How to Do SEO Keyword Research and Mapping – Step-by-Step

If you’ve stumbled upon this article, you are probably seeking some insight into how SEO Keyword Research and Mapping works. The practice is essential to any content creators that wish to gain traffic to their pages – and ultimately conversion.

This article will serve as a step-by-step guide on how to effectively procure keywords, map them for decision-making, and create high-ranking content. Those search engines won’t know what hit them!

Let’s begin by defining why SEO Keyword Research and Mapping are essential.

Why Know About SEO Keyword Research and Mapping?

Targeting high-volume keywords and incorporating them in your article have a colossal impact on your search rankings. Where you are listed on search results is arguably one of the most significant factors in content creation.

If somebody searched ‘where to get married in New Hampshire,’ and you had a wedding venue in the state – you’re going to want your business to be found on that first page.

That’s achieved through effective SEO Keyword Research and Mapping. It helps search engine algorithms understand that your content is the real deal. Most importantly, it ranks it high as a relevant business.

The goal of this article is to help you and your content team with the following:

  • Find high-volume keywords (words that are searched a lot, but competitors don’t use them much)
  • Tailor them to your content’s niche
  • Group the keywords according to intent and demand
  • Map out the keywords to help make impactful business decisions

What This Guide Will Help Achieve

The ultimate outcome of this guide will be the skills and knowledge of how to conjure an effective keyword strategy for your content. Honestly, anybody in your organization will benefit from this article’s information.

So, if you’re ready to hone your skills as a content marketer and SEO specialist – let’s begin!

Is There Anything You Need to Know Beforehand?

As a content creator, you already have everything you need to learn about SEO Keyword Research and Mapping. The practice is a little more complicated than writing out your content.

But with patience and time – you’ll have the process down to an art form!

Why is SEO Keyword Research and Mapping Important?

SEO Keyword Research and Mapping isn’t the only method of growing traffic to your website. It is arguably the most essential practice in getting people on your pages and converting to your products.

Good keyword strategies can give your website a significant advantage over your competitors. If your content hits the mark more than others, you’ll undoubtedly rank higher in search engines.

Other pluses of an effective keyword strategy can facilitate a wealth of decision-making. The results, outcomes, data, and growth inform teams on how to build upon their successes.

Questions like how much to invest in your future content, how to shape your marketing plans, as well as how to structure your business can all be answered. Understanding SEO Keyword Research and Mapping can unlock a lot of doors.

The Basics of SEO Keyword Research and Mapping

So, where do we start when gaining this lucrative skill into your repertoire? The basics are a good place to begin – answering the questions of where, when, and who.

Where Is It Done?

You’ll be doing your keyword research in a browser with a well-rounded keyword research tool. After you’ve honed in on your keywords, you’ll map them out on a spreadsheet for organizational purposes.

When Do You Do it?

There are three times when you should be doing your SEO Keyword Research and Mapping:

  1. Before you create any content – whether it’s a blog post or a complete business website
  2. The practice should be done for your website annually (at least) to keep your SEO fresh and relevant
  3. If any new SEO or content marketing strategies are in the making – keyword research must be done!

Who Is Responsible For Doing It?

Most businesses will have a marketer or strategist in their ranks – SEO Keyword Research and Mapping are mainly their responsibility. However, the most effective practices come when entire marketing teams and content creators understand how it works.

If you are a small entity – you may not have a marketing team at your disposal. In that case, it will be up to you to implement your keyword research!

Some Things to Know About Preparing SEO Keyword Research and Mapping

Before we start nailing the process down – it’s necessary to understand some of the terminologies and definitions behind the practice.

Find below some of the things you need to remember on your way to becoming an SEO expert:

  • What are SEO keywords? They are the words and phrases typed into internet search engines to find specific information. It could be an answer to a question, business, article, or entertainment.
  • The more you optimize keywords relevant to your content – the more likely it is to rank higher on the search engine results pages. We all want to get to that Google top spot, and SEO keyword research will help get content as close as possible.
  • SEO Keyword Research and Mapping are crucial. However, make sure you add other methods of content optimizing into the mix. That will make sure you keep flying high in the search sphere.
  • There is a plethora of tools available for keyword research. Google’s Keyword Planner was the most prominent, up until the rollout of AdWords campaigns (pay to promote content). Now, it’s a decent tool to help with keyword research – but limited on results and quality.

