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SEO Stalled? It Could Be Your Keyword Difficulty and Traffic Strategy

November 28, 2023

Molly Sishton


The digital landscape is competitive. Maintaining a strong online presence is challenging, yes. But 100% necessary for business success.

I wanted to write this blog as recently we’ve had a number of businesses approach us, frustrated with stagnation or decline in their website traffic. And honestly, I get it - it can feel like a never-ending battle.

If you’re here, I imagine you're in the same boat. Let me tell you what I told the others...if you're struggling to make progress in SEO, it's time to re-evaluate your keyword strategy.

In this blog post, I'll explore the key aspects I look at when choosing which keywords to target: keyword difficulty and traffic intent. It could well be what’s holding you back.

The challenge of keyword difficulty

Keyword difficulty measures the level of competition you'll face when trying to rank for a specific keyword. If you're targeting keywords with extremely high difficulty scores, your SEO strategy might hit a roadblock.

Here's how I approach keyword difficulty:

1. Find the right difficulty score: To ensure your SEO strategy is achievable, consider a keyword difficulty score that aligns with your website's current authority. Use SEO tools to research the competition and identify keywords with difficulty scores within reach.

2. Balance high and low-difficulty keywords: While high-difficulty keywords can bring substantial traffic, they're often dominated by authoritative websites. Mix in some low and medium-difficulty keywords to build your website's authority gradually.

3. Quality content is key: The quality of your content plays a crucial role in overcoming keyword difficulty. Google rewards well-researched, informative content that provides value to your audience.

Here are some ways you can provide value:

  • Relevance: Content should align with the user's intent and provide valuable information.

  • Originality: Unique, well-researched content is favoured by search engines (basically, think, what are you bringing to the table)

  • Engagement: Content that keeps visitors on your website longer is a positive signal.

  • Proper keyword usage: Keywords should be used naturally and in a way that enhances the content.

  • User-friendly format: Easy-to-read content with headings, bullet points, and clear structure performs well.

Keyword difficulty is an important metric to consider before selecting your target keywords. It tells you how easy or difficult it is for you to rank for that keyword. The higher the difficulty score, the more difficult it is to rank for that target keyword.
Sidra Condrum, Spyfu

High-intent: the holy grail of keywords

The secret to driving more conversions and engagement lies in targeting high-intent traffic keywords. These are the keywords that potential customers use when they're actively looking for products or services like yours.

Here's how to find and leverage them:

1. Understand your audience: To identify high-intent keywords, you must understand your target audience's needs, pain points, and search behaviour. Use this insight to tailor your keyword choices.

Example: If you run an online shoe store, consider targeting keywords like "buy comfortable running shoes" or "best men's dress shoes for weddings." These keywords indicate strong purchase intent and can attract visitors ready to make a buying decision.

2. Long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords often have lower competition and can be highly specific. They're excellent for attracting visitors ready to convert.

3. Align with user intent: Ensure your content aligns with the user's intent behind their search. Are they looking for information, making a purchase, or seeking reviews? Tailor your content accordingly.

4. Use tools wisely: Use keyword research tools like Moz & Semrush to discover high-intent keywords relevant to your business. These tools often provide insights into keyword search volume, competition, and trends.

How to know what's achievable for you

The challenge is not just in selecting keywords but also in determining what difficulty score is achievable for your website. Here's how to strike the right balance:

1. Analyse your website's authority: Start by evaluating your website's current Domain Authority (DA). Newer websites may need to target keywords with lower difficulty scores initially.

2. Competitive analysis: Analyse your top competitors. What keywords are they targeting, and what difficulty scores are they ranking for? This can guide your strategy.

3. Gradual progress: SEO success is a journey. Aim to improve your website's authority over time, allowing you to target more competitive keywords in the future.

4. Regular monitoring: Continuously monitor your SEO performance and adjust as needed. Keep a close eye on your keyword rankings and traffic patterns.

Improving domain authority over time

As your website domain authority (DA) improves, you’ll be able to go after keywords with higher difficulty score (and likely higher traffic). Improving your website's DA is a gradual process, but here’s what you should be focusing on:

1. Quality backlinks: Earn high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites in your niche. Backlinks from trusted sources can significantly boost your DA.

2. Content quality: Consistently create valuable, informative, and engaging content. Quality content attracts more visitors, encouraging other websites to link to your content.

3. Technical SEO: Ensure your website is well-optimized for search engines. This includes optimising page speed, fixing broken links, and improving site usability.

A practical example

Let's say you run an online shoe store selling comfortable shoes. You're targeting the high-traffic keyword "comfortable shoes." However, the keyword difficulty score for this term is extremely high, and your website's DA is relatively low.

Example: You can start by targeting long-tail keywords like "most comfortable men's shoes for standing all day" or "best women's shoes for foot pain."

These keywords are more specific and have a higher chance of attracting users looking for exactly what you offer. As you create valuable content and build quality backlinks, your website's authority will increase, allowing you to gradually target more competitive keywords like "comfortable shoes" over time.

JayJays' case study

Consider the case of JayJays, a well-established manufacturer and seller of military clothing and equipment. Their website's traffic had plateaued, and they were unsure how to regain momentum. Through a comprehensive SEO strategy that factored in keyword difficulty and a focus on increasing traffic, JayJays achieved remarkable results within just 6 months:

  • 47 page one rankings for high-intent keywords

  • +2,500 monthly visitors from SEO content

JayJays' success story showcases the power of addressing keyword difficulty and traffic in SEO. By identifying achievable keywords and optimising their content strategy, they breathed new life into their online presence.

Case Study

Discover how we helped JayJays, a reputable manufacturer and seller of military clothing and equipment, amplify their online presence.


Increase in followers

View case study JayJays

To sum up, if your website's SEO progress has hit a plateau, it's time to revisit your keyword strategy. Ensure your keyword choices consider both difficulty and high-intent traffic. A balanced approach, coupled with a commitment to quality content, will reinvigorate your SEO efforts and help your business thrive. Don't let your SEO stall – contact us for a no-strings-attached chat!

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