In a nutshell, keyword mapping is the process of assigning relevant keywords to the pages on your website, based on their intent and topic.
What you need to do next is, naturally, couple those two together!
And that's exactly what a keyword map is! In the most bare-bones form, it's just a huge sheet divided into columns, with your keywords and your pages all laid out for you to manage. It can contain "tags" for keywords — additional notes, information on search volume, keyword difficulty etc.
Why do Keyword mapping?
A properly built keyword map will have a myriad of uses, for example:
- To have the fullest possible view of your pages' performance by seeing not just how well every page ranks, but what exact keywords it is supposed to be ranking for, as well.
- To better determine the priorities of your optimization efforts. Pages and keywords aren't created equal. By seeing, all in one place, conveniently laid-out data about pages and their corresponding keywords, coupled with their SEO stats, you can prioritize your efforts better, seeing what needs to be optimized immediately, and what can be postponed.
- To structure your internal linking. By having your keywords organized into topics and mapped to certain webpages, you'll be able to effectively organize your internal link building, bringing together related pages.
- To let everybody on your team see what every page is supposed to be optimized for. A large team dealing with the entire website's worth of content and pages might sometimes face situations where some members of the team don't have a firm grasp over what pages are supposed to be optimized for which keywords exactly. Having an up-to-date keyword map solves that problem immediately.
- To effectively avoid keyword cannibalization by evenly distributing the keywords across your domain. Having a clear view of whether your similar keywords are used on multiple pages will help you avoid having different pages compete for the same rankings.
- To track weaknesses in your keyword targeting strategy, and to have a clear idea of what pages you still need to create by seeing what keywords aren't supported by your website's structure at all. Keyword mapping can and should be used as not just building your current website's map, but as building a map for your digital content's future development. Looking at the keywords left "uncared for", you'll be able to decide what kind of content to create.
- To avoid duplicating content. Even for an experienced webmaster it's tough to always track what content was already covered on a large website.
What you need to do before mapping keywords
To start, you need to settle on the list of keywords you rank/want to rank for. Even if you already have a more or less precise list of keywords, you still should know what actual searches bring people to your website.
Using Rank Tracker you can turn to the Ranking Keywords feature to see what search queries bring users to your website, and to which pages.
For that, open Rank Tracker and go to Keyword Research > Ranking Keywords. Then put in your URL and see what searches bring users to the pages of your website.
And before you start mapping your website, you need to handle two principal things both for your website in general as well as for any page in particular.
First, determine the search intent behind your chosen keywords.
Knowing what your target audience searches for, while monumentally important, is only half the battle. You also have to distinguish between the keywords with informational and commercial search intents, and adjust the kind of content you map those keywords to accordingly.
Second, determine the purpose and goal behind the pages on your website.
Before you get to the point of rewriting your pages, applying relevant keywords, and so on, you need to start by having a list of all of the webpages on your website and figure out two things:
- What is the marketing goal of this page?
- Who is the target audience for this page, and how would they search for it?
Always keep in mind why you created pages on your website in the first place, and use it as a guiding principle when mapping out keywords. Now, for an extremely large website, maybe you don't need to be handling all of your webpages all at once.
It might be a better idea to first handle the pages that bring in the most traffic and that you feel could bring the most traffic but aren't at the moment. Map those pages out first, before going on to the less important ones.
How to do Keyword mapping
So after you've done the preparation work, building the keyword map itself is an easy and fun experience. In an almost game-like manner, it now becomes a matter of mixing and matching the keywords to your pages.
While it is possible to do the entire keyword map for your website by hand, using Google Sheets or good old Excel, it's an immensely daunting task.
And the larger your website is, the more difficult it becomes to map it out manually. Filling out hundreds of URLs with corresponding groups of keywords may take up entire hours or even days!
This is why you should save some time instead and use a tool that automates the process!
Keyword Mapping is available in WebSite Auditor!
Download the software absolutely free from here to give it a try. Read below how to do keyword mapping and on-page optimization all in one tool.
With this module, keyword mapping will take you next to no time at all, and the entire process can be boiled down to the following simple steps.
Import your keywords
Having collected the keywords you're targeting using Rank Tracker, you then need to open the project for your website in WebSite Auditor (or create one) and go to Content Analysis > Keyword Map.
You can add keywords from a CSV file, or from a Rank Tracker project directly. Of course, you can always opt for adding keywords manually by clicking on the "+" sign above the keyword graph.
After you've done that, you'll be able to see all of the keywords for your project.
You'll also get to see the search volume for every keyword. With that, you'll have an overall idea of the kind of reach and traffic your page could get if ranking for that keyword.
The rule of thumb here is: while short-tail keywords have more searches than the long-tail ones, they are also much harder to rank for.
