- Why keyword categorization is important
- Basic methods of categorizing keywords
- 4 Ways To Use Keyword Categorization To Identify Opportunities
- Align topics with business goals
- Plan your content roadmap based on insights
Gone are the days where you could pick any keyword, write a 500 word blog post, and get it in search results.
As search engines have evolved, algorithms have prioritized content based on intent, website authority, and what best fits the needs of the searcher – even if that means answering the query directly on the search engine results page (SERP).
Why keyword categorization is important
More and more marketers are turning to a topic cluster-based SEO approach, although this is by no means the only way to drive organic traffic.
One of the main advantages of this approach is that it forces you to measure SEO success using buckets of semantically related keywords versus the ranking for a single keyword.
This is where keyword categorization comes in.
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By categorizing keywords for yourself, your SEO competitors, and your direct competitors, you have a benchmark that you can use to begin planning your content strategy.
Basic methods of categorizing keywords
Whether you use a rough Excel method to filter / tag your keywords or take a more advanced approach via Python, BigML, or some other programmatic method, the end goal is that you have a semantically related and categorized list of keywords.
SEMrush’s Keyword Gap Tool is one of the easiest ways to take inventory of the keyword data for you and your competitors to get you started.
You can use this tool to create leaderboards for every five competitors.
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You need to merge tables when you need to analyze a large number of competitors.
4 Ways To Use Keyword Categorization To Identify Opportunities
Now that the hard work of categorizing is over, it’s time to extract the most important SEO insights.
Here are four areas to help you plan your content strategy:
1. Low hanging fruit subjects
Identify the topics with higher keyword volume on Google’s second and third pages compared to other topics.
In the short term, this is the fastest ROI from a keyword targeting perspective.
In this example we can see that this domain contains 113 keywords related to “Content Marketing” on the 2nd and 3rd pages of Google.
Now that your keyword research data is well organized, you can also determine which URLs are ranking for these 113 keywords.
Focus on improving, expanding, consolidating, and / or optimizing those existing pages (blogs, websites, or landing pages) that are close to ranking on the first page.
2. Middle class issues
These topics include higher keyword volume on pages 4 to 10 of Google search results.
Yes, you rank for these topics, but it usually takes a major overhaul of this content to get it to page one on Google.
Here is an example of the topics sorted by the number of keywords on the 4-9. Page from Google:
Your options are mixed for your medium sized subjects.
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Depending on the competitiveness of your industry, you may be able to revise what you already have, or you may have to loot everything and start over to get to the first page. For competition topics, it’s likely the latter.
3. Long shots
This includes topics where you have very little to no rankings for those keyword groupings.
Your focus on long shots depends on how well your current groups align with your goals. You will likely have a number of categories that you barely rank for.
Your overall goal shouldn’t be to have an SEO footprint in every category.
Instead, focus on the few categories that are directly related to sales (via attribution reports).
4. Competitive knowledge
The other important value of keyword categorization is to determine what factors help other websites succeed in the SERPs.
Here you will find a framework for analyzing competition data in more detail.
First, identify which topics are strengths or weaknesses for competitors.
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In this graph, we can see that Domain 1 ranks well for Marketing Research-related keywords, but not that good for Marketing Campaign-related keywords.
Now we can dig deeper into each competitor’s domain to understand the variables that help them rank well in a search. These can be:
- Information architecture: How are the websites structured for the best performing websites compared to yours?
- Content formats: What types of content rank well? Are pages with videos or images better than long text-only pages?
- Depth or length of content: What is the average word count for the top pages? Long content doesn’t mean you will rank better, but in some industries it can make a difference.
- Backlink profile: What are the quality and sources of links on the top topics? How many links do the top pages have for this topic?
- Content quality: How well does the content match the user’s intent? How well do certain pages cover the topic? Tools like Frase.io help with this process by quickly helping you understand what topics are covered in the top 20 SERPs.
This example shows us the concentration of the topics that exist on the top pages for [what is competitive analysis]::
After you understand why certain pages rank and what it takes to rank your website higher for your intended topics, you can focus resources on your content creation, search engine optimization, or website development efforts.
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Align topics with business goals
Depending on your goals for this year, you can use this wealth of data to align your stakeholder resources, schedules, and campaigns.
Here are two types of goals that you can align this current research with:
General revenue or sales
For overall sales or sales goals, use your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution and analysis to understand which pages on your website received the most organic association with closed opportunities.
Then identify the topics that those pages are aligned with.
Some content management systems allow you to label pages by topic so you can quickly see which pages improve the bottom line.
This approach will help you create a content development, SEO, or website investment business case that will help you outrun some of your competitors in the search.
New or improved product lines
Another common business goal is to expand or release a new line of products.
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Categorical topic data can help you understand which competitors currently own this area and what types of content are required to compete in the SERPs.
If so, identify the content format, site hierarchy, and relative search intent to keep up with the search.
Plan your content roadmap based on insights
After knowing your strengths and weaknesses from a current SEO perspective, you can lay the foundations for developing your editorial calendar, redesigning the website or expanding and optimizing existing content.
All screenshots by the author, March 2021