If you’re struggling to get meaningful SEO and PPC results, keyword grouping could be the missing ingredient you need.

Keyword grouping drastically improves and streamlines your keyword research process.

It helps you uncover more target-worthy keywords and come up with content topics a lot quicker, among other things.

In this post, you’ll learn what keyword grouping is, why it’s important, and how to do it right.

What is keyword grouping?

Keyword grouping is the practice of organising semantically-related keywords into groups or “keyword clusters.” A primary keyword is assigned for each group of relevant keywords.

For example, the primary keyword “shipping software” may be grouped with keywords like:

  • eCommerce shipping software
  • Discounted shipping rates
  • Shipping software for eCommerce
  • Shipping software for small business
  • Shipping management software
  • Shipping automation system

Keyword groups target a specific subtopic or search intent. They help guide content development and maximise the ROI of paid advertising campaigns.

Why bother grouping keywords?

Grouping keywords in your keyword research process leads to the following benefits:

Make content ideation easier

Keyword grouping streamlines the content research process by building content ideas around secondary keywords.

For example, for the keyword group “shipping software,” the secondary keyword “shipping automation system” leads to the following content ideas:

  • How to Build a Shipping Automation System
  • Top X Tools for Creating a Shipping Automation System
  • Why You Need a Shipping Automation System: X Benefits to Consider

Using any free keyword grouping tool can give you lots of viable content ideas for a single primary keyword.

The better your keyword grouping tool, the better content ideas you can get in terms of quality and quantity.

Improve on-page SEO

Keyword grouping is essential to a content cluster strategy. This involves grouping content or “cluster posts” around a pillar page, which is optimised for a primary keyword.

Building a content cluster around a keyword list helps search engines understand the context behind your content. It also helps users find relevant information through internal links.

Both factors play a crucial role in bumping up your search engine rankings.

Optimise for alternative keywords

Create keyword groups and optimise for alternative keywords to maximise your campaign’s potential reach.

Remember, multiple search queries can have the same search intent.

People who search “buy shoes online” have the same goal as those who use “order shoes online.” Building a keyword group prevents you from missing out on potential traffic simply because people phrase their queries differently.

Streamline the content writing process

Keyword groups make it easy to build cohesive content outlines.

If you look at your keyword cluster, you can easily identify the keywords that go into each content idea. It also helps you decide the sections to include in each post.

Content outlines directly improve content quality. They also help writers work quickly and efficiently.

Prevent keyword cannibalisation

Keyword cannibalisation is when multiple pages or posts from the same website compete for the same keywords. This limits each piece’s capacity to achieve high rankings in search results.

If you group keywords and build your content strategy in clusters, you give every post its own focus keyword.

Some posts within the same keyword group may still rank for similar secondary keywords. But with effective keyword clustering and content planning, each piece’s rankings will only be pushed for the focus keywords that matter.

Run more cost-effective PPC campaigns

Narrower keyword groups improve the performance of Pay Per Click (PPC) ad campaigns.

PPC campaigns are expensive. But they’re costlier if you target a large, unrefined pool of keywords—including terms that non-buyers use.

Keyword grouping helps separate the wheat from the chaff. It ensures every cent of your PPC budget goes to keywords that can pull high-quality paid traffic.

How to do keyword grouping for keyword research

Without further ado, here’s how to group keywords (and create keyword clusters):

Step 1: Start with a seed keyword

Identify top-level keyword groups based on your business’s main offerings.

For example, if your business offers HVAC services, use “HVAC repair” as the seed keyword for your first keyword group.

You don’t need specialised keyword grouping tools to find seed keywords.

It’s possible to sit with your team and brainstorm seed keywords for keyword groups, especially if you own your business and have a firm grasp of the inner workings of the industry. But if you’re building a website or running a campaign for a client, you can comb through competitor sites to find potential seed keywords.

You’ll find these keywords on a competitor’s “services” page, sub-menu items, or something similar.

