In the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization (SEO), staying ahead of the curve is crucial in order to ensure your website ranks high in search results.
One strategy that has gained traction in recent years is topic clustering. By implementing this powerful technique, you can enhance your SEO efforts and greatly increase organic traffic to your website.
But what exactly is topic clustering, and why should you consider integrating it into your SEO strategy?
If you’re not familiar with this topic, this post will explain what topic clustering is, why you need it, and how you can implement it in your SEO strategy.
What Are Content Topic Clusters
Topic clustering involves organizing related pieces of content into interconnected clusters, where a central pillar page serves as the main hub.
This holistic approach helps search engines recognize the topical authority and expertise of your website, ultimately improving your chances of ranking higher in search results.
How To Set Up Pillar Pages
To establish topic clusters, you need to create a pillar page that serves as the central hub of information.
Let’s take for example the topic of “digital marketing”. The pillar page would provide a comprehensive overview of what digital marketing entails, acting as a generalized subject with “digital marketing” as the primary high-volume keyword.
Once the pillar page is in place, the next step involves crafting hyper-focused pages that delve into specific aspects related to digital marketing. For instance, one page could be dedicated to digital marketing strategies for small businesses, while another might focus on digital marketing trends. The crucial aspect is that all these individual pages should link back to the primary pillar page.
By interlinking these pages with the pillar page, a clear message is sent to search engines like Google, signifying that the pillar page serves as an authoritative source on the overarching topic of digital marketing. This internal linking structure enhances the topical authority of the pillar page, elevating its chances of ranking higher in search results.
The overall goal here is to use topic clusters to organize our content for Google better. See, all websites have a hierarchy and it generally looks like this:
- Top-level categories
- Detail pages
Search engines need to determine the hierarchy of your website so they can assign importance to the right content. Because their crawlers lose interest as they get deeper into your site’s architecture, it’s really important that you create topic clusters that all link back to your main pillar page. It’s good for the organization, it’s good for internal linking – and it’s great for ranking.
Topic clustering is actually really simple stuff. The biggest problem is that creating lots of new content takes time. To make your life a bit easier, let’s take a look at how to create a topic cluster:
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How To Organize Your Content Into Content Clusters
Instead of creating lots of brand-new pillar pages from scratch, take a look at what you’ve already got. Chances are, you’ve already got a few pillar pages that you can use as a foundation.
It may be that you’ll have to make a few tweaks to the content, but if you’re already ranking decently for a few high-volume keywords, consider using these as your pillar pages. Take a close look at your analytics. If you spot high-traffic, high-ranking pages, it’s very possible that you’ve got a few pillar pages on your hands.
What Are Subtopics
Generating subtopics is a straightforward process. Begin by examining your pillar page and its existing content. Then, brainstorm and identify any relevant subtopics that can seamlessly connect back to the main page..
For example, let’s say my pillage page is about a BMW sedan. My subtopics might include “pros and cons of buying a BMW,” “BMW vs Mercedes,” “BMW vs Audi,” “Are BMW reliable?” “Costs of a BMW,” “Brief history of BMW” and so on.
Your aim should be to come up with at least 10 subtopics, and they each need to go deeper into your main content. They should also include long-tail keywords.
What’s great about your subtopic pages is that, when one of your blog posts starts to perform well, it will also help other pages to rank better as well.
Use Questions People Ask For New Topic Clusters
As you look to create new pillar pages and subtopics, you might be a bit stuck for topics. If so, you can use a tool like Answer the Public to find the questions your audience is asking.
All you have to do is slot your main keyword into the tool and take a look at the results. Answer the Public will bring up a wealth of related questions that the people who are querying your main keyword are also asking.
Add a few of these questions to a spreadsheet, before inputting them into Google’s Keyword Planner to check their search volume. You might find that some are so high volume that they can work as pillar pages, while others will work better as subtopics.
Either way, your aim is to use topic clustering to solve as many problems as you can.
To this end, you should also use Quora to find out what questions your audience are asking. Take your keyword ideas, enter them into Quora and check the results. For example, when you do the search for ‘social media advertising’ you get the following results:
And now you’ve got lots of new ideas for pillar pages and/or subtopics.
You can use Google’s “People also ask” feature, as well. As you can see from the image below, you get new suggestions for query “long tail SEO.” If you haven’t previously created content around these questions, you can add them to your subtopics – or create a brand new pillar page first and then create lots of new subtopics.
Interlink Your Pages
Last – but definitely not least – you need to make sure that all your subtopic pages link back to your pillar page. Otherwise, your topic clustering endeavors will fail. Interlinking is the only way to show Google that your pages are all related.
Try to avoid using the same anchor link each time, as Google might get suspicious and penalize you. Mix your anchor link text up. This can be tricky because you’re linking to the same page each time, but you’ll just need to be creative. Make sure to use keywords sometimes but don’t use keywords all the time. Try branded keywords now and then, too.
As you can see, content clustering is a fairly simple concept. If creating lots of content sounds daunting, just make sure you’ve got an ace content creation team behind you. Other than that, patience and determination are two skills you’ll need the most. It takes time for topic clustering to work its magic. Have patience, keep creating content and as long as you stick to the tips in this article you should start to see definite results from your efforts.
About the author: Kas Szatylowicz is a social media manager and outreach coordinator at Nightwatch — a search visibility tool of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter: @KasSzatylowicz