The keyword research platforms today are remarkable in their power and capability. As the practice is so essential, you will have to pay for their services for the best results. Some offer free, limited services such as KWFinder and SemRush – but excellent when paid for. That’s not to say there aren’t free keyword tools like SEOBook – honestly, it’s worth investing in a paid service, though.

Let's Start By Setting Up Your Keyword Research Environment

In this guide, KWFinder will be used, considering it has the best results parallel to its value for money. With that in mind, we’ll just need to do a couple things to prepare for the SEO Keyword Research and Mapping process.

  1. Register for KWFinder and set up an account. If you or your business already has one – gain access and log in!
  2. Make sure you have Microsoft Excel available. You’ll also need access to Google Sheets or any cloud spreadsheet application.

There is not much software or tools needed, but again – be patient! The process is time-consuming and can be a little fiddly. However, it is not difficult to do – and the results are well worth the investment.

The Process of Running In-Depth Keyword Research

We used an example earlier about having a wedding venue in New Hampshire that you’d like to get found. We’ll continue to use that concept to explain the process of running in-depth keyword research.

The scenario here is that you are building a website around your wedding venue in New Hampshire. Your target market is couples looking to get married in the state – and you want to make sure they find your business.

We use this only as an example – but the same principles in this process apply to every business. Only the resulting keywords will be different.

So without further ado – let’s muster up some rewarding keywords!

1. Open your keyword research tool.

The first step in the process, you’ll need to open up the keyword research tool you’ll be using. Visit to get started.

2. Think of what your potential customers would search for concerning your business.

Ask the question of what you would search Google for if you wanted to get married in New Hampshire. What terms, phrases, questions, and words would you type into that box to hone the most intriguing results?

Put yourself in a customer’s shoes with your business.

3. Set your business' location.

Once you’ve logged on to KWFinder, you’ll need to change your business’s location. By default – it’s set to ‘anywhere.’ Clicking on it will allow you to select your desired region.

  • It’s recommended to use a broader region at first. If your business was in New Hampshire, start by defining the country, United States. You’ll get more options for keywords this way.

4. Enter the search term you've considered, and find keywords.

Gauge the term that you would search for when looking for a wedding -venue in New Hampshire. Once you have one – type that into the box that says ‘enter the keyword,’ and click ‘Find Keywords.’

  • After clicking ‘Find,’ you will swiftly see all the results according to your search terms. The data presented is a list of related keywords, the number of average searches per month, and their ‘difficulty score.’ We’ll talk more about the last metric shortly.

5. Sort your keywords by criteria.

Next, you are given a few options on how to sort your results. They are:

  • Suggestions

This is the default and recommended setting. It lists returned keywords according to how relevant they are to your search term. ‘wedding venues New Hampshire’ is used in this instance.

  • Search

The ‘search’ option lists keywords purely according to the number of searches monthly. This may be interesting to understand the statistics, but generally not a recommended sorting style. Search volume isn’t the only metric that helps you obtain the best keywords.

  • PPC / CPC

The pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click metrics are only required if you plan a paid advertising campaign for your content. This is not essential for SEO Keyword Mapping and Research.

  • Diff

The ‘diff’ sorting criteria will list keywords according to their difficulty score. If you don’t yet see that number, find out how to unveil it below.

6. Look at the 'difficulty score' for the most relevant keywords.

The difficulty score is a metric that tells you how challenging it is to rank with these keywords implemented in your content. By clicking on the magnifying glass in each result row, you can unveil the difficulty score. Make sure you do this for every keyword you find relevant!

7. Highlight each keyword of interest by ticking them.

On the note of intriguing keywords, use the tick boxes on each result field to highlight the most suitable ones for your website. Choose the ones you think customers are most likely to search for when you put yourself in their shoes.

  • Build up a list of those keywords you believe to be most relevant to your business. There’s no need to choose broad or diverse topics for the sake of covering everything.

8. Add your keywords to a list.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a green button that reads ‘Add to List.’ Once you’ve ticked off the keywords of interest, click that to add them to their very own list.

