I sign up for a lot of newsletters. They keep me abreast of the latest search topics and trends, and are often great for quick reminders of things I already knew but forgot. The one thing about newsletters though – is they are written by a wide variety of people with various skill levels. In other words, take everything you read with a grain of salt.
Recently, a newsletter contained several tools for DIY SEO. The author listed as one of her favorite, favorite all-time tools Search Guild’s Keyword Difficulty Checker.
I decided to check it out. I put in a variety of keywords for clients I am working on. Every single keyword – even a one-word keyword that is competing among 30 million sites in a highly competitive shopping field, came back as “easy”, though that one actually had a difficult rating and a number. I also entered a one-word keyword in a gambling industry, also came back as “easy” with a difficulty rating of zero. Really… in gambling? I’m not even sure there IS an easy keyword in the gambling industry!
Honestly, I would never rely on this tool. A lot of factors go in to deciding how competitive a keyword is… most especially your market that you are competing in! One of the keywords I entered is in the real estate industry. Every site in the top 50 and probably the top 400 in Google is utilizing SEO. Some of the sites use aggressive anchor text and backlink methods… the majority of them use on-page ‘natural’ optimization – and one of them uses some pretty sophisticated cloaking methods. It’s a very competitive field. Taking this 4 word keyword and comparing it to – for example – search engine… and then saying that the keyword is not competitive based on this… well, I just don’t see the value.
Once you decide on your keyword selection, research it the hard way. In Google, Yahoo and MSN by looking at your competitors and the results that are being returned. That is truly the indicator of whether or not a keyword will be ‘easy’.