What is Keyword Mapping and How Does it Help SEO?

Keyword mapping is an integral part of all SEO services and content marketing, and yet so few people understand the term or know how to go about it. If you have an effective keyword mapping strategy in place and back it up with high quality, helpful content, your organic search rankings should skyrocket, thus propelling your SEO efforts to uncharted heights. So, what is keyword mapping and how do you get started with it?

keyword mapping - The Brains
December 13, 2022
10 mins to read
keyword mapping - The Brains
Keep reading as we share our leading SEO agency knowledge on all things keyword mapping and teach you everything you need to know about this holy grail SEO tactic.

What is keyword mapping?

In a nutshell, keyword mapping is the process of finding relevant keywords for each page of your website. It’s essentially where you conduct in-depth research to determine keywords you want each of your pages to rank for. For example, if you offer a multitude of legal services, you’ll want the employment law page of your site to rank for employment law related terms, and the medical negligence page of your site to rank for terms related to medical and clinical negligence. Think of it like a keyword strategy for each of your pages, so rather than going in on a broad, site-wide level, you get more granular with it. 

Keyword mapping is to content SEO what flour is to baking; it’s essential. It’s the glue that holds it all together. If you didn’t have any flour, you wouldn’t bake a cake, so if you don’t have keyword mapping, you shouldn’t be charging forwards with content. You could, but the results will be less than admirable and generally just a wasted effort, the same as a flourless cake. No one wants a flourless cake, and no one wants subpar SEO content.

keyword mapping - The Brains

What are the benefits of keyword mapping?

Any marketer will attest to the fact that even in its most basic form, keyword research can be time consuming, and keyword mapping even more so – especially if your website is large and your main KPI is to boost overall visibility. That being said, keyword mapping is incredibly useful for SEO and can be the difference between you overtaking your competitors on SERPs or remaining in the trenches of pages two, three and beyond. 

Keyword overlap 

When you carry out keyword mapping, you’ll start by determining what keywords your pages already rank for. From here, you can see if there’s an overlap across your pages. Identifying keyword overlap is important because it can highlight any duplication issues on your site. One of the main risks with keyword overlap is that your site will be cannibalised, as in, you’ll be competing against yourself and Google won’t know which of your pages to display on SERPs. Oftentimes, if Google is unsure what to show, it simply won’t show anything, meaning you won’t rank at all.

Keyword mapping can prevent this by showing you which pages rank for what. You can begin to remove duplicate content (which in itself is problematic and detrimental to search results) and pull away from keyword overlap.

Keyword gaps 

There’s a good chance that your competitors have more ranking keywords than you because they’re targeting a broader range of keyphrases that you maybe didn’t think about but that could still be relevant. In the process of keyword mapping, it’s best practice to carry out competitor research and see what your rivals are ranking for by using the keyword gap feature available on most SEO tools.

You might find that you’re not ranking for a number of lower volume search terms that your competitors are, so it could be worth weaving these into your keyword map if they’re relevant to your pages. This will boost the overall number of terms you’re ranking for and increase your visibility online, helping you across the board with hitting your SEO KPIs.

Internal linking 

Internal linking is integral to your site’s overall performance and is a key factor in Google determining where you stand on SERPs. High-performing sites have robust and well-thought-out internal links, and one way they do this is by keyword mapping.

When you start to analyse keywords you want to rank for, you can begin to think in more detail about anchor text and relevant linking opportunities. Keyword-rich anchor texts are great for improving your rankings, and by knowing which anchor texts you want to use, you can formulate a more rigid and optimised internal linking strategy.

If you’re struggling with outreach and getting your name out there, our professional link building services might be of use to you.

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How to do keyword mapping

So, it’s pretty clear that keyword mapping is highly beneficial to your SEO efforts, but how exactly is it done? It’s important to note that the first step will be to carry out keyword research as normal. What we mean by this is using a tool such as SEMrush to identify how many keywords you already for, what position you’re in, and what pages they relate to. You’ll then want to look at your keyword overlap and see which keywords you’re cannibalising and across what pages, before finally looking at your keyword gap and identifying keywords your competitors rank for but you don’t.

Once you have this data, you can begin to determine which pages need content revisions to address any cannibalisation or overlap, and which of your competitor’s keywords are also relevant to you. The next step is to begin grouping them by type and relevant page, e.g., all keywords related to employment law go in one tab for the employment law page, and all keywords related to medical negligence go on another tab for this page.

Do this for every page on your website that you’re looking to optimise as part of your SEO strategy. Then, you can move onto more in-depth mapping.

