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What is KD%?

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Keyword Difficulty is a metric that tells you how much SEO effort it might take to organically rank a page in the top 10 results on Google for a certain keyword. You can use it to plan out your SEO campaigns and set priorities. 

Looking for keywords with low KD% scores will help you find long-tail keywords and low-hanging fruit for your campaigns. The higher the percentage is, the harder the competition will be, and the more work you will need to do before seeing results.  

The keyword difficulty score is a percentage from 0 to 100, and the higher the percentage, the more difficult Semrush predicts it would be to rank for. Keyword difficulty calculation is based on a variety of factors such as the median number of referring domains pointing to the URLs that are ranking, the median ratio of dofollow/nofollow links pointing to these, the median authority score of the domains that are ranking, and the SERP-related qualities of the keyword itself. 

In general, there are 6 levels of how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword:

  • 0-14 = Very easy. These are the best opportunities to start ranking new web pages on Google as soon as possible without backlinks. 
  • 15-29 = Easy. These keywords have some competition but are still possible to rank for when you’re starting out. To be able to rank for these, you’ll need quality content focused on the keyword’s intent. 
  • 30-49 = Possible. Slightly more competition. You’ll need well-structured and unique content appropriately optimized for your keywords.
  • 50-69 = Difficult. You’ll need to have some backlinks in addition to your well-structured, helpful and optimized content in order to compete here. 
  • 70-84 = Hard. Even stiffer competition. These keywords will demand more effort in terms of getting higher authority referring domains in order to rank your well-optimized and helpful content among the top pages. 
  • 85-100 = Very hard. The absolute hardest keywords to compete for, especially for a new website. These will demand a lot of on-page SEO, link building, and content promotion efforts to eventually rank and acquire traffic.

Get more tips on using Semrush for keyword research from the Semrush Blog.

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