What Is Keyword Mapping?

What a keyword mapping tool usually does is it comes up different possible combinations and synonyms of a keyword that you input. For e.g if i type in the keyword ‘dentist’, i would get additional keywords like ‘cosmetic dentistry’, ‘general dentist’, ‘implants’, ‘crowns’ and so on. It is usually considered useful because the tool comes up with related keywords that you may not have considered or known about. Keyword mapping usually refers to when you assign your various targeted search terms to the relevant page on your site. For example, if you have a site about dogs, your primary keyword would be “dogs”, secondary would be “breed” and tertiary would be “pitbull”, etc. You would then assign “dogs” as a keyword to target with your main page, “breed” to the page you will use to list the types of breeds, and “pitbull” will be assigned to the page about pitbulls, thereby creating an intuitive navigation and path for the search engines to follow.

Creating Your Keyword Map


  1. The basics
  2. Determine competitiveness
  3. Mapping key phrases to your site

Old-fashioned keyword research, where you build a list of lots of phrases, dig up search numbers and dive into SEO, just doesn’t work any more.

You need to:

  • Find your keywords;
  • Check them against your site;
  • Figure out where your opportunities lie;
  • Map phrases to existing site pages and sections;
  • Plan out new pages and sections as needed.

Ugh. That’s a lot, and this is a long procedure. But the payoffs are huge. Understand: I hate, no, despise, keyword research. But this system is one I wouldn’t skip for all the KitKats in the world.

Before you start, you might want to download the keyword-map. It’ll save you some time.

The basics

  1. Write down 10 phrases you associate with your company and/or product. “Worst job ever” doesn’t count — I’m talking about descriptive stuff: ‘shoes’, ‘sports cars’, ‘bicycles that make Ian drool’. You get the idea.
  2. Go to the Google Adwords Keywords Tool. Type those phrases in the ‘word or phrase’ box. Set the tool to exact match. keyword-map-1-500x397
  3.   Look at the result, carefully. If the phrases you chose don’t show up, that probably means your audience uses different terms.
  4. ·  Now look at the whole list. Pull out the terms that have high volume (duh), but don’t neglect niche phrases that show very little advertiser competition:keyword-map-2-500x397
  1. Put all of those phrases in a spreadsheet.
  2. If you have a Wordstream or WordTracker account, go log in and double-check your keyword choices. Expand the list if you see anything missing.

Determine competitiveness

Now, you need to figure out how much competition you’re facing.

  1. If you have a Wordstream or WordTracker account, they’ll show you the number of sites that have the target phrase in their title tags. That’s a pretty good initial look at competition, and it’s what I tend to use.
  2. You can also use the SEOMOZ Keyword Difficulty Tool for each keyword.
  3. And, if you’re a real glutton for punishment, you can go to the Google search result for each keyword and count how many of the top 20 pages have the exact phrase in their title tag. Then you can use Aaron Wall’s excellent SEO For FireFox to look at the number of incoming links for each page and domain. The more links each top 20 page has, and the more top 20 pages that have the exact phrase in their title tag, the harder it’s going to be to move up.
  4. Now, in your spreadsheet, mark how difficult each keyword is going to be. You can use your own scale if you want. I usually look at the number of top 20 pages with an exact match in the title tag, and the average incoming links for each term. Then I assign a 1-5 score based on my gut feeling for how competitive that term will be compared to the other words/phrases in my sheet. Not exactly scientific, but it helps me keep things prioritized.
  5. For each keyword on your list, search Google, Bing and Yahoo!. Find which page of your site ranks for that term (if any) and where.
  6. Add the rankings and the ranking pages to your spreadsheet. Now you know how difficult each keyword will be, and whether you have a head start, and which pages have a head start.
  7. For each key phrase, check your site analytics report. Record how much monthly traffic you currently get for that phrase.
  8. Then add a column called ‘opportunity gap’. That column should be calculated by subtracting your monthly traffic on the phrase from the monthly total searches on the phrase (you got that from Adwords in the ‘basic’ section).
  9. If you really want to be fancy, add another column called ‘the long tail’. Then switch the Adwords Keyword Tool to Broad match. Enter the local monthly searches for each keyword. This number will tell you approximately how many searches there are on phrases that include, in some way, your target phrase. This is a great bit of data: Sometimes, a key phrase that’s far too competitive may still become a good optimization target because the long tail is so large.

That last step is a big one. It will help you estimate the long tail connected to each phrase: Phrases that are really, really competitive – ones where you don’t have a prayer of making the top 10 – may still be worth a shot if they have lots of related long tail phrases. That’s because, by optimizing for the super-difficult phrase, you can also optimize for all of the long tail ones. You might see a solid lift in traffic even if you never hit the top 10 for the target phrase. Less sexy, I know, but it pays the bills.

Now you’ve got your list. Still with me? Not praying for a computer failure to put you out of your misery? Then it’s time to map the key phrases.

Mapping key phrases to your site

Almost done. This is the part I find kind of fun, in a sick, geeky, detective kind of way.

  1. Use a tool like Xenu Link Sleuth or Integrity to grab a full list of URLs on your site. If you have a huge site, just grab the first 500 or so. Hang on to that – you’ll need it in a minute.
  2. Pick what I call the ‘keeper job’ key phrases. Those are the 1 or 2 key phrases that, if you manage to grab a top 5 ranking, let you keep yer job. Get it? Unless you already have pages on your site that rank in Google’s top 50 for those phrases, assign them to your home page: Enter your home page URL into the ‘Target page’ column.*
  3. Now pick the phrases that are still going to be pretty challenging but have a big opportunity gap and the highest number of related long tail phrases. Match the pages on your site that either already rank for those phrases or are already relevant to them. Put the URL of the page in the ‘Target page’ column next to the relevant key phrase. These are your optimization targets.
  4. Pick other, less-valuable pages that are on your site and are still relevant to the phrases and pages you matched up in #3. Record them, because you’re going to link them to your optimization targets to form hub pages.
  5. Keep working your way down your list of keywords and pages, matching up less-competitive terms to pages that are ‘deeper’ in your site (are more clicks from the home page). Continue until your done or you want to scream for mercy.

*Those are the only phrases for which you’ll optimize the home page. No one gets to add more phrases. Not your boss. Not the head of branding. Not the guy down the street who walks in circles all day. Unless you’re Amazon.com or Wikipedia, you have no hope of getting your home page into the top 5 for more than 2 phrases.

Congrats. You’ve got a keyword map. This spreadsheet tells you what pages you’re going to optimize for which terms, and how you’ll link pages together to create the most authoritative possible hubs.

Related/other modules in this section:

  1. Measuring SEO opportunity gap: Know what you’re missing
  2. SEO Q&A: The new Google Keyword Tool
  3. The Long Tail defined