Search Engine Optimization September 25th, 2017
I can probably guess how you do keyword research as of right now.
It’s the same way I used to do it until I learned that there is a better way.
How does it start?
Well, first, you probably open your favourite keyword planning tool and begin typing some things you think your audience is looking for.
Say you are a dentist. You might start typing in keywords about tooth removal and then go deeper and deeper until you build a nice, big list of phrases that have the highest search volume.
Am I right?
I used to do it the same way until I started to step back and really look at it from the view of my audience. When I started doing this, I received awesome results.
With the rise of voice search and AI moving into 2018, your keyword research strategy needs to focus more on aligning your user intent with the end goal of each page on your website. Going for the highest volume, lowest difficulty keyword is not the best strategy any longer.
Keep reading to learn the exact strategy I used to pick keywords for each page of my site and completely own the SERPS for every part of the sales funnel.
READ: In this post, I won’t teach you how to perform keyword research. There are enough high quality guides out there that teach that, such as this one. What I will show you is how to use the sales funnel to map your keywords to your site in a way that makes sense and leads your users to conversions.
What even is keyword mapping?
Well, glad you asked.
Keyword mapping is pairing your chosen keywords to the correct pages within your website, and creating new content/pages if they are currently unsupported by your website structure. You can call this many things: information architecture optimization, keyword sitemaps or, as I use here, keyword mapping.
A high quality keyword map allows you to see every page on your site in a cohesive manner. From here, you can consider your exact positioning in the SERPs and try to portray your unique selling position as strongly as possible.
Many SEOs forget that the website as a whole is what is bringing you conversions, not individual pages.
With a keyword map, you can optimize your site instead of optimizing individual pages.
The important thing to remember is this: these keywords are mapped to your page by considering user intent. This means you need to consider the Buyers Cycle for the keyword and map it correctly to the right place in the sales funnel. This does not mean sticking to the highest search volumes. In fact, it means you will often choose keywords with significantly less volume since they have much stronger intent behind them.
Before we start mapping out our keywords, we need to think of where our client would most like to be in the sales funnel for their digital presence.
Buyers go through 3 stages when trying to solve their problems with a product or service. These stages are called Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Your website can fit into any number of these stages and still be effective. If you run a purely informational business, you will fit into the first two stages. If you sell anything (which I’m sure you do), your site will most likely fall under the entire buyer’s journey.
For this explanation, we are going to reference our very real dentist, Dr. Dinosaur. Our Jurassic dentist has decided he wants his site to fit into every part of the sales cycle. As Dr. Dinosaur’s SEO specialist, I have completed keyword research and created the keyword map below in Google Sheets to fill in.
This chart lists all of the pages on his site and sets out the columns we need to know to properly start doing his on-page optimizations. Please note, these are the bare minimum columns, and you could definitely include more, such as keyword difficulty, search volume, SERP features, etc.
Next, let’s go through the three stages and decide which pages belong in each.
In this stage, you want to target keywords that sympathize with people’s issues.
One part of your audience is searching reactively. They are trying to figure out a solution to a problem they have related to their teeth. It could be “How do I make my teeth whiter?” or “Why do my teeth feel loose?”
These are issues people are having that they do not have answers to currently. The search results for these types of questions fall under awareness as they are not yet answered and are about people trying to determine what solutions could possibly be available for their issues.
This section of the sales funnel lends best to longtail keywords. This is by far the widest part of your sales funnel and will be where you will find the most content gaps in your website. Try to fill as many of these as possible to lead people to your site, show them a solution, and hopefully convince them that you are the best option to find this solution.
Thanks to the great keyword research we created, we were able to find 3 longtails that will drive us loads of traffic in the awareness stage.
In the pages and posts for these issues, we will link our users to the solutions that Dr. Dinosaur provides in an attempt to make their transition to the consideration stage a bit easier.
In the consideration stage, your audience has already found the solution or product they are looking for and are now trying to decide on who to purchase it from.
This stage is one many websites find themselves targeting without realizing it. This is also often one of the most competitive stages to be in.
Dr. Dinosaur offers many different services for people, but for the sake of this demonstration, we are only focusing on 3: cleaning, whitening, and removal.
For stage 2, we need to target service related keywords that the user is looking for. These are the broader terms used to describe the service that you sell, without getting into specifics. For Dental Dinosaur’s keyword research, we determined that “affordable teeth whitening,” “teeth cleaning” and “molar removal” fit into our service pages well.
In general, you will want your homepage to be branded around your main consideration stage selling point. After some research, I determined Dr. Dinosaur’s best option was to target Dental Services in Jurassic Park.
Most keywords you target for your money pages will often fall into the consideration stage without you realizing it, leaving a gap for even more conversion based keywords.
This is the power of a keyword mapping document. You can easily find keywords and themes lower in the funnel that you might be missing and expand your website to target your audience personas which have a more proactive buyer intent.
Stage 3 is where your user has already decided on exactly what they want and are seeking out the best provider for their desired product or service.
This is where so many businesses have the ability to expand their website to showcase the offering they have.
After speaking with Dr. Dinosaur, I learned that he offers a specific service called “Chomper Light – Home Vivid Light Whitener.” This longtail keyword is not mentioned anywhere on his website, but it has a massive amount of search volume every month.
In this situation, we could do two things: Include it on the whitening service page, or create a subpage discussing the benefits of Chomper Light.
The keyword map for Dental Dinosaur is complete. Now, your real keyword map should be at least three times the size, and it should include individual blog posts when possible.
This is all about expanding your funnel as much as possible to catch every user you can for multiple types of conversions.
Are the people who come to your site in stage 1 going to purchase products from you every time? Not necessarily, but you will have raised brand awareness by positioning yourself as an authority, and when they are ready to purchase, they will remember the high quality information you provided them and (hopefully) come back in stage 3.
A keyword map pairs keywords to your entire site and allows you to see where in the buyer’s journey you mostly fit. This is helpful when positioning your brand. Do you want to be the source for high quality information information online? Or do you strictly want to sell product and leave it to your competitor’s to inform the end user?
If you aren’t creating an inbound marketing funnel with your website, you simply won’t be able to keep up with your competitors who have crafted a leak-proof website that serves as a one-stop shop for your client’s needs.
Expand your funnel, map it to the right keywords and the right pages, and create happy customers.
Thank you! Have you had any experience with keyword maps? Disagree with anything I have said here? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you personally.