Do you know which keywords you would like to score high in Google? Surely! Finding the keywords that you want to rank on is easy. What is difficult? If you actually want to rank on those keywords and find out what you have to do for that. You will soon have to deal with the keyword difficulty. What is it exactly? Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly which formula Google uses to rank web pages in their popular search engine. And by the way, even if you knew it, that doesn’t change the fact that it is harder to score on certain keywords than others. That makes the concept of ‘ keyword difficulty ‘ one of the most important challenges in SEO. We are happy to explain to you what this means for you in concrete terms. And what do seasoned SEO experts do to estimate their chances of a certain ranking in advance and to score higher in Google? By the way, don’t confuse the keyword difficulty with the keyword competition in the Google Keyword Planner (see screenshot below). The most important difference? Keyword competition shows how many advertisers bid on ads in the search results for a particular keyword. Keyword difficulty shows how difficult it is to actually rank for that keyword in the organic search results. 4 ways to assess the keyword difficulty of a keyword Most SEO experts assess the keyword difficulty of a particular keyword by creating an overview of pages that are already properly indexed on the keyword in Google. In addition, they mainly look at the following 4 aspects: The content on the page Searcher intent (what is the purpose of the searcher) Links from other websites Domain authority Below we will discuss each of these 4 aspects in more detail. But before we do that, there is something that you should take into account. SEO is not an exact science. Opinions vary considerably, which means that many will disagree with our statements and ideas. We have no problem with that. In fact, we encourage you to get started yourself. It may well be that another way works better for you. That said, let’s take a closer look at the above factors. Reading tip : Keyword research: this is how you find the ‘winners’ 1. Content of the page Google does not always include irrelevant pages in the search results, but how do you make your page relevant for a specific keyword? We have a better question for you by turning it around: How do you make your page NOT relevant to a keyword? Suppose we write an article about 301 redirects, with the aim to rank in Google on the keyword “301 redirects”. Because the subject of this article and the target keyword are so closely related, it is almost impossible to write an irrelevant article. Do you notice where we are going? If you write an article and target a specific keyword, your article will inevitably be relevant to that keyword. Yet with most SEO tips you read that you must mention your target keyword in the following places to increase the relevance of your page in Google’s eyes: In the title tag In the URL In the title (H1) Place the keyword at the beginning of the text But isn’t that actually a given? Isn’t it very likely that you will do these things automatically when you write and match the subject of your article with your desired keyword? Take this article as an example. We have already written nearly 500 words and unknowingly mentioned the word ” keyword difficulty ” eight times! It happened in a completely natural way, without wanting to rank on the word keyword difficulty. Admittedly, a few years ago it was even different. You could indeed fool Google with keyword tricks. Did you want to outdo your competitor? Then it was enough to simply mention your target keyword more often and fill your title tag with keyword variations. Those days are long gone. You can now rank on a keyword without it appearing in the title. In fact, it is even possible that your target keyword is not even in the content! Google is smart enough nowadays to understand synonyms. Therefore, when analyzing a particular keyword, do not pay too much attention to how often and where your keyword appears on a page. Instead, investigate whether someone with good knowledge of and insight into your topic wrote the content of your most important pages. It is the quality of the content and the value that it offers to your visitors that gives you a competitive edge these days. Not your ‘strategically placed’ keywords. But do we now think that Google is smart enough to read the actual content of a page and can determine that a person with expertise wrote the article, or any cheap copywriter? No. We are pretty sure that Google cannot do that (yet), but we do believe that they have enough factors in their algorithm to judge the depth, authority and reliability of content. We therefore believe that it makes more sense to focus on creating excellent content and above all to offer a fantastic user experience. Excellent content that scores high in Google? CopyRobin helps. Place a free test assignment MAIN CONCLUSION Do you analyze the performance of your pages in Google? Then do your best to especially assess the overall quality and depth of the content. Looking at the traditional indicators of poor optimization (for example, the keyword in the title, etc.) is not very useful. It is your job to simply ensure that the content of your page is better than the pages that rank above your page in Google. So focus on the content and not so much on a ‘better optimized’ page. 2. Intent of the seeker (searcher intent) At Ahrefs they tried to rank on the keyword combination ‘backlink checker’, as you see below in Ahrefs Site Explorer: In February 2017, a landing page was published with the aim of ranking in Google on the keyword ‘backlink checker’. The content of that page was perfectly “optimized” for the subject. And what turned out? A few months after publication and thanks to a number of smart internal links, this page climbed to position # 5 for the target keyword. A great result! Yet this euphoria did not last long. Just a few days later, Google started pushing the page down again and soon the page was even on the second page of the search results (or the best place to hide, because nobody ever comes there) As an antidote, they started to optimize that landing page by pulling out every strategy, such as: Improve the content. Greatly improved loading speed. Make the page much more mobile-friendly. Ensure high quality backlinks. That worked, but it took almost a full year to get back to position # 6. And then … the page refused to go even higher. That was the moment when people realized that they were working in the wrong direction. Why? Afterwards it was simple. The search intention was missing. In fact, the page did nothing more than advertise