Introduction to Keyword Mapping for Content Managers

keyword-mappingHaving a website means almost nothing if no one is able to find it. Content managers know this; it’s why SEO has become so critical and why keywords have taken precedence in terms of marketing strategies and content creation. However, understanding how they work and creating a process that utilizes them to their highest potential isn’t always as simple.

When keywords first arrived on the scene, a simple strategy took over: use certain search terms as frequently as possible to get attention and to drive rankings. That was great, for a little while at least. Today, it’s much less effective. With constant Google algorithm changes and updates that fine-tune the search process, strategies must be more elaborate and developed to be effective. This is where keyword mapping comes into play; it is the answer and anecdote to outdated processes that do little in terms of results.

What Is Keyword Mapping?

Keyword mapping is simply the process of using specific keywords on different pages inside a given website to create a map that allows users – and search engine crawlers – to find the information they’re actually looking for in a timely, less-frustrating manner.

If you implement a keyword mapping strategy on your site, the result should ideally be:

  • Structured content funnels that guide navigation naturally
  • A keyword strategy that helps pull together your site map with topics and subtopics that are clear and easy to follow
  • Easy to navigate page systems that clearly connect pages associated with specific keywords

Keyword maps are helpful, not only for rankings, but for creating meaningful content strategies that do more than push information on a regular basis. They allow content calendars to be created that actually make an impact on SEO strategies, meaning they’re critical for content managers.

Ready to get started and to use keyword mapping inside of your site and content strategy? Keep reading to learn more.

Identify Your Keywords

Using the keyword planner from Google Adwords or another free option, start to put together a list of keywords that you’d like your site to be associated with. Your keywords should relate directly to your business or brand – meaning that if someone would search for a term and find your site, he or she would be able to find answers or relevant information. A brand like Garmin – which sells GPS tools for runners – might be able to gain more traffic by creating content relating to running shoes, but it probably wouldn’t be beneficial traffic that leads to conversions, regardless of how closely related the terms sound. Identifying relevant keywords is an excellent starting point.

If you have an existing keyword strategy that doesn’t necessarily include a map, you have a good starting point to work from. Look at the phrases and search queries that you’re currently working with; which have higher bounce rates? Could these be modified? Are there related search terms that may perform better?

Branch Out

Once you’ve identified your target keywords, branch out a bit. Look deeper at each keyword and at search volumes associated with each term. Look for related keywords that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. Looking at overall popularity and conversion rates will give you an idea of whether or not you are heading in the right direction.

Set Priorities

Once you’ve created an expanded keyword list, it’s time to start prioritizing. Think about which keywords are most relevant and have the highest chance at success: these are your starting points. These are the keywords that will remain fairly constant and will be tracked most extensively to determine the success or failure of specific campaigns.

Start Categorizing

Keywords should naturally fall into a set of categories. These categories closely relate to your business and should become your blog’s categories or tags. You need to regularly maintain your categories and especially your tags in order to ensure that they are still relevant and the best possible ways to categorize your content. I recently completed a keyword map for 12 Keys, a treatment center in Florida, and made sure that every blog post fell into a relevant set of tags. For example, this post containing an infographic about potential lifetimes lost to substance abuse falls into the “addiction” and “infographic” tags. Older posts especially were not well-categorized, because more relevant categories and tags had been added to the blog since their publication.

Set Preferred Landing Pages

Part of a successful keyword mapping strategy relates to landing pages. By “linking” priority keywords and categories to specific pages, your site will be more optimized for going forward. Certain pages may be relevant to only one keyword, or to many more than that.

Try to optimize each landing page for a specific keyword. Do everything you can on the back end – tags, titles, image titles and so on – to be sure that page, and the categories and tags it is linked with work together to create a fully optimized experience that helps with improving rankings and overall visitor experiences.

Start Writing

It’s amazing how much can go into a content strategy before content becomes a part of the picture. This is especially true with keyword mapping.

Once your landing pages are optimized and your priority keywords and categories are set, it’s time to fill it in with content. Look for ways to include keywords naturally in the content your brand creates. As always, make sure your content is relevant and actionable – search engines are becoming smart enough to know when content is just fluff.

Create a content calendar that touches on each keyword on a rotating basis to be sure the site remains fully optimized for each priority word and that your content has some variety. Structure is key for any successful content strategy.

In addition to keywords, engagement must remain a focus. Your goal is to increase time spent on each page, to decrease bounce rates and to encourage visitors to visit additional pages on the site. Use calls to action, internal linking and other strategies to keep conversations flowing – when possible – and to direct visitors toward conversions.

Measure and Refine

Like any other SEO initiative or endeavor, keyword mapping is not a once and done activity. Take the time to measure your results on a monthly basis. Look for keywords that are underperforming, eliminate them and replace them to try something new. For keywords that are performing above your expectations, find ways to keep utilizing them, perhaps through more frequent posts.

Keyword mapping can serve as an excellent foundation for any SEO strategy and, as such, should be a top priority for content managers. Whether you’re looking to redo a website, to increase your search visibility or to start from scratch, keyword mapping is a solid starting point. Learn more about the process and put it into action today.

About the Author

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer, designer and marketer. She loves dissecting strategies to see what makes them work. To see more of her work, follow @adrienneerin on Twitter or visit her design blog, Design Roast.

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Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Annie Mole.

7 replies
  1. Elizabeth King Humphrey
    Elizabeth King Humphrey says:

    All of these tips will come in handy as my husband has now asked me to help him with his website. I’ve written SEO content before, but hadn’t used mapping as explained here.
    This is a chicken-egg question, I’m sure. :)
    When you create the mapping, are you physically designing a map of the words in relation to the website or creating a map for the content on each website page? (I hope this is clear…!)
    Great post!

  2. Adrienne
    Adrienne says:

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

    To answer your question… the actual, physical organization of the keywords varies person to person! I’ve had colleagues dump a huge list of keywords and pages into Excel; I’ve also personally written them out on a big sheet of paper in a hierarchy. It depends mostly on how big a keyword list we’re talking about – if it’s a few dozen keywords, the hierarchy will work well; if it’s a few hundred, you’re better off just doing a really long, organized list in Excel.

    I hope that helped! Let me know if you have any other questions!!



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