How Reliable are Keyword Difficulty scores?

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty score works, plus how to tell the difference between a keyword trap and a keyword opportunity.
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Keyword Difficulty is a numerical representation of how hard it’ll be to rank in Google for a search query.

But as a standalone metric, it can be misleading. How can a 1 to 3 digit number truly quantify how hard it’ll be to rank in Google?

Google uses hundreds of ranking signals, some that they’ve confirmed, some that have been “verified” through third party studies, and then there are ones that SEOs have concluded based on experience, observation or gut feelings.

To expect a third party with zero association with Google to somehow decrypt 200 some-odd signals and compute an “accurate” metric is unrealistic, or maybe impossible.

Afterall, most of these so-called “ranking factors,” are speculation and there are others that can’t even be looked at independently. And for that reason, you’ll notice that keyword difficulty will differ depending on the keyword research tool you’re using.

But despite its shortcomings, it’s actually a super insightful metric if you understand how it works and how Google chooses which pages to rank.

So, how does Ahrefs calculate Keyword Difficulty?

Simply put, we take a weighted average of the number of referring domains pointing at the top 10 pages.

So this means that if a keyword has a high KD, then the ranking pages likely have lots of links pointing at them. In contrast, low KD scores tell us that the top ranking pages don’t have many links.

Since ranking for keywords usually rely on backlinks, KD acts as a good proxy to ranking difficulty. But there are other factors we have to consider.

You’ll learn what these factors are and how to manually assess the search engine result pages (SERPs) for them.

While KD as a standalone metric is far from perfect, there’s actually a ton of utility you can get from it when you use it based on your understanding of the metric.

You’ll learn how to use Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty to find great topics to target.


0:35 What is the keyword difficulty metric
2:08 How Ahrefs calculates Keyword Difficulty
2:51 Consider search intent when assessing the KD
4:17 Take website authority into account
7:14 Consider the number of quality backlinks
8:33 Find low-competition topics based on search intent
11:32 Find link prospects using keywords with high KD scores

#keyworddifficulty #keywordresearch #seo

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