If the list is new, you’ll be prompted to give the list a name. For example, we would call it New Hampshire Wedding Keyword Research.

Does the list already exist? Simply select the one you want to add it to.

9. Go a bit more in-depth with each keyword you've considered.

Now comes the part of the process that will require more time and patience. For each of the keywords you’ve put on your list, you will want to repeat the process with that particular keyword instead of your initial search term.

Yes, this is repetitive, and you’re probably asking why do this? The reason being is that you can find a plethora of relevant keywords to help you rank better that you may not have thought of.

Do the search by clicking on the arrow next to the keyword to yield the results. Add any more interesting keywords to your established list.

10. Check keywords on the 'autocomplete' tab.

We’re going to further the process by doing the same thing with the ‘autocomplete’ tab. Click on the named button on top of the results to view what search terms would come up if Google assisted users by filling phrases in for them.

This is incredibly useful to show keywords that customers may unknowingly use in their search terms. Add any relevant keywords to your list.

11. Do the same for the 'questions' tab.

And again, do this for the ‘questions’ tab next to ‘autocomplete.’ These results will show a list of question-based search terms around your keywords. This function is excellent for developing blog topics around the same question to promote your website.

12. The best results come to those who are patient!

KWFinder helps make the keyword research process straightforward. But it is a very long process if you want a competitive advantage.

The more time you spend looking at every keyword, the better the chances of ranking higher. Not every business does keyword research so comprehensively!

Create a Map For Your Keywords

You’ve got your list – now it’s time to map your keywords. That is achieved through the process below:

1. Export the keyword list you have created.

Open up your created keyword list in KWFinder, and click the ‘Export’ button at the bottom. This will deliver a ‘.csv’ file that you can open as a spreadsheet containing all your keywords and data.

2. Import the file into your cloud spreadsheet application.

Go on to Google Sheets or any other cloud spreadsheet platform you are using, and import the file you’ve just received into the application. This can be done by click ‘File -> Open’ and selecting the file name.

3. Create a duplicate for your list.

Being the meticulous people we are – we want to make sure our hard work is backed up! Create a duplicate for the file, calling the original ‘[your list name] Canonical List’ and your new one ‘[your list name] Keyword Mapping Blueprint.’

You will be working with the latter here on out.

4. Format the spreadsheet to make it more readable.

Now, we’ll want to make our keyword list a bit more presentable and workable. Center all the text in the spreadsheet, and make the cells bigger to see all the information clearly.

5. Add filters to sort the data.

Add a filter to each column, and then sort the data by ‘search volume,’

6. Delete any data columns not relevant to your business objectives.

If there are any metrics that you are not using for your keywords, delete their columns. Most keyword maps don’t use the CPC or PPC columns and are often disposed of.

7. Bunch up keywords by search intent.

We are now going to group up keywords according to search intent. These clusters will be called ‘buckets’ and will bunch up according to how similar they are to a user’s search term.

  • An example of this would be grouping keywords where users want to find wedding venues in an area named in the search term. Keywords that include something relating to a site and the specific region of New Hampshire would be grouped together.
  • Another group would be a broader search term such as ‘wedding venues New England.’ The keywords would be bunched by search intent of finding a venue is not just New Hampshire. It is the region as a whole.

8. Give names to these groups, and assign them to relevant parts of your website.

You’ll likely have different areas of your website that you want to drive traffic on. You could have varying pages relating to New Hampshire wedding venues and New England wedding venues.

For each of the ‘buckets’ you’ve highlighted – we’ll give them defining names that are related to each of those web pages.

  • One group would be called /wedding-venue to define keywords on the New Hampshire wedding venue homepage.
  • The other group would adopt the name /new-england-wedding-venues for keywords to shape content that addresses the whole region.

9. Any keywords you're struggling to find a place for, put them into a separate category.

Some keywords you may simply not be able to assign a group to, yet still, consider them valuable. Create a new ‘bucket’ and name that the ‘Outlier’ group.

If you need to find a good use for these rogue keywords, you can repeat the research process – or use them in blog topics.

