Why Don’t We Use Keyword Difficulty or CPC?

Diligent keyword research is essential for an effective SEO strategy. However, there are a whole lot of variables to consider when you’re choosing the keywords you’re going to target. One question you may ask yourself is whether it’s worth it to target keywords you don’t believe you are going to rank for.

Here at Demandwell, we get asked whether it’s a good idea to use metrics such as keyword difficulty or cost per click (CPC) to disqualify keywords from a content plan. In this article, we are going to clear up some confusion around two of these factors: keyword difficulty and CPC.

What Is Keyword Difficulty and CPC?

You may not have heard these terms before, but it is important to understand why these metrics have been used to judge how likely you are to rank well for a keyword:

Keyword difficulty: Keyword difficulty is a measurement of how much effort it will take on your part to get your content to rank on the first search engine results page (SERP). Keyword difficulty depends on factors like search intent, the number of competitors also ranking for the keyword, and the quality of those competitors’ content.

CPC: One way to get your content in front of search engine users is to target a certain keyword with pay-per-click ads. CPC is the price you’ll pay each time someone searches your target keyword and clicks on your ad. Marketers may use CPC as a proxy for estimating how much competition exists for a keyword and how difficult it will be to rank for a particular keyword.

Keyword Research Recommendations

You should focus on creating SEO content for relevant and valuable keywords. Under our SEO philosophy, we target keywords that are most related to your business and your solution. Even if you’re not ranking for one target keyword, that content is still going to help establish you as an authority on that topic and get your other pages ranking better for it.

When we’re helping our customers research keywords, we’re often asked “what’s the difficulty of this keyword?” or “what’s the CPC of that keyword?” Before you factor these metrics into your keyword strategy, try to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If the keyword is relevant to your audience and to the problem you solve, then pursuing it is still worthwhile even if it’s difficult to rank for.

This is because your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to find the easiest or least expensive keywords — it should be to target the topics that are most relevant to your audience. If a keyword is exceptionally valuable to your organization, you have to pursue it from a content relevancy standpoint even though it will be challenging to rank for.

Demandwell’s Keyword Strategy

Using keyword difficulty or CPC to help you determine whether or not you should target a specific keyword is not part of Demandwell’s SEO strategy. We tend to steer away from looking at those metrics and focus on relevancy instead. When you publish SEO performance content, not only will it help you rank better for the target keyword, but it will help other content rank better for related keywords. If it’s a desirable keyword that matters to your organization, it should be a high priority and you should be building content around that keyword without putting too much weight on the keyword difficulty or CPC.

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