Ahrefs Difficulty - Is It Accurate?

Jan 13, 2017
Hi - I have managed to develop quite a few business contacts over the last few years and it has me in a place where if I can rank for a few terms which I dont think most seo guys will think are that challenging I have the network to sell the traffic or advertising to the people who can make some money out of that traffic.

There are really 3 areas that I am looking to get into, I wont share them here but I would like to get some input on how to judget the difficulty of the terms.

The one I am most interested in ahrefs gives a difficulty score of 26 and says I will need links from around 30 sites to rank for this term. I know there is a lot more to it than this and on site and content needs to be right with on site linking and site size etc but that doesnt worry me too much as making content and internal links and the site itself is basically just "work" that I can do myself.

At the moment Im looking at the 1st page for the main term and:

The top result is a wikipedia result with for the exact term,
The second result is awikipedia result for the slang name for this term,
The third place is an investopedia article
The fourth place is an investopedia article
Then we come to some other sites that I have not heard of

I wondered how people decided if a keyword was really viable to go into? I know there are a host of keyword tools out there and for every tool I see a post saying that the metrics that these tools use are rubbish and ignore them.

If there realistcally anything that be done to test this other than just trying it? Basically I think my gut instinct is going to be the only tool of use on this front but I thought I would see if I can get any feedback before I start spending money


Staff member
BuSo Pro
Digital Strategist
Sep 3, 2014
Viewing the SERPs themselves is the correct thing to do. Ahref's metric isn't always accurate, but it is a good way to quickly filter a ton of keywords down to a number you can handle manually.

The most important thing to do first is to understand the power of your own domain and on-page optimization skills. You need to get a handle on what's possible with your site and take that into consideration too.

In your specific example, If you can't beat Wikipedia and Investopedia, then you can't rank in the top 4. Spot #5 used to be measured as getting 5% of the traffic. Now you're talking about even more ads, knowledge graphs, rich snippets. Being #5 is basically the same as being #20 at this point.

Does that mean you shouldn't produce that content? Probably not, if you can use that new post to get into position in the future and to boost other content for SERPs you can compete in.

Finance is pretty stiff. Investopedia, NerdWallet, The Simple Dollar, and countless other giant authority sites exist. And then there's a million lifestyle bloggers too.

The one I am most interested in ahrefs gives a difficulty score of 26 and says I will need links from around 30 sites to rank for this term.
This is the core problem of this metric. Even though they claim they do, does that really sound like it's taking into account the number of referring domains to the site at large? If you get 30 links to your page and optimize it perfectly, are you really going to suddenly beat out Wikipedia and Investopedia? Where does age come into play in that? Does it take into account on-page? What about internal link juice flow?
Oct 12, 2018
No! Keyword difficulty is absolutely no value after Google update in last 2-3 months. Not that it was very valuable before that but it might be dangerously misleading now.

The only way to find the KW difficulty is to check manually link profiles of non-authority sites(DR less than 55ish) ranking in top 10 and take a judgment call.