What Are Topic Clusters And How Can They Improve SEO?

By Philip Oyelola

Learn about topic clustering to improve #SEO in this post by @PhilipWrite.

We’re honored to publish this guest post by our colleague, content writer Philip Oyelola. Philip is a pro in Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Learn more about how to use topic clusters to improve web visibility on Google search in his post.

person sitting at desk and typing on a laptop that has the google website open in the browser
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

Table of contents:
Introduction
What are topic clusters?
How topic clusters can improve SEO
How to write topic clusters
Review already existing content
Choose your pillar topic and subtopic
Start planning topically themed-content
Interlink your content
Track your content and make corrections
Conclusion

Introduction

[menu]

Positioning your products or services is an important aspect of marketing that is often overlooked. You can go on and on about the benefits of your products or services. But if they don’t appeal to the right audience, it will be a total waste.

One of the ways to position your products and services is by investing in good content. What can good content do for your brand? It will walk prospects through each buyer’s journey, from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel: from the awareness stage to the post-purchase stage. 

.@PhilipWrite: Good content takes prospective buyers from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel: from the awareness stage to the post-purchase stage. #MarketingTwitter #DigitalStrategy

The process of creating content that fits each buyer’s journey can be a hassle, especially if you have no solid strategy in place. Using topic clusters can provide you with clarity. In addition, topic clustering allows you to interlink web pages built around a single pillar content page focused on a broad topic. Readers will be able to find other information they might need on your page, so they keep reading. This reduces the page’s bounce rate and keeps readers on your site for a longer period of time.

Topic clusters also make it pretty easy for Google to find your pillar content and your topic cluster pages. This post will be walking you through what topic clusters are and how they can improve your website SEO (that’s short for “search engine optimization“).

Building topic clusters is a great way to create content that will improve your website’s SEO and make it easier for search engines to index your website and readers to navigate through. 

What are topic clusters? 

[menu]

Topic clusters are groups of linked web pages focused on a broad topic. The goal is to build a couple of cluster pages around one piece of pillar content.

Here’s a simpler explanation. Let’s say the main topic of your content is mental health. A subtopic might be “the importance of stable mental health” and another subtopic can be “how to maintain your mental health.” The general idea behind this is to provide as much information as possible on a particular subject. The more topic clusters, the more recognition your website gets on Google and other search engines.

Topic clusters are groups of linked web pages focused on a broad topic.

Google changes its algorithm. One of the most recent changes is topic clusters. HubSpot wrote about topic clustering’s benefits for search engine optimization in 2017. If you utilize topic clusters well, you are on the right path to putting your site among the most recognized. Google and other search engines are looking for sites with more in-depth content as opposed to the shallow way of including keywords just for the sake of ranking.

In addition, search engines need sites that show expertise, consistency, and give value. You can provide this level of value and expertise by using topic clusters. Now that we have that out of the way, let us find out how they can help improve your SEO ranking.

How topic clusters can improve SEO

[menu]

  • Brings more traffic to your site: Topic clusters help Google and other search engines understand what your site is all about. The more topic clusters you use, the higher you climb on the ranking ladder. More people will want to visit your page because you provide them with detailed solutions.
  • Authoritative and reliable search results: By utilizing topic clusters, you are showing Google that you have the information your viewers and prospects need. The more you give high-value content, the more your viewers trust you. Also, you will be building authority and trust on Google and other search engines which will, in turn, improve your ranking.
  • Helps to identify and structure contents you should have on your blog: It’s pretty difficult to cover all aspects of a topic in a single blog post. Even when you try, it’s difficult to read and might bore your audience. Topic clusters help create relevant content around a topic and group them. Apart from that, it serves as a guide to help you identify the kinds of content that should be on your blog. Here, hyperlinks serve as a bridge between cluster pages and a pillar topic. 

How to write topic clusters

[menu]

Writing a topic cluster probably sounds like a lot of work. But, it’s simply writing several blog posts about a particular topic and linking them together. The linking can be simple or elaborate, it depends on you. This section provides you with a detailed step-by-step guide on how to write topic clusters.

Review already existing content

[menu]

There is a high tendency for you to have content that can be edited into a topic cluster. It’s a good idea to start by taking a look at the keywords you were targeting in the past and the articles that have ranked the highest. Study them and discover how you can make the most out of the content. What subtopics can be created? What questions are people asking about the topic?

All of these data can be extracted for free from your Google analytics, that is, if it is connected to your Google search console. You need to note that if your Google analytics and search console are not connected, you won’t receive this data. You begin to receive all the information from your Google analytics when you do this connection.

If you have already established this connection in the past, take advantage of the custom report and find out what search queries are bringing people to your site. If not, you can use a paid service such as Ahrefs which can tell you the search rankings of your web content.

Choose your pillar topic and subtopic

[menu]

The most important part of creating SEO-targeted content is by choosing the right topic. Once you have decided on the topic clusters after going through your already existing content, you should select fresh pillar topics. A pillar topic needs to be a key topic in your niche. 

A pillar topic has to be something your audience can understand. It should also be a generalized topic. Also, it is paramount to know the reason behind a keyword search (sometimes called “search intent”) to get the topic right. 

