How to Perform Keyword Mapping for Better SEO Results

Keyword mapping is a process of assigning or mapping keywords to specific pages on a website based on keyword research. It is the practice of identifying which keyword phrases will be most effective for a particular page to rank for. This is quite important because assigning the “right” keywords to the content provides a better chance for that page to rank higher in SERPs. Keyword mapping is good to perform when creating a new website, or in conjunction with a new SEO campaign, or if a site is not achieving good results from SEO, or if the site has a lot of content and is targeting multiple keyword phrases. If any of the above-mentioned scenarios apply to your website, it is likely that the website could benefit from improving its keyword mapping. Keyword map is a visual representation of which keywords are mapped to which pages. The outcome from keyword mapping is simply a list of pages on the left, and the main keyword for the page on the right. Below is an example of a keyword map. Keyword mapping is quite an involved process but the importance is significant in setting a benchmark to monitor a site’s performance with any future search engine optimization.

What is Keyword Mapping?

Keyword mapping also allows for a greater density of specific target keywords. With a determined keyword for each page, the website can work to ensure that the keyword or phrase is included in the heading and URL of the page, as well as making sure it is prevalent in the body text and the titles and descriptions included in metadata. This is important for search engine ranking as discussed by Michael Gray because search engine scans will allocate a specific keyword to a specific URL. A page that has multiple keywords assigned can struggle to overcome others with similar content and lose out on potential higher rankings.

Keyword mapping is a crucial step in improving a website’s search engine rankings. It is a process of assigning a single or a group of keyword phrases to individual pages on a website. Creating a map helps a website determine where and how to best allocate their resources. This is an important step in SEO service because without a map, it is likely that a website will be competing against itself for search engine rankings.

Importance of Keyword Mapping for SEO

When it comes to SEO and targeting specific product/service pages, information pages, or articles, you need to identify the keywords (search queries) that you want to rank in search engines for. Otherwise known as “target keywords”, these target keywords are the lifeblood of SEO and the page in question. This is how people will find the page when searching in search engines. Once you have your target keywords, it is important that you have individual pages for each keyword term used. This is so you can employ a keyword mapping strategy.

It all starts with the actual search query that’s typed into the search box. This could be anything from “cheap holidays in Tenerife” to “blue widget suppliers in London”. The words that make up the query all have a certain intention and are looking for search results that will give them an answer or sell them something.

Google and other search engines use complex algorithms to understand and rank pages on the internet. These algorithms are based on hundreds of ranking factors, with much speculation about the actual factors in question, their influence, and how they are influenced. But some of the more well-known factors include on-page elements, content (keywords), and links – on a very high level.

Steps to Perform Keyword Mapping

Mapping keywords to site URLs/categories, is the most critical or foundational stage of the keyword mapping process. It is at this stage that decisions will be made which affect site architecture and URL names. Decisions on how to group and organize keywords into common or related themes will also be made at this stage, affecting the success of following stages in the process. It is very important to have a clear understanding of site structure and available pages at this stage. A graphical representation of site architecture can be helpful when making these decisions.

To perform keyword mapping that leads to site-wide search optimization, one must take the following steps. The mapping process should be a team effort, including persons responsible for content creation and coding of web pages, if possible. Regular meetings will be necessary to successfully map keywords in a manner that affects both search engine visibility and increased user traffic to site pages. During these meetings, it will be necessary to have open communication regarding the themes of the website and the desired user interaction with site pages. With this in mind, keyword mapping should begin with keyword research.

Conducting Keyword Research

With a clear understanding of your site content, the next step is to compile a list of keywords. A good way to start is by brainstorming. If the page is selling a product or service, what words would you use to find that product? If the page is purely informative, what words best describe the content found on the page? Write down every keyword that comes to mind. Do not limit yourself at this point. You will sort and narrow down your list of keywords in the following steps. Brainstorming is also a good opportunity to get an outside opinion. Two minds are often better than one and you may think of keywords that another person wouldn’t and vice versa. Ask a coworker, friend, or family member for input on what they think are the best keywords for a particular page.

