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So despite optimizing your pages and trying every trick in the book, your rankings are going down, and you need help to gain the traffic you thought you would. You have even tried using less competitive keywords, but still no results. It feels like your content creation strategy is stuck in the mud with wheels spinning without any forward progress.
If you have been creating content based solely on less competitive keywords, think out of the box and try your hands on topic clusters. But what are topic clusters, and how do they improve SEO?
Well, leading search engines have changed their algorithm. Since this new algorithm favors topic-based content, websites are now exploring new ways to link relevant content under the “topic cluster” umbrella.
A topic cluster means multiple pieces of content clustered by a shared topic and relevant subtopics. These pages provide comprehensive coverage of a specific subject while also helping visitors to your website to solve their queries.
When developing a content strategy, it is essential to determine how to split and master your plan. In this regard, you should create topic clusters related to your core topic so you can develop a pillar page and then subpages.
Content writers who structure their content using content clusters enjoy a more organized content creation approach while gaining more organic traffic to their websites.
This post will discuss the basics of topic clusters, how to create and include them in your content, and how they improve SEO. So, let’s get started!
What are Topic Clusters?
Strategic internal linking is the backbone of a content cluster strategy. Topic clusters are multiple pieces of content that revolve around the main topic and use a pillar page for linking to and from. In simple words, topic clusters allow you to create content relevant to your main topic so you can use multiple internal links to keep your audience engaged.
It is essential to learn that you should have a robust pillar page to start your content cluster that incorporates links to related cluster pages. A powerful topic cluster model consists of three components:
1. A Broadly-Focused Pillar Page
Your pillar page should comprise a vast range of user intents. It will help encourage your readers to go through the next piece of content, no matter where they’re in their buyer’s journey.
2. Multiple Topic Cluster Pages
A cluster or supporting page helps you cover relevant topics in great detail. In addition, those cluster pages should have a narrow focus on specific user intent. However, it doesn’t mean finding “long-tail keywords and writing about it”; instead, it is about writing a particular topic in more depth.
3. Strategic Internal Linking
Incorporating internal links from clusters to the pillar pages help search engines to understand that the pillar page is the most significant one in the group. In addition, internal links from an authoritative pillar to a cluster also pass authority to other relevant clusters on the website. Furthermore, it is also crucial that each link should also contain a descriptive anchor text, which will help search engines to understand what’s going on behind every link.
Why is Cluster Content Essential for SEO?
The topic cluster model is essential for making your SEO program and content calendar more efficient so you can get the most out of your digital marketing efforts. So, can topic clusters make a big difference? Here’s the proof:
At AtHomeWorkGuru, we explored the beauty industry to see which brands dominate the organic search market share. Most of you’d expect that the most popular brands like Sephora, Ulta, Neutrogena, L’Oreal, or Dove are dominating the search.
However, that’s not the case, In fact, these brands are not even close, and they weren’t even in the top 20 list for the nine sectors we explored. So, which brands are winning the race? Well, they are online publishers.
We found lesser-known brands like New York Magazine, Allure, Byrdie, and Good Housekeeping. They collectively held up to 40% of the organic market share. But how do these publishers manage to outperform billion-dollar retailers, including Amazon? Of course, that’s the power of topic clusters.
So, here is why topic clusters are essential for SEO:
Google Favors Topics and Passage Comprehension
Major search engines like Google have recently made some serious changes in their algorithms. For instance, they announced a breakthrough in ranking technology to assist their algorithm in determining the relevancy of subtopics within the overall page. In addition, they also advanced their capacity to understand subtopics revolving around a broad interest through neural nets.
Furthermore, in September 2021, Google announced that they now understand how users typically explore specific topics. So, all this means that Google can foretell the order in which a user frequently navigates.
Furthermore, according to Google, they are very excited about these breakthroughs and believe that technology will significantly improve user experience. So, if Google invests in something that enhances UX and drives search, you better pay attention to it.
Topic Clusters Improve Context, Relevancy, and Authority
Imagine your website has a page that explains the color of jaguars. So how will Google determine whether your page is about the jersey colors of the men’s basketball team or the paint shades of the new F-TYPE? Of course, it will analyze the context.
Search engines use on-page SEO elements to extract meanings. It includes the title, URL, headings, subheadings, and sentences. However, Google also analyzes the pages linked to your content and the anchor text of those links.
In simple words, topic clusters serve as concentrated buckets of relevance and help Google understand each page’s context, relevancy, and hierarchy within the content family.
Content Clusters are Essential for Keyword Research
SEO research involves more than just targeting the most competitive keywords with huge search volumes. Keeping your keyword research limited based solely on the competitive words means you will fail to determine how specific keywords have relevance to each other or how they work as a team to move your customers through the buyer’s journey.
