How to Create a Canonical Keyword Map

Transcript of the Video:

If you have a website, chances are you have pages of content that are competing with each other for the same main keywords and topics. Search engines like Google will typically rank only one of those pages for a given keyword query, so the decision as to which page has the higher authority is left in their hands. The competing pages on your site are fighting for, or cannibalizing, the keyword, resulting in lower rankings for one or all your overlapping pages.

Take control of your SEO strategy with a canonical keyword map. Canonicalization is a term you hear often in search engine optimization, but in this case, we’re talking about making one page own a given keyword phrase or topic. A canonical keyword map assigns target keywords and their closely-related variants to a single canonical page, sending clear signals to Google and, perhaps more importantly, your human visitors, as to which page is the authority and the place they’re most likely to find the content they’re looking for.

Here is a simple 3-step process to creating a canonical keyword map. The tools you will need are:

  • Screaming Frog
  • Google Analytics
  • Excel or Google Sheets

Step One

Start with a list of all your website’s URLs and their Page Titles. Use Screaming Frog, connected to your Google Analytics account, to automatically generate the list of your URLs, page titles and site traffic data, then export it to a spreadsheet. Based on the number of Sessions, narrow your list down to your – say, top 100 – landing pages. Highlight or mark pages that have the same or very similar keywords in the Page Title. This is a sign of keyword cannibalization that your keyword map will aim to correct.


Step Two

Now that you see which pages are competing for keywords, you can make some decisions about which page should “own” each keyword. Site traffic is one way to determine a winner. Furthermore, do an advanced search of your site for the keyword in Google and see which page ranks higher – a sign that Google thinks one page is more authoritative than the other for that keyword. Additionally, you may want to look at other metrics such as number of links to the page, MOZ’s Page Authority or Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow. The page with the better metrics should own the keyword phrase.


Step Three

Finally, look at each set of competing pages. For each set, you have 3 choices of what to do next: either
a) consolidate pages that are competing for the same keyword, topic and audience into one page,
b) use the rel=”canonical” tag to tell the search engines which page you want them to treat as the authority on a given keyword or topic, or
c) change the content, page title and meta description to target a different unique keyword or audience.