Before starting your keyword research, you need to have a clear understanding of each page’s content. If you have an existing site you are optimizing for, this means carefully reading each page and possibly making a list of the main points or topics covered on each page. If you are in the process of creating a new site, you should already have an idea of what content will go on each page. In this case, it is helpful to make a list or sitemap of all the pages your site will have and possibly write a few sentences on the content that will go on each page. Regardless of whether you are optimizing for existing or new content, a clear understanding of page content is essential for accurate keyword research and mapping.

What exactly do we mean by conducting keyword research for keyword mapping? Well, the heart of keyword mapping is the process by which you match your keywords to your site’s content. Whether you already have a website and are optimizing for existing content, or are in the process of creating new pages, conducting keyword research involves compiling a list of keywords that accurately represent each page’s content. Keyword research is the most important part of the keyword mapping process and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days or weeks, depending on the number of existing pages you are optimizing for and how thorough you want to be.

Grouping Keywords into Themes

Before you begin grouping keywords into themes, it is important to filter your list based on what is realistic to optimize for. This is judged primarily by keyword popularity and competition. You will need an idea of how much search volume each keyword gets on a monthly basis. While there are several good tools available for this, accessing a Google AdWords account is the simplest as the tool is free and the data is directly pulled from Google search queries. The AdWords Keyword Tool provides a handy “exact search” option which provides traffic estimations for the keyword when it precisely matches the user’s search query. Be sure to download a keyword list with the search volume data so that it can be referenced in the future without having to use the tool again. Price-based keyword tools like Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker are also beneficial as search volume is compared across engines, and more weight is provided to terms that are more likely to lead to a sale. The data from these tools can also be used to predict the effort versus reward of targeting a specific keyword theme.

When you conduct keyword research for your website, the goal is to come up with an exhaustive list of keywords that are relevant to the products or services you offer. Keywords can be grouped into themes which usually dictate a landing page on your site. For example, if you sell auto insurance, the keywords “auto insurance” and “car insurance” might be grouped into a theme targeting a landing page which compares the available insurance products. The theme then determines the URL and on-page optimization of the target page. When you map keywords into themed groups, you give yourself strategic insight to the types of landing pages you will need to build. A well-defined keyword-to-page strategy can result in better prioritization of your SEO efforts and a more concise snapshot of the SEO work that was done when reporting to supervisors.

Mapping Keywords to Website Pages

Once you have finished grouping your keywords into themes, the next step is to assign each keyword to a specific page on your website. If you find yourself at a loss as to how to do this, you may want to reconsider the way your website is structured. Each page should have a specific topic that is an offshoot of your site’s main theme. If you find that your top-level categories do not have corresponding subcategories, you may have found a more efficient way to organize your site and create landing pages for each subcategory on each top-level topic. Now you will be able to control the keywords that lead to each page by making a list of the best keywords for each subcategory and selecting the keyword that has the highest relevance and traffic to be the focus of the page’s optimization. This way, the page will have a chance to rank higher than if it were to try to rank for a keyword that is also being targeted by another page on your site. High-traffic keywords should be used for pages that you believe are most important to your site, as these are the ones that will have the highest potential to bring in conversions. At this stage, it is useful to assign a URL to each page if you have not already done so. This is important for keeping organized and staying clear on what keyword is being targeted on each page, as well as tracking keyword rankings in the future. An alternate method is to start with the keyword and determine what type of page should exist on your site that will be beneficial to a visitor and help accomplish a goal in your sales process. This may involve the creation of new pages. Select the keywords that are most closely related to each type of page and keep in mind future plans to expand your site. This method is most useful for sites with no current keyword focus on specific pages, as it will help to build an ideal website optimized for targeted traffic.

Optimizing On-Page Elements

A final touch will be to modify internal anchor text links on the site. If there are any text links that point to a given page, make sure the link text has the mapped keywords for that page. This will continue to reinforce the right keyword associations for search engine spiders coming from other indexed pages.

An important thing to remember is to make sure you don’t over-optimize the on-page elements by spamming or “stuffing” keywords on a page. This will hurt your site’s search engine rankings and could even get your site banned from search engine results. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the page content would still be enjoyable and easily readable for visitors, as if the keywords were never mapped in the first place. Some search engines have become very sensitive to over-optimization, with Google’s recent “Florida” update being a prime example. Many websites lost search engine traffic after this update due to over-optimization and paid the price for trying to manipulate search engine results too aggressively.

