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Keyword Difficulty in Advanced Web Ranking
Keyword Difficulty in Advanced Web Ranking

Figure out what are the next steps in optimizing your website's content using AWR's Difficulty scores

Iulia Z. Lacriceanu avatar
Written by Iulia Z. Lacriceanu
Updated over a week ago


AWR's Keyword Difficulty is a content optimization feature that reveals how hard it would be to rank for a particular search query, based on insights generated from the Top 10 Google results. 

Top 10 search results are as fresh as they can be since we entirely rely on Advanced Web Ranking live updates, performed for your targeted keyword set and search engine markets.

The Difficulty scores are solely calculated for the Google search engine, on Desktop & Mobile devices. The supported versions are AWR's Google Universal & Organic options.

For a clearer and more insightful analysis, we’ve split the Difficulty metrics toolkit into 3 different sectors, running a deep audit for both the link profiles and content relevancy, on Google's page 1. 

Each of the metrics is represented on a scale of 0-100, with the latter being the hardest to achieve, as follows: 

  1. Domain Difficulty – Score based on the backlink quality and authority of the domains belonging to the Top 10 ranking URLs.

  2. URL Difficulty – Score based on the backlink quality and authority of each of the Top 10 URLs.

  3. Content Score – Difficulty score based on how keyword-targeted and on-page optimized the Top 10 search URLs are

The 4th Difficulty score is the Global one, presenting the weighted difficulty a keyword or URL has, based on all 3 particular difficulties combined, SERP Features presence, and Top 10 affiliation

Looking at the core ranking factors that Google cherishes, content and links, you'll have a clear picture of whether you’re up against big sites, highly linked pages, or whether against highly targeted pages.

You can, therefore, easily determine what's next in terms of aiming for the Top 10.  

Difficulty Scores drill-down

The higher the difficulty is, the harder is to rank in the Top 10 search results. 

The Difficulty scores are mapped as follows:

Low hanging fruit. Might bring you visibility in Top 10, but not for a search query that's been there on the market and is highly competitive.
0 - 14 -> easy
15 - 29 -> pretty easy

Worth the effort. Great when it comes to Top 10 Visibility and definitely being worth the effort.
30 - 49 -> doable
50 - 69 -> tough one

Living on the edge.
70 - 84 -> painful
85 - 100 -> impossible

Resources consumption & Difficulty updates

Each AWR plan has a one-time free amount of difficulty units, as follows:

  • Free trial: 10 keywords

  • Pro: 35 keywords

  • Agency: 75 keywords

  • Enterprise: 175 keywords

  • >Enterprise: 0.5% of the units quota

After the free difficulty quota is consumed, running more difficulty updates will require regular units from the plan resources.

1 keyword updated for difficulty, on 1 search engine = 2 keyword units

Free difficulty units are only available one time, per account. After consumed, the units spent on difficulty updates are replenished when the billing cycle refreshes, just like for manual ranking updates (on-demands).

What does a Difficulty update involve?

A keyword difficulty update represents the following:

  • Keyword difficulty scores: Domain, URL, Content Score & Global Difficulty

  • Difficulty metrics for the Top 10 URLs found in SERP, for the updated keyword

  • Link metrics for each URL in Top 10 SERP for the updated keyword (Trust Flow, Citation Flow & Referring Domains)

  • Search Trends from Google Ads, for the search engine country, last 12 months of search activity

  • Search intent detection


Since the Difficulty metrics require the top 10 search results, updating them is not possible unless ranking data has already been processed.

Starting a Difficulty update does not refresh the ranking data. Difficulty only gets processed based on the latest ranking dataset.

Do you have any other questions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will keep building the FAQ.

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