What is keyword difficulty?
Keyword difficulty is a way to measure how difficult it would be to rank organically in the first page or two of Google -- basically how hard it would be to start getting organic traffic from Google for a keyword. There are different approaches to calculating this, but it's a measure of organic competition for a keyword. When more pages target this keyword there is more for Google to choose from to select the best pages and it's harder to rank. Note that this is different from the Competition metric in Google Keyword Planner which only deals with the paid competition in Search Engine Advertising (SEA). Keyword difficulty, as we define it here, deals with organic search engine queries.
Universal Difficulty is a measure of difficulty in getting organic clicks from Google
We use SEMrush's Keyword Difficulty score as a basis for our metric to understand how hard it would be for a site to get traffic from Google. We call this Universal Difficulty because the same number applies to any website for their difficulty in ranking for a particular keyword. The Universal Difficulty score is from 1 to 100% in which 1 is the easiest and 100% is the hardest to rank for a keyword.
Personalised Difficulty tells you for which search intents your site can more easily get clicks than other sites
When we integrate with your site and first set up your Similar.ai category recommendations implementation we will ask to allow our platform to connect to Google Search Console and Google Analytics. We use search console data of which keywords your site gets clicks and impressions for today in order to learn for which new search intents it's easier for you to get clicks and impressions than your competition.
For example, this retailer can rank well for intents with designer clothing for children (here "Difficulty" is Personalised Difficulty and "Original" is Universal Difficulty).
Google has already learnt to give them the lion's share of clicks for these types of intent and they have lots of relevant products. It will be quicker and easier for them to get impressions and clicks for these new intents than other sites.
Personalised Difficulty is a powerful organic metric to guide your SEO work. Used alongside Total Demand it will reprioritise your focus towards marketing your pages to search intents with huge demand across many keywords for which Google already knows you have information users love.