Keyword research is crucial for targeting the right search terms, enhancing your search performance, and ultimately outranking your competition. But keyword targeting isn’t just a matter of choosing the most heavily searched terms—it’s about knowing exactly what words will truly bring the people you want to your website. Marketers typically use unique strategies and deem some factors more important than others when it comes to keywords research focus. Some of the most common deciding factors for keyword targeting include the keyword’s search volume, competition, relevance, difficulty, current ranking, and searcher intent. It is up to you how much weight to put on these factors. That said, it is worth noting that certain metrics prove more important, in a general sense, than others. Among these metrics are keyword difficulty and competition.
Why Keyword Difficulty Matters?
Keyword difficulty refers to how difficult it is or it will likely be for a website to outrank others in SERP for the given keyword. Other marketers and/or digital tools may define keyword difficulty differently, depending on various indicators and proprietary algorithms that can be factored in to achieve or measure a keyword difficulty score.
Generally speaking, the higher the difficulty score for a keyword, the more difficult it is to compete for a high rank in that particular search query. The lower the difficulty score, the easier it will likely be to outrank others. Many variables still come into play when it comes to competing for search ranking, but this metric is a great gauge for predicting how likely or unlikely you will be to outrank competitors in a particular keyword search. Understanding keyword difficultly can allow you to make smarter decisions when it comes to the right keywords to target in your search strategy.
It is also worth noting that keyword difficulty for PPC and organic keywords is not one and the same. Organic keyword difficulty measures the difficulty for organic searches based on actual clicks, whereas keyword difficulty for PPC measures the difficulty for pay-per-click searches based on how much dollar amount marketers need to bid in order to compete for a high rank in paid searches. Keyword competition in PPC context, therefore, is highly dependent on cost-per-click and less on average search.
Why Keyword Competition Matters?
Evaluating keyword competition is also important so you won’t end up wasting your search marketing budget on keywords that are quite impossible to rank for or are dominated by more authoritative, bigger brand results. In these cases, you are better off moving onto less competitive keywords on your target list. If you take your time thoroughly evaluating keyword competition, it is verily possible for you to find search terms with decent search volume and comparatively little competition—which means less link, content, and promotion requirements in order to see your site ranking high.
Targeting low-competition keywords is a great way to rank for searches that matter for your website. It can be difficult to impossible to beat large companies with large SEO budgets and kick them off their SERP pedestals. To work around such dominance, you can put more focus on low-competition keywords and win your audience there. This will not only help you establish authority but also give you a good springboard for competing for highly competitive keywords that get the most search volume.
Targeting top search terms without first strengthening your optimization strategy from underneath puts you at risk of making bad optimization decisions in an attempt to rank well, which could lead you to Google penalties that are difficult to bounce back from. What you need to do when first starting out is to find relevant keywords to your business and subject matter/niche and then choose high volume keywords with little to no competition. This way, you can increase your site’s competitive power and beef up your authority without necessarily wasting your energy and risking your site’s integrity as you perform site optimization.
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