  • Source a large subset of keywords using one generic term 

Using the keyword overview tool, you can begin to curate a list of related search terms from your inputted keyphrase. Using the examples stated above, in order for you to optimise your employment law page, you’ll want to search for ‘employment law’ as a general term. What should come up is a list of related keywords that are relevant to your initial phrase. For example, you might find phrases like ‘employment law UK’, ‘employment law solicitors’, or ‘manufacturing employment law’.

The first search term is generic and would be ideal for your homepage and your employment law page. The second term would be ideal for the employment law page and maybe a contact page, and the third term would be good for a blog specialised around sector-specific employment law (supporting content that can be linked back to the main employment law page).

You’ll want to begin going through the first 100 or so results with a decent search volume and sorting them into buckets for each page. All the sector-specific keywords can go onto a tab for supporting content for the employment law page, question-type keywords can be sorted into a FAQs tab to add at the bottom of the employment page, and generic search terms around the topic can be used for the main text on the employment page. One or two of these can also be used on the homepage as anchor text when introducing the services you provide. Try not to duplicate lots of keywords across multiple pages.

You don’t want to include too many keywords because many won’t have a search volume and some may be specific to your competitors (they might include their name), so filtering through the first 100 is a good place to start. 

  • Identify search intent 

Once you’ve got your list of keywords for each of your pages, you can begin to filter further by search intent. This is particularly useful if you’re struggling to come up with supporting content for your pages and will form the foundation of your content strategy.

There are four main types of search intent:

  • Transactional: Users are interested in purchasing a product/service. Such keywords may include phrases like ‘buy’, ‘best’, ‘price’, or ‘shipping’ before or after the root phrase, e.g. ‘best employment law solicitors UK’. This indicates the user needs an employment law solicitor and wants to hire the best one, thus their search intent is transactional. 
  • Commercial: Users want to research something before they buy it, i.e. they’re not yet at the transactional stage, but they could be easily swayed by high quality content. Such keywords may include phrases such as ‘reviews’, ‘alternatives’, or ‘cheap’ before or after the root phrase, e.g. ‘employment law solicitor reviews’. This indicates that the user likely will become transactional, but they’re shopping around first, so aren’t quite ready to commit just yet. They’re still in their research phase. 
  • Informational: Users are looking for information on a topic. These keywords are often best served via blogs or FAQs, and may include phrases such as ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘why’ and other questionable words before or after the root search term, e.g. ‘do I need an employment law solicitor?’. This indicates that the user is simply looking to understand if they could benefit from a service, but they’re not transactional or commercial because they’re unsure whether the service or product in question is suitable at this stage. 
  • Navigational: Users are looking specifically for your branded product or service. Search terms will include your brand name. This indicates that a user is familiar with your brand and is coming to you for specific information, e.g. by searching for your brand name followed by the phrase ‘blog’ or ‘employment law solicitors’. These users can very easily become transactional if you have the right CRO tactics in place. 

Ideally, you want to service every type of search intent. Keywords on your main employment law page would be transactional or commercial in nature, whereas keywords in your supporting blog content would be informational, and you’d look to use navigational keywords in your outreach strategy.

Taking this approach helps you to map out the content you need to build and where each search term would perform best.

  • Create URLs and supporting content ideas 

Once you’ve done your research, you can begin to create any new URLs (try and use a keyword) and the keywords you want to include on this page. Then, you can think about supporting content that will link to that URL, e.g. blogs (approximately six pieces of supporting content per URL is ideal) and the keywords you want to include for each of those. Finally, you can come up with outreach/external linking content that links back to your main URL, again, citing keywords you found during your research phase.

You should end up with a spider web of related and themed content that encompasses keywords you already rank for but could improve on, keywords your competitors rank for but you don’t, and keywords that answer each search intent. In doing so, you’ll have a robust keyword map that covers all the core aspects of SEO and content marketing.

Final thoughts

Keyword mapping is an ongoing process and is something that should be looked at at least once a year to make sure your content is up to date and new (all the things Google loves). Sure, it’s time consuming, but you can easily see how the far-reaching approach covers all bases and can help you move up the ranks on SERPs.

That being said, keyword mapping does require a certain level of dedication and knowledge on things like user intent, cannibalisation, and creative content ideas. If you’re not able to serve these notions yourself, we can help. We have an expert team of SEO strategists who are well-versed in keyword mapping, and a team of talented copywriters who can execute high-quality, SEO-friendly content based on the strategy.

Get in touch with us to find out more about our SEO copywriting services.

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