If you know why people are always searching for a keyword, you will be able to choose your topics from the right angle. To achieve this, you can spend some time checking the SERPs to know the type of pages that are currently ranking around that topic. Then study the author’s approach to writing about the topic. When you have gotten the topic right, it becomes easier to know the type of subtopics you should use in your content. 

Start planning topically themed-content

[menu]

Now that you have decided on the topic, you will be creating your content around it. You are on the right track to outranking your competitors. But first, you will need to create content.

The first step to creating the kind of content you need for your topic clusters is to determine the types of content to produce and this could include:

  • Website pages: These can include articles within a knowledge center or resource hub.
  • Blog posts: This means a core post with several interlinked posts.
  • Microsites: An entire mini-site can be dedicated to one topic and be successful as long as you utilize microsites.
  • Videos: You can do a series of videos engaging all aspects of a topic. Each video would need promotion to raise awareness of your content. The campaign can include:
    • Social campaigns
    • Email campaigns
    • Social media ads

Interlink your content

[menu]

One of the most crucial parts of topic clusters is adding a linking structure. Links are the thread that binds topic clusters. When it is down to building authority for your pillar page or content, these links from relevant pages are crucial. Make sure you add links from your subtopic pages to link them to your pillar page. These topics are what make the core topic relevant. So, find the proper placement for each link.

These internal links help search engines go through your content without difficulty. They will be able to better determine your level of expertise according to your content. Therefore, adding internal links is a crucial aspect of successfully implementing topic clusters for your SEO efforts.

With topic clusters, you can efficiently present your content to both users and search engines. Build a pillar page that provides value to the users. That is the main idea. The pillar content has to be thorough and provide in-depth information on the main topic. Continue updating your pillar page or content with new insights, subtopics, statistics, and more. It will help you improve your ranking on Google’s search results page

Track your progress and make corrections

[menu]

It typically takes a few weeks or months before you start getting results from your topic clusters. So do not be discouraged if there is no feasible improvement after a few days.

When you notice any changes, utilize SEO tools to track and measure the progress. Then make the necessary edits where possible. The most preferred tool for this is Google Analytics. It is a free SEO tool, and it has a content grouping feature. The feature helps you put a logical structure around your content. 

But whichever tool you decide to use, make sure it has traffic analytics. It will help you know how your clusters are doing in terms of customer conversion and so on. You should also pay attention to the bounce rate. That will help you know if your topic clusters are essential to your prospects or not. 

It is also a good idea to set up a position tracking campaign. That will help track your ranking before traffic starts coming in. 

Conclusion

[menu]

Here are some important things to note about topic clusters.

  • Topic clusters are like baskets of relevance. They help search engines understand the context, relationship, and hierarchy of each page within a family of content.
  • Google and other search engines are looking for high-value content.
  • You can get high-value content by using topic clusters.
  • Topic clusters help you reduce bounce rates by providing all the information a client needs on a particular topic.
  • You can create a series of blog posts or website pages talking about everything under a particular topic.
  • You are to interlink all the content to one pillar content.
  • To make the most out of topic clusters, you have to choose a pillar topic.
  • Google and other search engines no longer pay a lot of attention to sites that use keywords in a bid to drive traffic.
  • The more topic clusters you use, the more you gain dominance and authority on search engines.
  • Utilize Google Analytics to track how much progress your topic clusters are making.
  • Do not use the same words for your anchor texts. 
  • Topic clusters allow you to create content around a particular topic that solves multiple problems and hits different buyer’s pain points.

If your marketing team spends a significant amount of time blogging, then topic clusters are a good investment. Topic clusters help search engines comprehend your website. They also make customers know that you understand their needs by providing relevant content throughout the buyer’s journey.

.@PhilipWrite: When you adopt a topic cluster model, your content marketing strategy changes. It becomes more organized, efficient, and sophisticated. #MarketingTwitter #ContentStrategy #SEO

When you adopt a topic cluster model, your content marketing strategy changes. It becomes more organized, efficient, and sophisticated. Quality, broad pillar content captures prospects at the top of the funnel. Cluster content pages target related keywords around more specific topics in the middle and bottom of the funnel.

Also, search algorithms are improving when it comes to semantic relationships between main topics and subtopics. So, if you invest in topic clusters, your search engine optimization efforts will also experience a boost.

In essence, pillar topics or topic clusters align your website’s content with your intended marketing goals. So, users can get a more holistic brand experience that speaks to them directly.

The thread that binds topic clusters is the internal link. Once you have your topic, write your content. Then also the content for your subtopic pages. Then you connect it. Sometimes, you connect the pillar page to the subtopic page. Or you connect the subtopic page A to subtopic page B. You need to make sure that your content is interlinked. 

Note: For the anchor text for your links, it might be tempting to use the same text everywhere. But Google will penalize it. Use both SEO-optimized and non-SEO-optimized anchor texts.

photo of philip oyelola

Philip Oyelola helps Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Business-to-Business (B2B) companies write long-form and actionable content pieces. When he’s not writing or reading novels, he’s watching Sci-fi movies. Visit Philip Oyelola on LinkedIn or find him on Twitter @PhilipWrite.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: