Using Keyword Research to Build a Content Map for your New Website
Diving into a new website project can be pretty daunting. With the many elements you have to consider, the biggest mistake is not making content creation and deadlines a priority. Utilizing one of the most important baseline SEO processes, creating your content will become a lot easier once you’ve done the research and mapped out the pages of your site.
This is a guide to get you through the basics of keyword research, mapping, and SEO focused content strategy.
Keyword Research: The Basics
What is keyword research? Keyword research is the process of understanding the language used by your customers to describe your products/services, as well as the intent the searcher has with each keyword.
When you begin your research, make a list of the words and phrases that come to mind when you think of your business, but most importantly the words that come to mind for your customers. Start with a smaller list and build your research on this foundation.
The next important step during your research will be looking into your competitors. Analyzing your competitors’ sites and target keywords can provide some guidance as you prioritize the keywords you’ll target on your own site.
After you’ve performed your research, you’ll be left with a pretty hefty list of keywords. The goal is to focus on quality over quantity, so don’t try to target 200 different keywords. Try to have no more than 100 and even within this list they should be compartmentalized by topic and put into high, medium, and low priority groups.
Best Practices for Prioritizing Keywords
Narrowing down your list can be tough. Consider things like volume, difficulty, and current ranks.
- Volume (MSV): This represents how many times, on average, the keyword is searched on Google each month. You obviously want to find keywords with a good amount of volume but make sure your expectations are set correctly (if you barely rank for a keyword with a monthly search volume of 100, it will be extremely difficult to immediately grab ranks for a keyword with a monthly search volume of 10,000).
- Difficulty: The higher the difficulty score of a keyword, the harder it will be to rank. As you’re narrowing down your keyword list, make sure you’re cognizant of how difficult your journey to higher ranks will be. Try to go after a variety of difficulties: target some low-hanging fruit before you go for highly difficult keywords.
- Current Ranks: For some low hanging fruit, look for keywords with which your site has already gained some traction. If you’re on the board with your keyword ranks, it will be easier to build on that vs starting from scratch (this is a good start for those of you needing to prove worthiness of an organic campaign).
Mapping Keywords and URLs
The next step is to map the keywords to pages on your site and even use them to inspire a new page that will provide value to your users. It’s important you map keywords that are most relevant to a page rather than keyword stuffing or creating thin content because you’re making a page for every keyword.
If you’re building a site from scratch… use your keyword topic groups to guide the pages on your website. You should not be building 1 page per every keyword, instead you should have pages that cover the main topics where you can utilize relevant keyword groupings for better rank support and content value.
If you’re refreshing an old site… look at your current URLs and eliminate pages that you no longer want on your site. Map keywords to the URLs that are leftover and then analyze content gaps by the keywords you were unable to map and use that to guide new page ideas for your site refresh.
SERPs Analysis and Content Strategy
The SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages, are essential to creating your content strategy for each page. Through the SERPs you can better understand the user’s intent and what Google considers the most valuable content to provide in the results.
Consider things like Google Features as you analyze the SERPs. Featured Questions can show you the most frequently searched questions related to the keyword that will reveal the user’s needs. You can also see if media performs better for a keyword when Google places Featured Images and Videos near the top of the results.
After your analysis of the SERPs you should be able to answer these questions:
- What is the user looking for when they search this keyword?
- What stage is this keyword within the buyer journey?
- What’s the ideal content format for both the user and search engine?
Poor SEO Content Tactics to Avoid
One page per keyword. This practice causes thin content which is not favored by search engines. You should build content rich pages that support multiple relevant keywords under one main topic.
Keyword stuffing. Overuse of a keyword is unnatural to both users and search engines. With Google’s AI able to read natural language, it can see when your content lacks value and is only there to try to rank. Use keywords where it’s appropriate, overuse does not mean more support.
Rushed or lazy content creation. This usually produces thin, duplicate, and robotic sounding content. When you rush the content creation this can cause duplication from your own work or others and a major decrease in quality. It is vital you carve out an adequate amount of time in your process to produce quality content.
In Short, Keyword Research & Content Strategy are a Must
Taking on a new website build or refresh is hard enough as is. Make things a little easier by prioritizing the content and the intent of each page and the site as a whole. Remember to follow these steps when trying to build out a content map for your site:
- Brainstorm important language for your products/services
- Perform thorough research
- Narrow down your list to a feasible amount of keyword targets
- Consider your competitors and the SERPs
- Always avoid shortcut tactics or rushing the process
Your content will be the main factor that allows you to gain search visibility and ultimately convert a user, so give it the precedence it deserves in your website project. Plan accordingly now, and avoid unnecessary reworks later.