Keyword research is a necessary step that you do to understand your market, and plan your SEO strategy. But what if you could use it to learn about user intent, restructure a whole site, and increase conversions as well as traffic? That’s exactly what we did with this client.

CBD American Shaman is a health company that sells CBD oils. While it’s a competitive market, their products have an edge on the competition because they’re water soluble. Despite this, they were struggling to capitalize on their great product with the kind of SEO traffic that it warrants.

Yet the potential was there: An audit revealed that the more specific SERPs previously targeted for the product had a pretty small search demand — but the right strategy could capture a large amount of traffic. Think “CBD oil” with 1 million searches versus “water soluble CBD oil” with only 1,300. 

97th Floor was brought in with a clear business question to address: How do we capitalize on this great demand and become a breakout CBD shop? 

Back to the drawing board 

Like much of SEO, the solution starts on the site-level. The CBD American Shaman site was hosted on a custom CMS (rather than WordPress, Shopify, or Hubspot, etc.), which always complicates technical SEO solutions. Their CMS was completely done by hand. The site organization was also done by hand, and more subject to human error.

They had a wide list of products, but their site wasn’t utilizing this wide variety to capture organic search. Their site’s architecture was flat, lacking the intuitive hierarchy that both Google and the user need to easily navigate and understand a site. In the beginning, there were only three categories on the CBD Shaman site: wellness, pets, and beauty. This organization made sense at the conception of the site, when the company offered few products. However, as their business scaled and expanded, that category structure no longer made sense, and in fact, felt difficult to navigate and drastically out of date.

It soon became clear that a total overhaul of the site’s organization was necessary. Any SEO tactics would yield mitigated returns unless the site was a complete, SEO-driven overhaul. 

Just as a doctor treats a whole patient rather than a symptom, we chose to stop looking at each individual problem, and instead gather it all into one place and focus on the most essential and basic purpose of the site. In this process, keyword research and mapping were essential in understanding how to treat the site as a whole — curing all of its symptoms, rather than just hitting one at a time. 

Keyword research becomes keyword mapping

Keyword research is important, but like any data, it means nothing on its own. It’s what you do with the insights gleaned from research that matters. So — while sometimes all you need from your keyword research is a handful of new keywords to tackle — for CBD American Shaman, keyword research would go on to guide the entire reconstruction of their site. 

We used our keyword mapping to guide the new site’s entire structure. By using keyword research as the foundation of the site, we captured more authority, and redistributed that authority back to the site’s most relevant and converting pages. 

For example, the category page for /cbd-oils now houses all of the CBD oil products, allowing for more weight to target that high-volume keyword as well as an ease for the user in browsing the different oils available. In the previous version of the site, the following page was trying to rank for “CBD oil,” /vg-cloud-terpene-rich-cbd-oil-tincture. See the problem? Yes, it was a CBD oil product, but its strength was wasted in attempting to rank for “cbd oil” and it was poorly optimized for a user from coming form a Google SERP. 

With the knowledge that these new category pages were much more likely to rank in Google SERPs, we followed our keyword research further. We used it to map and reorganize the entire site, categorically moving pages to align with relevant category pages rather than stand on their own. By connecting these further pages to those authoritative category pages, it allows us to pick up additional traffic from newly targeted keywords.

Rolling it out and getting results

Evaluating the keyword landscape — which keywords ranked for which landing pages, and which keywords should be combined moving forward — was a BIG project. Pulling all of our ranking keywords, separating them by landing page, and creating new keyword groups took us a full month. 

We had to determine what keywords should rank for a single landing page versus separate landing pages, which allowed us to find instances of keyword cannibalization. We also had to cross-reference each keyword within the designated SERP to identify whether a category page or an individual product page was needed to best fit the ranking criteria for that SERP. It was a lot of work, and a lot of detail, but it paid off.

Under the “shop” menu on the homepage, we added sixteen new categories, all based on newly selected high-potential keywords. It turned out that not only did search engine bots like this kind of layout, but users did too. Within weeks, CBD American Shaman saw a 13% increase in organic traffic, not only that, we saw an unexpected radical bump in conversion rates. Which makes sense when you consider how this also drastically improved navigation and the user experience. 

A future-proof strategy

CBD Shaman has an extensive product offering that is always being added to. With all of these choices, the shopping experience was previously overwhelming to users. Products were difficult to locate, and customers had no clear understanding of where to find certain products, or even what products were offered. Instead, the site was set up in such a way that they'd have to endlessly scroll through lists of product after product, without the ability to filter based on product type or use. It was hurting their sales, and alienating their customer base. So we knew it had to change.

They are constantly evolving their product catalog. With their previous strategy, a single product page may have built up a lot of authority over time, only to be taken down, and that authority would then be redirected to an unoptimized page or lost completely. With our new category-centric strategy, the business’s evolution is supported. No matter which products are added or taken away, the authority will remain in the category pages. These pages stay consistent in a constantly changing website, allowing users to always find their way. 

The result is an SEO framework that not only worked on the onset, but it’s proven effective even a year later. This keyword mapping system has paved the way to double organic traffic for CBD American Shaman.