The competition for traffic on the web is fiercer than ever. A familiar dilemma for marketers and SEO professionals is how to rank higher on search engines. More than ever, search engines like Google are shifting their focus from keywords to topics. SEO practices have advanced significantly in recent years to improve visibility within search results. The latest practice is now to focus on topic clusters not keyword.
Topic clusters have taken over the role of individual keywords in Search Engine Optimization. Search engines now rank content based on topics to cater to users’ queries. Organizing a website for relevant topics rather than individual keywords is now standard practice.
Topic clusters are a way to organize content pages on a site using a more deliberate design. The topic cluster model consists of a pillar page, cluster pages, and hyperlinks. A pillar page broadly overviews a core topic; cluster pages cover related subtopics in detail, and internal linking connects the pages.
Why You Should Focus on Topic Clusters Not Keyword
The constant change in consumer behavior is the primary driver of the topic cluster approach. Search engine algorithms have evolved to respond to this behavioral change, forcing marketers and SEO experts to redesign their site structure.
Keyword queries used to be short and straightforward, but now, they’re more detailed and longer. Internet users now pose complex questions to search engines and expect descriptive and precise answers that fit their needs and interests.
People who want to find a specific answer on the internet use many different phrases in their queries. Algorithms try to understand the intent behind a search query, tie it to past searches, and provide the best results.
This changes the whole SEO game, as it now requires optimizing websites for topic clusters rather than a few keywords. Instead of having separate content for specific keywords, a topic cluster assembles relevant pieces of content around a core topic. This boosts SEO and improves search engine rankings as algorithms can more easily find related content based on topics.
Building topic clusters takes time. But it can help you display your site’s authority to Google and its users, increasing total keyword ranking and driving more organic search traffic.
What Are Topic Clusters?
Topic clusters are pieces of content grouped by a specific topic and related subtopics. They provide an in-depth discussion of a particular topic to satisfy visitors’ search queries. Topic clustering is organizing website content to answer every relevant question to a topic.
Google no longer looks for keywords on web pages when evaluating rankings. It checks for synonyms, subtopics, and answers to questions that users in your industry are researching. This has made topic clusters a big part of SEO professionals’ content strategy.
Topic clustering is one way to show Google that you’re an expert in your industry and that your website showcases valuable, in-depth content.
A topic cluster consists of three parts: the pillar page, cluster pages, and internal linking.
1. A Pillar Page
A pillar page targets a core topic or broad term and links out to cluster pages. It represents the central themes in your content and provides a comprehensive insight into a core topic. The pillar page is like an umbrella page for cluster pages, which covers related subtopics in more detail. A pillar page could be a landing page, a blog post, or a standard page of your website.
The pillar page covers a range of user intents and gives readers enough value to click through to the next piece of relevant content. It includes small paragraphs introducing each cluster page. It also contains links that lead users to cluster pages with more detailed information about the subject.
Each pillar page you create should capture all aspects of a general topic on a single page. It should also answer every question the reader might have about the topic.
2. Cluster Pages
A cluster page is a more detailed overview of a section of the core topic, allowing users to dig deeper and discover more. Cluster pages focus on specific search intent and cover subtopics in detail. These pages contain internal links that lead back to the pillar page.
Each cluster page you create should provide in-depth information on a specific section of the pillar page. For instance, if you’ve got a pillar page on digital marketing, a cluster page might detail “what are the types of digital marketing.” Cluster content can be blogs, newsletters, or any other content that links back to your pillar page.
3. Internal Linking Between Both Pages.
Internal links boost your search rankings as they show Google that you have tons of content on a topic. Pillar pages must include internal links that lead to the respective cluster page and vice versa.
The linking action from cluster pages to pillars signals search engines that the pillar page is an authority on the topic. By linking the content in a cluster page to a pillar page, search engines can quickly understand the relationship between the pages’ content. Over time, this will result in higher rankings on the pillar page for the topic it covers. Links from pillar to cluster pages pass authority to the rest of the cluster.
Use descriptive anchor text on all links to help the user and search engines understand the content behind the link.
What Does Topic Cluster Matter?
Google’s algorithm prioritizes quality over keyword density when it comes to content on a website. Search engines like Google want to ensure that it provides users with the most relevant and helpful content. This is why topic clusters are important.
Content that provides in-depth information on a specific topic is considered relevant and is more likely to rank higher on search engines. Organizing your content into topic clusters establishes your brand as an expert to Google and its users. By doing this, you also ensure that the information you share is in-depth and high-quality.
How to Create a Topic Cluster
1. Identify the Main Topics
A crucial step in building a topic cluster is to choose a core topic. Identify a key topic you want your website to rank for. The topic should be a general one that can be broken down into subtopics.
If you’re struggling to choose a topic, identify your buyer persona’s core problems and consider each peculiar problem as a broad topic. You may use surveys and interviews or conduct secondary research to gather the necessary data.
2. Organize Your Subtopics
A great way to select relevant subtopics is to identify your buyer persona’s questions about your chosen topic. Check out customer reviews to know how your audience thinks. You may also pose questions on your social media pages to get customer feedback or send surveys to get more customer insight.
You may conduct keyword research to discover the keywords your audience is using to find specific information. Keyword research tools can help you identify terms related to your core topic that users are searching for in your industry.
Tools like AnswerThePublic can let you in on the commonly asked questions about specific topics. You can also conduct a Google search for your core topic. Then check the “People Also Ask” and “Related Searches” sections on the SERPs to identify keywords related to the searched topic.
By focusing on your audience when choosing subtopics, you ensure that you create content that is relevant and helpful to them.
3. Conduct a Content Audit and Map Your Existing Content Into Topic Clusters
Starting with what you have is the best way to see tangible results in your organic rankings. A content audit will provide you with a detailed list of all the content you’ve already published. It will also help you identify duplicate content you posted unknowingly.
Conducting a content audit will help you identify content pieces that discuss a specific topic. So you can link them together to create a topic cluster. Create a pillar page where you give a comprehensive insight into the subject. The pillar page should answer every query the reader might have about the topic. Then create cluster pages that discuss each subsection of the pillar page in detail.
Keep your article organized with subheadings and use links to connect the pillar pages to their respective cluster pages and vice versa. Organizing your content this way allows visitors to navigate your website quickly and find related content speedily. It also encourages them to stay on your website longer and keep coming back for more content.
4. Identify Content Gaps and Fill Them.
Identify important subtopics you might have left out of your topic clusters and create content to fill them in. Filling these content gaps gives your site credibility and will ultimately improve its ranking in search engine results.
You may identify content gaps by looking up commonly asked questions on your chosen topic on platforms like Quora. Repeated questions on your chosen topic that never got any answers would make perfect subtopics that you can include in your topic clusters.
A topic cluster consists of pieces of content grouped around a specific topic and related subtopics. A topic cluster consists of a pillar page that provides a detailed overview of the core topic and cluster pages that target related subtopics. And internal linking that connects the pillar pages to the cluster pages and vice versa.
Topic clustering organizes and structures your website content to answer all relevant queries to a topic. This technique establishes your website as an authority in your industry; it tells Google that you provide relevant, in-depth content on specific topics.
Topic clustering allows visitors to navigate your website quickly and easily find the content they need. It also encourages users to explore your site, stay longer and return for more content.
If you’ve been targeting individual keywords in your web content, you’ve been missing the big picture in your fight for strong, relevant traffic. Topic clusters might be the game-changer for your site, leading to higher rankings in search engine results pages. It’s time to focus on topic clusters not keyword!
Explore All SEO Keyword Cluster Articles
Keywords are the building block of any SEO strategy. It was common practice to optimize a webpage for only one…