How to Measure Keyword Difficulty and Rank on Google

Posted By on May 2, 2019

host snap I almost tripled my organic traffic in a few months without building links and in this video I'm gonna show you exactly how to measure keyword difficulty so that you can pick the right keywords and get more free search traffic to your website stay tuned hey guys samo here with HFS the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic research your competitors and dominate your niche this is the final video in our keyword research series and in the first two videos we covered key fundamentals that will help you do effective keyword research and I showed you a few cool ways to generate thousands of great keyword ideas this tutorial is all about measuring keyword difficulty and then targeting the ones you actually have a high chance of ranking for in Google's top 10 search results so let's jump right in so for our first example I'll go to keywords explorer and type in supplements now I touched on the keyword difficulty metric here in part 1 of this series but I didn't go to in-depth and that's because this section here is meant to just give you a top-level view of how hard it will be to rank Google for this target keyword and you can see that it has a keyword difficulty score of 77 and it says that I need 291 websites to rank in the top 10 for this keyword but is that really so hmm not necessarily this part here where it says you'll need 291 links from different websites to rank in the top 10 isn't a super crazy algorithm we just take a weighted average of the top 10 Google rankings also something that keyword difficulty doesn't take into consideration are on-page factors relevance of the topic and if the backlinks are due follow or contextual so the best way to gauge the difficulty of a keyword is to look at the top 10 Google rankings manually examine the quality of their backlinks and see what they're doing and you can see all of this information by scrolling down to the SERP overview now if you look at the top 10 search results you might be a bit confused vitamin shoppe ranks quite high with only 4 referring domains ods or the office of dietary supplements ranks below that even though they have thousands of referring domains in looking even further below that this page has just less than 20 referring domains yet keyword difficulty said that we need almost 300 unique linking websites so what gives one-word relevance when you look at the top ranking pages you'll see that the majority of them are ecommerce pages which shows that there's a good chance that someone's searching for the keyword phrase supplements is looking to shop now looking at this result from ODS you'll see that it's a home page where people have to navigate to find what they're looking for and in this case I would suspect that this isn't really what people are looking for and even though the page may not perfectly match the searchers intent they still rank quite high because they just have way too many backlinks compared to the other ranking sites for the other site down here that has very few unique sites linking to them you'll see that they match what I believe is the searchers intent for this keyword which you can see is an e-commerce category page if you're new to analyzing keyword difficulty then that might have been a bit heavy so let me review this quick keyword difficulty process fast first search for a keyword phrase and keywords Explorer second I'll scroll down to look at the top 10 search results and look at the raw number of referring domains and if you notice something like this one that has vastly more referring domains but ranks lower than ones like these that have less unique linking websites then look at the titles and visit the pages to get a better understanding of how Google tries to serve the searchers intent and we already know that these are ecommerce categories which shows that there is likely some kind of intent to shop when people search for supplements in this goes to prove that just using the referring domains alone to gauge keyword difficulty isn't always the most reliable either let's look at another example if I look at the top 10 search results for the search query how to write a cover letter you'll see these results and aside from the SERP features the top ranking page has 55 referring domains in the one down here from wikiHow has 209 referring domains and if we look at the titles both seem to be perfectly relevant to what a searcher will be looking for now this is where you would need to take an extra step and research the websites that are linking to these pages so if we look at upto works homepage it looks like they offer a resume building tool which suggests that the rest of the content in this article on cover letters is going to be closely related to employment now I won't even bother going to wiki house homepage since I'm sure you know they write about basically anything on how to topics let's look at their link profiles I'll click on the respective numbers and open the referring domains report in new tabs first I'm going to set this to the do follow filter to find only the value passing links finally I'll sort the domain rating in ascending order this is gonna help us spot potentially spammy links and you can see that there's one here that looks like an IP address and then there's another blogspot one here but scrolling through the rest of the results you can see that they come from some pretty relevant websites and if I expand the back and report here on something like The Odyssey online you can see that it's a perfectly good editorial link in fact the page linking to it is an article about writing a cover letter that gets you hired and the same goes for this one from we were calm the article is on how to make a stand out resume and looking at the anchor and surrounding text the context of the link says that you need to know how to write a good cover letter now let's look at wiki house links I've already applied the same do follow filter and sorted these in ascending order and as you can see the first 70 or 80 referring domains come from spammy blogspot sites but if we go to page two you can see that they do have some perfectly good links in here which is probably why they ranked in the top 10 but in my opinion it looks like the first ranking page has more solid links from other relevant domains in their space the last thing I want to touch on is a bit more of an advanced technique and that's surf ala Tillet II even if you're a complete beginner to keyword research I'm gonna give you such vivid examples that should give you a ton of value so if we go back to our first example on the keyword supplements and scroll down the page you'll see this graph called SERP position history this graph shows you the position history for the pages that currently ranked in the top five for a given keyword now when you look at this graph you can see how volatile the rankings have been particularly for the orange line and the Green Line now if we click on the corresponding checkboxes here to remove them from the graph then you'll see that the other top ranking pages have been more stable as of the past few months what's even more interest here is that the ones that are jumping from completely invisible to a top ten ranking are all non-ecommerce category pages this is basically telling us how satisfied Google is with the current rankings if they're consistently promoting and demoting new pages in and out of the top ten results there's likely some kind of indication that the current ranking results aren't properly serving search intent now compare this graph to our other example on how to write a cover letter and you'll see that the position history is a lot more stable here aside from the red one which just looks like they've been actively building links and progressively ranking higher in Google one final example I want to show you is for the quarry cars versus best cars if you look at the quarry for cars the SERP positions have been super volatile but look at the different ranking pages there's a few that are clearly about automobiles but then there's also top ranking pages from IMDB Wikipedia and Disney which are talking about the movie Cars so clearly the search is intent on this query can go either way but take a look at the history for the search query best cars when someone types this in they're clearly looking for reviews or comparisons on different vehicles and as expected the SERP results seemed to be quite stable so this tells me that Google seems to be satisfied with the results they're showing here so analyzing the position history of the top five rankings is a good extra measure to take before selecting your keywords because it tells you a lot about how Google views the searchers intent and you should know right away whether you can serve that intent or not so as you can see keyword difficulty can't be summed up into a number you need to analyze the top 10 ranking pages to get a full view of the quantity and quality of unique backlinks you need to understand the searchers intent behind a keyword so when you create your piece you can match the searchers intent from there you can pick and choose the keywords that will drive a ton of valuable traffic to your website that's it for this keyword research series there's a YouTube card right up here with a link to the playlist make sure to subscribe to HFC youtube channel for more actionable SEO tutorials and marketing strategies over here and feel free to ask questions and I'd be happy to jump in and help so keep grinding away and I'll see you in the next video

