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What is a Competitive Keyword?

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 4 min read

What is a Competitive Keyword?

The degree of competition that a keyword has is a measure of how difficult it will be to incorporate it into your SEO building strategy. There are countless reasons why a keyword may be more competitive than another, but as you’d expect, more businesses trying to target a specific keyword will make it more challenging to rank highly for.

This is because more competition increases the chances of your competitors creating high-quality content that will lock itself into the top spot. There’s only so much that you can try to do so that you can dislodge a business that has reached the top of the front page on Google and it often isn’t worth it.

Since you’ll have to do a bunch of work and sink a huge amount of money into breaking into the top spot with a competitive keyword, many businesses choose to avoid the most competitive ones in their domain. How do you know whether or not it’s worth pursuing a particular keyword? That requires research on your part.

The truth is that there are varying degrees of competition for keywords and you have to figure out whether it’s worth the effort of trying to make them work for you. In some cases, you may be better off moving to a less competitive keyword with lower search volume, while in other cases, you may wish to do the opposite.

How to Determine if a Keyword is Competitive

There are plenty of tools available to both SEO experts and amateurs alike that can be used to determine if a keyword is competitive in the first place. Along with telling you whether or not you’ll have to deal with competition over a specific keyword, you’ll also be able to tell how difficult a keyword is to rank for.

However, one issue is that there are many different tools that determine keyword difficulty and each of them uses a different rating system. This means that there may be some discrepancies between the difficulties of particular keywords from one keyword tool to another.

If you’re trying to get the most accurate possible assessment of whether or not a keyword will be difficult to rank for, then you may wish to use several tools and average out their results. In reality, this isn’t all that realistic because of how expensive it can be for just a single keyword tool’s subscription.

You can also hire an SEO expert who knows more about how each tool ranks particular keywords so that they can use the right one for your needs, giving you a better idea of what to expect in terms of competition.

Factors That Go Into Keyword Difficulty

There are many different factors that determine whether or not you’ll have a hard time ranking for the keyword that you’re targeting. Among these is the authority of the domain that holds the top ranking spot for that keyword as well as the authority of the page itself.

Domain Authority

When you enter a query into Google, you may have noticed that some sites tend to consistently rank higher than others. For example, if you’re looking for an informative article, then you’re most likely going to see Wikipedia as one of the top results no matter which search engine you’re using.

This is also true when you’re shopping. If Amazon stocks the product that you’re searching for, then you can be at least relatively sure that you’ll see the Amazon page for that thing on the front page. This is all a measure of domain authority, which is the degree of authority that a particular site has in Google’s eyes.

Many SEO beginner’s make the mistake of only focusing on the authority of a particular page that they’re trying to rank against, but ignoring the domain can result in a huge waste of resources. Trying to take the spot of a juggernaut will often take more time and effort than will be worth it.

If you’re trying to rank against an extremely authoritative site, then you’ll either have to settle for a lower ranking on the first page or you’ll have to try and find another keyword to pursue. Big brands like ESPN or Youtube will typically leave you in the dust, even if you try your hardest to match their SEO efforts.

Page Authority

Along with the authority of the domain, you’ll also have to take a look at the page itself. What goes into determining page authority? You may be surprised to learn that page authority doesn’t account for keyword density or the content itself, but rather how authoritative a page is.

In many ways, page authority is similar to domain authority in that they’re ranked the same way, based on how the average visitor would perceive a page’s authoritative merits. However, unlike domain authority, page authority is limited to that particular page and not the rest of the domain.

A page’s links will determine its ranking on a search engine, but the quality of those links will determine whether or not that page will be able to retain its position. If a page has a bunch of low-quality links, then Google’s algorithm will eventually figure that out and penalize that page harshly.

This is why we always put such a huge emphasis on ensuring that your pages always have a reasonable number of quality links. You’re better off having fewer good links than a bunch of bad ones, because the facade of links will eventually crumble, leaving you with a tanked SEO rating that could have been avoided.

Felix Rose-Collins

Felix Rose-Collins


Felix Rose-Collins is the Co-founder of Ranktracker, With over 10 years SEO Experience . He's in charge of all content on the SEO Guide & Blog, you will also find him managing the support chat on the Ranktracker App.


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