Keyword difficulty is one of the most underutilized metrics when it comes to keyword research and SEO. It’s the golden nugget at the bottom of your search engine results page (SERP). It’s not just a measure of how difficult it is to rank on a specific keyword, but also how difficult it is for your website to be found in search at all.

In this article, we’ll talk about what keyword difficulty means, how to calculate keyword difficulty, the best keyword difficulty checker tools for you to use, and more! Let’s get started!

What Does Keyword Difficulty Mean?

You’re probably familiar with the term keyword difficulty. But what does it mean?

Keyword difficulty (KD) is a metric that describes how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword. The lower the difficulty score, the easier it is to rank for that keyword. The difficulty score is calculated by measuring how competitive a given keyword is, and assigning it a value between 0 and 100 based on this measurement.

Search engines use this information when they decide which pages should appear at the top of search results. If you want to rank highly on Google and other search engines, then you’ll need to be able to show that your page is more relevant than other pages competing for the same keywords.

Why Should Digital Marketers Care About Keyword Difficulty?

If you’re a digital marketer, you know that keywords are a big deal. Keywords help people find your content on search engines. However, they can also help determine which content ranks high in Google’s search results.

If you’re wondering why digital marketers should care about this metric, here are three reasons:

  1. It helps you understand how much competition you face when trying to rank for a given keyword, which can help you decide if it’s worth pursuing.
  2. It helps you understand how much effort will be required for you to rank for a given keyword, which helps you plan your strategy accordingly.
  3. It helps you see whether or not any keywords are easier to rank for than others (which means you’ll have an easier time getting results), which can help you decide where you should focus your efforts.

How To Calculate Keyword Difficulty

If you’ve ever searched for a keyword, you’ve probably noticed that some are much more difficult to rank for than others. This is because several factors go into calculating keyword difficulty. They include:

Domain Authority

Website Domain Authority (DA) is a metric that measures a website’s authority, which is a function of its link popularity, on a scale of 0-100.

The higher the DA score, the more authoritative the website is. The DA value represents the extent to which other sites link to yours. It also considers your website’s age and popularity, as well as the amount of competition in your niche.

If you’re considering adding new content to your site, optimizing it with keywords that have high search volume and low competition can help you gain more traffic over time. Adding relevant pages to your site will help improve its DA score, which can increase your rankings in search engines.

Page Authority

Page Authority is a metric that Google uses to determine how difficult it will be for you to rank for one of your keywords. The higher the page authority, the more difficult it will be for you to rank for that keyword.

You can use sites like Moz and Ahrefs to get an idea of how difficult a keyword will be to rank for, then compare those scores with your scores. If your page authority is lower than the page authority of your competitors, then you may have an easier time ranking for that keyword!

Referring Domains

The number of backlinks your site has is one of the most important factors that determine keyword difficulty.

The more backlinks you have, the higher your ranking will be, and the lower the keyword difficulty will be. A high number of links indicates that many other sites link to yours and value it as an authoritative source on a particular subject.

The number of backlinks to your site affects both its search rankings and its keyword difficulty. The more backlinks there are, the higher your site will rank in search results. The more links there are, the easier it will be for you to rank for any given keyword.

Total Search Volume

A keyword’s difficulty is determined by the total search volume. This is the number of times people search for a particular keyword or phrase on Google.

A high search volume means that it’s more likely for your website to rank highly in Google’s results because more people are searching for your keyword than the number of websites competing for those results.

If you have a low search volume, then it’s less likely that your website will show up in Google’s results. This is because fewer people are searching for it than websites competing to rank on the first page.

The Competition

Competition is one of the most important factors in determining keyword difficulty. The competitiveness of a given keyword can be measured by looking at how many other businesses are targeting it, and how many people are searching for it.

The more popular a keyword is, the more difficult it will be to rank for that term. If you find yourself in this situation, you may need to re-think your strategy or refine your content. In this way it offers something unique or different than what other sites are offering.

Best Keyword Difficulty Checker Tools To Use

There are a lot of keyword difficulty checkers and seo tools out there. However, only a few keyword research tools really stand out as the best. They are a great way to get a general idea of how difficult it will be to rank for a certain keyword.

The difficulty score is based on the number of searches conducted per month and the level of competition within that search volume. So what are the best tools? Here are the Top 3!


SEMrush is a very popular keyword difficulty checker tool. It is used by many marketers and business owners to check the competition of their keywords and find out if they are worth trying to rank for.

The tool has several features that can be utilized to estimate the difficulty of your keyword. For example, the Domain analysis feature will give you an idea of how difficult it would be to rank for a specific keyword. As well as how many backlinks are required to achieve this ranking.

This tool also has a Rank tracking feature which will allow you to track your website’s ranking for each keyword that you have targeted. It also shows you how many keywords are being searched on Google and gives an estimated value per click (PPC) for each keyword.

SEMrush is not only a keyword difficulty checker but also offers link-building tools, site auditing, and other useful features such as ease of use and support which make it one of the best tools available on the market today!


Ahrefs is one of the best keyword difficulty checker tools on the market. This is a link analysis tool that collects petabytes of data from the web and updates it continuously. It is the perfect tool for analyzing the quality of backlinks, as well as other aspects of your website.

Ahrefs crawler crawls the web 24/7 and updates rankings. The data is collected in real-time using a combination of bots and human researchers who manually verify each site. This makes Ahrefs one of the most reliable tools available today for link analysis purposes.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz Keyword Explorer is a great tool to use when you’re looking to check the difficulty of a keyword. It’s easy to use, and it gives you an idea of how competitive a keyword is. As well as an estimate of how many searches are conducted on that keyword in Google each month.

It uses two methods to calculate the difficulty:

  • The first method is called the “Exact Match Domain” (EMD) score. It calculates how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword if you already have a page on your site that ranks for that keyword, but only if that page has the exact match domain name in it.
  • The second method is called “Page Difficulties”, which checks how many pages are competing for ranking positions in search results for that keyword. This isn’t just based on exact match domains though. It also takes into account other factors like long-tail keywords and other related terms that are used as anchor text in links pointing back to your website (these are known as “backlinks”).

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Ansley is the former Content Marketing Manager at Boostability. Since graduating from Utah State University with two degrees in Communication Studies and Journalism: Public Relations, Ansley specializes in creating engaging and informative SEO content for readers, customers, and partners through different marketing channels. Along with creating new content, Ansley works to keep content organized and creates and executes new content strategies. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, visit National Parks, and loves all things Disney.