significantly influence the capacity to rank for more competitive keywords. These ranking factors impact where a page lands on the search engine results page (SERP). To achieve a top ranking, understanding competing pages' domain and page authority is essential. 

High-quality inbound links also bolster a website’s domain authority, making it easier to target terms with a high Keyword Difficulty score. Together with Keyword Difficulty, these metrics help make smarter strategic decisions.

How Marketing KPIs Impact Each Other
We always encourage our clients to be famous for something their prospects genuinely care about. Keyword research will tell you what your prospects care about, competitor analysis will give you information on how to stand out.
Warren Thompson, Ollo Metrics

How To Find Keyword Difficulty Scores

Finding a keyword's difficulty score is straightforward with the right keyword research tools. Platforms like Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush provide comprehensive data, including the Keyword Difficulty metric. Simply input the particular keyword into the tool's keyword explorer to find metrics such as search volume and Keyword Difficulty. These platforms often use a scale from 0 to 100 to represent how difficult it would be to rank for a keyword.

Each tool has its proprietary method of calculating Keyword Difficulty, but the core principles remain the same. Whether targeting long-tail keywords or focusing on low-competition keywords, these tools offer valuable insights to shape SEO strategies.

What Is a High Keyword Difficulty Score?

A high Keyword Difficulty Score, often above 70, indicates steep competition. Ranking for such terms usually requires substantial resources, including high-quality content and strong inbound links.

What Is a Low Keyword Difficulty Score?

A low score, generally below 30, signifies fewer hurdles to ranking well but may indicate lower search volume. It offers a more straightforward pathway to visibility on search engines.

Setting Keyword Targets Like a Pro

Rather than strictly adhering to general benchmarks when creating the keyword target list, agencies often look at historical keyword ranking data. By examining past performance, it’s easier to identify the range of Keyword Difficulty where a website has historically ranked well. This provides a tailored benchmark to guide future efforts.

For example, if a particular website often ranks well for keywords with a difficulty score under 45, identifying the highest-volume keywords with a KD score of 30-44 is the sweet spot. 

It is worthwhile to target keywords that are slightly above the established average range. While this demands more resources, it's not unattainable. A focus on generating high-quality content and accumulating relevant inbound links compensates for the higher Keyword Difficulty, potentially providing an edge over competitors.

Report Smarter, Not Harder.

Better, Faster & Easier Client Reports Are Just a Few Clicks Away

Start Your Free Trial Today
Understanding the Possibilities

What Clients Should Know About Keyword Difficulty

Keyword Difficulty is a metric that helps clients focus on attainable targets while gauging the effort needed for more competitive keywords. This score helps clients set achievable goals for keyword rankings, avoiding the disappointment of targeting keywords that are too challenging to rank for.

Although scoring victories against high-difficulty keywords provides some bragging rights and a competitive edge, it’s crucial to help steer clients toward achievable targets that help drive the bottom line. 

Highlighting Keyword Difficulty Scores in SEO optimization strategies shows that the agency has thought through the keywords a client may want to rank for and the ones where they have a higher likelihood of success.

Why KPIs Matter to Clients
A Keyword Targeting North Star

The Agency Perspective on Keyword Difficulty

For agencies, the Keyword Difficulty Score is less about the trophy and more about the strategy. It's pivotal for the initial keyword research phase to set the stage for delivering the highest SEO value. 

Understand Keyword Difficulty to form a tactical game plan that aligns with the client's goals, including organic research that takes into account the search intent of each keyword.

Agencies use this metric to carefully choose keywords to target, especially when aiming for those top 10 positions. It's an invaluable tool for advising clients, framing expectations, and demonstrating the agency's SEO expertise.

Why KPIs Matter to Marketing Agencies

How To Analyze and Report on Keyword Difficulty

Analyzing Keyword Difficulty from multiple angles hones SEO strategy and maximizes efficiency. While marketers might find the intricacies of Keyword Difficulty fascinating, clients are usually more concerned with results.


Authority vs. Difficulty

Check Keyword Difficulty against domain authority to show the likelihood of achieving a meaningful rank. A look at the domain authority of top-ranking sites indicates whether snagging a spot on the first page of SERPs is feasible, even if the top rank is out of reach.


Volume Matters

Correlating Keyword Difficulty with keyword volume ensures the target keyword will draw enough traffic. After all, what's the point of ranking high for a term nobody is searching for? Target keywords with a KD that is within the competitive range and enough traffic to make an impact.


Track and Adapt

Group keywords by difficulty and track their resulting rankings. This exercise will either reinforce or help alter the target range set during the keyword research phase, clarifying what 'good Keyword Difficulty' means.


Contextualize Keyword Metrics

For clients, the difficulty score is a metric that gains importance when viewed alongside other KPIs like organic traffic. If an agency has achieved rankings for several highly competitive target keywords, emphasize how this has contributed to organic traffic growth. Tools like a Keyword Difficulty checker validate results but remember that these numbers mean the most when they correlate with business results.


