1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What's the best way to manually evaluate a keyword difficulty?

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by RoyCooper, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. RoyCooper

    RoyCooper Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    4
    I keep seeing/using free tool versions of KWfinder, Moz Keyword Explorer, Keysearch.co, keyword revealer. They all seem to have the same type of keyword difficulty. SEMRush's values are very different and always more difficult. That's confusing to me.

    Experienced SEO professionals seem to frown upon using anything that uses metrics that Google doesn't use. I never thought about it before, but I guess it makes sense. No one knows how googles uses those 200+ ranking factors in their algorithm so I guess these tools are just guesstimating most of the time to sell their product.

    I keep reading about how the only really good way to evaluate a keyword's ranking difficulty is to do it manually, but I have no idea how that is done. Is that the kind of thing that's considered a professional secret and no one in their right mind will tell me?

    If it's not a super trade secret, can someone give me a hand and let me know how it's done or point me in the right direction regarding what to read about it?

    Thanks!
     
  2. senzu

    senzu Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2014
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    23
    It's something you'll pick up the more you do it and the longer you've done it. I only look at the first page and see if I think I'll have a chance against the top 3 for most keywords if I just want to quickly sort through keywords. If it's a big authority site and there are a ton of backlinks to that page, I move on. I look at their on-page and their off page. If the top ranking sites aren't giant authorities, they have weak backlinks, and they aren't targeting the keyword specifically in their on page then I mark it as a winner.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  3. RoyCooper

    RoyCooper Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    4
    I see your point, but still you must have a way to quantify/qualify a website's authority and backlink strength for a certain keyword, right?
    Or is it also mainly gut feeling that comes from experience?
     
  4. semsei9311

    semsei9311 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2017
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Marketing Specialist
    Don't always rely on keyword difficulty score, they are not always accurate. In my case I always analyze the keyword how ? first check the intent of the keyword, commercial intent keywords are more likely to be more competitive in nature than informational. See the search volume and CPC, in most cases higher search volume and keywords that has higher CPC tend to be more competitive. Analyze the SERP see your top 3 competitors analyze their digital footprint, see their backlinks and keyword equity. I mostly use SEMRUSH for this. Ill advise to get yourself familiarise first in SEMRUSH and AHREFS they are awesome tools and doing your research.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  5. kontentguy

    kontentguy Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2014
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    133
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    White hat agency
    fastest way (but not foolproof) is to search with mozbar on
    and quickly glance at the top 10
    if the ranking sites are not optimized for your target keyword and have low PA's, at the minimum, that is a sign that this particualr keyword is one worth exploring more in terms of difficulty
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  6. RoyCooper

    RoyCooper Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thanks, but what is considered a low PA? Less than 20?
     
  7. kontentguy

    kontentguy Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2014
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    133
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    White hat agency
    it really depends on the niche and how strong your site/page is
    and if you want to rank #1, or are okay just cracking the top 10

    in an ideal world, if i see 8/10 top pages in serps have PA of 1, i'll lick my lips

    PA of 20 is definitely beatable but youl have to build links
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  8. RoyCooper

    RoyCooper Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    4
    My website isn't up yet, I'm just getting some details sorted. My target is getting on page one of Google, not necessarily rank#1.
    Regarding PA I'm seeing that for the main keyword I want to rank Google has on page one, 5 websites with PA of 1 only. Only 9 websites show on page one instead of 10 for some reason.
    The DA is higher, but I think it's looking good. The DA of the 9 websites the highest are 90 and 70. Two are 40 and 35. The rest are 20 to 30 and only one is 11.
     
  9. kontentguy

    kontentguy Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2014
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    133
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    White hat agency
    hard to say unless i see the serps
    post a screenshot with moz metrics and just blur out the urls and titles/metas

    but it looks like youre making the site regardless
     
  10. senzu

    senzu Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2014
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    23
    I haven't bothered to find some formula for me to quantify the difficulty. It's been mostly as you said, "gut feeling from experience". The more referring domains and backlinks it has, the more authority I give it. It isn't just about numbers though, it's also about the quality of those links as well.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  11. darulez

    darulez Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    722
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Waiting 36 days till I can stick it in
    Location:
    Walhalla
    I spend approx 90 minutes for consultation + report for my clients to explain them, how the difficulty of a keyword is and in case, offer them substitute...
    so much for that. kind of love to that. getting paid to sniff 'round the competition and such....

