Search Marketing

SEO Keyword Mapping explained step by step

In this article, we will see in detail what are the main steps and tools to use to make a complete keyword mapping. First of all, however, let’s clarify what a keyword mapping is for and what are its objectives.

The first objective is certainly to have a complete view of what are the topics in which the site we are analyzing is positioned and where there are real opportunities for growth.

The second, parallel to the first objective, is to measure the site compared with competitors. On competitors we could open a separate discussion that would deserve a separate article, here we limit ourselves to say, as many of those who do our job already know, that there are two types of competitors: market and organic ones. The positive news is that, through keyword mapping, they can all be analyzed (and also that we can have numbers to support the size of our client’s site compared to the competitor and, in some cases, change their perception).

The tools needed for an effective keyword mapping

To set up a keyword mapping you need some tools which everyone can reach, let’s see the ones we use most often in ByTek.


Indispensable, the main tool to build a solid keyword analysis, with the possibility to reuse the structure for the next works. It is advisable to use several Excel sheets, one for the analysis of the keywords of our site, another for the definition of CTRs and one for the Pivot Tables.

To expand keywords and to extract search volumes (it is advisable to use the Keyword Planner through an Ads account with active campaigns, to have more reliable and deeper search volumes).

AnswerThePublic (and/or Uber Suggest)

To further expand the number and alternatives of keywords. Small tip: once the expansion of keywords is complete, it is essential to thoroughly clean up the keywords, eliminating both duplicates and keywords less in target with the analyzed site.

SemRush (or other tools to extract search volumes)

Useful for extracting research volumes and placements but also for the expansion of keywords and the definition of competitors.

Our thinking head

The extra weapon of any SEO 🙂 tools are not enough to make a complete and effective keyword analysis, you need: reasoning, lateral thinking, ability to read between the lines and even a pinch of inventiveness. All typical features of the thinking head of an SEO and that no tool will ever be able to match.

Keyword Mapping: the process

To make a good mapping of keywords you need to start from the site you are analyzing, starting from the keywords for which it is positioned, the services it offers and what users call those things on Google. Using keywords that have volume (and history) on Google will also help to expand them starting from the related ones (Google Suggest, Trends and Related) and to get a general idea about the topic of the site we are analyzing.

The next step is to continue the expansion starting from the keywords identified in the first part of the analysis. You can use the free Google tools we have already mentioned (Trends, Suggest and Correlate) and other tools (AnswerThePublic, Uber Suggest and SemRush).

Once we have a number of keywords we are satisfied with we can start our actual mapping.

  1. Clean up the list of keywords: keeping only those more in target with the topic and the site being analyzed and excluding those more generic and less in target. In this phase is optimal to see also the type of SERP that the keywords activate, to get useful suggestions and on-page optimization of the site.
  2. Subdivide keywords into Clusters (topics): with keywords cleared of those outside the target or that could be misleading with respect to the topic of the site you can start to divide each keyword according to the commonality they have among them (the so-called Clusters), this subdivision must have a more general subdivision of keywords and to have useful information about the optimization of the information architecture (or its design, if the site is in restyling) but also to understand the volume of research and traffic generated by individual clusters (or categories) of the site.
  3. Extract the search volumes (and placements): for this step you can use SemRush or Google Ads Keyword Planner, to have precise data of the search volumes of every single keyword, even with temporal or seasonal variations. Together with this step, which is fundamental to make the first analysis, with respect to the search volume and traffic potential of the site with respect to the market (and identified competitors), it is also useful to extract the current positions of the site (if any).
  4. Define the Search Intents (and Micro-moments): once extracted the search volumes and the placements it is possible to deepen the analysis of the keywords by assigning to each one the search intent and the Micro moment, in order to give an overview of the search intents for the keywords that bring traffic to the site, dividing them into informational, navigational and transactional searches.
    1. Informational keywords are the most generic ones, made by Users who need to have a general and wide idea on the subject, generally have a medium-high search volume;
    2. Navigational keywords are those that include the name of the brand or company, Users who do this kind of research have a clear idea of the Brand;
    3. Transactional keywords are those that have a clear intent to purchase, Users who do these searches have the objective to purchase the product/service.

Micro-moments are instead a classification (proposed by Google) to identify when Users make specific searches, they are divided into four different moments and it is good to include them in the keyword mapping to identify the largest percentage of keywords associated with the product/service of our site, expanding not only the number of keywords but also the needs that the topic of our site can satisfy.

I-want-to-know: the most generic keywords, related to products and services seen on TV or known through social networks.

I-want-to-do: these are the keywords that refer to “how-to”, the so-called “how to” and “tutorials”.

I-want-to-go: these are the keywords of localization, the Micromoment refers specifically to the voice search “near me”, not very widespread still in Italy but widely used in other countries.

I-want-to-buy: the transactional keywords, the ones that refer to the lower part of the funnel and with higher conversion rate values. The Micromoment I-want-to-buy, with reference to transactional keywords is of strategic importance for all e-commerce sites but also for those that sell services or have drive-to-store features.

Estimating Traffic: also this is a crucial step for the success of the analysis and to lay the foundations of all the other analysis that can be done starting from keyword mapping. To estimate traffic it is possible to start from an average CTR per position on SERPs

In this way, it will be possible to apply a CTR to each keyword already placed and estimate the traffic of each one. Below we suggest the formula to use on Excel

To extract the CTR:

We can use Search.VERT functions to apply a CTR to each keyword starting from its positioning.

To estimate the traffic, simply multiply the search volume by the CTR.

What we can do with Keyword Mapping

The mapping of keywords, as we have already said, is useful to have a complete overview of the site but it can be an excellent starting analysis to build others, more specific, in-depth and to help identify areas for improvement.

Benchmark Analysis

An in-depth and detailed analysis of the state of the site compared to the main competitors in the sector. It helps to identify which clusters we have greater visibility over than our competitors, which keywords can be improved, and in some cases, Benchmark’s analysis can help identify site issues or areas where visibility can be improved.

GAP Analysis

It is an analysis that identifies the actual and potential performance of the site, not only with respect to Competitors but with reference to the market. It is useful both from an operational and strategic point of view, to give indications of what actions to take to reach the desired market share and what the necessary budget is.

Editorial Planning

Finally, certainly not in order of importance, keyword mapping is an excellent starting point to build an editorial plan, identifying missing topics and clusters, to include on the site content that responds to keywords and intent very much in target with the topic but not yet covered or only partially covered.

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