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 14 comments

  1. You said that you take a weighted average of the top ten google rankings to calculate the keyword difficulty. Wighted average of what number in the top 10 SERPs? Domain authority or Page authority? And how is it weighted? what weighting percentage for which variables?

  2. Great video, started using Ahrefs, it's a really powerful tool. Would be great to add more projects for a lower price 🙂

  3. Is it just me or everyone feel that Ahrefs is kicking ass with their Content recently? No BS. No bragging. Just Knowledge! Keep em coming Sam!

  4. Great tutorial!

    So I just wanna clarify that if the serps tend to show shopping or product pages, I would rather not proceed to that keyword when my content plan is informational content, right?

  5. Sam, this video was astoundingly helpful. Not only did I learn tricks and things I didn't know, but I have a whole new way of using Ahrefs. In the case of certain searches that are low volume, would you change your tips or tricks at all? For us, many of the searches have city names in front of them – like "long beach dentist", or similar. Keep making videos please!

  6. Hi Sam Oh, It was a very good tutorial, So we should select keywords which have unstable position history right ?

  7. There are so many websites which have low backlinks profile as ahrefs mentioned in their tool. Like "Software Development Company" tool saying we need 192 websites for reach in 10 ranks on Google but there is one website who doesnt have backlink but therefore they showing in top ten ranking. Can you clarify me how it is possible?

  8. Hi, sam this keyword research series was amazinggg!!

    I've post about "Seo optimization" and i want my content in top 10 (google) For term "seo optimization" !

    RF= referring Domains

    1st ranked is wikipedia page. and it has RF = 16.6k
    2nd searchengineland, RF = 972
    3rd wordstream, Rf = 71

    And (about me)

    My content has, RF = 259
    DA, PA (moz) = 31, 39
    DR, UR (ahrefs) = 0.5 , 10 !

    My content is totally optimized for this term and that is more relevant to them ^ !

    But my domain age is around 4 months only so it matters in this case ?

    Thank You!


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