How to Map Keywords and Improve Your SEO

Published on June 1, 2015

Keywords are a long-lasting and coveted part of SEO. Even those on the periphery of digital marketing have undoubtedly heard whisperings about keyword optimization - choosing the correct keyword terms, selective and appropriate usage, keyword-based content development, and more.

We're not talking about Meta Keywords, the metatag intended for the search engine, those went out with Hummingbird.

The world of SEO is a complex one. Search engines have gotten much smarter, recognizing "empty" content that is stuffed to the brim with keywords, while offering little substance readers. In other words, shortcuts and gimmicks just don't work anymore.

Instead, small businesses must do their due diligence to research and develop high quality, relevant content to present to their audience. We can do this through learning how to properly target keywords, and from there, map keywords directly to page itself.

What is "Keyword Mapping"?

Keyword marking is defined by SEO Copywriting as, quite simply, the process of using specific keywords on different pages within a given website to create a "map" which allows users (and search engine crawlers) to efficiently locate the information they're looking for.

This denotes structured, intuitive content that guides navigation on your website naturally through a system of clear topics and subtopics based around keyword phrases, keyword variants, and related words.

The 3 Genres of Keywords

The term "keyword" is a little misleading in our current SEO environment, as keywords no longer considered single, stand-alone terms. Keywords and keyword mapping pertain to your tight-knit, consistent, and collective network of related words and phrases that indicate a targeted and resourceful environment for a web searcher.

In other words, your keywords are an intentional group of targeted words. As Volume Nine aptly states, search engines have become very, very proficient at recognizing keyword intent - keywords that are used to genuinely support content.

So how do we create an intentional map of keywords? We break it down into these three categories:

1. Keyword Phrase

A keyword phrase is the primary phrase around which your page is structured. This is the phrase you really want your audience to hone in on - your central topic, if you will. If you are writing about SEO for small businesses, for example, your keyword phrase would probably be "SEO small businesses"

This phrase is the most relevant term you would want to show up on a Google search.

2. Keyword Variants

A step below your keyword phrase, though still an essential component of your keyword mapping, are your keyword variants. These are some common variations on your keyword phrase that may also come up in a Google search.

For example, if your keyword phrase is "SEO small businesses," some keyword variants may be "SEO keyword small businesses," or "SEO tech small businesses," or "how to SEO for small businesses."

3. Related Words

Related words are words maybe not linked to the keyword phrase in any way, but some other stuff that maybe Google would expect to see. For the "SEO small businesses" keyword phrase, maybe "Google" would be a related word, or "Target," or "marketing."

Identifying Your Keywords

Developing your keywords can start at a basic brainstorming level. What kind of words would you associate with your company? Have them refer directly to your business, brand, and offerings.

From there, you can use a keyword planner like Google Adwords or one of these top 5 keyword tools of 2015 to further develop your keyword base.

From here, categorize your keywords into the 3 categories we talked about before. What are your target phrases? Variants? Related words? Make it clear what keywords are top priority keywords for your content strategy, and what are used to supplement those.

Developing Relevant Content

The next step in developing a keyword map is to develop content from your base of keywords. Think of your keyword phrases as key topics and derive content from there. For example, if your keyword phrase is, say, "Do-It-Yourself Decorating," some sub topics could be "DIY Designs For Your Living Room" or "8 DIY Projects You've Never Tried." The common denominator is the keyword phrase, and sub-topics are developed from there.

Quality is the key phrase when it comes to producing content. Quality is synonymous with useful, meaning that your content is in some way helpful for your readers. It immediately attracts the attention of your targeted audience by offering key information, intrigue, and answering a question - the question being their web search.

Optimize, Test, Repeat

Creating an expanded keyword map doesn't happen overnight. Consistency is key - keep developing your content on a weekly basis, and continually put in time to test and refine your keyword strategy. Look for keywords that are underperforming and replace them with something new. On the flip side, look for keywords that are performing well and utilize them more and perhaps with heightened frequency.

Be patient. Content marketing and SEO building take time. Work with a content marketing specialist to see furthered results, and to create targeted sub-surface keyword implementation active and useful.

Questions for us? Don't hesitate to send us an email or give us a call! We'd love to help.