How to Use Keyword Mapping to Future-Proof Your Site Structure
How to Use Keyword Mapping to Future-Proof Your Site Structure
Remember road trips in the 90s when your dad would pull out a wrinkled old map to get from point A to point B?
Today, we have maps on our phones, so we always have a sense of direction.
Just as road maps help us navigate where we want to go, well-designed sitemaps help search engines crawl your website easily.
But how do you design a sitemap and build a site structure that would be a joy for search engines to crawl?
Not only does keyword mapping help you implement an SEO-friendly site structure, but it also guides your content strategy in many ways:
- It enables you to build out and scale content verticals.
- It helps you build a site structure that provides an exceptional user experience and intuitive navigation for your readers.
- It makes it easier for your marketing team to find growth opportunities, such as internal and external linking, content expansion, and conversion rate optimisation.
But before we jump to the ABCs of keyword mapping, let’s take a closer look at why keyword maps and site structures are essential for SEO.
Keyword Maps and Site Structures – Why Do They Matter?
Every home is different. Some are organised, while others are messy. The same goes for websites. Some have more “junk drawers” than others, making it more challenging to understand or help readers.
A sitemap is a remedy for chaos. Sitemaps help search engines find information on your website.
Now, there are two different types of sitemaps: HTML and XML.
- XML sitemaps are manually submitted sitemaps that are primarily used for crawling and indexing your site.
- HTML sitemaps are mainly to let users know how to use the information on your site.
Nowadays, XML is the main focus, as internal linking helps users find content on your site naturally.
Ultimately, a strong and orderly site structure gives your readers an enjoyable experience. And as a bonus, you can also get SERP site links that appear underneath your site on search engines to suggest pages that might interest your audience.
To recap, sitemaps help search engine bots crawl your website efficiently and optimise your crawling budget (the number of pages a search crawler can go through in a given time). And the way to ensure that your site is well-organised is by planning your content with keyword maps.
Let’s now go over how you can use keyword mapping to enhance your site structure.
How to Use Keyword Mapping to Enhance Your Site Structure and Overall SEO
My simple 5-step approach brings your site structure from disorganised and chaotic to neat and intentional. And by intentional, I mean it actually converts readers into customers.
Step 1: Audit Your Site and Review Your Current Sitemap
Let’s start from the top. To know where you’re headed, you must first perform a site audit (Screaming Frog is my preferred tool for this, as its crawling capabilities are truly unmatched). Next, review your site and see where most of the issues lie.
While carrying out this audit, ask yourself these questions:
- Are your users able to easily find what they’re looking for?
- Do they get stuck in a particular area? (Hint: If you’re unsure, I suggest installing a heatmap like Hotjar)
- What do your bounce rate and time on site look like? (Hint: check Google Analytics for this data)
- Is your content organised in a manner that’s easy to sift through and go from ToFu (Top of Funnel) pages to BoFu (Bottom of Funnel) pages?
Once you’ve completed your audit, it’s time to conduct keyword research!
Step 2: Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is the first step to keyword mapping. But for your focus keywords to be relevant, you must consider search intent.
Search intent is the thought process behind why someone is searching for a particular keyword or phrase. In fact, understanding search intent is so important to the basic functionality of Google that it was a crucial part of the latest algorithm updates. The biggest benefit of looking at search intent is so that you focus on BoFu searches, as in keywords that describe the exact product or service you’re selling.
Search Intent Mismatch
Let’s break it down: Users search specific keywords and phrases for multiple reasons – like learning more about a topic, taking action (download, buy, shop, etc.), visiting a store or event in person, or simply finding a company’s contact details.
As Google and other search engines have become more refined, they’ve integrated parts of language like semantics (the meaning of a word, phrase, or text) into their algorithm. Because of this, it’s critical to keep an eye out for high-demand terms on your current pages that aren’t associated with the intention of the pages— these are mismatched search intentions.
With users’ search intent in mind, pages in which mismatches occur typically come from:
- Highest-ranking pages
- Category pages
An Example of How to Align Your SEO Campaign With Search Intent
Let’s look at some examples so you can better understand this concept.
Bruce types “best places to stay in Boracay, Philippines” into Google.
