Keyword Research: Introducing Keyword Mapping

For years, we’ve been using this thing called “keyword difficulty” in the SEO world. In simple terms, it’s a measure that shows how tough it would be for a new website to get better rankings on search results pages than existing competitors for a certain keyword. 

But here’s the thing: relying solely on keyword difficulty has some major drawbacks. 

Firstly, it doesn’t give us the full picture. It focuses mostly on backlinks – these are the links from one website to another. However, it often overlooks other important factors. These include how relevant the content is, how well a page is optimised for search engines, and whether the content even matches what users are searching for. This means we can end up with a skewed view of the competition. 

Secondly, it doesn’t consider differences based on location. A keyword might be highly competitive worldwide but not as much in a specific region. If your customers are mainly from that region, the global keyword difficulty score can mislead us. 

That’s why I’ve been working on a new way of doing keyword research. I call it “keyword mapping”. This technique considers a range of factors to give us a more complete view of the competitive landscape. 

We break it down into three levels low, medium and high.

Low Ranking Difficulty

The primary keyword isn’t targeted by all top 10 results, meaning there’s significant opportunity for ranking with well-optimized content. The presence of low-relevance or low-authority sites and old content (2+ years old) further enhances this opportunity. Moreover, search results’ discrepancies, like different locales, can be capitalised upon for geographically specific optimisation. 

Medium Ranking Difficulty

All top 10 results contain the primary keyword and engaging titles. The mix of high and mid-authority sites suggests the need for a balance between content relevance and domain authority. However, opportunities for improvement are evident upon closer inspection of competitor content.

High Ranking Difficulty

Is characterised by domination of high-authority websites, such as Mayo Clinic and Healthline in a medical query context. Each of the top 10 results contains the target keyword and engaging titles, and their content is highly optimised. Such a competitive landscape leaves little room for improvement and requires a substantial SEO effort to make inroads. 

The Keyword mapping provides a fresh, practical, and actionable approach to understanding Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

Keyword Mapping Working with Pillar & Cluster Strategy

So, how does this approach shape our content strategy? Well, keyword mapping is a key tool for crafting an effective “pillar and cluster” strategy. 

Imagine your website’s content as a neighborhood. The pillar content, which is a comprehensive piece covering a broad topic, is like the “main street”. From there, I create a series of additional articles that explore specific aspects of the broad topic. Let’s call these “side streets” or “clusters”. 

These “side streets” all lead back to the “main street,” forming a well-connected neighbourhood. This interconnectedness makes it easier for search engines like Google to understand your website. Moreover, by covering a topic thoroughly, it helps establish you as an authority in your field, which is critical for SEO. 

Keyword mapping guides the construction of this content neighbourhood. It helps me decide which topics to tackle for your pillar content and which ones suit the cluster content. For instance, keywords with lower ranking difficulty could be used for the “side streets” cluster content. These less competitive topics can support a “main street” pillar content that’s focused on a more competitive, medium difficulty keyword. 

This approach offers a strategic and effective way of boosting your website’s visibility on search engines. It’s all about understanding the competition and using that knowledge to build a network of content that appeals to your audience and search engines alike. 

By taking into account factors like content relevance, site authority, content age, and location, keyword mapping allows us to devise a more strategic content strategy. When we align this strategy with the unique challenges and opportunities in your niche, we’re more likely to see improved rankings. This new way of doing keyword research ensures that we’re not just working hard, but working smart.