What Are Topic Clusters? And How Can They Improve Your SEO?

February 25, 2021

Topic clusters are becoming a go-to content strategy technique for many marketers. When implemented properly, topic clusters have the potential to help a website rank better on the search engine results page (SERP). Many marketers have incorporated this method to improve their SEO or search engine optimization.

Content, with the help of SEO, plays a key role in generating traffic to a website. Even though keywords are used to improve SEO efforts, sometimes it is not enough. Now, topic clusters are becoming a part of content strategy to further improve SEO results. In this article, we will talk about topic cluster and how they can be used to improve ranking.

What are Topic Clusters?

Topic clusters are a collection of related web pages that all link back to one pillar page. These web pages are made up of content pieces that are relevant to one topic on the pillar page. These topic clusters help search engines see that your content covers a particular topic thoroughly. This shows your expertise and increases your potential to rank better on SERP. Topic clusters also help you organize your website content.

Topic clusters are made up of three main elements:

  • Pillar page
  • Cluster content or subtopics
  • Hyperlinks

Pillar page

The pillar page is at the center of the topic cluster. It is the authority page for the main topic you want to rank for. This page will cover all the different aspects of the topic and all the blogs related to it will be linked here. Pillar page covers all the queries that users might have and provides answers to them. For example, your website’s services page can be a pillar page.

Pillar content focuses on a broad keyword with high search volume and topic clusters are focused on specific keywords. A pillar page also helps in organizing your content by topics, so that users can access any blog posts, infographics and other information easily.   

Cluster content or subtopics

Cluster content are pages that focus on long-tail queries related to your core topic. These pages are usually in the form of blog posts. These pages include in-depth information about various aspects of your topic. When cluster content links back to a pillar page, it shows search engines that you have covered different aspects of a particular topic. Subtopic pages address more specific user queries and attempt to provide the exact answers to them.

Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are the internal links between pillar pages and cluster content pages. Pillar pages can include links to cluster pages. Similarly, cluster pages can provide links to pillar pages. This internal linking allows search engines to identify all the information related to a topic.

Image from HubSpot

Why Are Topic Clusters Important?

Content strategy is an important aspect of any marketing efforts. Marketers rely on content to help them generate inbound leads organically. Part of a successful content strategy is to use SEO techniques that help your content be more visible to the target audience. A content strategy entails looking for popular search terms or keywords that your audience is looking for. Then creating blogs based on these search terms. This strategy is used by marketers all the time. However, sometimes it is hard to rank for certain keywords as there may be a lot of competition. Sometimes this content fails to provide the users with the information they are looking for.

Now search engines are getting better every day at determining which pages provide the most thorough and credible content. Hence, marketers have started using topic clusters to build authority and provide credible content. Search engines want to provide users with content that is accurate. Moreover, search engine algorithms are getting better at understanding that different search terms can be about the same topic. Which means a piece of content targeting one keyword can also ranks for other related terms.

Topic clusters should be included as part of any content strategy. This can help web pages improve their rankings and become more visible. This cannot be just achieved by targeting keywords. It also provides your users with the relevant information they need.

How to Create Topic Clusters to Improve Your SEO?

Determine your core topic

The first step would be to determine which topic you want to focus on to start building your content clusters. To determine the topic, you will need to consider the types of products or services you sell and the customers who will purchase them. Analyze your target customers and take into account their needs, problems and interests. Consider how your product or services help them. Then research keywords that your customers are looking for.

For your pillar content you will need broad keywords related to your industry. Evaluate topics that are important to your audience. This topic should be insightful and provide the information your customers are looking for.

Plan the subtopics

After selecting your core topic, you will need to come up with subtopics that are relevant to it. The content clusters will be created based on these subtopics. For subtopics, choose long-tail keywords that are more specific. When selecting from these keywords take a look at their search volume. One way to start developing topic clusters is by creating content on keywords that have a low search volume. These subtopics can give you a chance to improve your ranking. Here is a great exapmle of what subtopics should look like.

Image from HubSpot

Start by creating a subtopic based on keywords with low search volume i.e., 10 or 20. This gives you an opportunity to cover these specific topics and also rank higher for them as there is not much competition. These subtopics should provide users with answers to all their specific questions.

Build a topic hierarchy

Like discussed above, start with keywords that have a lower search volume and then gradually work your way up to target search terms with a higher search volume. The topic hierarchy should depend on the search volume of your keywords. Consider your core topic, which is based on a broad keyword, then analyze all the related search queries.

Once you start by writing on specific topics you can gain rankings for these specific keywords. Then create content based on keywords with a higher search volume. All these subtopics should link back to your pillar page. When you start gaining rankings for these specific keywords, Google views your website as a credible source of information on a topic. Then you can also rank better for higher volume search terms. This hierarchy will help you build your content around topics with higher search volume and ultimately rank for them.

Take a look at your existing content

When brainstorming for subtopics, also take a look at your existing content. IF you already have some pieces of content that are related to your core topic you can include them in your topic clusters.

Add internal links

Adding a linking structure is an important part of your topic clusters. These links from relevant pages are crucial to build authority for your pillar page. Ensure that you add links from each subtopic page to link them to your pillar page. These topics are relevant to your core topic hence you can easily find a placement for this link.

These internal links help search engines easily go through your content and determine the expertise of your content. Hence, adding internal links is an important part to successfully implement topic clusters for your SEO efforts.

Topic clusters help you efficiently present your content to both search engines and users. Build a pillar page that provides value to the users. The pillar content should be thorough and provide in-depth information on a topic. Keep updating your pillar page often with new insights, subtopics, statistics and more. This will help you improve your ranking on Google’s search results page.

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