Search engine optimization (SEO) has been a popular phrase in today’s marketing. In fact, countless tips and practices are being shared all over the Internet. While such tips and practices can be beneficial for some marketers, not all marketers are created equal. However, the one thing that many marketers will agree on is that virtually no online user will think to venture past the first page of search results when looking up something on the Internet.
So, what are most marketers still missing out on? Topic clusters!
In layman’s terms, a topic cluster serves as a group of webpages that are interlinked from their corresponding pillar content. As a result, the cluster is targeting a broad topic, which is linked to several related (but narrow) pages.
So, why do such clusters matter to marketing?
Why Do Topic Clusters Matter?
“No longer are marketers targeting one keyword per page on their websites,” says Ruby Wylly, a tech writer at Stateofwriting and Boomessays. “Nowadays, they’re going to target whole topics to make their sites more visible and higher in search engine rankings.”
Marketers will now target entire topics for the following reasons:
- First, it’s all about personalized search. “Personalized search is reasonable, because no two online users are alike,” adds Wylly. “Search engines like Google will tailor search results for users, making keyword ranking positions more fluid, yet harder to get a hold off when searching for the best keywords to use.”
- Second, search engines are run on algorithms that see when a search term is being looked up multiple times, thus labeling it a targeted keyword.
- And third, search engines will rank sites with high authority and trustworthiness higher in the search results. This is based on particular keywords that search engines recognize as targeted (or mostly used by users).
As a result, marketers must stay on top with their endeavors, as they work to climb up the search results. In other words, there’s zero room for relying on less authoritative content (with equally-less-authoritative keywords) to climb the search-engine ladder – zero room for implications that can hurt a website’s chance at getting noticed online.
Therefore, topic clusters are essential for boosting your SEO content marketing strategy, because they bring you numerous benefits. Here are some benefits, just to name a few:
- Online users are given a good reason to stay on your website, because you’ll provide the content that they can get behind. And, if you’re selling something online, your content – if it’s good – can entice users to buy something from you.
- Interlinked pages do better, when content revolving around a topic proves to be effective, thus allowing marketers to use the most successful keywords; AND
- Topic clusters help to increase traffic to your website, since users would be more likely to stick around if you have great content and or great products/services.
Does everything seem clear now? We hope so!
As we dive further into topic clusters, we’ll show you the 10 ways that you can start implementing them in your SEO content marketing strategy today. So, let’s jump right in!
Brainstorming should be the first order of business for all marketers, especially when creating topic clusters. Not sure how to brainstorm topic clusters? Here’s how, in 3 steps:
- First, you and your marketing team should spend no more than 10 minutes jotting down as many ideas as possible, without worrying about spelling or obscurity.
- Next, another 10 minutes should be devoted to scoring the ideas that you and the team had come up with. One team member can gather and read everyone’s responses (while keeping them anonymous). Only then can the entire team rate each idea on a 3-point scale (with a 3 being the best score).
- Finally, use the final 10 minutes to narrow down the ideas that had scored a 3. What’s chosen as the best ideas get top priority moving forward.
- Know Topic Cluster Components
Now, topic clusters are not without components. In fact, a topic cluster wouldn’t be a topic cluster, if there were no components involved.
So, when building a topic cluster, consider these 3 components:
- The pillar content refers to what’s on a pillar page, which is at least 1,500 words long (or longer). Essentially, it’s a blog post covering your main broad keyword or phrase.
- The cluster content is related to your pillar page, because they both cover specific topics or keywords that can be branched out from the broader topic. So, in hindsight, the pillar page is a “tree,” while the cluster content is the “branches.” The “tree” being the broadness, and the “branches” going into the specifics.
- The hyperlinks are extremely important for a topic cluster model, because 100% of the cluster content pieces link back to the pillar page, and vice versa. Thus, hyperlinks serve as the connections that make this linking ecosystem that helps search engines crawl through your posts, and see which ones need to be prioritized to get you a boosted SEO.
- Research Keywords
Now, just because topic clusters are the new norm for marketing, doesn’t mean that targeting keywords is obsolete. In fact, topic clusters still need targeted keywords to get off the ground. That means that cluster content must have different keyword phrases that all trace back to a singular theme.
First, pick a core keyword topic for the pillar content, along with several related terms for other supporting content. Next, use the selected keywords to build effective clusters – all grouped by topic based on the following:
- The core topic (for the broad keyword being used through the content), AND
- The subtopic (for related keywords that go into specifics)
- Plan Content Around Your Topic
So, now that you have a good idea on what your topic is, it’s time to create some content for your website. But first, what type of content do you want to create?
