Keyword difficulty is a metric that helps determine whether you can rank keywords in Google and how much potential organic traffic you can get from them.
SEO experts use different software in order to find keywords that are easy to rank for with good search volume.
Unfortunately, unlike some other aspects of search engine optimization, the data provided by these programs is often unreliable.
This is mostly due to the fact that majority of these tools base their traffic volume estimates on pay per click data.
An additional problem is the difficulty score generated by keyword difficulty tools.
For example, Google Keyword Planner tool uses the total number of search results as a measure of difficulty.
This isn’t the real state of things as the tool doesn’t consider how well optimized individual pages are.
It is even worse when you consider that most of the top keyword difficulty tools are free or use data from third-party sources.
No matter what, you should still use one of these programs (with a grain of salt).
Even though their estimates may not be accurate, there is no better way of comparing difficulty score of different terms.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Google Keyword Planner (GKP)
Keyword Planner represents the best keyword difficulty tool for Google Adwords.
GKP uses information based mostly on paid search data.
It’s important to mention that a lot of other tools use data from Google’s tool as a part of their keyword difficulty algorithm.
Such reliance upon other software can be troublesome as it can cause disappearance of numerous tools if anything ever happened to Keyword Planner.
Even with all its flaws, it remains one of the optimal marketing tools in 2017.
The greatest advantage of this product is the fact that it draws information directly from Google.
It is also Google’s own product making it that much more reliable.
Besides showing the keyword difficulty stats, this tool gives you other valuable data such as paid search volume, keywords’ country of origin, language and more.
Even if it’s not your favorite program, you should still consider using it for your blog.
Moz Keyword Explorer
This is one of the best programs that can help you estimate how difficult a keyword is.
Moreover, Moz KE generates a huge query of up to 1000 semantically related terms to your core keyword.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of Moz products, I absolutely love Moz keyword difficulty metric!
Moz Keyword Explorer gives you a thorough site analysis based on several important metrics:
- Search volume (ranges from minimum to maximum)
- Difficulty (0-100)
- Potential (0-100)
- Opportunity (0-100)
However, the biggest upside of the tool is that it is newbie-friendly. It is really simplistic and it allows you to learn more about keyword research.
Even though it seems rather straightforward and simplistic, it has proven to be rather precise.
I consider Moz Keyword Explorer to be the best among keyword difficulty tools on this list and my personal favorite!
It will guide you in the right direction when it comes to finding the best terms to target if used properly.
I always say that Ahrefs is probably the best tool for picking up links.
It can quickly check various content on the Internet and notice new backlinks in little to no time.
Their link database is HUGE.
In terms of showing you volume or difficulty, however, Ahrefs is not the best pick.
When compared to Moz, Ahrefs’ keyword difficulty score is rather shallow and inaccurate as it’s mainly based on competitors’ link profiles. And there’s much more to the picture than just analyzing links.
I’d say that Ahrefs KD is optimal for checking competitors’ backlinks and performing keyword research.
In other words, this software can show you the topics on which authoritative websites wrote.
It also has Content Gap feature which is pretty awesome for finding new topics to write on. If you’re struggling with finding topic for your first blog article, Ahrefs Content Explorer is a great choice too.
One of the best paid tools for keyword difficulty analysis is KW Finder. It’s cheap and gives a pretty good starting point for your research.
You have three main tabs to choose from:
- Suggestions (generates a long list with related phrases to your main keyword)
- Autocomplete (shows you phrases based on Google instant search)
- Questions (gives you questions around your chosen keyword – how, what, etc.)
You can try keyword suggestions, autocomplete and questions. Each one of these groups is specific and yet, commonly used by the web users.
On top of that, each one of these tabs allows for two additional filters: location and language.
By using them, you can specify which country’s Google you wish to browse through and in which language.
As I mentioned before, some of these keyword difficulty tools are using Google’s API for obtaining information. KeywordTool.io is the best example of that.
In fact, the entire existence of this tool is based on Google Keyword Planner’s data.
But here is something that makes is specific.
Besides Google, it also borrows data from other sources such as YouTube, Bing, Amazon, AppStore and eBay.
This is very important as it allows you to research various search engines. This you can find out what people are searching for throughout these platforms.
It also gives you an insight into engines themselves.
KeywordTool.io is a pretty solid tool for your keyword research.
SEMRush is another tool that is pretty good for competitive and keyword research.
Although it has various options, don’t think that keyword difficulty stats are neglected. For each word or phase you can get info for difficulty, volume and number of results.
Another interesting feature is SERP features.
They show you how keyword is presented in SERPs, whether there are snippets, news, videos or other important things you should take into consideration.
SEMRush also gives you the current trend of a phrase.