Since this step involves actual changes to a web page’s content and HTML markup, it can be the most involved and time-consuming step in the keyword mapping process. First, you will want to make sure that the primary and secondary keywords for a given page are present in the content of that page. The keywords should be included in the body text of the page, and also in the Title, Description, Keywords Meta-tags, Header tags, and Alt tags. Also, take note of the relative frequency and weight of the keywords on the page. The primary keyword should be the most prevalent and have the most weight in comparison to the secondary keywords. This will help to ensure search engine spiders will associate the right keywords with the right pages.

Monitoring and Adjusting Keyword Mapping

It is a good practice to regularly monitor and adjust keyword mapping for a number of reasons. First, the landscape of the industry might change over time. You don’t want to miss new keyword opportunities, and having a keyword map refresher session will help you keep up to date with the industry. Second, business goals sometimes change, and this might affect which keywords are required. You could also discover that one keyword actually converts better than the current keyword for a certain page. Third, constant raw keyword tracking data and making onsite adjustments based on your findings builds a culture of testing and refinement that promises to lift the ROI of search marketing. Regularly check core keyword groups. Step back and think about the core keyword groups that drive your business. They should dictate the main pages, i.e. if you have a business selling holidays, you should have keyword groups for cheap holidays, luxury holidays, adventure holidays, and family holidays. If you find that the keyword group has changed or you have more keyword groups, adjust the sitemap to reflect this, to create new pages and split existing pages to give perfect landing page focus for the target keywords. Over time, search engines will visit these pages and re-index them. When you start seeing the pages appearing in the index for the right keywords, you can consider the stage successful.

Best Practices for Keyword Mapping

In best practice, it is said that a smaller number of keywords should be chosen for a single URL. The reason for this practice is that by focusing on a small set of keywords, you are able to give a more clear and targeted optimization effort. It will then be clearer on what SEO methods to take if the URL is targeting a specific set of keywords. A URL that is targeting many diverse keywords can get convoluted and often result in mixed or poor SEO success. This is preferred to performing keyword optimization for a long list of keywords because often these keywords may possibly be semantically related and thus would necessitate similar on-page optimization. In this case, it would be better to combine the semantically related keywords into one phrase and focus the URL towards that single keyword. 3.1 Aligning Keywords with User Intent If keyword research is conducted thoroughly, it will be found that individual keywords often mean different things and will have a distinct search intent. In order to drive the best organic traffic, keywords should be mapped to pages in a manner that matches the user’s intent when searching those keywords with the content of the page. User intent can be a complex thing and can often involve assumptions. A good way to reimagine user intent is to put into Google a keyword and look at the top 3 results. Oftentimes, these results will be the pages that you are competing with to drive organic traffic. Try to understand why these pages are ranking highly and whether your page and its content match with the user’s intent for that given keyword.

Aligning Keywords with User Intent

Match the keyword to user intent by asking a simple question: “What is the user looking for when they search this keyword?” An individual may be looking for information such as reports and case studies on a given subject, while others might be looking to buy a specific product or service. This is notably clear when looking at transactional keywords which can have very different intents. For example, somebody searching “buy gaming laptops” is likely to be in the market for a gaming laptop and looking to make a purchase in the near future, whereas someone searching “gaming laptop reviews” is likely to be researching the product in hopes of finding the right one and might not be looking to make a purchase immediately. These two keywords can be very easily confused but mapping them to the correct content and pages is critical. Trying to push a product or category page with a high bounce rate might not be the best way to go about ranking in the case of keywords like the latter example, and might be better suited to a well-structured article or blog post. Understanding the target audience can also determine whether a keyword is worth ranking, the product or service type might cater to a specific audience despite the keyword having high search volume. A good example of this would be insurance companies targeting the keyword “cheap travel insurance”. While it seems like a no-brainer to go for any keyword with insurance in the title, it’s quite possible that the type of audience looking for cheap insurance might want a different product than an audience searching for standard travel insurance.

