Keyword difficulty is a crucial metric in SEO that measures how competitive it is to rank for a particular keyword. As an SEO, understanding keyword difficulty allows you to make informed decisions when selecting target keywords and planning content strategies. But with so many keyword difficulty tools out there, how do you know which one to use?

In this article, we'll explore the top keyword difficulty tools available today and how they can benefit your SEO efforts. Whether you're a beginner looking for a basic free tool or an agency seeking an advanced paid solution, we've got you covered.

We'll look at factors like accuracy of difficulty scores, depth of keyword data, competitive analysis features, historical tracking, and more. Plus we'll provide tips on how to effectively leverage these tools for keyword research, content optimization, rank tracking, and competitor monitoring.

Armed with the right keyword difficulty tool, you'll be able to laser focus your SEO strategy on terms you can realistically rank for. This saves time and drives more qualified organic traffic to your site. So let's dive in and uncover the best of the best when it comes to keyword difficulty analysis!

What are Keyword Difficulty Tools?

The keyword difficulty score indicates how hard it will likely be to rank highly for a keyword, with a score of 100% meaning the term is extremely competitive. The score is calculated based on various factors like the authority scores of top-ranking webpages, search volume, and presence of SERP features.

Keyword difficulty helps SEOs make informed decisions when selecting target keywords and planning content strategies. Choosing keywords that are too competitive can waste time and resources trying to rank for them. However, choosing keywords that are too easy means missing out on valuable traffic. Keyword difficulty helps identify “just right” keywords – ones with decent search volume and ranking potential.

Fundamentals of Keyword Difficulty

When venturing into SEO, understanding the intricacies of keyword difficulty is crucial for strategizing content that performs well on search engine results pages (SERPs). It directly influences one's ability to rank amidst the competition.

Understanding Keyword Difficulty Metrics

Keyword difficulty is a metric that estimates the effort required to rank for a specific keyword in the SERPs. Typically, these metrics are distilled into a difficulty score, which ranges from 0 to 100, with higher numbers indicating greater competition and effort required. Tools assessing this score take into account various factors including the strength of currently ranking pages' domains, the number of backlinks, as well as the overall quality of content associated with them.

The Role of Search Volume in SEO

Search volume represents the number of times a keyword is searched within a given timeframe and is a pivotal component of keyword research. Loud keywords with high search volumes can signal high interest but often come paired with intense competition.

One should assess search volume along with keyword difficulty to identify opportunities where a keyword is searched frequently enough to drive traffic but isn't so competitive that ranking for it is unattainable. For instance, a keyword with a modest search volume and a lower difficulty score might present a ripe opportunity for ranking.

Tools measuring keyword difficulty often include search volume data, providing a more comprehensive view of a keyword's viability for SEO campaigns. This integration becomes invaluable for strategists looking to target keywords that strike a balance between visibility and attainability.

Top Keyword Difficulty Tools for Effective SEO

Selecting the right keyword difficulty tool can be pivotal for SEO success. These tools offer valuable insights into keyword competition, helping strategists to refine their SEO campaigns.

Best Keyword Difficulty Tools for SEOPricing Plans
Ahrefs#1 SEO tool Starting from $99/month
Moz's Keyword ExplorerStarts from $99/month
SemrushStarts from $120/month
Mangool’s KWFinderStarts from $29/month
SpyFuStarts from $33/month
Ubersuggest (Free Keyword Research Tool)Free to Use

1. Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty Tool


Ahrefs offers a comprehensive suite of tools that are indispensable for SEO professionals. Its Keyword Difficulty Checker is especially praised for its accuracy in gauging the competitiveness of keywords.

Ahrefs' Keyword Difficulty tool is a powerful feature that helps SEO professionals make informed decisions about the keywords to target. It evaluates the chances of ranking in the top 10 of search results, providing a difficulty score on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being the hardest. This score is based on the estimated number of referring domains, among other factors.

However, it's important to note that Keyword Difficulty should not be the only factor affecting your keyword choice, as a comprehensive SERP analysis is also crucial.

Features Offered by Ahrefs Keyword Research

  • Keyword Suggestions: It provides a plethora of keyword ideas, helping you fill your content calendar for weeks, months, or even years.
  • Keyword Difficulty Checker: This tool helps you understand how hard it would be to rank in the top 10 search results for a specific keyword.
  • Parent Topic Identification: This feature helps you find long-tail variations and subtopics by identifying groups of keywords with the same Parent Topic.
  • SERP Overview: Ahrefs provides a comprehensive SERP overview, allowing you to see the top-ranking results and their SEO metrics at a glance.
  • Return Rate: A unique Ahrefs metric that compares which keyword gets more repeat searches.
  • Clicks Metrics: This shows the average monthly number of clicks on the search results for your target keyword, how many different search results people click on average, and what percentage of searches for a given keyword result in clicks.