10. Color-code each keyword group.

For each of the ‘buckets’ you’ve created, give them different backgrounds to define each section of keywords.

11. Clean up your spreadsheet.

Once the organizational process is complete, you’ll just need to tidy the map up. Ensure all your ‘buckets’ are in the same column and give a few empty rows of space between them.

12. Finalize your keyword map.

Review your keyword map, save your work – and boom! You have a keyword map that will make your marketing and SEO job a lot more straightforward.

Use Your Keyword Map as a Reference for Business Decisions

Essentially, you are done with the SEO Keyword Research and Mapping process. However, if you are really out to impress on your skills – there are a few things you can do to enhance your map.

You can add a few business calculations into the mix that will help streamline your business’ decision-making process. The idea behind this data is to narrow down the metrics and outcomes of your keyword research.

Ultimately these statistics will show how your website performs in parallel, such as how much traffic is arriving and converting.

You can upgrade your keyword map by following the steps below:

1. Create a row for 'Total Monthly Volume.'

First, add a new row at the bottom of the ‘bucket’ and title it above. Select the cell that you want your total number of monthly searches to show, and click the ‘SUM’ feature – found in the ‘Functions’ tab of Google Spreadsheets.

Highlight the cells with the search volume next to the keyword to add up.

2. Make a row for 'Expected CTR of #1 Result.'

Next, make a row entitled as above. The CTR (Click-Through-Ratio) is usually between 35% – 40% – but we will use 40% for the example. To present this number, type ‘0.4’ in the cell next to the row title.

3. Add a row for 'Total Addressable Market (TAM).'

Make a row for the ‘Total Addressable Market,’ which will be the ‘Total Monthly Volume’ multiplied by the ‘Expected CTR of #1 Result.’ Type ‘=’ in the new cell, and add the equation for the two statistics.

In the example below using cells B18 and B19, the TAM cell would include the equation ‘=B18*B19’.

4. The next row to create would be 'Expected Conversion Rates'

This new row will display the expected conversion rate of your website. If this is already known, put the number down in the new cell.

If you aren’t sure yet, the rough conversion estimate is around 1%. In the example, we write the number down as 0.01 to represent it.

5. Enter another row for 'Total Monthly Conversions'

‘Total Monthly Conversions’ will be the next row to add. It will operate similarly to the ‘TAM’ row. Here, you’ll need to multiply the cells containing ‘Total Addressable Market’ by ‘Expected Conversion Rate.’

6. Next rows - 'Top Line Revenue' and 'Bottom Line Revenue.'

The subsequent rows to address are the ‘Top Line Revenue’ and ‘Bottom Line Revenue.’ These statistics are the gross revenue on conversion and net income, respectively.

These numbers fluctuate significantly depending on your business. Our example includes $10,000 for top, and $5,000 for bottom.

7. Add two new rows for 'Monthly Top Line' and 'Monthly Bottom Line.'

These two rows will contain an equation, multiplying ‘Total Monthly Conversions’ by ‘Top Line Revenue’ and the second row – ‘Total Monthly Conversions’ by ‘Bottom Line Revenue.’

8. Remember that these numbers are a broad image of your business.

While enhancing your keyword map with these business statistics is beneficial for decision-making, it’s important to remember many variables are at play. The numbers like search volume and conversion could be skewed by factors such as multiple business locations or different offerings.

Bear in mind that this is a general outlook of your business. But it does present those involved with a good idea of what’s happening overall.

A Keyword Researcher's Work Is Never Done - But You Have Everything You Need!

Now you are armed with the knowledge and tools to craft a competitive advantage for your content. As mentioned, this process is neither difficult nor particularly complicated.

However, as you can see – it takes a long time to get the job done well. There’s a reason why so many organizations hire dedicated SEO specialists – not everybody has the time to do this process effectively. The SEO Keyword Research and Mapping trade change with trends, intent, and strategies.

A message for those tasked with the practice. It’s important to remember that you need to keep doing this process wherever possible. There’s never an end to the SEO Keyword Research and Mapping process. But regularly doing it will undoubtedly bring a noticeable advantage over competitors.


The number one piece of advice – be ruthless!

Maintain your determination and power through that research. The hard work does yield bountiful rewards for your business!

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