Considering Search Volume and Competition

Setting realistic goals, search volume, and competition are often overlooked factors in keyword analysis, but they are of the utmost importance. The goal of keyword analysis is not just to identify the best keywords to target, but to identify the keywords that are realistic to target. Realistic can mean different things depending on the site. For a site with a relatively low authority and PageRank, it may mean targeting less competitive keywords that still have good search volume in order to gain some quick wins and build momentum. For a site with a high authority and PageRank, it may mean targeting competitive keywords where the investment in SEO will result in a high ROI due to the likelihood of ranking well for those keywords. An understanding of what is realistic for each site will help to prioritize keywords and align them with the goals of the SEO campaign. A general guideline would be the more competitive a keyword is, the more important it is to have that keyword targeted on a page optimized specifically for that keyword. This concept will be discussed in more depth in section four on utilizing long-tail keywords.

It is a must to perform an overlap check of the keyword map with the current architecture of the website. This helps in identifying gaps where content does not currently exist for important keywords. Once those gaps are identified, the site can be expanded or optimized to fill in those gaps using the keyword map as a guideline. An effective overlap check can be done using a simple conditional formatting of the keyword map in Excel with the cells changing colors based on the existence of pages targeting those keywords. As the site is modified over time to fill in gaps or optimize existing content, the keyword map should be updated to reflect those changes. This ensures that there is always a guideline for which keywords need to be targeted on which pages to maximize keyword to content relevancy.

Mapping Keywords to Relevant Content

In mapping keywords to relevant content, it is important to refer back to the concept of keyword groups and the corresponding sets of relevant content. A good starting point is to map your chosen keywords to the most specific pages on your website. Let’s use a camping website as an example; the most specific page would probably be a product page for a particular tent. This tent could be described using a variety of different keywords, such as “lightweight 2-man tent” or “backpacking tent”. Grouping these keywords and selecting the most appropriate one is essential to effectively optimizing the product page. In this case, the two keywords would probably be placed in a single group, and the most appropriate keyword would be selected using the criteria of how well the keyword fits the content available. In this instance, the tent described is aimed at backpackers, so the second keyword is the most suitable and would be the one chosen. This would then be repeated for all other products. It is most likely that you will have identified keyword opportunities for content that you do not yet have on your website. This can be seen as a prospect for developing new content. This research should be kept, and once the content is written, it can simply be mapped across to the content using the same methods that were used to select the keywords. With regular checks to see how well the content is optimized and, if necessary, to make changes to keyword choice in an attempt to cover a wider range of search terms.

Utilizing Long-Tail Keywords

Utilizing long-tail keywords is a vital strategy in keyword mapping for maximized search engine visibility. Long-tail keywords are phrases more than one word long, and often are closer to a search query. Because they are more specific, it is easier to map long-tail keywords to the exact content that will be most relevant. In general, it is best to produce a single page for each long-tail keyword group to make sure that you fully cover the topic and don’t leave any gaps. Long-tail keywords generally have low competition and high search volume and can be a gold mine if effectively mapped to great content. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to track down every possible variant of a keyword phrase and map them to content. One effective strategy is to use a mind mapping tool to visually map keyword phrases to related content. It’s easy to see if you’re spread too thin or have gaps, and you can always come back to the mind map to add more keywords at a later date. A clearly defined strategy of mapping long-tail keywords to specific content will greatly increase the chances of search engine visibility success.

While there are numerous ways to accomplish keyword mapping, the methodology below has withstood the test of time and the ever-changing search landscape. This article will discuss a basic, yet structured way to craft a logical keyword map for a small to medium-sized website. That said, the techniques and methodologies illustrated can be applied to mapping keywords for large websites. Large-scale e-commerce and enterprise-level websites will likely require more complex maps with numerous layers of modifiers and long-tail keywords. But regardless of the size of the website, mapping keywords effectively comes down to organization and logic.

But why do so many people and companies skip or rush through this critical step in SEO? In my opinion, the primary reason is that it’s often not clear where to start, what to do, and when it’s been completed. Though more advanced internet marketers and SEOs may grasp how to effectively execute a keyword mapping strategy, there lacks a clear and comprehensive resource for people new to search marketing. This article was designed to bridge that gap and act as a resource for maps of all shapes and sizes.

Keyword mapping has been, and remains, the cornerstone of search engine optimization. Without a well-structured map of keywords and their appropriate landing pages, it’s unlikely that a page will rank highly for desired terms. But aside from basic navigational purposes, having a discernible map of keyword assignments will allow for logical progression in on-page optimization. In selecting title tags, headers, body copy and internal links, a well-mapped set of keywords can make the daunting task of on-page optimization a clear and concise exercise.

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