(Keyword) Difficulty is a popular generic metric indicating ranking difficulty. It’s expressed as number from 1 to 100 — the higher the number, the greater the difficulty. It’s calculated by analyzing the search engine results page (SERP) for the search phrase. The number of backlinks that the top 20 results have is a primary factor in its calculation.

Regardless how the metric is calculated, because it applies to everyone, it effectively applies to no one. A site about dogs, another about cats, and a third about content strategy would have the same difficulty ranking for the search phrase “cute puppies.” Instinctively, we know that’s not true.

However, this metric is helpful when used in conjunction with Personalized Difficulty (unique to your site and its content), as the difference between the two amounts to Topic Authority. This is what gives you a competitive advantage and you should always seek to create content from a position of strength.

Updated on August 1, 2023

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