Slept through geography class as a kid? Don’t worry; keyword URL mapping is nothing like that.
You know you want your website to rank well on Google. But have you thought beyond that?
If you want to rank the right pages for the right keywords, you need a keyword map. With this on-page SEO strategy, you choose exactly which pages you want to rank for certain keywords.
So, what is a keyword map? Basically, keyword mapping is the process of assigning keywords to specific pages on your website. It’s just another aspect of SEO (search engine optimization) that can help your website rank better.
In this blog, I’m going to explain why you need it and how to do it:
Why Is Keyword Mapping Important?
The more you learn about SEO, the more you find that it’s a methodical, data-driven process. It’s not a guessing game—it’s a calculated digital marketing strategy.
Without a keyword map, you’re essentially throwing keywords on pages and seeing what sticks (or what ranks). But that’s not the way to do it. Keyword mapping shows you which keywords to use, which pages to put them on, and what kind of content you need.
The key thing here is searcher intent. For example, if you run a plumbing business, you definitely want to rank for “best plumbers in [location]”. But you’d probably rather have your service page rank than a blog post about the types of plumbing pipes.
If you’re looking to optimize your website, there’s a lot you can do, from improving the load speed to making it more mobile-friendly. Is keyword mapping worth your time?
Absolutely. I’ve laid out a few reasons why you need to try keyword mapping:
Working on getting more links? If so, you want to make sure you’re building links to the most important pages and using the correct keywords. This is easy when your website only has one or two pages. But as it grows, things get complicated. A keyword map can help you sort it out.
Make sure you have the right keywords on your pillar pages
You’ve written an awesome resource page on the benefits of working with a professional plumber. But if you’re missing the keywords you need to rank, your content will sit on page 10 of Google—exactly where no one will see it.
With keyword mapping, you can find out where you’re missing important keywords and add them to your existing content (or build out new pages).
Get rid of keyword overlap
If you use the same keywords across every page, all your content will start to sound the same (and may put you at risk of being penalized for duplicate content). With a keyword map, you can lay out which keywords you want to use on certain pages. That way, you won’t run the risk of keyword cannibalization.
What Is the Benefit of Keyword Mapping?
So, how will mapping keywords help your website? Here’s why it’s worth your while:
- Increase your chances of ranking. Let’s say your website has two pages that target the keyword “residential plumbing”. When Google bots crawl your site, they have to determine which of those pages should rank. If they’re both very similar, the result is two pages that rank lower instead of one page that ranks well.
- Simplify the content creation process. A keyword map is like a plan of action. You’ll always know which keywords and topics to focus on with a coherent keyword mapping strategy. Set out with purpose and direction from the drawing board each time you add a new page to your website.
- Find new keyword opportunities. Are you missing any important keywords on your website? You can identify these when creating your keyword map and then write content to fill those gaps. Gain a deeper understanding of user search intent (that means the specific content people are looking for when they search a keyword). Then, write content to fulfill that intent.
- Identify where keywords aren’t performing. Having trouble ranking for your target keywords? You’ll know exactly which pages are to blame for that.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Keyword Mapping
Want to learn how to make a keyword map of your own? Don’t worry; no pens or paper are required.
Creating a keyword map is easier than you think; all you need is a keyword research tool and spreadsheet software (I like using Microsoft Excel).
Here’s an overview of the keyword mapping process:
Step 1: Find Your Top Pages
First thing’s first: Picking which pages you want to map keywords to. Naturally, you want to rank the pages that give you the highest conversion rates. That’s how a keyword mapping strategy turns into money.
This process is pretty simple with small websites; you only have a handful of pages to pick from. But not the case with larger ones, like an e-commerce site. You may have dozens or hundreds of pages to sort through. How do you do it?
Your best bet is to find out which pages perform the best. To do that, pull up Google Analytics, and see which pages have the best organic performance metrics.
Start by launching Google Analytics. Then, view your landing pages and sort results by a recent date range to ensure you’re working with fresh data.
