Understanding Topic Clusters & 5 Tips to Absolutely Fuel Your SEO Efforts

On Aug 16, 2019, 8:48:00 AM
Chetandeep Sodhi

Chetandeep Sodhi

Content Writer

One of the most potent tactics in SEO is solidifying your expertise in the industry. By building a topic cluster, you bind and unify your content pieces around the pillar content — supporting your authority and knowledge in that area.  

Topic clusters are gaining enormous popularity in content marketing and SEO in the last few years. In fact, topic clusters are admired as one of the most effective tools for building authority in an industry.  

However, very few are actually reaping the benefits of the technique. 

Why?

Well, planning and implementing a tactical topic cluster strategy is a tedious task, and most people are not willing to put in that effort: especially when the benefits take time.

Topic clusters give you a slow but consistent path to the top of the SERPs with higher organic traffic. It's a long-term strategy.

Understanding Topic Clusters

A topic cluster is a group of varied content pieces that live on your website that relate and link to a central pillar page covering the overarching subject.

There are three key things to know about preparing a topic cluster: 

  • Pillar content is based around a broad keyword, which is generally high search volume
  • Topic clusters are focused on more specific keywords with small and attainable search volumes
  • Content pieces are hyperlinked back to the pillar content 

Let’s assume that you are preparing topic clusters for your managed IT service company. The pillar content could be “Cybersecurity” (with a search volume of 3,600/month). You can then have some topic clusters for keywords like:

  • Cybersecurity framework (1,300/month) 
  • Cybersecurity in healthcare (720/month) 
  • Cybersecurity for small businesses (480/month)

The aim here is to gain search traffic first from highly focused keywords and phrases with smaller search volumes and then diverting the traffic to a general pillar topic. 

Collaboratively, clusters help deliver better rankings by building up more credibility for the pillar content and your site as a whole in the eyes of Google. 

How to Gain Benefit from Topic Clusters? 

1.    Simplify Your Site to Google 

Pillar content basically establishes your website's credibility for both users and search engines. When bots crawl your site or a user browses, topic cluster structures make it incredibly simple to understand the value you offer. 

  • Pillar page: A long, comprehensive piece on the main subject
  • Cluster Content: Shorter pieces that explain different aspects of the main subject

However, the job is not done once you prepare the pillar pages and build some decent amount of topic clusters around it. As frequently as you can, you need to add fresh cluster content with more data, examples and quotes. This helps in making your content stay relevant. 

2.    Use Keyword Volumes for Topic Clusters 

We mentioned earlier that topic clusters are built around subtopics with low search volume. But how exactly do you start?

You might have heard the essential SEO tip, “go for the low-hanging fruit.” These are the type of keywords you should aim for. Those that are relevant to you, see some traffic, but with relatively low competition. 

Also, these keywords should work in a linear progression to climb the rankings. Ideally, this helps in building a topic hierarchy and coherently fits into the pillar content. 

3.    Build a Topic Hierarchy 

As we mentioned at the beginning, topic clusters are part of a long-term content strategy. Once smaller search keywords start getting traction in the search results, it slowly nudges your authority for the higher volume keywords.

For example, your social media marketing agency has pillar content based on “Facebook Marketing.”  As you search on Google, check the related search keywords and phrases. There are also plenty of tools to search for related keywords like Keywords Everywhere extension, Moz etc.

As you look through these keywords and phrases, pick the best ones and build clusters with them.

You can start with search volumes as low as 10/month, gain rankings, and build further to topics with a search volume of 140/month or 480/month and so on. So, in this scenario, you’ve created a hierarchy for your content.

Nevertheless, this hierarchy should be governed by relevant search volumes, which can be tied back to the pillar content. The good thing is now you’ll find Google rates your website as an expert source of information on the topic.

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4.    Understand User Intent

While search volumes govern what users want to know, the golden rule to any content piece is making it all about the user. The goal remains the same when a person enters Google with a query: they should leave with an answer.

So, as you delve into the topic cluster strategy, you must keep in mind the common qusetions people interested in the topic have and work to enhance their knowledge.

“User Intent” is one of the biggest buzzwords in the digital marketing world today. Write your content with the user in mind and Google will reward you.

5.    Interlinking is the Key

In SEO, the value of interlinking can never be understated. Linking between pages establishes a relationship between content. As your purpose is to help search engines comprehend your website better, interlinking highlights your expertise around the pillar content.

The Wrap Up

Building effective topic clusters is a never-ending task. But it's a high-return way of gaining authority in your industry and driving up your keyword rankings.

Looking for a company that can help channel your content marketing efforts in the right direction? Talk to us to get moving with well-planned and expertly researched topic clusters.

Contact us if you have any questions about topic clusters. If you feel your SEO & content marketing efforts need some more help, check out our recent webinar all about SEO!

We've helped more than 80 B2B organizations across Canada and the US achieve SEO success. We'd love for you to be next!

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