Ahrefs' Pricing Plans

Ahrefs offers subscription packages for any budget, with plans starting from $99 per month. The more you pay, the more features you get. There are no contracts or setup fees, and you can switch your plan or cancel your Ahrefs subscription at any time. It's important to note that Ahrefs does not offer discounts or free trials, but website owners can sign up for Ahrefs Webmaster Tools to get free limited access to certain features.

2. Moz's Keyword Explorer


Moz's Keyword Explorer is a comprehensive tool that aids SEO professionals in identifying profitable keywords and organizing them into lists. It provides a wealth of data, including monthly search volume, organic click-through rate (CTR), and keyword difficulty. The tool also offers keyword suggestions based on the terms you input, helping you discover related keywords that you can target on your website.

Key Features of Moz's Keyword Explorer

  • Keyword Suggestions: This feature helps you discover new keywords and topics that you may not have considered.
  • Keyword Difficulty: This tool shows how easy (or hard) it is to rank on each SERP.
  • SERP Analysis: Moz's SERP Analysis displays rich search engine results such as Top Stories, Images, Knowledge Graphs, Featured Snippets, Ad Results, and even Tweets.
  • Ranking Distribution: This graph shows you the keywords your searched URL ranks for, broken down by ranking position.
  • Keyword Lists: This feature allows you to seamlessly add to, manage, and create keyword lists in one place.
  • Priority Score: Moz grades every term with a “Priority Score“, making it easy to zero in on keywords that have the best combination of search organic CTR and competition.

Moz Pricing Plans

As for pricing, Moz Pro offers several subscription plans. The Standard plan starts at $99 per month, the Medium plan at $179 per month, the Large plan at $299 per month, and the Premium plan at $599 per month. Each plan includes 24-hour online support, and users can cancel their subscriptions or change plans at any time.

3. SEMrush Keyword Difficulty Tool


Semrush's Keyword Difficulty Tool is an integral part of their Keyword Magic Tool, providing SEO professionals with a metric that indicates the difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword in search engine results. It is expressed as a percentage, with higher percentages indicating more competitive keywords. Semrush's formula for calculating keyword difficulty is comprehensive, taking into account factors such as the Authority Score of top-ranking URLs, search volume, and the presence of SERP features.

Key Features of Semrush's Keyword Difficulty Tool

  • Keyword Overview: Offers a snapshot of key metrics for any keyword, including search volume, intent, and difficulty.
  • Keyword Magic Tool: Generates thousands of keyword combinations from a single seed keyword and provides a detailed analysis of keyword difficulty.
  • Organic Research: Helps discover ways to rank for competitors' profitable keywords and optimize organic keyword strategies.
  • Keyword Manager: Saves time by clustering lists of keywords and integrating them with other Semrush tools.
  • SERP Analysis: Provides insights into the top-ranking results and their SEO metrics, helping to understand the competitive landscape.
  • Intent Analysis: Determines the intent behind keywords, whether informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional.

👉 Not sure about Semrush? Check out the Best Semrush Alternatives in 2024

Semrush Pricing Plans

Semrush offers a range of pricing plans to suit different needs and budgets. The Pro Plan is priced at $119.95 per month, the Guru Plan at $229.95 per month, and the Business Plan at $449.95 per month. For larger organizations or those with specific needs, custom solutions are available through the Enterprise Plan.

Each plan offers a different level of access to Semrush's suite of tools, with higher-priced plans offering more features and capabilities. Users can cancel, downgrade, or upgrade their subscription at any time, providing flexibility to adjust the plan according to their needs.

4. Mangool’s Keyword Tool

Mangools KWFinder

Mangools' KWFinder is a specialized keyword research tool designed to assist SEO professionals and marketers in finding long-tail keywords with low SEO difficulty. It's celebrated for its user-friendly interface and accurate keyword difficulty metrics, making it a go-to for both seasoned experts and beginners alike.

Mangools' KWFinder Features Include

  • Local Keyword Research: Enables the discovery of location-specific long-tail keywords from over 50,000 locations worldwide.
  • Keyword Suggestions: Provides a wealth of keyword ideas, helping to expand your keyword strategy.
  • Competitor Keywords: Allows users to see the keywords that competitors rank for, offering insights into their SEO strategies.
  • Accurate Keyword Difficulty: Offers precise keyword difficulty scores, aiding in the assessment of ranking potential for various keywords.
  • SERP Analysis: Delivers a detailed analysis of the search engine results pages (SERPs), including Google features detection and SEO metrics for both desktop and mobile devices.