If needed, you can brainstorm (as mentioned before), but this time for the type of content that you want to present on your site. Remember: No matter what type of content you choose to produce, there’s a chance of outranking your competitors, if you know what to do.
Here are some types of content to consider creating for your website:
- A regular webpage (or multiple pages) can suffice. Just be sure to make them interesting, as you incorporate your topic clusters to them.
- You can take the blogging route, where you post regularly on the site. Just keep in mind: one core post must connect with several related posts.
- You can go small with microsites, which typically revolve around one topic. OR,
- You can create video content, either as a web series, or individual videos. Either way, all video content must revolve around your chosen topic.
Whichever content you decide to create for your site, be sure to think about raising awareness about your initiative by promoting in the following ways:
- Social campaigns allow you to send messages across channels to better promote your content.
- Email marketing – one of the easiest ways to spread the word – is another option to consider. AND,
- Depending on the type of content that you put out, social media ads can help you spread your message.
- Audit Your Content (Old And New)
So, what if you’ve been running your website for a good while now? Can you still implement topic clusters? Yes, you can!
Doing a content audit is essential, in this case. While you should look at the newer content that you’ve posted, you can’t forget about your older content. As you do an audit, keep the following objectives in mind:
- Figure out which topic clusters your existing content would fall into.
- Figure out which pieces of content can be used as cluster content for the pillar pages.
- Note which content can actually become pillar pages themselves.
- Then, see which pieces of content still need to be made from the ground up. Afterwards, you can create new topic cluster content to fill in the void.
- Structure Your Stronger Topic Clusters
Once you do an audit, it’s then time to see which topic clusters are stronger than the others, and then structure said clusters. No matter the structure that you and your team come up with, how you build it should still revolve around internal linking of several pieces of content around your topic cluster and its corresponding pillar page.
In hindsight, how you structure your stronger topic clusters depends on the following:
- The type of content that you put out, if you’re running a blog that’s separate from your business site (Keep in mind that not every business will have a blog.);
- How capable your CMS and development team is, meaning that you must evaluate each member on your team, and assign the appropriate role(s) to them. Remember: what you and your team do will impact how you all structure the stronger topic clusters.
- Be An Authority To Key Topics
So, now that you’re creating content, it’s now more important than ever to utilize your topic clusters to the point where you can be an authority to your chosen topic(s). If you’d like, you can centralize several pieces of content around one idea, find ways to make them presentable, and then link them altogether.
So, when you make yourself an authority in your selected topic, keep the following key points in mind:
- There’s no need to replace keywords with topic clusters, since keywords are still needed to create effective topic clusters for your overall SEO content marketing strategy.
- It’s best to create many high-quality pieces of content around your chosen topic to help establish authority. As a result, users online, and even search engines that may crawl your site, will start to see you as an authority to a topic, thus leading to higher rankings and more traffic to your site.
- It’s also important to take your time establishing yourself as an authority for a certain topic. While this may seem like a lot of work at first, you and your team will soon learn that this part is easy to do – all you need is time and patience.
- Build A Pillar Page
“Once you’ve developed and published a good amount of content from your topic clusters, you can start building a pillar page,” says Samantha Finniss, a content expert at Lia Help and OXessays. “Your pillar page will serve as the place that covers the broad keyword that’s present in your content. As it covers said keyword, the page will also briefly cover specific topics that are there in the cluster content. So, it’s important to include long-tail keywords within that page, so that they act as anchor text whenever you link out to that content.”
- Interlink Your Content With Your Pillar Pages
Once you have a pillar page, the next thing to think about is how you can interlink the cluster content with that page. Interlinking these two together is simple: All you have to do is include a link to the pillar page in 100% of your cluster content, and then do vice versa (link your cluster content in pillar pages).
And, when it comes to extending your library of blog posts, then it’s no problem. You can always update the pillar page to include links to new content as well.
- Track Results
Finally, tracking the progress of your SERP rankings over time is essential, when incorporating topic cluster. Using a rank tracker tool, it’ll show you how your pillar page and cluster content are doing, when it comes to performance, reach, and popularity.
The best time to track the results to your website is at least quarterly, when using a project management tool. By using your tool quarterly, not only will you be able to monitor your site’s progress, but also determine what actions need to be taken to ensure better results in the future.
As you can see, topic clusters can definitely help you and your marketing team boost your SEO in many ways than one, and make you an authority to a topic. And, as mentioned before, certain parts of the process will take time, but it’s worth it, if you strive to express the prospects with high-quality content. Soon enough, you and your organization will be able to master topic clusters, and then boost your SEO content marketing strategy! Good luck!
Katherine Rundel is a blog writer at Law Essay Help and Dissertation writing service. She is also a proofreader at Write My Essay. As a marketer, she helps companies improve their marketing strategies and concepts.