Refine the audience qualifiers to the most relevant target demographic (country, age range, etc.). Select a goal, export that data into a report, and you have the base of your keyword mapping document.
Now, decide how many pages you want to focus on. This changes depending on the size of your website. Maybe you want to work on ranking 15 pages; maybe you want to start with just 5.
Add these URLs to your keyword mapping spreadsheet for now; we’ll come back to them later.
Step 2: Find Your Seed Keyword
You can’t create a keyword map before you perform keyword research. Now that you’ve picked your top web pages, it’s time to do some keyword research and find out which terms you want to rank for. From there, you need to assign a main keyword to each landing page you’ve selected.
If your website has been live for a while, you can see which keywords you’re currently ranking for with Google Search Console; enter your domain, and see which keywords you’re getting traffic from. This gives you a good place to start.
You can choose keywords based on the following:
- Relevancy. With each change you make to your website, you need to keep the user experience in mind. Is your target keyword relevant to your business? This is incredibly important—don’t overlook it! Choose keywords that will align with your content and the user’s search intent.
- Keyword difficulty. This metric tells you how difficult it will be to rank for the keyword. It’s based on search volume and the backlink profile of the top-ranking websites. Put simply, the higher the difficulty, the more backlinks and domain authority you’ll need to rank for that keyword. If your website is relatively new, stick to keywords with a lower difficulty.
- Search volume. How many searches does the keyword get per month? Find out how competitive your search term will be. If the search volume is too high, look for less-competitive keyword variations.
- The competition. Which websites are currently ranking for your selected keywords? Scope out the competition, and determine if it’s feasible to rank above them. Consider the current domain authority of your website; if it’s much lower than the current top-ranked websites, you’ll have a hard time outranking them. You can also check out the competing businesses in your area to see which keywords they’re ranking for.
Once you’ve carefully considered your target keywords, make note of their unique attributes. Sort them into keyword groups based on their search intent, meaning, and difficulty. This will come in handy later when you make the spreadsheet.
Step 3: Expand Your Seed Keyword
Along with your main keywords, you should also search for long-tail keywords. Keyword variations are very useful when your website is fresh; they’re less competitive and easier to rank for.
For each target keyword you choose, aim for 5-10 long-tail keywords. If you need a refresher, here’s an example:
- Target keyword: Plumbing
- Long-tail variation: Plumbing company near me, residential plumbing, book a plumbing repair
When you’re selecting keywords, it’s important to keep search intent in mind. In general, users have one of three intentions with a search:
- Find information. The user has a problem they’re looking to fix, whether it’s how to unclog a sink drain or why is my toilet running.
- Investigate. Before buying something, consumers typically want to see proof first. They’ll do some research on their own by looking up plumber reviews or best DIY plumbing fixes.
- Make a purchase. These are typically just the product or service name, like book plumbing service or buy drain cleaner.
Keep these intentions in mind when you’re mapping keywords to different pages.
Step 4: Build Your Keyword Map
Let’s compile all the information we’ve gathered so far and put it into one document. This is where we make sense of all the sprawling data. If you’re itching to organize everything, you’ll love this step.
Right now, you should have two main resources: Your list of landing page URLs and your keyword groups. We’re going to put them together and organize them into a keyword URL map.
For this step, you can use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. Start by loading up a fresh spreadsheet. Then, add several sheets to it; each one will represent one of your target web pages. Label each sheet based on the web page titles—Homepage, Residential Plumbing Services, Commercial Plumbing Services, etc.
Within each sheet, add three columns:
- URL. Simply paste the page URL here so you know exactly which page you’re referencing.
- Keywords. This is where you include your set of keywords. Add one keyword per line. If you have a target keyword, you can bold it. Then, list the variations beneath it.
- Notes. Does this page need any work? In this column, you can list any tweaks or plans you have for your target pages. A few examples might be adding more content, increasing the page speed, or compressing the images.
