Content Marketing / SEO & Search Marketing

Topic Clusters: Simplify Your Content Strategy and Improve SEO

Author:  Debra Murphy


Reading Time: 5 minutes
Topic Clusters: Simplify Your Content Strategy and Improve SEO

If you have been posting on your blog for quite some time, you probably have an extensive amount of good content for your visitors. But can they easily find all the content they need? To make things simpler, you may want to investigate creating topic clusters. Topic clusters, or content hubs, will help your visitor, and the search engines, find all the content related to a particular category in a more convenient and logical way.

Without a logical plan, your content may become repetitive and very spread out, which makes your website more complicated to navigate. Ultimately, you end up with several web pages and blog posts that cover similar topics.

What are topic clusters?

Topic clusters are organized groups of content around a specific topic. Each specific topic has a page that provides an index or table of contents. The main page, sometimes referred to as a pillar page, is an overview with links to the many other pages covering aspects of that topic. In addition, the more in-depth content links back to the pillar page.

By creating this linked structure, you make it easy for your visitors to find all the information on a particular topic. Plus this uniform linking structure enables search engines to crawl through your pages quickly.

What makes a page a pillar?

A pillar page can be a main page on your website or a detailed blog post that resides in your website navigation. It needs to be focused on your target topic and the content needs to be high quality and comprehensive. Your pillar pages should cover the main areas of the topic completely but at a high level. This enables you to link to other website content related to that topic that goes into more depth. These in-depth posts should also link back to the pillar page. This cross linking results in the content forming a cluster that helps the visitor find all the information they need.

The topic cluster model also tells search engines that your pillar page is an authority on the topic. By linking all content within that topic to one page, you signal to search engines that your content has significant coverage and depth around the subject.

Benefits of topic clusters

Organizing your content into clusters has benefits for you, your visitors and the search engines. These include:

  • A more organized website with content that covers a topic completely across multiple posts.
  • Better user experience and conversions of visitors into leads. Well-organized content sends a strong message to visitors that your business is the expert. You may get more engagement across all the posts in the cluster.
  • Improved SEO that helps your blog become an authority on a particular topic. Clustering your content allows you to optimize not only for the main keyword, but for many long-tail keywords that can help drive additional traffic.
  • Content that is more comprehensive and better serves your audience. This increases the perceived value of the content for your visitors.
  • A streamlined content marketing strategy focusing on the topics relevant to your target audience.

How to get started reorganizing your content

Creating these topic clusters will take some planning. Implementing the topic clusters will definitely take some time. Here are some tips to get started.

Start with a content audit

You need to know what content you have and whether it may need to be updated or eliminated. A content audit will help you determine what content you have, if it is still relevant and whether you need to update or eliminate it. Weeding out the old content that is no longer relevant is the first step in streamlining your content.

If you have a WordPress website, install a plugin called WP All Export. You can export your blog posts into a customized CSV file. You can choose what data to export including published and modified date, title, full content, keyword, categories, SEO title, meta description, permalinks, all taxonomies and custom fields.

Once you have the spreadsheet of content information, use that to organize your posts. Hopefully you have been using strategic categories in your blog, which are similar to topic clusters. You can use that to sort your content and begin the clustering process.

Align your content with customer needs

Your ideal clients have problems that you can solve. What do they want to know that you can help them with? Use this information to come up with a strategic list of topic clusters you need on your website.

Your content should address these problems so that your audience sees you as someone who understands them and can help them. If your content doesn’t align with how you help your customers, you may need to rethink your content.

If you aren’t sure, do keyword research to define the topic in more depth. Use tools like Answer the Public to give you a list of questions relating to your topic.

For example, if your topic cluster is about remodeling, Answer the Public gives you 76 questions that you can use to write content. One of the questions is “What remodeling increases home value”. You can easily turn that question into a blog post within the remodeling topic cluster. Keep in mind that you can break a cluster into more granular topics such as kitchen remodeling and bathroom remodeling. This will help your visitor even more if they are focusing on a particular remodeling project.

Map your content into your strategic clusters

Go back to your content spreadsheet and organize your existing content into your strategic topics. This will enable you to see where you are missing content. If you have a cluster that has several posts of recent, relevant content, start there.

Create your pillar page and link to your existing content. If there is an area of that topic where you don’t have content to link to, you’ve found a gap in your content. Filling content gaps adds to your credibility.

Determine what to do with content that doesn’t fit

If you have content that doesn’t fit into any of your strategic topic clusters, you need to have a plan for what to do with it.

Is it still relevant to your business? If yes, it may provide the foundation for another cluster that you can fill out with additional posts. You may have only written a few pieces on that topic, but now you can add that to your content strategy. If it is no longer relevant or out-of-date, remove it.

All content is strategic

Content you spend time writing should add value to your web presence and help attract your ideal clients. Using topic clusters is a great way to organize your content and make it relevant. Without this type of organization, you may stray away from the topics that are important to your business.

But take it one step at a time. You can’t reorganize all of your content quickly. Start with your most important topic and organize that. Then keep working on others until your website becomes a resource of quality, expert information.

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