Keyword Mapping. A Practical Guide for the Curious

keyword mapping

Determining whether to create a dedicated page or group keywords together is a common challenge in SEO. Keyword mapping is a strategic process that helps address this issue.

While keyword mapping is often described as associating keywords with specific pages, the key to solving the problem lies in assigning topics to different content types.

In this article, I will outline the advantages of this approach and guide you through the process, without the need for any templates.

Benefits of Keyword Mapping 

Fact 1: Google has the ability to perceive seemingly distinct keywords as belonging to the same topic.

For instance, we have achieved top 10 rankings for these keywords using a single page:

  • “SEO Basics”
  • “beginner’s guide to SEO”
  • “getting started with SEO”
  • “SEO knowledge”

Fact 2: On the other hand, Google might perceive seemingly similar keywords as distinct topics.

For instance, let’s consider the comparison between “digital marketing” and “online marketing.” While one might perceive these two keywords as closely related, Google holds a different perspective.

The aforementioned facts highlight the limitations of relying solely on keywords for keyword mapping. This approach may not provide optimal results as it fails to determine whether you are targeting the same topic with different keywords or inadvertently confusing Google.

So, why focus on content types instead of individual pages or URLs for keyword mapping? The reason is that in order to determine which page to use for targeting a specific keyword, it is essential to understand the search intent behind that keyword. To do this effectively, it is beneficial to analyze the predominant content type that appears on the first page of Google for that keyword. 

In summary, here are the benefits of using topics and content types for keyword mapping:

  • By adopting a keyword mapping approach that aligns with Google’s perspective, we can view keywords as topics and subtopics. 
  • One of the benefits of keyword mapping using topics and content types is the incorporation of search intent into the process. 
  • Another benefit of keyword mapping using topics and content types is the ability to maintain an organized list of topics. 

Level 1 – Fast, Reasonable Job

To effectively implement keyword mapping using topics and content types, it is essential to have a reliable keyword research tool that offers advanced features like keyword grouping based on the search engine results page (SERP). 

  1. Enter your keywords
  2. Open Matching terms report
  3. Go to the Parent topics tab 

When using a tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, you can explore the Parent Topic feature to discover related subtopics that have been extracted from your keywords. For instance, if you select a Parent Topic such as “babies and COVID,” you will find that keywords like “can babies get COVID” and “babies and COVID” are grouped together under this specific topic. 

At the keyword mapping stage, your focus is on the Parent Topic rather than the individual keywords within that topic. 

The next step in the process is to determine the appropriate content type for your target keyword. An effective way to accomplish this is by analyzing the types of content that dominate the top three to five search results on Google. 

Typical content kinds are:

  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Product pages
  • Product category pages
  • Landing pages 

By assigning topics to specific content types, you can create a streamlined and actionable database that is both simple to navigate and highly effective. 

Topic Content type
Teething symptoms Article
When do babies roll over Article
Baby formula Mixed (product pages on top)
When can babies have water Article


The fast method of assigning topics to content types offers the advantage of automating keyword grouping through the use of real SERP data, rather than relying solely on semantic analysis.

However, this approach also has its drawbacks. One of the limitations is that it may “hide” less popular topics that could have the potential to be targeted with a separate page. Here is the reason:

The parent keyword is determined based on the top-ranking page in the search engine results page (SERP). If Google determines that the most relevant answer to the query is provided by a page targeting a broader topic, it will still prioritize that page. This can sometimes lead to a confusing SERP layout, as shown in the following example:

Instances like these are likely to be infrequent. However, if you want to optimize your keyword mapping process to its fullest extent, it’s recommended to delve into level 2.

Level 2 – Thorough but Time Consuming

In level 2, we will examine the Parent Topics in greater detail to determine their contents. 

  1. Initially, you should choose a Parent Topic.
  2. Sort the keywords within the topic based on their Keyword Difficulty (KD) score. Significant variations in KD indicate the presence of distinct sets of pages on the SERP.
  3. If you come across a keyword that has a notably different KD compared to the Parent Topic, click on the SERP button.
  4. Check if the top-ranking pages, excluding the first result, specifically discuss the keyword rather than the Parent Topic. Utilize the Compare with feature to quickly assess the situation. A lower SERP similarity score indicates a higher likelihood of encountering two distinct topics.

Now, let’s examine a few examples.

In the initial example, we encounter a keyword with a KD score that is 20 points higher than the Parent Topic. Upon further examination, it appears that we may be addressing two distinct topics based on the notably low SERP similarity. Additionally, there is only one shared result, whereas other pages directly target the keyword.

Moving on to the next example, we have “teething symptoms” with a KD of 65 and “when do babies get molars” with a KD of 28. Examining the SERP similarity, it becomes apparent that this scenario may once again involve two distinct topics.

However, there’s an additional observation to consider. Only the lower results specifically target the keyword, while the others discuss teething timelines, stages, charts, and related aspects. This provides a clue for an alternative approach to ranking for the keyword.

In general, when you come across a situation where you’re dealing with a distinct topic “disguised” within the broader context, the decision-making process boils down to:

  1. Proceeding with targeting the Parent Topic regardless. For instance, if the top-ranking result is a featured snippet, there’s a possibility of securing it by creating a page focused on a relevant broader topic.
  2. Deciding to treat the keyword as a distinct topic and creating a dedicated page to target it directly. In such instances, include the keyword as a separate topic to focus on and make a note of the corresponding content type.
  3. Referring to SERP analysis in more challenging scenarios, such as the example mentioned earlier.

Final Thoughts 

Feel free to tailor the process to your needs and incorporate additional data points. If you want to take it a step further and assign URLs, website folders, or implement prioritization based on factors like business potential, feel free to do so.

However, it’s important to note that keyword mapping should not be the sole basis for designing your entire website structure. It’s not necessary for all pages on your site to be search-based.

What should be done after completing the keyword mapping process?

  • Organize your topics into a content calendar
  • Start generating content that is made to rank

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