Mangools KWFinder Pricing Plans

Regarding pricing plans, Mangools offers a tiered subscription model. The Basic plan starts at $29.90 per month, the Premium plan at $39.90 per month, and the Agency plan at $79.90 per month when billed annually. Monthly billing options are also available at higher rates. Users can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel their subscriptions at any time, and various payment methods are accepted, including credit cards and bank transfers.

5. SpyFu for Competitor Keyword Research


SpyFu is a highly effective keyword difficulty tool that offers a comprehensive suite of features for SEO and PPC professionals. It provides a unique approach to keyword difficulty, allowing users to filter keywords within a specific range of difficulty, thereby streamlining the process of keyword selection. This tool is particularly useful for sorting through large lists of keywords, making it an invaluable asset for those working in broad niches.

Key Features of SpyFu Include

  • Keyword Difficulty Filtering: Allows users to filter keywords based on their difficulty score, making it easier to find the most suitable keywords for their SEO strategy.
  • Competitor Analysis: SpyFu excels in providing insights into competitors' keyword strategies, giving users an edge in their SEO efforts.
  • Keyword Rank Tracking: This feature enables users to monitor the performance of their keywords over time.
  • Backlink Research: Users can research the most helpful backlinks that help domains rank for specific keywords.
  • SERP Analysis: Breaks down the details of a search engine results page (SERP) to provide insights and opportunities.
  • SEO and PPC Research: Provides rich data on the organic search performance of any website, and insights into profitable search terms in competitors' paid and organic strategies.

Spyfu Pricing Plans

SpyFu offers three pricing plans: Basic, Professional, and Unlimited. The Basic plan starts at $33 per month when billed annually, offering a range of features suitable for beginners or small businesses. The Professional plan, priced at $58 per month when billed annually, offers more advanced features and is ideal for growing businesses. The Unlimited plan, at $199 per month when billed annually, provides access to all features and is perfect for large businesses or agencies.

Each plan includes unlimited searches and downloads, making SpyFu a cost-effective solution for SEO and PPC professionals.

6. Ubersuggest (Free Keyword Research Tool)


Ubersuggest is a powerful keyword difficulty tool that provides valuable insights for SEO and content strategies. Its keyword difficulty feature allows users to assess the competitiveness of specific keywords, enabling informed decision-making when selecting target keywords for their content. Its keyword research feature is accessible without cost, making it an appealing option for marketers scaling their SEO efforts on a budget. Ubersuggest's intuitive interface and comprehensive data make it an essential tool for both beginners and experienced digital marketers.

Key Features of Ubersuggest

  • Keyword Difficulty Analysis: Provides a clear understanding of how difficult it will be to rank for a specific keyword, helping users prioritize their SEO efforts.
  • Competitor Keyword Analysis: Allows users to identify the keywords that their competitors are ranking for, enabling them to refine their own keyword strategies.
  • Backlink Analysis: Provides insights into the backlink profile of a website, helping users understand the link authority of their own and competitors' websites.
  • Content Ideas: Ubersuggest offers content ideas based on popular topics and keywords, assisting users in developing a robust content strategy.
  • Site Audit: This feature helps users identify and fix SEO issues on their websites, ultimately improving their search engine rankings.

Analyzing and Improving Your Keyword Strategy

Improving Keyword Strategy

Effective keyword strategy hinges on understanding the competitive landscape and identifying areas for improvement. Utilizing SERP analysis tools and targeting long-tail, easy-to-rank keywords are two pivotal methods to enhance a website's visibility and search engine performance.

Leveraging SERP Analysis Tools

SERP analysis tools are invaluable because they enable webmasters to evaluate the search engine results page area for targeted keywords. Moz's Keyword Difficulty Tool provides insight into how challenging it may be to rank for specific terms by assessing SEO difficulty. It can inform one's keyword selection by weighing competitors' domain authority and page authority, indicating potential openings in the market.

Optimizing for Long-Tail and Easy-to-Rank Keywords

Incorporating long-tail keywords into one's content strategy is beneficial due to their typically lower competition and higher specificity, which increases the chance of ranking well in SERPs. These precise phrases often align closely with user intent, leading to better conversion rates.

Focusing on easy-to-rank keywords can be an excellent starting point for new websites or those looking to gain traction within niche markets. Implementing on-page SEO tactics and content optimization for these key phrases helps organizations plan their approach to building authority and credibility with search engines over time.

