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Master KOB Analysis: The 5 Steps to Identify High-Impact Keywords to Prioritize First

Updated on September 26, 2023

Looking at keyword difficulty is great for prioritizing what content to create…

But what if I told you there was a better way? 

One that shows your true potential to rank for it.

That’s what a KOB analysis does.

It eliminates the guesswork and lets you identify which keywords you should target at your authority level.

Sounds good?

Let’s go.

What Is KOB Analysis?

A Keyword Opposition to Benefit Analysis (KOB) helps determine the best order for publishing content based on a keyword’s difficulty level and potential traffic value.

It was originally popularized by Todd Malicoat.

It’s a simple yet clever formula that:

  • Removes trial and error
  • Saves time and money
  • Free

A KOB analysis is an excellent addition to your existing keyword research tool kit…

And can be done using some simple spreadsheet formulas and SEO tools like Semrush.

Incorporate it into your SEO content strategy to make data-driven decisions instead of relying on gut feel or other stand-alone keyword metrics.

Why Is KOB Analysis Important?

KOB analysis is important for providing additional insight into keywords in your niche…

But it boosts your productivity while providing early wins if you’re a new creator with a blog.

Let’s take a closer look at why you should use it.

1. Provides Additional Insights

KOB analysis goes beyond relying only on competitors’ or keyword difficulty scores.

It combines other points to uncover new opportunities that may have gone unnoticed…

And allow for a more nuanced content plan.

You can’t have too much data.

2. Enhances Competitive Edge

Most competitors will only create blog posts based on the keyword difficulty score…

But many might be biting off more than they can chew.

And only rely on one data point.

By strategically targeting the best opportunities within your niche using more metrics…

You’ll achieve E-E-A-T and rank faster.

The better your keyword planning is…

The better your pages will perform.

3. Saves Time

Having better insight into your content plan has the obvious benefit of saving you time scratching your head wondering what to publish next.

By ranking better in the SERP, building an audience, and ultimately generating revenue sooner, you’ll also save time in the long run.

The best part is a KOB analysis doesn’t have to take up massive amounts of time with an elementary analysis taking a few hours or less.

4. Helps Provide Early Wins

Starting a new website is hard…

And gaining any traction will be a slow grind.

KOB analysis helps to identify “low-hanging fruit” keyword opportunities that you can start getting traffic from early on.

These early wins can keep you in the game long enough for traffic and money to start flowing in.

5. Facilitates Long Term Content Planning

It’s not all about quick wins. 

A long-term content plan is just as important as a short-term one.

It allows you to adjust your content plan as your domain authority increases.

The ratio of value to difficulty when performing a KOB analysis makes it a no-brainer for any keyword planning exercise.

You’re probably convinced by now that KOB analysis is a valuable asset in your toolkit.

It’s time to get our hands dirty.

How To Calculate KOB Score

Calculating the KOB score of a keyword isn’t rocket science.

Here it is.

KOB Score FormulaPin
  • Traffic potential: Sum of the organic traffic that the #1 ranking page receives from all the keywords it ranks for given the primary keyword. We better estimate a keyword’s value based on the actual traffic by using traffic potential and not volume.
  • Cost per click (CPC): The average price advertisers pay for ads to target that keyword.
  • Keyword difficulty: The proprietary difficultly score by SEO tools that tells you how hard it is to rank for a keyword.

When you multiply the traffic potential with the CPC

You’re quantifying the monetary value of the organic traffic that a keyword brings.

This assigns a tangible value to the keyword which reflects both its traffic potential and its value to advertisers.

When you divide this value by the keyword difficulty

You’re adjusting the keyword’s value to account for its ranking difficulty.

This approach ensures you pursue not only high-value keywords but also those you reasonably can rank for given your domain authority.

It prevents you from “spinning your wheels” and gives you the best opportunity to drive valuable traffic and conversions for your site.

How To Perform a KOB Analysis?

To do a KOB analysis, you’ll want to follow these simple steps:

How To Perform a KOB AnalysisPin
  1. Build a KOB Table
  2. Populate Your KOB Table
  3. Normalize the Results
  4. Create Your Keyword List
  5. Scope Time Commitment (Optional)

Let’s take a closer look at how to do a KOB analysis.

1. Build a KOB Table

Start by creating a table in Excel or Google Sheets.

You’ll want the following columns in your table:

  • Keyword
  • Search volume
  • Traffic potential
  • CPC
  • Keyword difficulty
  • KOB score
KOB Table ExamplePin

2. Populate Your KOB Table

I will assume you’ve already done keyword research.

If you haven’t…

The easiest way to create a keyword list is by taking the top 5 or 6 primary keywords relevant to your niche, searching them in Semrush or Ahrefs.

Imagine you want to start a blog on marketing. 

Export the first 1000 keywords to a CSV file and populate the appropriate columns in your KOB table.

3. Normalize The Results

Spreadsheets don’t like formulas that use zero value or blank cells…

So we need to address this.

Identify all the zeros in our traffic potential, difficulty, and cost per click columns and change them to a value of 100, 1, and 1, respectively.

These values are personal preferences.

They make enough sense in most cases that you can still pick up the good keywords. 

Use your judgment when creating your list in step four of any keywords solely populated with this data, as they can be misleading.

Next, enter the KOB formula in the appropriate column and filter the data based from high to low.

