Through the years, SEO has experienced various changes – from the death of link schemes to mobile prioritization. However, one of the biggest innovations in the industry is the use of the Topic Cluster Model as the newest SEO strategy.
This strategy began when Google launched RankBrain in 2015 – an algorithm that connects the users past searches with related topics and phrases that will result in finding the best results for users.
You should know by now that ranking well in any Search Engine Result Page (SERP) means that you need to show how each of your focused keywords are related to one another.
This is where topic clusters come into the picture.
What are Topic Clusters?
Topic Cluster is a group of interlinked web pages that are constructed around a pillar content which targets a broad topic. This is based on the idea that search visibility about a particular topic is way, way better than ranking for a specific keyword.
This strategy ultimately helps you develop an area of influence wherein the overall sum of searches for topically relevant long-tail keywords outweighs the sum of searches for a major keyword. This will definitely aid you in organizing the structure of your website and content. In addition, when a blog post in the cluster does well in rankings, the entire cluster also ranks well.
There are three components of the Topic Cluster Model, which are the following:
- Pillar Content
- Cluster Content
Now, let’s discuss these components more thoroughly.
The pillar content is the cluster core since this is based on the broader topic. It is usually 3,000 to 5,000 words long that usually covers all the aspects of a specific topic but still leaves an ample room for different posts to answer. The pillar content is great for people who are not familiar with a certain topic but want to see a comprehensive overview of it.
This component deals with the various cluster content that is directly connected to the pillar content. Unlike the pillar content that tackles a broad topic, the cluster content focuses on a specific keyword that is related to your broad keyword – discussing it in a more thorough and comprehensive manner. Lastly, these cluster content contain a link that brings your readers back to the pillar content.
Out of all the three components, this is the most important of them all. This is mainly because the hyperlinks are the ones that bind the pillar content to the cluster content.
To have a clearer view as to how the Topic Cluster Model works, here’s a photo of the three components put together:
(Image Source: HubSpot)
Simply put, the topic cluster model is a group of interlinked content under one specific topic for easier identification of various search engines. It produces signals that aim to prove your website’s authority and expertise on the given topic. This will increase your website’s visibility which may lead to more traffic and conversions.
Topic Cluster Model: Its Importance and Advantages
Undoubtedly, keywords have been and still are the foundation of content creation. However, with constant technological innovation and improvement, gradual behavior shifts happened with how the users interact or use a given set of keywords.
Ever since digital assistants – such as Siri and Alexa – were introduced, they have become one of the most common platforms in accessing search engine results pages (SERPs) at a much faster and more efficient rate than manually typing the query.
Due to this change in user behavior, Google and other search engines have been modifying their systems to cater to topic-based content searches. Existing SEO strategies that could not adapt to the behavior change were ultimately made obsolete to make way for new and more effective strategies, such as topic clusters model.
Though keywords are still important, targeting an entire topic is the way to go these days – mainly because of these following reasons:
Searching for an exact keyword is still relevant. However, search algorithms these days are better at understanding multiple terms on the same topic.
Authoritative and trustworthy results are what Google and other search engine results want to provide to their users.
In order to show authority to people and bots, consistently creating valuable and precise contents about a certain topic is a must. This is far better than making a number of disorganized content that targets keywords that are unrelated to one another.
With this being said, thinking of topics instead of a specific keyword is ultimately one of the factors that you should be focusing on because of these following benefits:
This will keep visitors on your website
Having innumerable content that is related to the interests of your visitors will make them stick to your website longer.
As you create content around a certain topic, this gradually improves the search rankings of your other similarly related content that are already on your website. As a result, this can ultimately lead you to own multiple SERP positions.
It helps bring you more traffic
Given that your cluster does well in terms of rankings, this will attract more visitors to your website and will more likely stay on it – which will make your traffic and conversions soar.
Creating a Topic Cluster
Now that you are already knowledgeable about the topic cluster model and how important and beneficial it is, we move on to the next step – creating your own topic cluster:
Select Your Topic
The first thing that you should do when curating your own topic cluster is to figure out what topic you want to be an authority on – it can be on sports, games, or SEO – if you have a blog. However, if you’re dealing with a business website, try to stick to the business’ niche as much as possible. Some things to note when you’re choosing a topic as your pillar content:
- Your topic should be the keystone of your business
- It should be something that you want to rank for
- It should cover all the various aspects of a pillar page but must be broad enough for you to write numerous articles about it
When you finally choose your pillar content topic, that’s the time that you build content around it. By doing this, you are helping prospects to steadily trust you and your brand.
Inspect Your Existing Content
After figuring out and choosing the topic that you want to talk about, the next step is to do a content audit to see if you have existing and supporting articles that you can link to your chosen pillar page. This will ultimately let you maximize your existing content, and at the same time, will help you maximize the focus on your content creation efforts.
Optimize Your Keywords
Although topic clusters are the latest strategy in the SEO world today, this does not mean that you should neglect and forget about your target keywords. Optimizing your content and web pages around your keywords is still a must.
As soon as your topic clusters are made and you have your target keywords finalized, you can now update and optimize your pages and content in your cluster.
Link All Your Content Together
Once you have completed all your content, it is now time to link them with each other, as well as to the pillar page. When you are in this part, always remember to make your links two-way – which means that your pillar page must have links going to each of your articles in the cluster.
This is considered the most important step when crafting a topic cluster since this clearly demonstrates to search engines, such as Google, that these contents are connected and related to each other.
Once you have applied all these changes to your website, the only thing for you to do is to wait for the results in your site analytics. However, do note that it takes a month or two before you see and feel the strategy’s impact.
After the given time and you have seen the results to your topic clusters, you’ll be able to see which pages in the cluster performed best and the pages that you still need to optimize to make it rank better.
Shifting to a new strategy is indeed intimidating, most especially when your business already has an extensive archive. However, if you are able to plan numerous contents on a topic while making it well turned-out and then stitch them all together – then you are apt to be successful in doing this strategy.