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Enhancing Your SEO Strategy with Topic Clusters

Robin Chandler
August 29, 2019

Let’s face it – when searching for information online, most consumers probably won't scroll beyond the first few sources at the top of their search engine results. The main goal of content marketing is to get your company’s website, blogs, and other content found online, so it’s a constant battle to get your content to the top of the search list. 

According to a recent study by HubSpot, 61 percent of marketers identify search engine optimization and growing their online presence as top inbound marketing priorities for their companies. 

Search engines have changed, and so have the ways people search for information online. Cramming a bunch of keywords into your online content won’t produce the results you’re expecting anymore. In fact, “keyword stuffing” is more likely to hurt than help your search rankings. 

Instead, search engines consider topic clusters – multiple web pages on a common topic that are linked to each other – to be more relevant for building online authority and improving search engine rankings. Here’s what you need to know about creating topic clusters for your online content.

Search engines have become more “human”

Gone are the days when your impressive use of the same keywords over and over in your online content put you at the top of online searches. While they used to require specific search terms, search engines today can use lots of data to make assumptions about what you’re searching for. 

For example, in the past you may have searched for “good restaurants in Rockford” and gotten a complete list of restaurants with decent ratings in the greater Rockford area. Now, you can search for “good restaurants near me” and get a list of highly rated restaurants that are currently open and located within half a mile of your location. You might even get suggestions for other restaurants you might like that are similar to places you’ve ordered from in the past. 

Search engines can factor in context, including time of day, location, and what type of device you’re using, and your previous searches to determine the best results for your search. For marketers, this means shifting focus away from repeating important keywords and on to creating topic clusters instead.

The goal is to establish trust and authority with your online content

Search engine optimization has evolved to elevate content from sources with demonstrated knowledge of important topics rather than their ability to include lots of keywords in one place. So, it’s important that you adapt your content to build your online authority and create trust by forming content clusters.

Topic clusters build online authority by linking several web pages containing relevant information to a pillar page. The pillar page covers a high-level topic in depth and links to subtopic pages that provide related, relevant information, creating a cluster of pages that provide information about a major topic. By keeping related pages in a cluster, search engines and humans can find your content more easily.

Ultimately, you can’t forget that you’re appealing to humans and search engines. You need to ensure your customers have a positive experience with your content after they find it using search engines.

Keep your list of important keywords

After deciding on a core topic, you’ll need to generate a list of six to eight subtopics to form your topic cluster. Your core topics and subtopics can come from the keywords you used to use to get better search engine results as long as they’re relevant and inform your pillar content. But remember, the goal is to turn a single keyword into a full-blown content strategy.

Your content goal should be to educate your reader and showcase your knowledge of the topic. You can use the ideas you generate thanks to your handy list of keywords to write blogs, social media posts, and website copy. This content will link to your core topic while also giving you the opportunity to repurpose it in the future with other topics.

How to find topic ideas

Your keywords may be helpful for finding topic ideas to write about, but they’re not your only tool for creating successful online content that achieves your goal of becoming a trustworthy source of information.

Look for opportunities to repurpose the content you already have. The time and effort your company has put into creating your website content should not go to waste. Even if you can’t repurpose an entire piece of content, you can use smaller bits to add to new content. See if you can use what you’ve already created to build your topic clusters.

Google’s auto search results are a useful resource that you may not have thought to use before. Search for different keywords and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find a list of suggested searches based on similar searches others have performed in the past. 

You should also take a look at what your competition is doing. They may feature content on their website that can give you ideas for what to feature on yours. This is especially helpful for differentiating your business because you have the opportunity to publish information that competing companies haven’t.

Measure your success

Your topic clusters won’t be effective if you don’t have a way to measure their effectiveness. Create your content with SMART goals in mind, and measure whether or not you achieve those goals using tools like HubSpot’s analytics tools or your own method of tracking the success of your cluster content. Analyze these measurements frequently to get an idea of what’s working and what’s not. This will help you determine areas that may need revisions or improvements. 

Read the Essential Guide to B2B Marketing for Manufacturers

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