Google trends is not necessarily a tool that determines keyword difficulty. However, it can definitely be used as one.
You see, this product shows you all the latest trends on the Internet.
Here, I am talking about different content, news stories, viral videos, etc. This can all be segmented by demographics and it allows in-depth analysis.
Google Trends do not have any scores that show you how difficult it is to rank for a keyword. However, it shows you what is trending and how often the keyword was used in last several months or years.
In that regard, it can definitely indicate which keyword is more difficulty at a particular moment.
You can also improve your keyword research by using Google Trends.
Always remember that besides current trends, you also have to consider keyword’s future performance.
Here is another interesting tool to help you measure how easy to rank a keyword is.
Unlike most of the keyword difficulty tools on this list, CanIRank provides a deep analysis.
It doesn’t only show you plain numbers. It also dissects competition and tells you whether it is possible or not to rank for something.
The prized jewel of this tool is SEO competitive analysis.
It analysis various factors such as:
- Content length
- Presence of keyword within the title
- Anchor text distribution
- Authority of the page
Besides showing you competitors, it also shows you the necessary modification you have to make in order to beat them.
It is dissects your opponents’ privacy and social posts in order to provide actionable tips.
RankTank is actually a compilation of different keyword difficulty tools that heavily rely on SEMRush data.
Together with SEMRush’s API trial, you are able to assess various keywords within your niche.
But RankTank doesn’t simply borrow data.
Its premium feature is advanced SERP ranking difficulty analysis.
When you’re researching a keyword, this option will allow you to transfer data to Google sheets.
Then, the software will analyze 11 different parameters for the top 10 rankings pages.
This will give you a better insight into things and help you decide whether to pursue a phrase or not.
Because all information is extracted and presented in Google Sheets you will have less work.
The thing that characterizes Keysearch.co is its YouTube checker.
This aspect is especially important nowadays as YouTube is increasing in popularity and you can notice more and more videos among top 10 Google search results.
Nevertheless, if you buy one of the plans, you will get a full suite.
Although the tool has various features, it is necessary to emphasize its difficulty checker, keyword suggestions, volume checker and competitor analysis option in this particular case.
This is the most simplistic tool on this list.
The beauty of Free Keyword Difficulty Tool is in the fact that it’s free and it’s super straightforward.
All you have to do is simply enter a keyword in a tab in front of you.
Than the online tool will assign a score to that keyword. Lower numbers are less difficult while higher ones are harder.
Of course, you should take its data with a pinch of salt.
Still, you might check it out as well.
As soon as you open homepage, you can see that Link-assistant.com is a “one-stop SEO software”
That being said, keyword difficulty is just one of its multiple features.
A special tab, called Rank Tracker, shows you some keyword difficulty analysis features.
First of all, it is necessary to mention that Link-assistant.com uses 20 different tools to find keyword suggestion.
It has custom made analysis that shows you the most lucrative keywords for your website and puts focus on them.
The thing that makes Link Assistant truly different is its geo-specific rankings feature.
This option is truly unique and owners of small and medium businesses will definitely enjoy using it.
Ferzy is a pretty good tool because it sums all results in simple and understandable numbers.
Instead of having numerous stats, it focuses on a single number that shows keyword difficulty.
Ferzy uses the following metrics:
- Page authority
- Domain authority
- Number of links
- Number of visits
- Number of linking domains
All these stats are really important when assessing the state of a web page.
If you find this too difficult to comprehend, you can always go back to simplified number presented by the tool.
This way, both beginners and experts can benefit from this suite.
Long Tail Pro
Although not as popular nowadays as it once was, Long Tail Pro was one of the pioneers in this field.
It is the first software to introduce the keyword competitiveness score.
But this isn’t the only thing that the software brings to the table. It also shows metrics of individual pages.
You can add you domain to the mix and compare it to your competition.
You can also calculate keyword profitability, sort, filter and export.
All these options are amazing for the process of keyword research.
Also they definitely help establish keyword difficulty.
Last tool on our list is SE cockpit.
There are numerous things that are amazing when it comes to this program.
However, I need to emphasize the fact that you can use this software in different languages and countries.
SE cockpit remains one of the oldest keyword difficulty tools of this type on the market and numerous users are testament to its quality.
Final thoughts on keyword difficulty tools…
Like most other things in SEO, we are heavily reliant on tools.
As you can see, there are numerous options at our disposal.
They vary in terms of performance and sometimes it is really hard to tell which one is the best.
Especially given that most of them are regularly updated.
No matter what, make sure to also use common sense when determining difficulty of a keyword.
As good as they are, keyword difficulty tools are nothing more than instruments.
You are the one that have to put them to good use.
What is your favorite keyword difficulty tool? Why do you like it? Let me know in the comments below!