Advanced Tactics in Keyword Difficulty Assessment

Advanced Tactics in Keyword Difficulty Assessment

In the arena of search engine optimization, sophisticated approaches to keyword difficulty assessment provide a strategic edge. These advanced tactics delve deeper than surface-level metrics, providing insights pivotal for gaining competitive ranking opportunities.

Exploring Keyword Difficulty Beyond the Basic Metrics

When venturing beyond basic keyword difficulty numbers, SEO professionals consider several nuanced aspects. The relevancy of a keyword to the content is paramount; it’s not just about a keyword's search volume or competitive landscape but how pertinent it is to the website's subject matter. This requires a unique approach rather than relying solely on aggregated difficulty scores. Tools that provide a more granular view into keyword specifics help businesses and SEO agencies gauge the content quality necessary for ranking.

Backlink profiles play an influential role in keyword difficulty assessments. A robust profile with quality backlinks often equates to higher chances of ranking, especially for competitive terms. Domain authority and page authority serve as critical metrics in this equation, indicating a website's potential to rank based on its backlink history and standing. Evaluating these complex elements allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the keyword landscape.

  • Backlink Profiles: A detailed look at the backlink quality, relevance, and quantity illuminates the efforts needed to compete.
  • Domain Metrics: Analyzing domain authority and page authority highlights the foundational strengths of potential competitors.

Utilizing advanced keyword difficulty tools, like those found at Moz and Ahrefs, can help identify opportunities where domain and page-level strengths align with weak competition, creating a strategic advantage.

Maximizing Organic Traffic with Strategic Keyword Selection

Selecting the right keywords is crucial for maximizing organic traffic and ensuring that blog content ranks well in search engines. By focusing on keyword difficulty and competition, content creators can prioritize their efforts for better search engine optimization (SEO).

Building Content Around Keyword Difficulty

Content should be crafted around keywords with an attainable level of competition. Utilizing rank trackers to monitor keyword difficulty allows for a strategic approach to content creation. In assessing keyword competition, one may find that targeting medium-difficulty keywords yields a good balance between search volume and the possibility of ranking higher.

  • Focus Topics: Align content with keywords that have moderate competition to gain traction.
  • Domain Rating Consideration: Weigh the domain's authority against the difficulty of the keywords. A higher domain rating can compete for more challenging keywords.

Achieving SERP Dominance with Targeted Keywords

A targeted keyword strategy can enhance a website's presence on search engine results pages (SERPs). Each keyword should undergo thorough research for search volume, intent, and relevance.

  • Identify: List down high-value keywords relevant to the content's subject.
  • Analyze: Assess these keywords for their traffic potential and alignment with user intent.
  • Optimize: Incorporate selected keywords naturally into headings, subheadings, and throughout the content.

By meticulously selecting targeted keywords, content creators significantly increase their chances of achieving SERP dominance, thereby boosting organic traffic.

How do keyword difficulty tools work?

Keyword Difficulty tools analyze factors like domain authority, search volume, and SERP features to calculate a keyword's competitiveness.

How often should I check keyword difficulty?

Regularly, as keyword competitiveness can change over time due to evolving search trends and competitor actions.

Can I use keyword difficulty tools for PPC campaigns?

Yes, Keyword difficulty tools can help determine the competitiveness of keywords for bidding in pay-per-click advertising.

What factors influence a keyword's difficulty score?

Factors include the authority of ranking domains, search volume, and presence of SERP features like ads or featured snipp

What is SERP analysis in keyword difficulty tools?

SERP analysis breaks down the details of a search engine results page, providing insights into ranking opportunities.

Are keyword difficulty tools useful for e-commerce SEO?

Yes, these tools can help identify high-volume, low-competition keywords that can drive targeted traffic to product pages.

End Note

Keyword difficulty analysis is a crucial component of effective SEO strategies. As the search results showed, there are multiple factors that influence a keyword's difficulty score, including domain authority of ranking pages, search volume, and presence of SERP features. While scores may vary across tools due to different calculation methods, leveraging keyword difficulty can optimize efficiency in SEO efforts.

The key takeaway is that these tools empower businesses to identify and target keywords that balance competitiveness with search volume and conversion potential. Tracking difficulty over time is also valuable to adapt to evolving search trends. Ultimately, the right keyword difficulty tool provides actionable data to focus SEO campaigns on terms that can realistically drive traffic and support business goals.

No tool offers perfect predictability, but they give a significant advantage in streamlining keyword research. By combining thoughtful usage of these tools with on-page optimization, link building, and compelling content, brands can improve their search visibility and organic growth. The search results provide a range of paid and free options for businesses of all sizes to incorporate keyword difficulty into their SEO strategy.

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