Mapping the Keywords to Your Website (for SEO)
Updated: Dec 4, 2022
If you're looking for a quick/simple way to match your most important keywords with pages on your site, this spreadsheet is my favourite way to do it.
This is a simple-yet-effective method for creating sitemaps as part of a site optimisation, build or migration process. I have seen many different ways of doing this - all with varying complexity - BUT a simple, clear plan which is easy to follow will make everyone's life a lot easier.
This method works well where you are mapping <1,000 primary pages, any more and it can get messy or needs to be broken down into smaller chunks.
I also don't add individual blog/news posts, product pages, or any other similarly scalable content to this mapping document - it's easier to work with these on a separate spreadsheet - albeit with the same format.
Using the Sitemap Spreadsheet
The following steps give some more background on how to use it properly.
Set your Domain
This is a minor step, but head to the "Domain" tab & set your (planned live) domain here - you'll see why shortly.
Add Page Names
Naming pages is mostly for your benefit so you can understand what is there and therefore what content should be there. Technically column B doesn't have to be represented on the site at all as you'll have a page title, URL, and heading structure that will do that.
I tend to name the pages as per their function and keep them as close to the primary keyword as possible. This will be pretty helpful as the sitemap starts to grow.
Build Out Your URLs
Next, from the page names, you can build out the URL. For small sites, you can plan for x3 levels deep, but you can modify this to 4,5, etc if you wanted.
The screenshot example shows "First Page" as being on the 1st level of the site, the same as "Second Page", but there are two pages that live within the /second-page directory. You Can see for those I have added the /second-page in the 1st level and then their page names into the 2nd and 3rd levels respectively.
If you've done this correctly (and set your domain), column F will build a WIP (work in progress) version of the URL. This is the address the page should live on when it has been published - assuming it is built correctly.
Next, you have the keyword mapping step. Here's where you filter in the target keywords for each page. I have space for three keywords (or close keyword groups), any more is probably too many for landing pages/key content. *
Just ensure that you do not target more than one page with the same term and similar/ overlapping terms should be clear & distinct enough.
You may also want to map the keywords before you decide on the page name and write the URL - but in reality, you can do it in whatever order makes the most sense. This process is almost always organic and when you're mapping keywords in a spreadsheet like this, you can change it at any time!
*The exception here is longer-form content which needs lists of questions and some more detailed terms, but for the keyword mapping activity itself, this would too much detail.
Writing Tiles, Descriptions & H1
To ensure your key on-page optimisation elements are in-line with the mapped keywords, here we have the most important; Page title, Meta Description & H1. URL is also key - but we've covered that already.
As you can see in the screenshot below there are length fields to help illustrate whether your title/description are of optimal length. Please don't stress too much about these, just aim for as close to green as you can.
Some short words of advice around optimising this content:
Short titles/descriptions - aren't bad, they just miss an opportunity to do better.
Long titles/descriptions - also aren't bad, just Google will cut it short to display what it thinks is best.
Try and end titles with the brand name - Pipes | and/or dashes - are my 'go to' here - just be consistent
Include the primary keyword at the start of the title - or as close as you can.
Use the Meta Description to also include synonyms & close matches.
Also including USPs & a call to action in the Meta Description will drive better click-through rates.
Whilst I have only included one heading - the H1 - your page will likely have more headings. If you already know your page templates, then add an H2, or H3 column as required. Just avoid multiple H1s.
Why Use a Sitemap
For site migrations
In my experience of managing site migrations from the SEO point-of-view, I have found that very few people ever really pay close attention to all the content and where it is going.
If traffic is lost after the launch, one of the most common reasons is that content has gone missing - so I think it's worthwhile ensuring that you have a clear sitemap that highlights everything important.
When you start to review the site as content is populated you can (and should!) use this sitemap to check that the content is where it needs to be and the content optimisation is as close to the plan as it can be.
If you create a robust plan, a strong sitemap, and ensure that everyone is aware of it (and how important it is), it will increase the success of migration dramatically.
For Business-as-Usual SEO
Even if you're not running a migration, this kind of planning will help you at least keep tabs on your most important keywords and which pages should be ranking for them.
For SEO teams or people working on large websites, having a sheet like this helps you keep track of which keywords are targeted where & will help you understand if what is 'live' is different from the plan.
Without a plan like this, you could end up getting pretty lost, pretty quickly!
Let Me Know Your Thoughts
How do you best map content to pages on your site? Do you use a spreadsheet or do it within the CMS, maybe using a plugin/tool like Yoast SEO? Leave me a comment with any thoughts/feedback or drop me a DM on Twitter.
Learn More About SEO
If you want to learn more about the Metric Chain and are just getting started in SEO, then you should check out my Certified SEO & SEM Marketing Manager course. Link & Coupon Code Below.