For each of your keywords, the SEO Difficulty measures how challenging it would be to get your page ranking in the top 10 Google results. It helps you assess whether investing your efforts in certain keywords would be worth it.
In order to rank on Google's first page, your landing page will need two things: a strong topical authority and a good targeting of the keyword and the broader topic, in its content. Here's how we evaluate them in calculating the SEO Difficulty metric:
1. Topical Authority
How does the topical authority of your landing page compare with the average topical authority of the pages currently in top 10?
How many landing pages with a higher topical authority stand between you and the top 10?
2. Keyword and topic targeting in the content of the landing page
How much does your page already target the keyword and its topic (in terms of on-page SEO)? We currently take into consideration some of the most important on-page SEO factors - the page title and the meta description - but we will soon add other on-page signals.
In addition, other factors are taken into account. One of them is the number of major websites in top 10 (e.g. Wikipedia), which are virtually unmovable and leave fewer accessible slots on the 1st results page. Another factor, especially relevant for landing pages ranked outside the top 100, counts the total number of authoritative pages that have a full or partial match of the keyword in their title, thus targeting the same keyword and representing potential competitors.
Based on all these factors, an SEO Difficulty indicator is calculated for each keyword, landing page and topic. It can be easy, medium or hard.
Here’s an example of an estimated Hard level of difficulty:
The keyword currently ranks on 44. The top 10 results are significantly more authoritative. Moreover, there are 11 other pages with a higher topical authority between position 44 and the top 10. This makes it very difficult to tackle a top 10 position for this keyword, at the moment.
On the other hand, here's another example, this time with a level of difficulty that's considered Easy:
The pages currently in top 10 have a comparable topical authority and there are only 3 landing pages with a higher authority between top 10 and rank 52. Therefore, there shouldn't be an uncrossable barrier between this website and a top 10 position. Since the landing page only partially has the keyword in its title, some onsite optimization will probably help it jump ranks.
The platform displays an average difficulty value for each keyword group and, by hovering the mouse over it, you can also see a breakdown on keywords:
Difficulty can also be used as a filter. This can be done either from the advanced filters, or from the column title:
The Top 10 difficulty metric is designed to help you wisely choose where to invest your SEO efforts. Our recommendation is to try an SEO strategy that avoids directly tackling the "Hard" keywords in the beginning, but rather tries to work "around" them, by building up the topical authority.
By working on the "Easy" keywords and gradually moving them up towards the top 10, the authority of your domain on various topics - as Google's algorithms see it - will increase. As this happens, "Hard" keywords become "Medium", and the "Medium" ones become "Easy", so it will be increasingly easy to rank high on keywords previously rated as very difficult.
* In case you don't see the SEO Difficulty Score as Hard, Medium or Easy, but as a percentage (0 to 100 %) it means that the campaign is on a market where we don't have our own keyword database yet. Please refer to this article to find out more on this.