If you are a marketer or business owner, you know that search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to driving traffic and generating leads. But how can you dominate your targeted keywords, increase your visibility, and tell the audience and search engines that you are an expert?
Use topic clusters.
This post explains one of the most effective content marketing strategies today: topic clusters. It also shows you how to build topic clusters the right way to help your SEO efforts.
What Makes Topic Clusters a Good SEO Strategy?
Before we get into how to make a good topic cluster, let us answer two important questions:
- What is the topic cluster model?
- What makes it a reliable SEO technique?
The best analogy for this is the constellation. In the same way that stars appear to connect in a night sky, topic clusters are webs of related pieces of content that each link back to the core piece.
Digital Authority Partners (DAP) said this strategy supports many SEO goals, such as increasing domain authority and matching your efforts to the customer’s journey. This is because clustering helps improve many SEO elements, ranging from indexability to relevance and user experience (UX). To be more specific:
- It allows search engines to better understand the overall context of your website. This content-based hierarchy system encourages Google or Bing to index your website more accurately. In turn, you can now rank for your targeted keywords. If you cluster your copies well, you can even appear at or near the top of search engine results.
- Internal linking between different pages uplifts UX. It gives readers more information about a given subject and encourages them to stay on your site for longer periods. Further, breaking a comprehensive or broad topic into bite-sized pieces makes information easier to understand and remember.
- Clustering applies SEO or content marketing best practices. Clusters help you meet the E-E-A-T guidelines, interlinking and cross-referencing content recommendations, and the helpful-content update.
Design a Topic Cluster Strategically with These 5 Steps
You now know the benefits of topic clusters. The next question is, “How do you exactly make a topic cluster that grows your business through optimization?” Let us use an example to demonstrate this.
Let us say you are a small business selling organic pet food. Here is how you do clustering in five steps:
1. Identify Your Audience
For a topic cluster to work, it must appeal to your target audience. Otherwise, you risk alienating potential readers or missing key opportunities to engage them.
You can identify the best possible audience for a particular cluster by:
- Analyzing your current market or customer base
- Conducting research into potential new markets or audiences
- Checking your competition and profiling their customers and readers
- Using tools, such as Google Trends and social media signals, to know what people are searching for
With the information you have, create a reader or buyer persona. It is a semi-fictional representation of your target market. Since you are selling organic pet food, a possible profile may look like this:
|Name||Pet parent Jansen|
|Income||$50–80,000 a year|
|Interests||Health, wellness, organic products, nutrition|
|Pets||Large-breed senior dogs|
|Challenges||Finding the right balance of nutritional products for their dogs within his budget|
2. Pick Your Keywords
Once you know who the topic cluster is aiming to reach, find keywords to use in your cluster. A few pointers:
- The keywords you choose should be relevant to each other since they will be your targeted phrases or terms for the pillar pages, subtopics, and other supporting articles. Doing this also makes it easier to link copies later.
- Choose broad keywords with high search volume for your pillar page. Although these are competitive, the supporting pages can feature more specific terms or long-tail keywords with lower search competition.
Based on our example, our possible keywords may include:
- “organic pet food”
- “raw dog food”
- “best organic pet food”
- “senior dog nutrition”
Let us make a topic cluster for senior dog nutrition.
3. Create the Pillar Page
We have the keywords and the audience, as described by our buyer persona. We can now proceed to fill in the structure.
A typical topic cluster usually has the following elements:
|Topic Cluster Elements||Uses|
|Pillar page||It serves as a hub. You can compare it to a resource page, where readers can get the best information about a particular subject.|
|Subtopics or supporting pages||These provide more information or expound the broad idea introduced on the pillar page. It usually answers specific user queries.|
|Cluster links or hyperlinks||These internal links point to or connect various articles within the cluster. The pillar page almost always contains all the links for the supporting pages, and vice versa. But you can also create hyperlinks within supporting pages.|
Because of its role, the pillar page is often the longest article, usually between 1,000 and 5,000 words. It can be more than that, but your audience might end up with information overload or reading fatigue.
Further, the pillar page contains clear headings, subheadings, bullets, and lists that effectively categorize or divide sections, making the whole article easily digestible.
For our example topic, an article on senior dog nutrition could focus on the following topics:
- What is the best diet for senior dogs?
- Common health issues in aging pets and how to treat them
- The importance of supplements for older dogs
- Healthy meal recipes for senior dogs
We are going to pick “What is the best diet for senior dogs?”
4. Generate Subtopics
Now it is time to flesh out the topic cluster with supporting articles. These must relate to the pillar page, not repeat its content. As they should be more specific than the focus of the pillar page, aim for long-tail keywords instead of short-tail ones.
In our case, our subtopics could include:
- The benefits of home-cooked meals for senior dogs
- Which foods should be avoided in a senior dog’s diet?
- How to transition your older dog to a new diet
- Best wet and dry food brands for senior dogs online
- Tips on feeding a senior dog with a sensitive stomach
- Organic treats for senior dogs
- Nutritional supplements for senior pets
- Probiotics for older dogs and their benefits
You can always begin with a few supporting articles. Preferably, you can target popular keywords and topics based on user intent.
For instance, “Which foods should be avoided in a senior dog’s diet?” is great for potential customers looking for more information about organic pet food. Meanwhile, “Best wet and dry food brands for senior dogs online” appeals to users who are ready to make a purchase.
Apart from organic pet food, cover other aspects of senior dog nutrition, such as supplements, probiotics, and meal recipes. This will help provide a comprehensive overview for your target readers.
5. Connect the Copies with Cluster Links
Once you have all the articles in place, link them together. For instance, the article about the best wet and dry food for senior dogs can include a hyperlink to a page about organic pet food.
Make sure that you also link back to your pillar page. This way, readers will understand how all the topics are related and connected. It also reinforces its relevance as the hub of the topic cluster.
But be careful: you do not want to overdo internal linking to avoid spam. Check that your links are healthy using several online checkers.
A topic cluster is an excellent way to improve your SEO and ensure that your website’s content is relevant to your chosen keywords and audience.
The steps above can already help you get started. But if you need more advanced strategies, contact a digital marketing agency for specialized help.