Understanding Keyword Difficulty: A Comprehensive Guide

In the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization (SEO), keyword research is a fundamental pillar. It’s the art and science of identifying the right keywords to target, and one crucial aspect of this process is assessing keyword difficulty. In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into keyword difficulty, explore different levels of difficulty, and help you understand which keywords to target and which ones to avoid. To shed light on this topic, we’re joined by Keigan Carthy, an SEO expert with a wealth of knowledge to share.

What is Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword difficulty, as Keigan Carthy explains, is the measure of how challenging it is to rank for a particular keyword on search engines like Google. It takes into account various factors such as competition, search volume, and the quality of content already ranking for that keyword. Understanding keyword difficulty is essential because it allows you to set realistic expectations for your SEO efforts.

Different Levels of Keyword Difficulty

To comprehend keyword difficulty fully, it’s essential to recognize the different levels it can fall into. Keigan Carthy highlights that keyword difficulty levels can vary significantly, depending on your target audience and geographic scope.

  1. National SEO: High DifficultyIf you’re aiming to rank for keywords on a national level, such as covering all of Canada or the United States, you’re entering a highly competitive arena. Keigan notes that achieving top rankings for a wide range of keywords at this level can be exceptionally tough. The competition is fierce, and you’ll need a robust SEO strategy and substantial resources to compete effectively.
  2. Local and Home Service SEO: Lower DifficultyHowever, for businesses in the home service or local service industry, the keyword difficulty is generally much more manageable. Even if you’re starting out in a specific locality, such as Calgary, Keigan Carthy suggests that keywords related to home services like roofers, dentists, or any local service typically have a keyword difficulty of under 40%. This means that these keywords are comparatively easier to rank for.

Choosing the Right Keywords

Now that we understand the varying levels of keyword difficulty let’s delve into how to choose the right keywords for your SEO strategy. Keigan Carthy emphasizes that your choice of keywords should align with your business goals and resources.

  1. National SEO: Be SelectiveIf your aim is to rank nationally, it’s crucial to be selective with your keyword choices. Focus on high-value keywords that are directly relevant to your business. Conduct thorough research and consider long-tail keywords, which may have lower competition.
  2. Local and Home Service SEO: Explore OpportunitiesFor local and home service businesses, the good news is that there are often numerous opportunities to target keywords with lower difficulty. Keigan recommends identifying keywords that reflect your services and have a reasonable search volume. These can be your gateway to achieving strong local visibility.


Keyword difficulty is a vital metric in the world of SEO. It guides your strategy and helps you set realistic expectations for your rankings. As Keigan Carthy explains, the difficulty level varies depending on your target audience and geographic scope. National SEO can be highly competitive, while local and home service SEO often presents more accessible opportunities. The key is to choose keywords wisely based on your business goals and available resources. By doing so, you can optimize your SEO efforts and increase your chances of ranking higher on search engines.

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