Keyword mapping: the most important aspect of on-page seo

You can optimize a page for more than one keywords but you shouldn’t spend too much time optimizing multiple pages for the same keyword.

I remember an old mentor telling me this years ago. While it is possible to have multiple rankings in the search engines for a specific search term, your effort is better spent by optimizing the different pages on your website for completely unique keyword groups.

Many SEOs speed through this process without really planning or properly mapping keywords. Once they complete the keyword research process they simply dive into on-page and off-page seo. The typical result is that the homepage gets the focus for most of the keywords which can result in an over-optimization of the homepage both in terms of on-page and link building.

It’s important to take the time and do this process and planning right.

What Is Keyword Mapping

Keyword mapping is the process of assigning or mapping keywords to specific pages on a website based on keyword research. Based on your mapping process you are able to then make specific on page seo recommendations to help make the page more relevant to the mapped keywords.

This is a huge part of what involved within the initial search engine optimization for a new website and is the foundation of what gets delivered to the client for on-page SEO projects.

How To Do Keyword Mapping

Keyword mapping, once you understand the process, is quite simple. Personally, I like to take two steps before mapping keywords.

Keyword Research

You need to know what keywords you’re going to be working with and mapping to the website. Proper keyword research is very important here. Uncovering both head and long tail keywords will help you create a well planned mapping document. Don’t get caught up in having to rank for every good keyword that you find. You’ll work with the client to set expectations, during the keyword research phase you are simply finding opportunities and understanding the industry.

Once you have a solid list of keywords within the industry and potentially geo-graphical location, you’ll want to move into mapping them to the most appropriate pages.

Current Relevancy Check

The idea of keyword mapping is that we’re going to be assigning these keywords to the pages that we want to rank for them. To do this, we’ll need to ask the question, what page is the most relevant to this particular keywords?, for every keyword that we’ve identified.

There are usually groupings of similar keywords – variations of positions, plurals, synonyms, etc – that get mapped to the same page so it should cut your time down a little bit.

The first step to assigning the keywords to to figure out which pages are the most relevant in terms of both you as a human being and Google as a search engine. Hopefully these two are aligned, but if they aren’t I always go for me as a human being.

Lets use this website, SEO Brothers as an example:

If I wanted to map the keyword link building to the most relevant page, as a human being I would likely pick the link building post here as I think it matches the searcher intent and topic the best out of all the content on the website. However, we’ll need to confirm that Google agrees by checking it with a site: modifier.

keyword mapping relevance check

As you can see when we search Google for a site:seobrothers.co link building (replacing the keyword and website with your own) we find that Google returns the same link building page as the first result. This confirms our thoughts about it being the most relevant page.

It is safe to map that head keyword (and likely some long-tail keywords to that particular page).

Preparing a Keyword Mapping Document

To help keep things organized and to best deliver an on-page optimization document to your client you will want to prepare a keyword mapping document. This can sometimes be called an on-page optimization document or an SEO change document. Different companies and agencies may refer to it as something different but it should do the same thing.

A keyword mapping document is usually spreadsheet-based where each row is a specific page on the website and each column is a crucial element for the on-page optimization process.

Here’s a picture to give you an idea of what we mean:

keyword mapping

I like to pull the existing page data and then make a recommendation on what the new page data should be. I feel this adds a bit more value to the client because they can see what you did in terms of work to get things aligned better with the keywords.

Also, what you don’t see there is some notes for each page – they can include body content recommendations, word count recommendations, image alt tagging recommendations, etc.

While the mapping process is really only assigning the keywords into the mapped keyword column, this is the foundation on which you will create the recommended page data for each page and ultimately what you will deliver to the client.

An existing website vs a redesign

There are some slight differences in both the document and how you would map the keywords in each scenario. With a new website, chances are you will have some sort of sitemap to work from (or have already put that together yourself). You can use each of the pages from the sitemap for the document and work from there.

In the case of a redesign, you’ll likely have a set of pages and URLs from the old site. Be sure to use the updated URLs as they will appear on the new site (if you’ve prepared a 301 redirect document, use the final destination URLs). With a redesign it’s also possible that you may need to create pages yourself, if you have an excess of keywords that do not fit well with the proposed sitemap. In this case, just add an extra map into the spreadsheet and mark it as new.

Assigning the keywords to each page is also a little different for a redesign, because you’ll want to take into account what pages are currently ranking the best for your keyword list. If your homepage is ranking in the second page for a few keywords that you wanted to map to your services page, it might make more sense to map them to the homepage instead – chances are it will take less effort to rank them higher than trying to rank the different page.

This should be a case-by-case basis though, because sometimes you’ll see higher rankings on the new page once it’s properly optimized to target that keyword.

If you have any questions about keyword mapping send us an email and let us know.

10 Comments

  1. Anvar on November 20, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Good article!

    • adam on April 5, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Thank you, Anvar! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Vishal on December 26, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. The document structure will really simplify a whole mapping process.

    • adam on April 5, 2017 at 1:14 am

      Thanks, Vishal. I’m glad the document treated you well!

  3. Talia on January 13, 2017 at 2:36 am

    Thank you! This is very useful! Much appreciated!

    • adam on April 5, 2017 at 1:15 am

      You’re welcome, Talia! I’m glad you found it useful.

  4. Narendra Wetkoli on January 14, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Informative post, but can we use internal links mapping at home page bottom section with an hypertag?

    • adam on April 5, 2017 at 1:16 am

      Hi Narendra, I’m not quite certain I follow. The mapping process described above gives an overview of how to properly map keywords to main landing pages during an on-page optimization process.

  5. Howard Thompson on February 11, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Shoot…You let the cat out-of-the-bag! Being a small time SEO expert (hahahahh)…

    I always wondered how these big corporate SEO firms, didn’t know these simple and powerful basics for optimization?!

    Keep up the good work!

    • adam on April 5, 2017 at 1:17 am

      Thanks, Howard! I’ll agree – you see a lot of major brands and businesses that lack a proper thought out process and solid foundation of on-page optimization.

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