Keyword Mapping

Now that you have a list of keywords that you want to target on your site, the next step is to map those keywords to specific pages. Just take your spreadsheet of keywords and in a column next to them enter the page that will be trying to rank for that keyword.

Here are some rules of thumb for keyword mapping:

  • One page per keyword: you should have one page that is trying to rank for any given keyword. You do not want two unrelated keywords targeted on the same page.
  • Related keywords on the same page: logically related keywords should all be targeted on the same page. This includes plural versions and synonyms. Don’t have one page to target “armoires” and a different page to target “wardrobes.” They’re the same thing and it doesn’t make sense to have different pages for each.
  • One topic per page: while you want to cluster related keywords together, each page should be entirely about one topic. If you’re targeting Snowflake, Snowflakes, Custom Snowflakes, and Artisan Snowflakes on the same page (as you should) then that page should be all about custom artisan snowflakes. It shouldn’t just have one paragraph about them! The way that a lot of companies fall into this bad habit is by having one page that lists all of their services and then tries to rank for each of those services on that page. It’s fine to have that page, but it should link to a separate page on each of the services.

Keyword mapping is a useful exercise because it tells you what kind of pages your site needs to have, and it can also help inform how your site should be structured.

For example: when I was first building AwesomeDice.com I did keyword research. I discovered that some people searched for dice by the game the dice were used for, while others searched for the color of dice, and others searched more generic terms like “dice sets” or “gaming dice.”

This told me not only that I wanted a page to target each of these terms, but it also told me that I should structure my site so that users could look for their dice by the kind of set, the color, or the game the dice were for. The keyword research informed the structure of the site to make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for. So this was not only good for SEO purposes, but also made by site better for users.

Common Mistakes

I see two common mistakes with keyword mapping made often by beginners with only tenuous SEO knowledge:

  • Too many unrelated keywords per page: a computer manufacturer says “I want this page to rank for RAM, processors, and power supplies.” Those are three different topics that should each have their own page. Each of those keywords has a different intent, and a customer searching for “RAM” will need different information on the page from a customer searching for “power supply.” Making one giant page with huge sections on each of the three yields a crappy user experience for everyone, and poor topicality targeting since the page is kind of all over the place.
  • Making different pages for similar keywords: this is the exact opposite problem as the above. Someone wants to have one page for “garden hose” and another for “yard hose,” even though they are the same thing and served by the same products. In this case the intent of the user is the same, and the user will need the same information regardless of which she searches for. There should just be one page — even if that means that you’ll rank slightly worse for one of the phrases (which is true right now, though Google is making big strides in getting better at understanding searcher intent, rather than just the keywords entered).

For the most part when people get their keyword mapping truly horribly wrong it’s because they’re thinking too much about SEO targeting, and not enough about what makes sense to the user. If you keep the mindset that you want a deeply informative, high quality site that is so great to use that it’s clearly better than any other site on the internet, it will be easy to avoid creating too many pointless pages or trying to smash keywords into pages that aren’t focused on those terms.

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