The first Google result gets almost 30% of the traffic for that search, according to SEO statistics. From here, traffic shares drop steadily until you reach the no-man’s-land that is the second page of Google.
For most sites, reaching the coveted first page will take some structured SEO work and keyword planning.
Keyword mapping is one of the ways SEO professionals create and lay out a site’s keyword strategy.
If you do not implement keyword mapping, you run the risk of ignoring valuable search terms, cannibalizing pages, and creating unnecessary work for content creators and site managers.
Fortunately, keyword mapping is not that hard to do, once you understand the concept and the steps involved. Ready to start structuring your site’s keywords like a pro? Keep reading to find out how to use keyword mapping to comprehensively target keywords and rise in the rankings.
What Is Keyword Mapping?
Before we get into the steps involved in keyword mapping, let’s take a look at what it is.
Essentially keyword mapping is the practice of discovering all the keywords a site should target, and then matching them to the most applicable pages. This process organizes your keywords, clarifies your site structure, guides internal linking, and assists content creators with keyword placement and content ideas.
Step 1: Do in-Depth Keyword Research
The first step when doing keyword mapping is to carry out thorough keyword research. If you have already done keyword research, you should still take this opportunity to uncover additional keywords that your site may be able to rank for.
There are various ways of doing this. Most SEOs have a preferred keyword mapping tool, such as SEMrush or Ahrefs.
Whichever keyword/mapping tool you choose, the aim of the game is to first find out what search terms your site is already ranking for. From here you can then discover related keywords to incorporate into relevant pages to further target searchers’ keyword intent.
For example, let’s say you are optimizing a site for a plumbing business. The first step is to find out what keywords the site is already ranking for in search.
Start by running the URL through an analysis tool such as SEMrush. Then make a list of the keywords the site is ranking for. From here you can then move on to discover related keywords.
For instance, you may find the site is ranking for the term “how to fix a toilet”. Related keywords you could capitalize on may be terms like “how to fix a blocked toilet”, “how to repair a broken toilet”, “how to unblock a toilet”.
If the site you are working on is not yet ranking for any keywords, then you won’t be able to do this. However, you can still go through the process to find keywords that are related to the keywords you want the site to rank for.
Competitor Keyword Research
Besides checking what search terms your site is ranking for, you should also do competitor keyword research. You can do this manually by checking out competitors’ tags and page content.
Alternatively, you can use tools such as SEMrush, SpyFu, and Ahrefs to automatically compare your site and against your competitors and find out which keywords they are ranking for.
We have a detailed guide on using SEMrush for competitor analysis if you want some guidance on the process.
Once you have uncovered what search terms your competition is ranking for, you can then incorporate these keywords into your keyword mapping, and discover further related keywords you can target to outrank your competitors.
Step 2: Categorize Your Keywords
The next step in keyword mapping is to organize your keywords into categories. You can do this in a simple Excel spreadsheet.
The idea is to create categories of related keywords that can be utilized in page and blog post content.
To take the plumbing example further, to map out the search terms from your keyword analysis, you can create different categories of keywords related to terms like “how to fix a toilet”, “how to unblock a drain”, “when to call a plumber”, “how to find a plumber”, “plumber near me” etc.
These are all different areas, with different search intent. By grouping your keywords together in this way, every time you create a page or post, related to any of these areas, you will immediately have a list of complimentary keywords all listed together from which to draw.
Step 3: Create a Keyword Map
Once you have grouped your keywords into categories, it’s time to match these with the relevant pages and content on your site.
To do this, start by creating another page or table in your spreadsheet. Different people create different layouts, but the basic idea is to create either a column or row of keyword categories and a corresponding column/row of pages and content.
By doing this you will be able to map out exactly which groups of keywords should be incorporated into which pages.
From here you can then optimize existing pages, content, and site structures with additional related keywords.
Step 4: Create Pages and Content Ideas Around Your Categories
Besides optimizing and updating existing pages and content, you may also wish to create new pages to target your keyword categories.
To do this, you can start by inputting new content topics and page ideas into your spreadsheet.
Once this is done, you’ll know that moving forward all content will be fully aligned with your keyword strategy. You’ll also be able to identify gaps in your content and create new content specifically to fill those.
Step 5: Rinse and Repeat
Once you have finished keyword mapping, you should monitor your pages to see how your keywords are performing. You can do this using free or paid keyword tools.
Based on which keywords are performing well, you can continue to tailor and tweak your keyword map and content strategy.
Keyword mapping is not a once-off process. You should revisit it regularly and use it to break into new verticals and areas of search.
Keyword mapping is a simple but powerful way to discover new keywords, organize them, plan targeted content, and structure your site for search visibility and traffic.
Need help with your keyword strategy? If so, we help businesses big and small with their SEO and digital marketing. Check out our SEO and digital marketing services to learn more about what we offer.
Have questions, or want a quote? Contact us and we will get back to you within 24 hours.