As you can imagine, a short-tail keyword like "bike" has considerably higher search volume and competition than a long-tail one like "mountain bike in Maryland", but it's clear which one has a more commercial intent.
Of course, you should always try and map the keywords most appropriate to their corresponding pages. After all, nowadays the real key to ranking is bringing the most appropriate content to the actual user.
That said, ranking for a long-tail keyword with a commercial intent might bring a whole lot more conversions, even if its search volume isn't very impressive.
When you’ve only launched your page, first map long tail keywords with lower keyword difficulty score, this will spare your optimization efforts and help to rank quicker.
Typically, homepage tends to rank for broader-match terms, while product pages or service pages rank for more specific keywords.
And don't forget to group your keywords by topic
The thing here is that we need to go beyond a simple list of keywords for which to rank. Since the search engines have gotten much more complicated, we now need to also be looking at a whole variety of synonyms and related phrases to capture the themes and entire segments of search queries.
Having your keywords organized by topic will make managing them quite a bit easier (it's not exactly fun to be trying to map hundreds of search terms one at a time). One great way to do it is to ask yourself: what are the obvious themes by which you can group your keywords and what pages correspond to them?
You can create keyword groups while doing research and mapping in your Rank Tracker project, and those will be saved while importing into WebSite Auditor.
That said, you might not clearly see the topics by which to group your keywords until you've already imported them into your project in WebSite Auditor. Or you might realize that certain keywords need to be moved to other groups, or that they should have an entire group of their own.
No problem! You can group your keywords right there at this step in the Keyword Map module.
Do that by pressing a button on the right of the keyword, then set the group you want this keyword to belong to. You can also immediately create a new group to map right there on the spot.
Using keyword groups will help you structure your website according to certain themes, and create entirely new branches of content if certain themes aren't covered.
Identify and analyze the pages relevant to your keywords
By analyzing on-page elements, the page's metadata, content, and the keywords already there, WebSite Auditor automatically shows you what pages could be a great match for the specific keyword. You can look at those automatic suggestions as your "top priority" pages to map for that keyword.
By clicking on the page, you will get the information on its optimization rate, organic traffic, along with a list of its mapped and ranking keywords.
You can check out the detailed audit of any page by clicking on a button in the upper right corner of the page's SEO info graph. Use it to have a convenient overview of both how well your content and your technical factors are optimized.
The graph will guide you to the Page Audit module where you will check out what changes can bring better results. Review the content mapped for its on-page and off-page factors, optimize the title, meta description and anchor words, improve the page speed — such on-page analysis alongside keyword mapping will help you finetune your content strategy overall.
Further down in Content Editor (where you can make all your on-page changes, optimize content, titles and anchor texts), here you can get a quick view of competitors’ ranking in SERPs for your targeted keywords. It is important to get such SERP benchmarks, though it really can be time-consuming.
Depending on the types of pages that are ranking for your keywords, you will quickly figure out if your page fits that intent and if it’s strong enough to rank. For example, you’ve found out that the SERP for a certain keyword contains mostly homepages. Then it’s unlikely you would rank for the keyword with a minor page from a catalogue. Or you see that the top-ranking pages are reviews that show up for investigational rather than transactional keywords. This means that traffic from this keyword converts less and will not suit for, let’s say, a sales page. And all this leads us to our next point.
Map the keywords to the pages of corresponding searcher intent
Remember how we talked earlier about identifying the intent behind those search terms you've collected?
This is where it pays off! Having carefully researched what kind of searcher intent is behind the keywords you're trying to rank for, it's going to be fairly easy to align them with the pages that would correspond to that same intent.
An informational blog post, a tutorial, or a news article will attract people whose priority will be to learn something, not necessarily to buy something. In that situation you'll have to include keywords with informational intent. Whereas a category page for selling something should be mapped to keywords with clearly transactional intent.
It is convenient to group your keywords according to their types of intent. For example, you are creating a comparison article, which actually might combine informational and commercial intents (some call it investigational intent). So you could cluster appropriate keywords together in a group called, for instance, "Navigational intent". In our situation that group should include keywords like "Which to buy..", "Which is better…", "Comparison…" etc.
By clicking on the "Map" button in the pages graph, you can map the chosen keyword or a group of keywords to a specific page.
And voila! You've just mapped a keyword/cluster of keywords to its corresponding page!
What often ends up happening during keyword mapping is that a certain high search volume keyword "seems" appropriate for many different pages. It might seem like a good idea to map that same word a number of times.
That is extremely inadvisable to do. Prioritizing the same keyword on a variety of different pages ends up creating a competition in the eyes of a search engine between the pages of your own website.
This brings your overall traffic down due to keyword cannibalization. While it is quite difficult to do, try and arrange your SEO efforts so that you are targeting a wide variety of keywords.
It should be remembered, that the higher the number of keywords you target, the more total searches your website will get from all the different pages ranking for different queries, the more potential customers get to see your content.
