Identifying keywords for organic search rankings is easier now than a decade ago thanks to advanced tools. The key to choosing a topic is competition – the number and quality of sites already ranked for that topic.

How do you know if the article is worth the candle?

I will answer this question in this post.


Keyword Difficulty

All major search engine optimization tools offer competitive metrics – a method of filtering keywords based on a strong ranking on page 1 of Google.

Semrush recommends choosing keywords below “14” because they are the easiest to rank. Semrush uses several factors for this metric, but most can be related to backlinks – the number and strength of linking pages.

In addition, Semrush includes “SERP related attributes” for each keyword when calculating its difficulty. For example, the keywords that generate the featured snippet are more difficult, according to Semrush.

Semrush suggests keywords with a metric of 14 or below. Keywords that produce featured snippets are relatively more difficult.

Ahrefs, another platform, strongly recommends keywords less than “10”.

To calculate, Ahrefs counts the number of referring domains that link to the top pages. No additional calculations are required, Ahrefs said.

At the SE level, the word under difficulty “9” is “Surefire” and “10-19” is “Effortless”. Therefore, both should be valid for new sites. SE Ranking is based on the assessment of the internal domain authority of the ranking page when calculating the keywords.

On SE Ranking, keywords with a difficulty below “9” are “Surefire”

 and “10-19” are “Effortless.”


WebCEO has a more clear way to identify keywords with high demand and low competition: “Keyword Performance Index”. It is calculated by dividing the search volume (demand) by the number of Google search results (supply). A query with a high KEI has high demand and low supply and is therefore easy to rank.

I appreciate the space in calculating KEI – there are no hidden methods. But check out KEI’s findings on other platforms anyway.

For example, take the question “best email client for Windows 10”:

Or “Mozilla Thunderbird email”:


Google allintitle: Search

Finally, another way to measure keyword competition is Google [allintitle: Keyword], as in allintitle: the best email client for Windows 10.

This will return search results for all pages with your query in the title. These could be competitors who are optimizing your keywords. A comparison of the number of results for different keywords gives an estimate of the maximum number of sites for each.

For example, allintitle from Google: search results:

Searching Google for “allintitle:best email client for

windows 10” produces 27 results.


Optimize for Humans


There is no universal formula for subject headings. None of the four tools above consider internal links or on-page SEO – a serious weakness. Strong keyword metrics help estimate the time and effort required to achieve a Google page 1 ranking. There is no reason to avoid competitive situations.

Remember to create content for people, not for Google. A search query represents a need. Add it or split it or not.


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