What Is Keyword Maturity, and How Is It Like Golf?

Post written by Sam Smith, CTO and Cofounder of Demandwell 

Sam has over a decade of experience building marketing technology. 

When he’s not going on long bike rides, you can catch him listening to live music around Indy.

Imagine playing a round of golf and hitting a hole-in-one every time. You’d probably always use a driver, because you’d never need anything else if every shot you took was a hole in one. Seems improbable, right? 

Realistically, you’re not finishing every hole in a single stroke, and you need other clubs to help you sink the final shot. There’re a lot of variables at play – the weather, distance from the hole, course conditions, and your own skill. For every swing, you need to choose the best club to get you from where you are to wherever you’d like to be next. You tee off with a driver, make your way towards the green with irons, and close it out with a putter. Each club is a tool for specific situations.

In SEO, a hole in one can happen just like they do in golf. Sometimes you get out the driver, take one swing, publish one highly optimized piece of content, and suddenly you’re at the top of the search results. Those times are rare though, and more often than not, the first post doesn’t get you onto the first page of Google. Like in golf, a single tactic will not get all of your pages to the top of SERPs – you need a series of different techniques to approach keywords depending on how you’re performing for them. 

So, what are they?

Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model is a measurement that informs the approach for improving rankings for different keywords, in different situations.

When determining how to best improve rankings for a keyword, Demandwell takes relative ranking positions, associated click-through rates, existing content, conversion rate, endorsements, and more into account to help you pick the right tool for the job. Even better, Demandwell provides the Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Stage for your entire SEO content plan, so you can easily see how your organic program is growing across every keyword.

Let’s take a look at each stage of Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model.

Stage 1: Keyword Not Ranking 

The first stage of Keyword Lifecycle Maturity is where most keywords start, with no current ranking. Just like teeing off with a driver, this is your chance to take a first big swing, and get as far down the fairway as possible. 

At this stage, creating your first Demand Page is the way to go. Demand Pages are purpose-built to rank. It’s not just quality content. It’s performance SEO content that serves users’ needs and, ideally, converts…more on getting to conversions later.  

Check out our post about what makes a Demand Page for a detailed overview.

Stage 2: Keyword Ranking, But Not On Page One 

Not every drive makes it to the green, and a par 5 will need more swings to get there than a par 3. 

Keywords in the second stage of lifecycle maturity have a ranking established, but haven’t made it to the coveted 1st page of Google results yet. This is where additional content will help signal to Google that you mean business.

In this stage, Demandwell shows you what supporting post content to create that will prop up your existing Demand Page – by linking supporting SEO optimized content to your original Demand Page, you’re telling search engines that your Demand Page is the expert page for its search term. This additional content brings you another swing closer to the green, and presents an opportunity to help associate content with endorsements in the next stage.

Stage 3: Ranking On The First Page, But Below The Fold

Now it’s time to get tactical. Sand traps, the rough, water hazards, and more create a path of obstacles to be navigated to get to the green. 

When you’re ranking on the 1st page of Google, it’s time to focus on getting to the top. To help Google navigate and provide the best experience for searchers, you need to use endorsements to make all your content associations known.

This includes internal links from your supporting posts to your Demand Pages as well as external links coming from authoritative third-party domains to signal to Google that your information is trusted and useful.

Stage 4: Ranking in the Top Three Results

Stage 4 is all about getting into position on the green and setting yourself up for success on the final putt. Keywords in this stage typically have content ranking in the top three positions on Google, but a relatively low click-through rate (CTR).

At this stage, it’s all about CTR optimization. The goal is to get an organic prospect to click your listing instead of the others on the page, sending them to your site so you can set yourself up for conversion. Just like getting on the green doesn’t complete the hole, simply ranking in SERPs doesn’t mean traffic growth!

Stage 5: Driving Traffic, But Not Quite Converting 

At last it’s time for the putt that will seal the deal. Literally!

Keywords in the most mature stage are ranking the highest in Google results and are driving as much traffic as possible through their ranking content.

Stage 5 means the focus should be on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). These strategies will breakdown the user’s experience on your Demand Pages and ensure you have the right mix of converting opportunities and value for them. 

In conclusion…

Just like no two holes of golf are the same, no two keywords have the same journey toward the compounding growth opportunity that SEO can provide. Every keyword requires a different set of actions. Every business needs a unique approach to capture the search traffic that’s strategic for them.

Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model represents a tailored roadmap for every customer, that takes the guesswork out of achieving SEO success and gives you the right tool for the right job, every time.