That’s basically all the technical bits done.

Simple right? 

Next you’ll need to use your expertise within your niche to finalize your keywords based on KOB score.

4. Create Your Keyword List

There are still a few more things you need to do before compiling the final list.

Filter the dataset based on keyword difficulty.

I chose only to show keywords with difficulty below 10.

Choose a those that are around the same score as your domain rating.

You might notice some outliers that have extremely high KOB scores.

Use your niche expertise to assess them and delete if necessary.

If you’re not sure…

Take a closer look at the traffic potential and the cost per click.

Do these seem reasonable?

You should now have decent list of keywords.

But there’s one more thing.

You might have noticed the volume column isn’t used in the KOB formula…

So why did we keep it?

Keyword variations.

You might find a bunch of closely related keyword variations.

If you can’t decide which one is best…

Take a look at the volume column to help drive a final decision.

And that’s it!

Here are the top 20 marketing-related keywords with a difficulty score below 10.

KeywordVolumeTraffic PotentialCost Per ClickDifficultyKOB Score
marketing to dentists80019001392744
amazon marketing jobs50017001.612720
b2b marketing automation600150017102550
amazon marketing cloud900500512500
google marketing demo1100400512000
marketing jobs google4501900111900
marketing recruiters110026004.571671
marketing virtual assistant4503001121650
wix email marketing5001100651320
squarespace email marketing500700961050
yotpo ecommerce marketing7008200181025
diverse marketing5004002.511000
ecommerce marketing automation450400126800
strategic planning for marketing500350029778
distributed marketing50025031750
marketing for plumbers700110069733
digital marketing internships100012000.61720
godaddy websites marketing45010002.54625
salesforce marketing cloud certification6008001.52600
marketing automation agency700350107500
Completed KOB Table Example

They might not be the prettiest keywords…

But they can certainly start driving traffic to your site and get you ranking sooner.

5. Scope Time Commitment (Optional)

This step takes the KOB score a step further by considering how much time you might spend on an article.

Depending on your level of commitment…

You might want to consider using a revised KOB score.

It’s pretty simple.

Estimate how much time a keyword might take you to cover in hours.

Then divide the existing KOB score by the time to create that content to get your revised KOB score. 

You might find a popular keyword that takes 8 hours will rank lower than one you can cover in a few hours or less.

Scoping helps you to quantify your SEO efforts.

By giving each keyword a likely timeline for results…

You can better manage your expectations.

KOB Analysis Drawbacks and Things to Watch Out For

No method is perfect…

KOB analysis is no different.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing a KOB analysis:

  • Outliers: It’s not just the high-scoring outliers we need to worry about. It’s often the case that zero-volume keywords are a hidden goldmine for easy traffic. Relying solely on KOB analysis might cause you to miss some of these.
  • Accuracy: Analysis is only ever as good as the data. If a keyword seems too good to be true then it’s always worth taking a closer look to see if it makes sense to cover it.
  • Reliance: I might sound like I’m repeating myself here. But don’t rely on any single method for keyword research. KOB analysis is just another tool in your SEO arsenal.

Always use your industry expertise and professional judgment with any type of keyword analysis strategy.

KOB Analysis (FAQs)

Can I Use KOB Analysis With Other SEO Strategies?

Absolutely. In fact you should aim to.

Using a multifaceted approach will give a better view of your content landscape. It might even help you to spot emerging trends, which can often be a gold mine if you get in early enough.

Is KOB Analysis Suitable for Beginners?


While KOB analysis is considered an advanced SEO tactic…

It’s suitable for beginners due to its simplicity.

Provided you have access to an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs and a spreadsheet app.

How Frequently Should I Perform a KOB Analysis?

The frequency of KOB analysis depends on your various factors like your niche and publishing schedule.

If your niche is fast-moving with new trends emerging often…

You might want to perform a KOB analysis once a month or more.

Slower moving niches would still likely benefit from performing a KOB analysis quarterly. 

How Does Keyword Relevance Relate to the Kob Analysis?

Keyword relevance is an integral part of KOB analysis.

The idea is to target keywords that are not only relevant to your content but also have significant search engine traction and low SEO service overhead.

This step ensures you prioritize your content appropriately and make optimal use of your resources.

Why Is a Keyword Difficulty Tool Essential in KOB Analysis?

You require a keyword difficulty tool to determine the challenge of ranking for a specific keyword.

You also get access to traffic and CPC metrics which are key components for calculating the KOB score.

How Does Keyword Traffic Value Guide My KOB Analysis?

Keyword traffic is the estimated monetary value of the traffic a website can earn from organic search results if it ranks for that keyword.

A higher traffic value of a keyword means a greater potential benefit.

This encourages you to put more effort into ranking for that term.

It’s an integral factor while prioritizing content marketing efforts.

Wrapping Up

KOB analysis is far from being a definitive tool for keyword research…

But it’s a data-driven assessment to prioritize your content for SEO.

Staying well-informed in your niche will always be the best bet for spotting opportunities and emerging trends.

Still don’t forget to give this a go and let me know how it goes.

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About Brendan Aw

I’m an ex-marketing executive for 6 & 7-figures high-growth startups turned writer, creator & entrepreneur. I share my learnings on digital entrepreneurship, personal finance, and remote working while helping run my family’s crystal chandelier business.

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