The competition to get your content noticed and displayed by search engines is stronger than ever. As a result, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices have had to evolve. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, so it can be difficult to keep up with the best ways to help your content rise to the top.
Fortunately, topic clusters can assist with bringing your content to the attention of both search engines and users. Put simply, topic clusters are collections of interlinked pages centered around one umbrella topic. They’re designed to provide greater visibility for your content, so search engines can understand it more easily. This is vital, since the constant changes to search engine algorithms mean it’s increasingly difficult to get your website noticed.
First Steps: Pillars and Subjects
A topic cluster starts with a main focus, also known as a pillar page. This is the foundation on which your topic cluster will be built. Although it’s usually longer than a traditional blog post, your pillar page doesn’t need to cover every single aspect of the topic at hand. It just needs to provide the main answers searchers need, in order to make your content their first port of call.
For example, if you run a business in the finance industry, you may want to create a topic cluster around the topic of personal finance. Your pillar page would cover the most important information people need to know to manage their personal finances. Each topic would include a helpful but concise summary, linking out to one or more other pages on more specific topics (such as budgeting and investing).
What’s most important is that your topic clusters are directly relevant to your audience, and answer the questions they really have. Don’t be afraid to reach out and have conversations with your customers or users, in order to find out what they’re interested in. Once you’ve settled on a strong subject, you can dive right in to building the topic cluster itself.
Putting together a topic cluster is relatively simple. Still, you’ll want to take your time with the process, in order to ensure that the result is both high-quality and useful to your audience.
The first step you’ll need to take is deciding what subject you’d like your website or company to be considered a thought leader on. This should be a core topic on your website, and ideally you’ll already have a host of content related to it. Conducting a content audit is a perfect way to see what you have to work with.
From there, you can begin to build out your pillar pages and subtopics. Each subtopic must branch out logically from your pillar page, delving into more specific elements of the subject at hand. In addition, each page of your topic cluster should also directly relate to something your audience is likely to search for online.
Eventually, your topic cluster will be structured like a web, with central topics branching out to more and more specific information. It should also be dynamic, meaning that you’ll want to keep expanding and refining it over time.
As we mentioned earlier, the main purpose of creating a topic cluster is to improve your site’s SEO. What follows are three of the best ways you can use your topic clusters to attract more visitors to your website.
Although you’d be forgiven for thinking that the rise of topic clusters means keywords are no longer important, they still play a huge role in increasing your site’s visibility. Although topic clusters put more focus on the relationships between topics, keywords are still the driving force.
Implementing keywords into your subtopics enables you to improve the SEO of both the individual pages and the cluster as a whole. For example, if the key phrase for your pillar page is “personal finance,” including it on every subtopic page can be very beneficial to your rankings.
After that, the best way to use keywords within your topic clusters is to ensure that each of your subtopics is built around a specific long-tail keyword. You can use a free tool such as AllTop to find topics that are of interest to your core audience. Then you can research relevant keywords that reflect those topics, via a solution like Google’s Keyword Planner.
Increase the Use of Internal Links
Internal linking is another long-standing SEO practice that is enhanced through the use of topic clusters. This involves linking to other content on your own site, rather than exclusively using external sources.
Using plenty of internal links not only helps people navigate your site, but will also let search engines know how your various pages are related. The process of creating a topic cluster helps you focus on internal linking. In turn, this signals to search engines that your pillar page is a central resource for your chosen topic, improving its visibility in relevant searches.
The best way to make sure your topic clusters contain enough internal links is to consistently link between each subtopic and the pillar page. These connections will provide Google’s algorithms with the information it needs to find and index all the pages in your topic clusters, and build SEO strength for your pillar page in particular.
Measure Your Results and Adjust Your Strategy
Finally, it’s important to measure the impact of your topic clusters, in order to adapt and improve them over time. That way, you can ensure that they’ll suit your audience’s changing needs. Just remember that if you’ve just recently created a topic cluster, you may need to wait a few weeks or a month before you’ll see its effects.
One way to accurately measure your results is by using a tracking tool like Google Analytics. Studying the detailed data this tool provides will enable you to make informed decisions about the topic clusters you’ve create, and decide how you can improve them.
Solutions such as Google Analytics help you determine which particular pages within a topic cluster perform the best, and which need to be optimized to rank more highly. You can optimize parts of your cluster that aren’t performing well by implementing the two previous tips: include more relevant keywords, and increase your use of internal links.
In a landscape of constantly-changing algorithms, SEO is more important than ever. While there are many strategies you can try, topic clusters are an effective and simple way to make the most of your existing content. Creating optimized topic clusters can lead to an increase in site traffic, not to mention higher conversion rates.
Do you have any other questions about how to create and use topic clusters? Let us know in the comments section below!