Visualize Rankings

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a well-designed chart speaks volumes about the success of an agency's SEO efforts. By visualizing keyword ranking performance, you offer a snapshot of the campaign's status and reinforce the wisdom behind the initial keyword selection. This way, the complexity behind Keyword Difficulty calculated through various keyword research tools becomes much easier to grasp.


Align Keywords With Client Goals

The core focus should be on how targeting the right–and sometimes more difficult–keywords directly influences client goals. Whether it's driving more online sales or increasing brand visibility, each keyword contributes to a larger strategy. And since agencies can't just find keywords randomly, explain how SEO difficulty and target keywords were selected with the client’s specific objectives in mind.

While rankings are important, they are only a means to an end. We understand that our clients don’t just want to rank #1 for a search term, they want leads. This is why we focus on strategies that drive real business results and not just rankings. We use AgencyAnalytics to track leads and ROI, so we can see how our campaigns are directly impacting our client’s bottom line.
Kurt Schell, Lithium Marketing
Reporting on Keyword Ranking

Keyword Rank Tracker

AgencyAnalytics' customizable Rank Tracker dashboard is ideal for agencies aiming for both efficiency and precision in reporting. Build stunning keyword ranking reports and dashboards in minutes that look good and are rich in insights. The Rank Tracker provides a comprehensive performance against high and low-difficulty keywords, confirming that the keyword research was spot on, saving agencies from second-guessing the overall strategy. Combine that data with insights from over 80 other marketing and analytics platforms to show the complete picture of how growth in organic rankings is driving the client's bottom line.

Keyword Rank Tracker KPI Dashboard Example

How To Improve Rankings for High Keyword Difficulty Search Terms

While tackling high-difficulty keywords presents a daunting challenge, they're not necessarily out of reach. The payoff? Substantial increases in traffic and conversions. Here are a few tips to help make it happen.


Optimize On-Page Elements

For high-difficulty keywords, every on-page element counts. Ensure that the title tags, meta descriptions, and headers are keyword-optimized and compelling


Acquire Quality Links

Clients need robust backlink profiles to compete. Focus on obtaining links from high-authority, relevant websites to boost their chances of ranking.


Update Content Regularly

High-ranking pages usually have fresh content. Regular updates signal to search engines that the page remains relevant and authoritative.

Related Blog Posts

Agency Growth Tips, Delivered to Your Inbox.

Receive updates with actionable advice on growing your agency!

Ranking tracking that clients can easily understand. I trust AgencyAnalytics more than any other rank tracker out there. It’s also easy to use and integrate with lots of other programs, such as Google Search Console and call tracking programs.

Justin Morgan
Justin Morgan / SEO Expert

The Dental Marketing Guy

The reporting tool pulls in from all the data points I need including Google Analytics, GSC, GBP, and has its own rank and backlink tracker, all at one low price. I’ve saved a lot of reporting time. I can see all of my data in one place and create really visual dashboards for my clients to see their metrics too.

Altug Kop
Altug Kop

Link Digital

It only takes me about 10 minutes to set up a client in the system and get it to a point that is “client-ready”. Keyword ranking reports are clean and easy to interpret for clients. It took me about 30 minutes to get a handle on the software, and then I was off to the races. Very impressed.

Levi Wardell
Levi Wardell

Levi Wardell Consulting

I like the whole platform but the three things that set it WAY apart from the competition are: 1. I can set campaigns up to track keyword ranking based on a geography, which makes it ideal for a Local SEO solution, 2. it’s white label so it looks like my company designed the platform and 3. it integrates with Google WMT, Analytics, AND Adwords, as well as FB, TW, ETC - so it really is a fantastic dashboard for my team and for my clients to see ALL of their actionable data in one place.

Charles Montgomery
Charles Montgomery

NW eSource

The key phrase ranking tool easily allows tracking keywords and visualizing the collection of keywords’ history over time. The ranking shows Google, Google Local, and Bing. I also value the ability to tie in other marketing tracking tools, including Google Analytics, Webmaster, Adwords, Social Media, & Call Rail.

Jason Montoya
Jason Montoya

Being able to track all our client’s keywords, in order to gauge how our SEO practices are influencing their rankings.I use it every month to figure out which keywords we want to focus on and build links for.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Exclusive Web Marketing

Reports are easy to generate and understand, and it expedites our monthly reports substantially. AgencyAnalytics helps with reporting that scales to any size. It’s simple and easy to add keywords and track progress, compare analytics to previous periods, and integrate email, social, PPC, and Google Analytics into one platform.

Adam Asher
Adam Asher

Ten Thousand Pots

The dashboard is super simple to use, and you can input your keywords and see the growth or drops. I like that you can add or remove other sites. So if you don’t want to see Bing results, you don’t have to.

Louise Armstrong
Louise Armstrong

Bonafide Digital Marketing

See More KPI Examples

Get Started for Free

Try AgencyAnalytics risk-free for 14 days. No credit card required.
AgencyAnalytics Dashboard Preview