The last month I had the pleasure of speaking at WordCamp Grand Rapids. At the end of my presentation someone in the audience asked about keyword mapping and I found myself going off on a tangent about companies and bloggers competing with themselves on SEO.
This idea came to the surprise of many people, including my friend Chris Lema. He was sitting right in front of me as I spoke and I could tell by his reaction that it was something he had not yet contemplated.
Keep in mind that Chris is a very smart man and is very knowledgable on business and our WordPress community. You might know of him or recognize his name, because he blogs daily about WordPress. When I say “daily”, I mean almost every single workday and sometimes on the weekend as well. The man kicks out a ton of great content.
After my talk Chris and I spent much of the day together. As we were sitting having a private discussion at the hotel the subject of SEO came up again and we spoke about it in more depth. Chris admitted that he uses Yoast’s SEO plugin and he thinks about keywords when he writes, but that he doesn’t really go back through his blog and review all of his targets keywords, categories, and tags.
Guess what? Most people don’t pay attention to their ongoing keyword usage because they fail to use proper keyword mapping techniques.
Here’s the problem with this practice – in doing so, writers tend to compete with themselves. They use the same keyword phrase for a given piece of content and then later, do so again and again.
This is harmful because it confuses the search engines and puts the website or blog in a position of competing against itself.
An Example of Self Competition in SEO
Let’s take a typical retail store that sells women’s clothes and examine a common practice of keyword usage. Our fictional store sells all types of women’s clothing items including dresses, suits, casual pants and tops, accessories, and shoes. The website also has an active blog that talks about the latest fashion trends and news.
Our fictional website has the following breakdown of content:
Area #1 – Online Store
The store has three main groupings, each with child groupings. This segmentation allows a visitor to click on clothing and then segregate available products at a more narrow level such as dresses or tops.
Area #2 – Blog
The blog section includes categories and tags, although we’ll just keep it simple and look at categories. These categories allows readers to browse through the blog and review posts in groups. In our case these groups would be news or say beauty items.
Area #3 – Discover Section
This fictional website also has an area where the retailer talks about the latest fashion trends for the year and breaks their products into “Collections” which are highlighted on the website’s home page.
- Beauty and Make Up
This all looks great right? Not so much.
Now assume you’re Google and you have someone input the word perfume into the search box on Google’s home page. You know this fictional fashion website is a good match because it has a full store of products and an active blog that posts new content regularly.
But here is the key question and core issue. Where should Google take the user who searched for perfume? Should it send them to the store category for perfume or should it take the user to the discovery section’s collection labeled as perfume.
In this scenario Google has to make a decision. It has to decide which piece of content (individual URL) is more important. You never want to be in the position of having Google wonder what piece of content is best for a given keyword. When this happens, both pieces of content have their SEO value degraded because they are competing for the same given keyword phrase.
At Web Savvy I see examples of this day after day. And I’ll admit, some days I even catch it on our own website because I add a blog tag that is already used in a page or a post as the focused keyword.
It’s easy to make this mistake, especially if you are like Chris and you add new content daily.
What is important is creating an action plan to fix the issue and having protocols in place so that the issue does not reappear.
The Quick Fix for SEO Competition
The fast and easy approach to fixing this issue is to reclassify the discover section’s perfume collection to fragrances. This will allow a clear separation between the two pieces of content and it will allow Google to see that a query for perfume should be directed to the store and a query for fragrances should be directed to the discovery section.
The other advantage of this keyword change is that you now have two opportunities to win visitors. One opportunity for the group of people who search for perfume and another opportunity for those who search for fragrances.
I would personally search for perfume, but that’s just me. The key is to multiple your keyword opportunities and to make sure you do not reuse focuses keyword terms or phrases.
Tips for Fixing Your Keyword Mapping Errors
Now before you start to panic, take a moment and remember that everything is fixable. Whatever state your website is in, it can be corrected and Google will quickly forgive you for causing confusion.
The first step you should do is perform a content audit. Moz offers a great article on How to Do a Content Audit. This may be overkill for some, so don’t be upset if you feel this process is daunting. Their article is extreme and you can do a quicker audit on your own by simply following these steps:
- Create a spreadsheet of all of your pages, posts, categories, tags, and products (if they exist).
- Add a column for focused keyword and assign one keyword phrase per piece of content.
- Sort the spreadsheet by keyword so you can quickly locate duplicates.
- Assign new alternative keywords for any duplicate terms you’ve identified as the focused keyword.
- Research new keyword opportunities if needed. You can find alternative keywords by using tools like Google’s Adword search tool, Google’s auto suggest in the search box, or the related searches presented at the bottom of the search results page.
Moz also has a good article on Keyword Research and Targeting that you can read for more in depth instructions.
That wasn’t so hard right? It’s really just a matter of organization, proper planning and periodic self checking.
Considering a Facelift for Your Website?
If you’re considering a redesign of your existing website, this is a perfect time for performing a content audit and researching new keyword opportunities. If you work with someone like us, we’ll even help you in that effort. Our full website development projects include keyword research and keyword mapping.
Just give us a shout and tell us you’re ready to get your website refreshed and your keyword mapping in order.