The Universal Guide to Building a Keyword Map for SEO

The Universal Guide to Building a Keyword Map for SEO

A keyword map is something that will make your SEO take it up a notch. If done correctly, it will help you improve your site’s appearance in Google Search and provide visitors with relevant content.

Without further ado, let’s get our heads around how to map keywords. The guide is suited to any niche and site development stage.

keyword mapping

What is the point of a keyword map?

A keyword map is a matrix of all the keywords related to your business and the corresponding web pages.

The point is that it makes your SEO strategy more structured. With it, you get the big picture of:

  1. what keyword opportunities you miss
  2. where you should put your keywords to avoid keyword cannibalism
  3. what new pages to expand your site with
  4. how to do your internal linking effectively.

What tools will you need for keyword mapping?

All the tools I recommend offer free versions. So, you don’t have to spend a fortune while working on a project.

How do you map keywords to your pages?

1. Find keywords you rank for

If you’ve had a website for some time, analyze what keywords you’ve already been ranking for. It will help you understand how optimized your site is and what should be improved.

Launch any keyword research tool you consider trusted. My choice is Rank Tracker. It can replace all the tedious manual processes that keyword research requires.

Proceed to Ranking Keywords in the Keyword Research section to get the full list of all the keywords you are currently ranking for.

Specify your target location, choose mobile or desktop search (after identifying your buyer personas), and click Search. You will see the list of all your keywords and the related pages.

Keyword research for a design studio

All the keywords collected at this and the following stages will automatically appear in Keyword Sandbox.

2. Find keywords you want to target in the future

Now let’s find new keywords aka opportunities for your website growth. There are several methods to do that. I will use 2 essential ones: analyzing competitors’ approaches and taking a peek at Google Search itself.

2.1 Expand your keyword base by spying on your competitors’ strategies.

To do that, go to the Keyword Gap module in Rank Tracker. It will compare your keywords and the keywords of all your competitors at once.

Enter a couple of your competitors’ domains and click Search. You will get a list of terms they rank for, and you don’t.

Keyword gap analysis for a design studio

2.2. Then check out Google Related Searches, Autocomplete and People also ask.

These are the things related to your focus query, which people often search for, and cool ideas for your keyword strategy at the same time.

Google Related Searches

Google Autocomplete

Google Related Questions

You can also do this part of the research right in Rank Tracker to save your time.

3. Group your keywords by topic

For your pages to appear in top positions, Google has to make sure that their content is semantically relevant to the queries people make.

If you try to target too many unrelated keywords on a page, this semantic relevance may not be traced. Your page may seem to present no value.

This is why it’s a clever idea to define a cluster of semantically close keywords that you will target on one page. As a rule, it’s 1-2 most essential keywords plus a couple of complementary long-tails.

You can cluster them yourself or using the automated grouping functionality of Rank Tracker. For that, go to Keyword Sandbox, right-click All keywords, then Regroup. Choose the degree of semantic similarity. I choose Medium or High as this clustering is more accurate. As a result, all the keywords are grouped by topics.

Grouping by semantic similarity in Rank Tracker

However, our keyword groups are still not perfect. They require a thorough check.

4. Clean up the collected keywords

Some words you’ve collected may not be right for your website. Even the most advanced SEO tools can’t be more accurate than you yourself. A good example is below.

Irrelevant keywords found during keyword research

Here we see that some keywords contain a location that has nothing to do with our business.

So, scan your list and find unsuitable terms. Here is a list of things you should check your keywords for:

  • Keyword localization. If you run a local business in NY, a keyword with “LA” won’t bring you quality traffic.
  • Topical correlation. Some keywords may not reflect the essence of your business, though may contain some similar words. Ex., how to pick the best apples vs. how to choose an apple iphone.
  • Target audience. Some queries can be made by universal audiences. Others by a certain type of people. Take “dental instruments” and “dental services”. The topic is the same – dentistry. However, the first query is made by a professional. Another one by a potential client.

Once you finish, divide our groups further based on user search intent. With it, your keyword targeting will become flawless.

5. Sort keywords out by search intent

Search intent is the core reason users turn to Search. If they look for information, Google shows them Wikipedia, blog pages, and forums. If they want to buy something, it shows eCommerce sites. For instance, If they’re from Philadelphia and want SEO companies near them, Google will show them SEO Philadelphia PA companies.