    however,

    https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/this-is-how-i-do-a-keyword-research.919675/page-2#post-9797923

    that should help you. although he does stuff, I don't. I, btw, put a ton of work in link analysis of competitors...
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  12. darulez

    darulez Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    722
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Waiting 36 days till I can stick it in
    Location:
    Walhalla
    nah. that often is not so easy.. some links might seem weak, when they are in fact from really hard-to-get niche related sites and so.
    you will need to do a ton of manual work to really estimate the difficulty here...

    sickest thing I found was a Tier1-3 level of links. not the usual link pyramid BHW sales thread...
    really nice strong content links... getting links from stronger sites, getting sites from real (!) freeblogs, getting lins from rss blog directeroies.... and such stuff...

    to lazy atm to write more about that, but you get my point. and I am also finished doing my toilet session ;)
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  13. darulez

    darulez Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    722
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Waiting 36 days till I can stick it in
    Location:
    Walhalla
    yeah. its called google.
    if you see "ads" on page 1, kw aint easy...
    ok. enough of bullshit advice today. I need to rest.
     
  14. Nick Flame

    Nick Flame Executive VIP Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    1,346
    Likes Received:
    4,457
    The "Manual" method refers to you looking at the top 10 results and judging for yourself the difficulty.

    It still makes use of the keyword research tools, you can't just "look" at a website and figure out how many backlinks it has. So you still need a keyword research tool to tell you how many backlinks the competition have, what's their DA, PA, etc..

    But in addition to this, instead of relying on the SEO Difficulty score provided by their algorithm - which is basically just a guess-estimate, you supplement that information with your own expertise and common sense.

    You can look at a website and see if its content is weak or not. That is something that keyword research tools can no do. You can see whether when we are talking about a DA 90 websites, are you looking at a thread on a forum? That's a very weak page, despite high DA. Are you looking at an Amazon page? That's usually an intermediate difficulty level, despite the DA. Are you looking at a full blown authority website with high DA? That's extremely hard to compete with.

    So, even though their metrics look the same, you can use your common sense, to differentiate and get a better feeling for the competitiveness of a keyword research.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 3
  15. darulez

    darulez Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    722
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Waiting 36 days till I can stick it in
    Location:
    Walhalla
    +1
    if you do that process for 100 hours... you tend to get sloppy NOT to use any keyword tools / metric tools for this, cause you get the feeling, why some sites rank 1-10... however, I still use them ;)

    in my country, luckily, using expired doms and PBNs seems to be not the case except any gaming hack niches - which neither do I nor some clients are in.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  16. MisterF

    MisterF Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Messages:
    6,314
    Likes Received:
    4,828
    Occupation:
    Conference Organiser, Business Advisor.,
    Location:
    JADIP
    Home Page:
    I use several keyword tools, then manually look at the top 5 sites.

    Often you see a DA1 /PA1 but it's not as simple as thinking it is very easy, more often than not these are powered by hidden PBNs.

    I found a nice 8k+ with CPC of $6 but 4 of top 10 were like that, propped up by PBNs.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  17. RoyCooper

    RoyCooper Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    4
    How do you know if they have a PBN behind them?
     
  18. darulez

    darulez Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    722
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Waiting 36 days till I can stick it in
    Location:
    Walhalla
    Experience. like all the $$$ have it.
    also, if the moz-stats of the top10 dont count up, there is sth. fishiy.

    So, just leaves you to the low hangig fruits.



    Some dudes here, I think it was @BassTrackerBoats or @Leith suggested using some unknown backlinkcheckers.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  19. shakthipriya

    shakthipriya BANNED BANNED

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    9
    Gender:
    Female
    The only way to learn how difficult it would be to rank on top of Google for a specific keyword is by carefully analysing the pages that already rank there.Accurately calculating keyword difficulty requires assessing several ranking factors for multiple top-ranking pages. If a tool is free it pretty much guarantees they're not looking at enough factors to make it even modestly accurate.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  20. AviDeo

    AviDeo Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    To determining your chances to rank for a certain keyword you can use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer or Serpstat’s Keyword Difficultyhttps://serpstat.com/?ref=69869tool.

    The core principles behind both of these tools are the same with the number of links ranking for the queried keyword and their TF/CF/DA/PA being the main factor determining how hard will be be to rank in top 10 for the given query.

    The latest also shows how many Main pages from the top of the search are ranking for this keyword, Domains and pages with this keyword in titles
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2