His search intent is to look for holiday stays, not long-term rentals.
If you’re a company running an apartment complex for long-term rent in Boracay, you shouldn’t try to rank for “best places to stay in Boracay, Philippines”. Because even if Bruce sees your website at the top of his search results, he won’t find your offer useful, and he’ll just click back to Google, hurting your SEO in the process.
A better approach would be to match your target audience’s search intent with keywords like “long term rentals in Boracay, Philippines” or “apartments in Boracay”.
As you can see, if you don’t consider search intent when doing keyword research, the chances are slim that you’ll find qualified leads and convert customers.
The bottom line: Satisfying search intent is Google’s primary goal – and should be yours, too.
Step 3: Create a Keyword Map
Okay, you’ve audited your site and conducted keyword research. It’s time to create a keyword map. With your keyword list, start grouping or “clustering” keywords according to search intent and possible content verticals.
Here are some examples of content verticals:
- Product pages
- Industry pages
- Blog content
- Case studies
For example, here are examples of keyword clusters grouped by content vertical for a company that sells a project management app:
|Product Pages||Industry Pages||Blog Content/Resource Pages|
Organising your keyword list into clusters is the key factor for setting up your website structure in a manner that aligns your content with the different levels of search intent your audience faces as they go through the sales funnel.
Then once you have keyword clusters, it’s time to build your keyword map in a spreadsheet or Google sheet. Here’s an example of such a keyword map:
A well-organised keyword map includes elements like the following:
- The first three columns organise your pages into top and sub-pages – this is basically your site architecture (site structure).
- The funnel column labels your content as ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu. This helps keep you mindful of satisfying your reader’s search intent.
- The columns for the focus and related keywords are where you drop your keyword clusters. Organising them like this helps you develop and write your content according to on-page SEO best practices.
- The URL column helps you find everything quickly and is particularly useful for internal linking purposes.
Alright, now that everything is organised, let’s tend to your site structure.
Step 4: Revise Site Structure
Based on the keyword map you just created, you can now adjust your site structure in a way that satisfies search engine crawlers and your users.
For example, if you used to have BoFu sales pages or MoFu case studies published as blog posts, you now know better to organise the sales pages under a “Products” content vertical and the case studies under a “Case Studies” content vertical.
As you update your page URLs and directories, make sure to use redirects so your users don’t end up stranded on broken links. As you continue to create new content, keeping your topic ideas organised in a keyword map helps you scale your content and your website in an organised way.
Step 5: Revisit and Update Keyword Map Quarterly
Now that you’ve done the initial legwork, all that’s left to do is refresh your keyword map regularly as you execute your content strategy.
Keep optimising and expanding your website to serve your audience with relevant content. As you create new content, check the keywords you already have in your keyword map. When you have a second look, you’ll often find that you need to make small tweaks to your content strategy.
Keyword maps can be so complex, especially for big websites that tackle multiple topics. So you need to review your keyword map regularly and keep it updated as you discover new topics and ideas to write about.
Here’s what I recommend to make the most of your keyword map:
- Schedule an SEO audit update and content plan optimisation every 3-6 months.
- Summarise the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that come up during your audit.
- Write down your proposed next steps and estimated budget.
- Review keywords for each piece of content before writing it.
- Track your content’s performance and make tweaks to the plan as needed.
Other Ways Keyword Mapping Enhances SEO
Keyword mapping is essential for providing your users with a great experience, but it also helps your SEO strategy in multiple ways:
- It helps you develop and maintain a comprehensive internal linking strategy.
- It informs your on-page and off-page SEO content strategy
- It helps you avoid duplicate content
- It makes the user search intent clearer
- It ensures that you’re using keywords most strategically and effectively across all content
Keyword Mapping Is an Essential SEO Tool
Phew, that was jam-packed with information, so let’s recap, shall we?
Without a keyword map that defines your site structure, the user is confused, you’re confused, and search engines are confused.
But with a keyword map, it’s easier to target the right people, find growth opportunities, and scale your content production in the most efficient manner so that it brings in the highest amount of quality organic traffic. By basing your site structure on a well-designed keyword map, you’re truly establishing a future-proof website.