This is just a framework—you can customize your keyword map to your liking. But by following this example, you can create a great framework for all kinds of keyword maps.
Once you’ve nearly finished the mapping process, you can get a bird’s eye view of your website. This makes it much easier to organize your thoughts and see where your strategy needs work. Here’s a quick checklist you can use to review your content strategy:
- Are there any instances of keyword cannibalization? Make sure not to use the same keywords on multiple pages.
- Do your web pages fulfill the search intent of your chosen keywords? For example, if you’re trying to rank for Residential plumbing services, you know that those users are looking to book an appointment. Make sure your landing page gives them the contact information they need.
- Who are you up against? This step takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it. Look up your target keywords directly in a search engine. Then, see which websites are currently ranking for that term. Does your own website match this search query, or will your content be an outlier in search results? Chances are, if you’re not on the same page as the top results, you won’t rank for that term.
With that in mind, you can refine your keyword mapping strategy until you feel it’s a good fit.
Note: Do you sell SEO services to other businesses? Consider sharing the keyword map with them. Your client could weigh in with valuable insights about the search intent of their customers or which landing pages are most relevant.
Step 5: Create an On-Page Optimization Roadmap
You’ve chosen your target URLs. You’ve hand-picked the perfect keywords. Now, it’s time to go in and optimize those pages for your select keywords.
There are so many ways to optimize a website; it’s something everybody does a bit differently. Here are a few ways you can get started with on-page optimization:
Double-check that the content is relevant
You can write a page that gets hundreds of visits each month. But if the content doesn’t align with the search intent, those visitors will click right back to the search engine, and you won’t get any conversions.
Identify technical issues
Slow page speed. Bloated images. Messy URLs. Websites are complicated; any number of technical issues can affect their performance.
Even if you’ve written great content, technical issues can seriously hurt your rankings.
Comb through your landing pages to find these common problems. Check for issues like missing meta descriptions, images without alt text, or page titles that don’t include keywords. Once you resolve them, you should see a bump in your rankings.
Spy on the competition
What are your competitors doing to rank above you? If their landing pages have double the word count of yours, there’s a slim chance you’ll ever outrank them. Try to align your content with what your competitors are doing—and then do it better.
Find thin or missing content
When you were doing keyword research, you may have found more keywords than you had pages to rank for. You can’t jam-pack all those keywords into one page. Create a new page to optimize for that select term. You can also re-optimize existing pages and build them out with more content.
Merge similar pages
Do you have two landing pages fighting to rank for the same keyword? Either remove all instances of that keyword from one of the pages or combine the content into a single page (as long as it makes sense to do so).
Write new content
Once your keyword map is nearly complete, you realize something: You’re missing content for one or more of your keywords.
For example, you might want to rank for “Emergency plumber” and “24/7 plumber”, but if you don’t have a dedicated service page for that term, you need to build one out.
This will help your rankings, increase your relevancy for your main keyword (plumber), and help you attract leads who are looking for your services.
Step 6: Track Your Keywords
Once your strategy is in full swing, it’s time to measure its performance. Fire up your favorite rank tracker and add all the keywords you’ve just optimized your website for.
As the data pours in, you can see which pages are ranking for those keywords (hopefully, it’s the ones you intended) and how your rankings change over time. A few ranking trackers I recommend are:
Here’s the beauty of SEO: You can tweak it at any time. If your strategy isn’t getting results, change it!
Ready To Create Your Keyword Map?
You’ve put the work in, and you’re ready to see the results. But not so fast: Like any SEO strategy, keyword mapping takes time.
Even after all this work, you rarely see instant results. SEO takes time and patience. Over the coming weeks and months, you can expect to see a positive uptick in your rankings (and for the right pages). Keep your eyes on your rankings, and watch how things change.
Even though you’re done reading this article from SerpFocus, the work doesn’t stop here. Your keyword and content strategy needs to update continually, just as your website does.