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March 21, 2008
Avoiding SEO Brain Freeze Part Two - Creating a Keyword Phrase Map

In part one of the Avoiding SEO Brain Freeze series, we looked at the 7 steps necessary to finding the most appropriate keyword phrases for which you will ultimately optimize your website. My hope is that you have spent some time compiling a whole slew of keyword phrase spreadsheets, and now you're ready to start figuring out how to incorporate them into your website.


Through the years, I've developed a process of creating a keyword phrase map as the 2nd component to our clients' SEO campaigns. If you follow the steps outlined below, it should keep you organized and help you avoid the dreaded SEO brain freeze when attempting to optimize your website on your own.


The 9 Steps to Creating a Keyword Phrase Map


Step #1: Create a new spreadsheet, and add headings across the top which correspond with your home page and each of your top-level main category pages. These should be pages that are in the main navigation of your website, which are linked to from every page of the site. This sheet will ultimately be your keyword phrase map.


Step #2: Review your keyword phrase lists you previously compiled and highlight the 3-5 of them that are the most competitive but also highly relevant to what your business and website is all about. These will be the phrases you'll target on your home page. Copy and paste them under the home page heading of your new spreadsheet and mark them as "home page" in your old keyword spreadsheet.


Step #3: Look at the existing information/copy on your top-level main category pages of your website and check to see if they are already naturally using any of the keyword phrases from your keyword lists. These pages are the best candidate pages for those phrases, as they will be easier to edit than pages that aren't currently using them the targeted phrases. Make note of which phrases exist on which pages by highlighting them and marking them on your keyword research list, then add them under the heading for that page on your phrase map spreadsheet.


Step #4: Once you've completed step #3 for all your top-level category pages, you may also want to branch out into your deeper, sub-category pages if you still have a number of unhighlighted keyword phrases from your original keyword list.


Step #5: Take the phrases that you haven't already found pages for, and search your website to see if they're naturally being used on any deeper pages of your website. You can do this via your website's own site-search feature (if you have one) or you can use Google to search your site.

To use Google simply type the following command into its search box:

"your keyword phrase" +site:www.yoursite.com

This will show you all pages of your site that have the exact keyword phrase contained on them already. Make note of these in your keyword spreadsheets and add the additional inner pages to your keyword phrase map spreadsheet, as well.


Step #6: Review the keyword phrases for which you have not yet found a related page, and decide if they are indeed important for your website to be found under in the search engines. Cross-out or remove those from the list that you determine may no longer be necessary.


Step #7: For the keyword phrases you have left, redo your site searches using your phrases, but this time, without quotes. This will bring up the pages of your site that have the individual words from your keyword phrases on them, rather than the exact phrase. These may very well be good candidate pages for those phrases, as well. Read through them carefully to be sure, and if they look like a good fit, adjust your spreadsheets accordingly.

The above steps should have helped you easily identify pages that are already using your keywords or phrases. Most likely, you will still have a number of keyword phrases from your original spreadsheet that still haven't found a home on your website. This will be especially true if your existing website doesn't have much copy on it to begin with.

The next steps will require you to use your brain a bit more in order to decide which of the keyword phrases that you have left make sense on the which pages of your website.


Step #8: Carefully read through each page and decide what its ultimate theme is.


Step #9: Review your remaining keyword phrases and look for those that fit in with the theme of each page. Ideally, you'll be able to find a good home (page) for most of the rest of your keyword phrases.


Step #10: For any remaining keyword phrases that you simply cannot find an existing corresponding page, once again, decide if they are really important to be found for in the search engines, and remove any that you can live without.


Step #11: For those keyword phrases you have left, which you have determined are indeed important to your website, think about why you don't have any existing pages of your website where they fit into. If your website is structured correctly, there should be pages available for all relevant keyword phrases. At this point, you may have found the hole in your website that needs to be plugged. That is, you probably need to create some new pages that can naturally support the keyword phrases that don’t currently have homes.


Step #12: Think about how you can create new content for your website which will naturally be able to utilize those last keyword phrases. This may be as simple as adding some articles to your website that naturally use them. Or you may need to add some new top-level or sub-level pages to your website to support these phrases. In this case, you'll also need to redo your site architecture and its overall navigation. But if those keyword phrases are indeed important to you, they really should have a place on your website, so it's really important to perform this last step.


That's it! You should now have all your important keyword phrases mapped to the existing pages of your website on a nice, neat spreadsheet. In the next article in this series, I'll explain where you go from here! 


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As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.

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