For the longest time, a high-ranking Google page has been perceived to be the source of clicks, comments, more eyeballs, and presumably business growth. Marketers constantly seek ways of improving their content, increasing organic search traffic, and directing qualified leads to their sites. Unfortunately, site rankings still suffer, and most companies fail to hit the desired traffic levels.
Over the last decade, keywords have been working pretty well as the foundation for creating ranking content over the previous decades. Times, however, have changed, and so has the art and science content marketing and SEO. Google's machine learning algorithm is getting more and more sophisticated at understanding the context of search queries instead of matching them to exact keywords.
Also, voice assistants like Alexa and Siri are gaining popularity. Through them, the days of manually searching for answers will be gone as consumers merely speak their questions to devices.
Whether facilitated by technology developments, updates on search algorithms, or consumer behavior changes, your current SEO tactics or strategies may not be as effective a year from now. So you have no alternative but focus on delivering content that matches your searcher intent.
The SEO evolution has brought about the highly-effective topic clusters.
What are topic clusters?
The term refers to a group of interlinked web pages built around a piece of content that targets a broader topic. Basically, these are content varieties that share a subtopic or topic. They collectively link to an overarching, common subject (the pillar content) that is linked to a range of related pages that are more narrowly-focused.
But what is pillar content? As the name suggests, it supports your company's overall content strategy. Without it, your entire SEO architecture and content efforts may end up being less structurally sound.
This example will offer more insights:
A B2B financial technology company that helps e-commerce companies offer a secure payment system has one of its pillar content pieces focusing on a keyword like 'E-commerce Payment Technologies.' By shifting the approach to a content cluster SEO strategy, you could hyperlink to additional content throughout the pillar focused on more specific long-tail keywords such as:
- improving the e-commerce checkout experience
- comparing the best e-commerce payment tools
- how to evaluate an e-commerce payment technology
The SEO objective of topic clusters is to leverage highly-focused phrases and keywords that have lower search volumes. As you grab better rankings for clusters, you build more credibility for the pillar content in Google.
Nowadays, pages that target entire topics rank higher on google. Therefore, any site featuring different types of content thoroughly is more likely to outdo those with less authoritative pieces.
We have now answered the question: 'what are content clusters and topic clusters?' However, it is also important that you understand how the strategy could benefit your website.
The role of topic clusters on your site
Here are some of the reasons for incorporating topic clusters in the content on your website:
- Boosting interlinked pages –Whenever your main topic page ranks well, the rest of the interconnected subpages will also perform better. This could place your business in a better position for several SERPs (search engine result pages).
- Increased engagement –It is essential that you keep people on your site. If you provide lots of unique content that match your visitors' interests, they may begin using your website as their reference point, hence staying longer. To affirm your industry expertise and build a rapport with prospects, you will require a lower bounce rate.
- More traffic –The use of topic clusters can significantly boost activity on your site, and this will earn you higher organic search ratings. As a result, this promotes a cycle of increasing conversions and traffic. Thus, your website will be able to reach a wider audience of potential clients.
This, however, does not mean that keyword research and on-page optimization are unimportant. The two still have a crucial role in the entire topic cluster strategy.
Tips on how to create a topic cluster
The first and most crucial step involves determining your pillar. Keyword research may be necessary (and crucial), but it may not be the whole story since you also need to begin thinking about topics. You could either choose a longtail keyword, a trending subject in your niche, or an evergreen topic.
With a few content pieces at hand, the process of coming up with content pillars can be a simple and quick method of organizing your posts. However, a massive inventory, like hundreds of pieces, could pose several challenges. Here are the steps to follow:
- Map out the key issues you intend to provide solutions for
- Extract all existing posts to an Excel sheet
- Sort by either tags, keywords, or any other way to signify the post's core topic that should ideally align with the main pain points of your persona
- If you still lack one, you can create a pillar post encompassing all potential answers that address your audience's core interests
- Copy the pillar post link before incorporating it in all corresponding subtopic articles. Do not forget to use the same hyperlinked text each time, to make it even easier for crawlers to easily identify and understand
- Monitor, make the appropriate adjustments and manage every week by adding relevant posts to the established cluster
All these steps are manual and may require some time to be completed. But with the aid of the appropriate tools, you make it easier and faster to link, search, and visualize everything. One of the most popular is the Content Strategy tool (recently renamed as their SEO tool) by HubSpot. The tool makes the process even more efficient, but you will also need to dedicate some of your time.
Still, creating clusters is a worthy investment that can help boost your ranking among SERPs. It can also ensure a better user experience on your company website.
Sometimes, the constant search engine algorithm updates can make you feel like you're banging your head against the desk as you continue to find ways to push your company websites higher in search results. You are not alone. To avoid this, you can create topic clusters.
Not only is the process fun and satisfying, but you will also serve your audience with better content. As a result, customers will consider you the expert in your field, and you will be able to earn their trust throughout their journey.
Megan creates content and messaging strategy and writes copy that resonates with our clients’ target audiences. She specializes in writing for digital, social and emerging tech platforms, with proven success creating content for large scale social campaigns. Most recently Megan was a Senior Copywriter at VaynerMedia in NYC where she supported some of the agency’s major B2B accounts.