a paid 7-day trial to try the backlink checker. Only when people looked closely at all the pages that were above the page in Google did it appear that these were all free backlink checkers. No registration or credit card details required. It was decided to launch a free version of a backlink checker and to provide more information about it on the page. The result? Within a week the page jumped to the number 1 position and has remained there ever since! The organic traffic also increased up to 6x, as you can see below. So how does this work? It looks like Google found a good way to discover if visitors are satisfied with the search results. How they do this exactly is unclear, but things like ‘pogo-sticking’ (directly click back to Google), or the time spent on a page and the bounce rate are probably all part of the comparison. The critical point is this: as soon as Google notices that users like a certain page more than other pages, this page gets a higher ranking in Google. MAIN CONCLUSION Analyze the best scoring pages for your keyword and investigate whether you can offer visitors something better than what is already there. Can’t you do that? Draw your conclusions, because then that keyword may be too difficult for you, regardless of what all SEO tools claim. Reading tip : writing SEO texts: this is how you approach it in a really smart way SEO RANKING TIP An excellent way to discover if Google is satisfied with the current search results and to connect them to the searcher intent is to look at the SERP history (SERP is an abbreviation of ‘Search Engine Results Page’) With various popular SEO tools such as You can do Ahrefs, but there are also free alternatives. Just search Google for ‘Free SERP checker’. The SERP history provides a clear overview for each keyword of which pages rank for that keyword at which position. If you see that the graph for your keyword is quite chaotic and the highest positions often change, you can see that as a big chance. Google does not know so well which page is the best. At that time you can make a distinction with your page and offer added value compared to the other pages. 3. Links from other websites After the somewhat abstract concepts such as “high-quality content” and “searcher intent” we are going to talk about something that is much easier to measure: backlinks. Links from other websites form an essential part of Google’s ranking algorithm. The search engine regards them as ‘votes’, meaning that your page deserves to get a high ranking. But as you probably expect, the Google algorithm does not only count the number of websites that link to a specific page. It is much more advanced than that. The “quality” of the linked page is also of great importance, just like: The number of other sites to which the linked website links. How deep your link is in the structure of the website. The actual context and the text on that link (the anchor text). Much more! Unfortunately, all these variables make it very difficult to accurately calculate the “link value” of a website or individual page such as Google sees. Nevertheless, in general the following applies: the more links you get from other websites to your page, the higher your page will rank in Google. Ahrefs’ SEO experts studied this and saw a clear coherence. Do you see how the total number of backlinks (referring domains) has a smaller coherence than the referring domains (the number of backlinks from individual websites)? In concrete terms, this means that it is better to get 10 links from 10 different websites than 10 from a single site. That is why the Keyword Difficulty (KD) is calculated by taking a weighted average of the number of domains that refer to the top pages. On the screenshot above you can see for example that the keyword “backlink checker” has a KD score (Keyword Density) of 74, which is considered ‘Super difficult’. You will also see below this number: “We estimate that you probably need backlinks from around 247 websites to rank in the top 10 for this keyword.” We will list it briefly for you: ” We estimate that you … ” – This means that you are never 100% sure of the result. It’s just a good estimate. ” … you probably need backlinks from about 247 websites … ” – You shouldn’t see this number as an exact number either. It can be more, but also less. ” … to rank in the top 10 for this keyword ” – The estimate is that you will be in the top 10 as soon as you convince many websites to place a link to your page (or pay for it). And the top 10? That can mean both the 1st, but also the 10th position or somewhere in between. Why is one so careful with the wording of the keyword difficulty? If you know how to collect as many backlinks as the other pages in the top 10 of Google, then you are probably somewhere between these pages. But once you reach the first page of search results, Google starts looking at other “rank signals” to determine the position of your page (see the story about the “backlink checker” landing page above). Creating an algorithm that accurately calculates the keyword difficulty score and tells you exactly what you need to do to come in 1st place would be just as difficult as building your own search engine. In short, not to do. The well-known keyword difficulty calculation of Ahrefs is therefore purely based on the number of backlinks. Reading tip : Link building: 8 safe ways to get better links to your site MAIN CONCLUSION Numerous case studies show that the number of backlinks determines the rankings to a greater extent than any other factor. That is why Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty (KD) score is based solely on the average number of links to websites of the pages that are currently in the top 10. This makes the value easy to understand. However, you should see the KD score as a guideline, because the quality of your content and the searcher intent often also play a very important role when it comes to scoring high in Google. TIP: HOW MANY LINKS DO YOU NEED AVERAGE? We have discussed the KD score of Ahrefs in order to determine the keyword difficulty for your pages. But what is a reasonable KD score? What should you focus on when you choose to write about a certain subject? At which keyword difficulty is it actually meaningless to start writing, or is it useful? Take a look at the overview below: KD 0 = 0 Ref. domains KD 10 = ~ 10 Ref. domains KD 20 = ~ 20 Ref. domains KD 30 = ~ 35 Ref. domains KD 40 = ~ 55 Ref. domains KD 50 = ~ 80 Ref. domains KD 60 = ~ 130 Ref. domains KD 70 = ~ 200 Ref. domains KD 80 = ~ 350 Ref. domains KD 90 = ~ 800 Ref. domains (KD = Keyword Difficulty) So the answer to the question is actually: how many backlinks can you realistically acquire to the pages on your website? In practice, it comes down to the fact that a KD score of 50 is still manageable for most website owners. A higher KD score often means a lot of work and writing to other websites, or expensive (and risky) if you are going to buy external links to score high in Google. Nevertheless, you certainly do not have to avoid keywords with a major difficulty. More about that later. If you really like your content and match it perfectly with the searcher intent, links to your page will also arise automatically, without you having to write to other websites. Reading tip : Keyword research with Google Trends: 7 handy tips 4. Domain Authority (DA) This contributing factor is probably the most controversial of all. Most SEO experts believe that Google uses a kind of domain-wide quality measurement that applies to the score of each underlying page on a certain website. Google itself does not give a concrete answer to the existence of this measurement and always manages to evade that question. 