So, get it together, determine that one page that is the perfect match for a certain keyword, map that keyword to that page, and keep moving forward.
To help with that, WebSite Auditor has a very useful visual aid: keywords that have been mapped on more than one of your pages will have a "!" sign next to them with a list of pages where they've been mapped.
For better management of the mapping process, you have a convenient switch of view right above the keyword list. This allows you to switch between viewing all of your keywords, or just mapped or unmapped ones.
Also created for more convenient mapping, when you choose any keyword, the page it's been mapped to is highlighted in green.
While doing keyword mapping, take into account the fact that most potential customers have probably never heard about your brand and might not even have a firm grasp of what your product is called.
This is why, during mapping, it's important to try and use the keywords that address the specific problem that your product or service solves.
Use Keyword Map screen to prioritize your tasks
Changing the "All keywords" view to "Mapped", you can see, on a single convenient screen, the keywords you've mapped, the webpages of your website, their traffic and optimization rates.
That screen brilliantly fulfills the role of an "HQ" of sorts from which you can prioritize content creation and content editing tasks.
Dealing with content/keyword gaps
If you're at a point where you're done mapping out your entire website, take another look at your keyword research. Unless you've done an exceptional job matching keywords and pages, you will have on your hands both keywords without any pages supporting them, as well as pages without any keywords assigned to them.
Keywords without pages
Analyze the keywords that you've collected that haven't found their home on any of your landing pages. Look at their intents, search volumes, and so on, and use them to plan your content creation strategy!
Remember that adding pages to your website is basically creating opportunities to rank for new and different keywords. If you find out that a keyword totally appropriate for your website is not supported by any of your existing pages — great!
Creating a page like that adds more crawlable pages to your index, improves your overall rankings, and provides a resource for your users to come to!
You can plan those new pages right there in WebSite Auditor by using a "+" button at the top of the page list.
Pages without keywords
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you find certain pages in your map that don't correspond to any targeted keywords, it's advisable to go back to Rank Tracker and research to find more keywords for certain areas. By doing in-depth competitor research of top pages by exact URL, you will find more relevant content to build better targeted pages.
Although, for certain pages the issue is not about your keyword research. For example, your Company's pages like "Us", "About", and so on, will probably have little to no keywords to target for them, and it's perfectly normal.
Keep an eye on your ranking keywords
While mapping keywords and changing your website according to your new priorities, it's very important to take into account the search volumes of keywords being mapped.
By clicking the button above the keyword list, you can arrange your keywords by their search volume, in ascending or descending order.
Be very careful while editing your pages. While it's important to keep the keyword intent in mind, damaging your pages by taking out the highly sought-after keywords and adding those of low search volume might cause your rankings to drop substantially.
Restructure your website
On top of that, building a keyword map may show you certain opportunities to not only create new content, but restructure what you have at the moment. Try and look for pages that just need a little rebuild to be both better optimized as well as more useful to your users.
Let's say that you already created the pages that your customers are interested in, and you might even have the right keywords assigned, but the initial structure just isn't convenient enough for people to search for them.
For example, you operate an online phone store. All of your wares might be separated into categories by pricing like so:
- Expensive (>800$)
- Mid-price (400$-800$)
- Budget (<400$)
Having crafted your keyword map, you realize that people mostly search by company name, and, while you do have those names on some pages, you make it tougher for users to browse those categories. So you rearrange your products and set the filter with something like this:
In another example, you’ve found similar pages that compete with each other for certain keywords. The question is how to deal with them. First, you need to find out the reasons behind the keyword cannibalization. Are the pages large enough? Do they rank for the whole group of keywords or only a part of the group? Do they show up in turn for the same keyword terms in Google results? Probably, the pages can be unified into one larger piece that will bring more value. Or maybe the pages are supplementary and can be left as they are (for example, that’s a product page and a how-to guide about this product, then it’s not an issue).
Keyword mapping is an ongoing process
Creating a keyword map once will save you tons of time and work in future. Never simply do and forget about your keyword mapping. It's not a "one-and-done" type thing at all, but a continuous process of rearranging and finding the best possible combinations of keywords and pages. It is a natural continuation of keyword research, and should be treated as such.
As your overall marketing priorities change, so should you always keep your map updated to reflect those priorities. What's important for you is to always keep a hand on the pulse of what's ranking at the moment, and apply the changes in due time.
Creating a keyword map is all about grouping together the keywords used by your potential customers to search for you, assigning pages to those keywords, and creating relevant new pages to fill the gaps.
It will also help you determine the direction of your marketing strategy, seeing clearly what topics you already covered, and which, though related, you might have missed.
Having, in one place, all of the information about your pages and the keywords associated with them, is an invaluable tool that should be in the arsenal of any webmaster.