With a little bit of research, an HVAC business can build keyword groups around the following seed keywords:

  • HVAC repair
  • Air conditioning repair
  • Air conditioning installation
  • Ventilation repair
  • Heating repair
  • Air conditioning maintenance

Use your seed keywords to find related keywords using keyword research tools.

Keyword Magic Tool from Semrush is one of the best tools for the job.

Just go to ‘Keyword Magic Tool’ under “Keyword Research” from the main menu. From there, plug in your seed keyword, set the correct location, and click ‘Search.’

Image Source: Semrush.com

Within seconds, Keyword Magic Tool will provide you with a long list of broad match, phrase match, and related keywords.

To diversify your keyword groupings while maintaining relevance, switch to the ‘Related’ tab.

In addition to related keyword ideas, Keyword Magic Tool also includes essential keyword metrics:

  • Search volume: How many users, on average, search for this keyword?
  • Keyword Difficulty (KD %): How hard is it to rank for this keyword?
  • Intent: Do users want to learn information, find a specific brand, review a company, or purchase a product when using this keyword?
  • Average Cost Per Click: How much are advertisers willing to bid on this keyword?
  • Competitive Density (Com.): How hard is it to target this keyword in paid campaigns?
Image Source: Semrush.com

Step 3: Look for keywords that need their own page or post

Look for keywords that pertain to a more specific topic compared to your seed keyword.

Let’s say you used “HVAC repair” as your seed keyword.

The keyword “air conditioner repair service” is clearly a different set of words, but it still overlaps with your seed keyword in terms of meaning and search intent.

If there is such a huge overlap, Google will pull the same search results for both keywords.

For example, here are the search engine results for the keyword “HVAC repair”:

Image Source: Google.com

…and here are the search results for the keyword “air conditioner repair service”:

Image Source: Google.com

Since the two keywords bring a totally different set of results, that means “air conditioner repair service” may need its own page or post.

Just be sure your keyword, along with its keyword variations, generates a reasonable search volume.

In the above example, “air conditioner repair service” and its variations combine for over 4,800 searches per month.

Image Source: Semrush.com

Use Keyword Magic Tool’s other features to find more related keywords for your keyword group.

For example, click on any of your potential keywords to launch the “Keyword Overview” tool. This reveals in-depth information about your keyword, including keyword variations, question-based keywords, and related keywords.

Image Source: Semrush.com

Here are additional tips when selecting keywords with Keyword Magic Tool:

  • Choose keywords with a keyword difficulty rating of 15-49. Difficulty ratings aren't perfect, but they give you a really rough idea of how competitive they might be. These are keyword ideas that potentially provide quick wins to small-medium businesses.
  • Check if they’re contextually relevant to your seed keyword. Choose keyword variations that make sense when included in the same content.
  • Are the keywords tied to your competitors? Avoid navigational keywords that contain specific terms that point to competitors.
  • Sort keyword ideas according to the ‘Related %’ metric when checking your focus keyword. When using Keyword Magic Tool with your focus keyword, click the “Related %” column twice to sort the keyword list according to their relevancy.
  • Be on the lookout for keywords that can be their own topic. In the example above, “car air conditioner repair” brings completely different results than “air conditioner repair service,” which is why it belongs in another keyword group.

Step 5: Pick your focus keyword and secondary keywords

Define the focus keyword and secondary keywords in your keyword group.

This is crucial if you want to utilise your keyword group in content marketing and paid advertising campaigns.

The focus keyword is the one with the most high-quality traffic potential. Whereas secondary keywords should supplement the focus keyword—reinforcing the content’s contextual relevance to the topic and augmenting its potential reach.

Consider this keyword list:

  • Air conditioner repair | Volume: 1,000 | KD %: 46
  • Air condition repair | Volume: 590 | KD %: 52
  • Air conditioner repair service | Volume: 320 | KD %: 37
  • Air conditioner repairs | Volume: 720 | KD %: 23
  • Air conditioning repair services | Volume: 720 | KD %: 35

For this keyword group, “air conditioner repair” is the most viable in terms of search volume and keyword difficulty.

