Marketing specialists and content creators are familiar with the concept of topic clusters. Combining related content assets into groups increases user engagement, pleases search engines, and creates highly-organized website structures.
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As a specialist in search engine optimization (SEO), you can reap the benefits of topic clusters many times.
This post will give you practical tips for creating topic clusters to improve SEO. You’ll also learn how to measure the results of these topics to help you understand what works and what doesn’t.
What is a Topic Cluster?
A topic cluster is a collection of related assets that provide contextual support to each page in the group.
There are three components to each topic cluster:
- A pillar page that focuses on high-search volume keywords.
- Each cluster page covers a subtopic, and each page focuses on a minor keyword in the search volume.
- Strategically placed links between the pillar page of a cluster page and all other cluster pages.
Although we’ve covered the basics of topic cluster strategy, experts insist that cluster pages should be interlinked with each other. This is not just a matter of linking with a page on a pillar.
Topic Clusters and SEO
Topic clusters increase search rankings, traffic, and conversion. These topics improve keyword research, user experience, and authority with the target audience.
Better Keyword Organization & Organic Traffic
Topic clusters enable SEOs to target keywords that have high and low search volumes at the same time, satisfying customer search intent at different stages of their customer journey. Because of the low competition in long-tail keywords, Google will rank you as the top keyword for cluster pages. Smart interlinking between pages will also help you pull up high-volume keywords’ pillar pages.
It’s all about semantic relationships between pages for Google to push the entire cluster higher on rankings. Your pillar page should rank higher for a competitive keyword and your cluster pages will rank higher for long-tail keywords.
Conversion and Better UX
You can use a topic cluster approach for website content by researching and organizing keywords into groups. Understanding how keywords relate and work together, you can strategically move the audience from one page to the next through their customer journey.
Clusters are a way to create content that addresses user pain points at different stages. This keeps them interested and motivated to go to other pages for more information. Finally, when they are ready for conversion, they choose to work with you, which will impact the ROI.
Google, as you probably know, is smart enough to deduce meanings from elements on pages like subheadings and passages. Google also draws insights from the anchor text of backlinks to your page.
It allows you to understand the context and hierarchy of your website’s content.
Google will consider you an authoritative source and trustable source if there are many related pages and interlinked pages covering a topic. Rankings are all about E-A-T.
How to Create Topic Clusters for Positive Search Engine Results
1. Choosing a Topic for Your Cluster
Decide on a topic that will be the core of your cluster. It should be super-relevant for your business and highly valuable to your target audience. It should also be wide enough to allow for a few cluster pages.
How do you select a topic for your content cluster? Here are some guidelines:
Don’t trust your intuition: Consider your buyer personas and their search queries when searching for your competitors.
Understanding the search intent behind queries will allow you to create content that Google will consider the most relevant and useful for high rankings.
To brainstorm content ideas, use mind maps and spreadsheets. But before you make any changes to them.
2. Choosing Keywords
You will need a topic keyword to create a topic cluster. This is the one that has a high search volume. It is also necessary to have several keywords related to your pillar pages (those with lower search volumes, long-tail keywords, or questions).
You can use any SEO tool you like: Ahrefs or Semrush, Moz, or SE Ranking.
Both tools will provide tons of keywords for you to consider. You can sort them by search volume or traffic potential, and assign one to each cluster page that you are creating.
Do your best to select subtopics that are relevant to your SEO goals and overall marketing goals.
3. Outlining Your Topic Cluster Structure
Now, it’s time for you to outline your cluster and pillar pages.
The pillar page is the first. It provides a broad overview of your core subject, with room for subtopics. Backlinks to these pages will provide more detail. Experts recommend that this page be at least 3,000 words long. Others prefer to give a brief overview of subtopics. It’s the place where you will include links to all subtopics in your cluster.
Make sure you outline every page in your clusters for your content team so they know what to include.
Give the keywords list (primary and second), headings, subtitles, and targeted word count. It will also be helpful to refer to top-ranking competitors.
4. Publishing and interlinking cluster pages
Your pillar and cluster pages are now ready. There are a few ways to publish it.
You can place a pillar page in your root domain, and clusters will be made to its subdomain.
You can add subtopics to your blog pages if you have one.
You can also place a page called pillar on your root domain, and then add subtopics in your blog.
However, interlinking all pages within your topic cluster is the most important aspect to be aware of no matter what scheme you choose.
Each cluster page should have a pillar page that links to it. Also, ensure that you link cluster pages together.
It will assist Google and users to navigate your content, and help them understand the context and hierarchy for each page in your topic cluster.
How to Measure Topic Cluster Results in SEO
It’s difficult to measure the results of topic clusters in SEO. Metric tools that show only one page’s performance rather than the entire cluster’s will often do so.
The problem is that you can’t isolate the impact of topic clusters on website metrics from any other factors. Increasing your website speed or refreshing old content can also boost traffic.
Despite this, advanced web analytics are available on the search engine software market right now, so it seems that we can measure everything.
First, decide on your goals and measure tactics.
It is possible that your goal for a page pillar is to rank for keywords with high volume but not super-high volumes. This would mean you should not expect it to grow super fast. This is where you should focus on improving the cluster and not on promoting it.
Decide what you want to measure, the entire cluster or just one pillar page. These results are dependent on the intelligent linking and the quality of all interlinked content on your website.
The topic clusters are worth investing in, especially if you already spend time on content generation. This is a great tool to increase website traffic and rank well. It also shows your target audience you care about their needs and are willing to help.
Search engine algorithms are smarter and can better understand the semantic relationships among content assets on your website. You can make it easier for crawlers to find your content by presenting them in clusters and marking it as the most pertinent to display in Google’s top search results.