3 statements about the influence of domain authority If you ask the SEO experts at Ahrefs what they think about the influence of the DA (domain authority) on the score of a page, we get three explanations: Google sometimes prefers pages on ‘strong’ websites in the search results, but it is hard to say whether this is the result of a clear preference for sites with high authority, or whether there is another indirect reason, such as a preference for results of famous brands or searches. Ahrefs believes in the effectiveness and power of internal links to create a strong website. In other words, it is believed that the power of a certain page can lead part of that power through an internal link to another page. In short, a weaker page can be made higher with an internal link from a strong page that already scores high in Google. A page on a website with a lower domain authority can score better in Google than a page on a site with a higher DA, if it has more qualitative backlinks. Ahrefs uses its own domain authority statistics, the Domain Rating (DR), but they base this purely on the left. The way in which Google measures the domain authority of a site probably includes many more and other factors than just the number and quality of links. By the way, talking about link factors … Ahrefs investigated the relationship between backlink factors at page level (Page authority) and backlink factors at domain level (Domain authority). The image above clearly shows that backlink factors at the page level are more closely related to each other than the same factors at the domain level. MAIN CONCLUSION “High Authority” websites are usually brands or names that people know and trust, and therefore click. For example, if you search for news, you click on the results of NOS rather than those of any blogger. If you are looking for more information about search engine optimization, you will probably click on the results of Ahrefs, Moz and so on. Google clearly rewards the search results that people will click earlier. The conclusion that you can draw from this is that the challenge of getting high in the search results is much more difficult if you have to compete with a lot of ‘big names’ in your niche. The good news is that despite the above conclusion it is certainly not impossible to rank high! Ahrefs statistics show that you can still get a page to score high by providing many high-quality backlinks. This only works if the people who search are open to a click to other than just the famous brands that they see below or above your page. Don’t shy away from keywords with great difficulty Most articles that write about keyword research will tell you that you should avoid keywords with a high level of difficulty and you should focus on words with a high search volume and a low KD score. That in itself makes perfect sense, but the harsh reality is that the number of keywords with a high search volume and low difficulty score is very low in most niches. It is therefore not surprising if you are unable to find such a keyword. It is obvious that you could conclude that keyword research just doesn’t work for you, but that’s the wrong attitude. The keyword difficulty score is not intended to discourage you from trying to score for a particular keyword. You can use it to estimate the resources you need to ensure that you are on the first page in Google. If it is essential for your company or site to score on a certain keyword, then it is good to pursue that goal. No matter what it takes. Take the Ahrefs blog as an example. Five years ago the blog did not score so well in Google. There were few keywords with a low KD score. All the high positions in Google were already taken by other big names in the SEO niche. But look at the growth of search traffic in the past five years: That success was not achieved by selecting only keywords with a low level of difficulty. On the contrary, the opposite was done with Ahrefs. From the start, the challenge was taken up with ‘the big boys’ and people struggled with extremely competitive keywords. Was the high Google score then fast? No definitely not. It was by no means an immediate success from one day to the next. But that was never the goal. The goal was to create the best SEO blog in the industry and they knew it would take time. In search engine optimization, short-term thinking is the biggest enemy of scoring in the long term. Do not hesitate to try to score with keywords that have a major keyword difficulty. If it succeeds, it is precisely these words that have the potential to make your site and company grow enormously! In this article we mainly gave Ahrefs as an example. However, this is a paid SEO tool, the costs of which can be quite high for small entrepreneurs. Although writing the best content ultimately yields the most, there are countless useful free SEO tools to use in search engine optimization. CopyRobin is the place to have good web texts written by writers who know your field. The best free SEO tools A number of SEO tools that you can use free of charge and are a valuable addition to your content to determine your current score and keyword difficulty are the well-known Google Analytics , the Google Search Console and AdWords Keyword tool . Another handy tool is the ‘ Moz SEO toolbar ‘, actually a must have to see all kinds of information, such as the DA and other interesting data. The SEOPTIMER program analyzes your website for various SEO points and with the Chrome plugin ‘ FatRank ‘ you can quickly check the ranking of a keyword. Simply navigate to the website that you want to check and enter the desired keyword. Good luck! Need SEO texts? Try CopyRobin for free Let’s block ads! (Why?)

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