Despite having the most traffic potential, it still falls within the ideal keyword difficulty range (15-49).

Step 6: Build your keyword lists

Use the Semrush Keyword Manager tool to create keyword groups within your dashboard.

On the keyword list, use the checkboxes to select the keywords you wish to include. When done, click ‘Add to list’ to add them to a Keyword Manager list.

Image Source: Semrush.com

You don’t have to use this feature to create keyword groups if you don’t intend to keep using Semrush.

In this case, click ‘Copy’ to export your keyword list into a different tool. This can be a spreadsheet tool or another keyword research tool entirely.

Image Source: Semrush.com

Feel free to organise and label your keyword list as you see fit.

A good strategy is to put your focus keywords in a separate column, followed by all secondary keywords and essential keyword metrics.

Here’s what your keyword group spreadsheet could look like:

Image Source: Sheets.Google.com

Tip: Don’t forget that the steps above are just for one keyword group. Keep repeating the steps above to create keyword groups around focus keywords that require separate pages.

Step 7: Build content around your keyword groups

Use your keyword group to build keyword-optimised content outlines.

Below are some basic guidelines you should consider:

  • Insert your focus keyword in the post’s title tag: Mention your focus keyword near the beginning of the post’s title.
  • Mention your focus keyword within the first 100 words. Inserting your focus keyword in the intro of your content helps readers and search engines understand what it’s about.
  • Insert keywords in subheadings. Mention your focus and secondary keywords in subheadings (consider building sections that discuss secondary keywords if possible).
  • Use internal links to connect multiple pieces of content under the same parent topic. For example, your article about “air conditioner repair” can be linked to another post about “ventilation repair” since they both fall under the top-level keyword group “HVAC repair.”
  • Do not stuff your keywords. Be natural - write for your reader.

Step 8: Try other tools to build keyword groups

Build expansive and comprehensive keyword lists using multiple keyword research tools.

Apart from Semrush, Surfer is a great tool that provides a “shortcut” to keyword groups.

From the main dashboard, look for “Keyword Research” under the “Tools” section and click ‘Create.’

Image Source: SurferSEO.com

Enter your focus keyword in the “Keyword” field and click ‘Create Keyword Research.’

Image Source: SurferSEO.com

Once the results are in, click on your focus keyword under “Keyword Research History” to reveal ready-made keyword groups.

In addition to related keywords, Surfer also includes the keyword group’s cumulative search volume, keyword difficulty rating, and associated search intent.

Image Source: SurferSEO.com

Surfer’s Keyword Research feature is a quick way to generate dozens of keyword groups around your focus keyword. Still, it’s better to try different keyword research tools until you find one that perfectly suits your workflow.

Aside from Surfer and Semrush, below are other SEO platforms with built-in keyword research functionality you should try:

Keyword grouping: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: What is a keyword group?

A keyword group is a list of semantically-related keywords that can help SEO and paid advertising campaigns. It consists of a focus keyword and a list of related, secondary keywords.

FAQ: How do I create a keyword group?

Steps to create a keyword group:

  1. Start with a seed keyword.
  2. Find keyword ideas that can be used as focus keywords.
  3. Find secondary keywords related to your focus keyword.
  4. Build a strategy for turning keyword groups into content plans.

FAQ: How do you rank multiple keywords?

Building content clusters using keyword groups will help your website rank for multiple keywords. Build separate pillar pages for focus keywords and connect them with a web of “cluster posts” around subtopics.

Resources You’ll Love

Build winning keyword groups for SEO and PPC

The guide above will help anyone build profitable keyword groups for SEO and PPC campaigns, but it’s still a time-consuming and painstaking process.

That’s where my team can come in.

We can provide done-for-you keyword groups that accelerate your SEO and PPC results.

Contact me here so we can discuss your strategy via phone call or video chat.