When developing a website, it is important to determine the keywords that align with your site’s purpose and content. Keyword maps can be useful visualizations of keyword data for a website. The maps are often interactive charts that allow users to explore and filter the keywords by topic, type, and other dimensions. However, there are some things you should consider before implementing a keyword map:
Start with the goals for your map
It is important to start with what you would like the user to accomplish when interacting with your map. This goal in mind will also help inform decisions about how to visualize the data best (e.g., do you want to use colors or sizes or shapes?). For example, using different-sized circles might work well if you want users to find popular topics within the search terms. In contrast, if you hope the shapes will identify distinct groups of search terms, you may opt for more specific shapes (e.g., triangles or squares).
Bring in the necessary data
Before you consider how to visualize your site’s keywords, ensure that you have compiled all of the information needed to produce a keyword map effectively. This includes ranking and volume data and user-behavior metrics such as page views and time-on-site within each topic area. If there is additional actionable information that would be useful to your site’s readers (e.g., top users’ city and state), then include that as well. Start with no more than five topics per map: it can be difficult for users to interpret complications beyond this point and categorize keywords into just a few topics.
Know your users
It is important to understand the people you hope will use this tool and where they might go with it. For example, if you are expecting SEO analysts to use the map, then categorizing keywords by closely related topics (so that related terms appear next to one another) may be helpful; whereas if you are hoping for marketers using the map, then placing similar groups of keywords together may minimize confusion about what each group means. Look at your analytics data and make sure to focus on how well-defined your user’s behaviors are. For instance, it might not make sense to target your map toward users who do not spend much time exploring individual topics or pages.
Use a familiar metaphor
The more complex the map, the shorter the engagement will likely be with users. It is best to keep your keyword map relatively simple and easy to interpret by using colors or shapes that are commonly used in other types of data visualizations (e.g., do not use a rainbow of colors if a single color is typically preferred). Using too many different color schemes can also make it difficult for users to identify commonalities between keywords, so consider whether there might be two distinct groups within your data that would work well as separate-colored shapes instead.
Keywords should be chosen carefully because they are used when indexing websites for search engines. In addition to choosing relevant keywords, many websites developers research how the target audience generates keywords in searches. Understanding the psychology behind keyword use can help you create a map that includes both broad topics and specific phrases.