Similarly, some keyword researchers target long-tail keywords with less search volume. Initially, their website may rank high because of low competition, but low-quality content will eventually haunt their ranking and destroy their traffic.
On the other hand, developing a topic cluster approach for keyword research is more rewarding as it allows you to group terms into buckets. That said, instead of providing your content team with a massive list of keywords, you should equip them with a well-organized list of keywords gathered by blog posts, clusters, and categories.
As a result, you will be able to unify your existing content strategy so the pieces of content can resonate better with your potential customers.
Improved User Experience and Conversion Rate
People use Google to find answers to their queries. Maybe they want to know about the best for family trips. Or perhaps they are wondering what RV they should buy. So, understanding why and how your users’ search will help you map their queries. You will also be able to know where they’re standing in the conversion funnel and how you can move them to the conversion stage.
That’s what topic clusters are made for exactly. They help you predict and create content around a core topic so you can solve different queries of your potential buyers at different stages without consuming your keywords.
Moreover, the outcome will help you anticipate your audience’s follow-up queries and provide them with the right content at precisely the right moment. In addition, this will also keep your audience interested in your content rather than forcing them to go back to Google for answers.
How to Create Topic Clusters?
The topic cluster model enables websites to streamline their existing content and create better content. Adopting to cluster model is far more than common SEO strategies as it helps you build quality content and drive more organic traffic. Here is how to create topic clusters:
1. Choose a Core Topic
While creating a topic cluster, the first step should be choosing an exciting core topic. Whether your website is about tech or health and well-being, you can implement this strategy to produce a curated topic plan. In addition, regardless of your topic, your cluster content should fit into the core topics of your business.
Once you are done creating a core topic, the rest of the content is easy to break down into subtopics. For example, if your website is about student loans, you can create a pillar page that should cover the need for student loans and payment options they can use to pay for higher education.
Moreover, creating content ideas needs brainstorming. So having a team and working together to develop content ideas is an effective way. However, brainstorming sometimes can be overwhelming, so avoid putting too much pressure on yourself and use these tips:
- Use a whiteboard or a sheet of paper and place the core topic in the center. Then, surround it with relevant topic ideas that you can use as subtopics.
- Collect content that you find valuable. Analyzing content that others in your industry have generated will help you find what they are missing or what you can improve.
- Take frequent breaks from brainstorming because the best ideas come in stress-free environments.
2. Start Keyword Research on the Main Topic
The second step for creating content clusters is to conduct keyword research. However, before you start your research on the topics, ensure that you are right on track with your topics. In addition, look for your competitors’ content to see what they are producing and what makes their content successful. This strategy will also help you find what keywords they are missing.
3. Create Cluster Pages
In addition to keyword research, you will also need to plan pillars and clusters. Firstly, you should outline your pillar page as you will be linking clusters back to it. Moreover, when creating the pillar page, try to cover a vast range of topics while leaving some room for in-depth topics.
Your topic clusters should be a step ahead, covering as many details as possible of the topic. In addition, also ensure to develop relevant topics that you can link back to your pillage page. Furthermore, the outlines you care about should incorporate headings, subheadings, targeted keywords, and references to well-ranked competitors.
4. Craft Content
Once you are done gathering topic ideas, keywords, and outlines, it’s time to create content. Make sure that your content is exciting so you can engage your audience. Since you have competitors writing similar topics, if not the same, you will have to produce something unique to outperform them. Consider these content creation tips:
- Do not try to stuff keywords in your cluster topics because you are covering the topic in-depth.
- In addition to creating high-quality content, hit your targeted word count. Writing a post just to reach 2,000 words will not help you rank well.
- Always try to improve your content by analyzing your competitors’ content.
- Write clearly and precisely. Remember that SEO content always focuses on satisfying queries. So make sure that your content is helping your audience in a digestible way.
- Avoid overusing your keywords. Instead, use them naturally and make them look organic.
5. Publish Your Content and Add Internal Links
Even after producing quality content, there is still some work to do. In addition to developing new cluster content, remember to incorporate internal links. Moreover, even if your content is ranking well, you can improve it to keep it updated. This strategy is advantageous if you want to stay ahead of your competitors.
Producing quality content is an excellent way to drive organic traffic to your website. It also helps you target your specific audience. If you are worried about your website ranking and need more organic traffic despite trying every trick in the book, the topic cluster model can help you. It enables you to organize your content, improve it, and let your customers know that you understand their needs and have a solution. If you’ve any queries regarding the topic cluster model, feel free to leave a comment J
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