Google does its best to satisfy users with the most relevant type of content. That’s why you should target each query with specific content. Otherwise, your page has no chance of getting to the top of Google Search Results.

Thus, you need to check if there are terms with different intents within one group. If there are, regroup accordingly.

I describe each search intent type, their signal words and corresponding types of content below.

5.1. Informational intent

Motive: looking for specific information. Usually, such a query looks like a question. However, there are a number of simpler queries, such as names, places, etc.

Signal words: how, what, guide, how to, best way to, and so on.

Type of content: blog post, help pages, FAQ, About pages, video guides, podcasts, portfolios, case studies.

Keywords example: how to grow a pineapple, Boris Johnson, hot chocolate, etc.

5.2. Commercial

Motive: product comparison, investigation of options, finding the best value for money.

Signal words: best, review, comparison, vs., women/men/kids, top.

Type of content: listicles, comparison charts, reviews.

Keywords example: fujifilm best camera, safest baby food brands, dyson styler reviews, ipad air vs ipad pro, etc.

5.3. Navigational

Motive: finding a specific site, product, services.

Signal words: names of brands, products, and services.

Type of content: home pages, product pages.

Keywords example: gucci new collection, instagram login, spotify for artists, etc.

5.4. Transactional

Motive: making a purchase, booking, ordering.

Signal words: buy, order, book, where to buy, coupon, price.

Type of content: product pages.

Keywords example: book flight american airlines, buy macbook pro 13, etc.

FYI, Rank Tracker allows you to filter your keywords according to the words they contain. Just click the filter icon and type in the signal words.

Filtering keywords with signal words

One more thing, you may think that it’s worth putting emphasis on transactional and commercial keywords. They sell better, don’t they? It is a misjudgment. Though they won’t bring customers straight away, they still work on your brand awareness and trustworthiness. It does impact your sales in the long run.

6. Single out focus keywords

As your keywords are now grouped by topics and search intent, it’s time to decide what keywords will be primary in each group. It’s them that you will put into meta titles and descriptions, headings, URLs, etc. Secondary keywords are sentenced to be scattered around the text body.

It’s easy to do. Just check the search volume of each of them in Rank Tracker. The keywords with the highest number of searches should be primary.

Search volume of keywords

7. Check keyword difficulty for each group

Now that your keywords are ready for optimization, you could start assigning them to pages. But we lack important knowledge here. It’s Keyword Difficulty. It defines how hard it will be for your page to get to the top of SERPs with this keyword. The higher it is, the more authoritative page you need for the keyword group.

This way, the most difficult keywords should be put on the strongest high-level pages. Usually, it is a homepage. The least difficult ones are destined for low-level pages.

Rank Tracker calculates the average Keyword Difficulty for a group. Check the metric out and decide what pages you will put your keywords on.

Keyword Difficulty metric in Rank Tracker

8. Assign your keyword to pages

By now, you have a list of grouped keywords and an understanding of where each of them should belong. It’s time to map these groups.

Use WebSite Auditor, it has wonderful mapping functionality. Import the collected and grouped keywords from Rank Tracker. You will immediately see all the relevant pages for each of your keyword groups.

Keyword mapping in WebSite Auditor

Start mapping keywords to the right pages. But again, don’t follow the tools’ recommendations blindly. Check if:

  • the page is relevant
  • the content type of the page suits the keyword’s search intent
  • the authority/level of the page correlates with the difficulty of the keyword group.

Once you finish your mapping, you may notice the following:

  • There are groups of keywords that are not mapped. There are no pages for them. You probably need to create new content for those groups.
  • There are pages with no keywords mapped to them. Here you have 4 options: leave them as they are, delete, redirect or map the additional set of keywords that haven’t been listed before to these pages.

What do you do with mapped keywords?

First, optimize existing pages according to the best on-page SEO techniques.

Then check your pages for content SEO issues and fix them if there are some. Website Auditor does a great job here. It shows all the flaws in your keyword optimization.

Go to Content Audit, enter your page URL, and the keywords you mapped to it. This is what a poorly optimized page will look like.

Content Audit in WebSite Auditor

Follow the recommendations given and fix the issues.

Second, write new content for those groups of keywords that were left without content.

Parting words

Make keyword research and mapping an ongoing process. You should audit your website content regularly and continue searching for new keyword opportunities non-stop. With this approach, your SEO will be successful.

My last piece of advice: Don’t use exact keyword matches if it defies common sense. Google will reward you if you focus on delivering relevant, quality information instead.



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