Good practices in content marketing SEO no longer focus solely on keyword selection and appropriate keyword density. There is an increasing emphasis on content topics because, as we know, the Google search engine evaluates the value of a text not only based on the presence of keywords but also considers synonyms, dependent phrases, and the overall topical relevance of the text.
One of the solutions that allows us to compete for high positioning in Google search results under these conditions is the use of topic clusters. In this article, you will learn about the exact nature of content hubs and their impact on building authority for your website in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), as well as their influence on designing user experience for visitors to your site.
What are topic clusters (content hubs) and why do they matter in a SEO strategy?
A topic cluster is a group of content that is semantically related to one main topic. Planning the publication of articles on the website using topic clusters is one of the crucial elements of content marketing SEO strategy. First, the goal of such a strategy is to provide users with easy access to comprehensive information on a given topic, which has a positive impact on the user experience and time spent on the site. Secondly, clusters help Google robots better understand your site’s focus and structure, which can be important to improving its position in organic search results. Well-designed topic clusters, fully covering a given issue, allow you to build the website’s credibility and its position as an authority in a given field.
How can topic clusters help Google understand the focus of my website?
Planning content within topic clusters helps Google understand the focus of your website. Topic clusters enable better content organization, creating an informative structure that facilitates for Google’s robots the hierarchization of the content published on your site. Furthermore, through clustering, Google algorithms are able to determine the context in which information is presented more easily. By utilizing topic clusters, Google can better identify key topics and keywords associated with a specific page, which can positively impact the site’s search engine rankings when the content hubs have been well-planned.
So, how does Google assess websites that have content that has been grouped into topic clusters? Officially, there has never been specific information on whether this aspect has been taken into consideration in the positioning of pages by Google robots. However, practice suggests that websites with well-structured content based on topic clusters may be perceived as more relevant and attractive to users by search engine algorithms. By employing topic clusters, a website becomes more cohesive and user-friendly, leading to a better browsing experience for those seeking information on your site. As a result, there is a chance that a website with well-organized and valuable content will gain higher positions in the SERPs for specific queries posed by users.
How do I create a topic cluster? Pillar page and hyperlinks
You already know that topic clusters are designed to enhance the user experience of those visiting your website, as well as to improve its positioning in Google search. So, how to create a decent topic cluster? Below you’ll find the entire process described in a few steps:
Step 1: Choose your topic
Choose a topic that is key to your industry and your business, as well as its target audience.
When choosing your core topic, it is worth paying attention to the popularity of a given topic among Internet users. Try and do it by analyzing popular keywords or phrases related to the topic that appear in Google search results. In this way, you will find out which topics related to your industry are the most searched for among Internet users and which of them are worth implementing in your strategy.
The bottom line is that the choice of your main topic should be based on a profound analysis of the market, the needs of your target audience, and your experience and knowledge of the industry. This is an essential step that will affect the entire strategy of building a topic cluster, so make sure you have really thought it through.
Step 2: Create a pillar page
A pillar page is a parent page dedicated to a broad topic or category. It contains key information re the main topic of your topic cluster and includes links to more specific articles (cluster pages) that elaborate on it.
The pillar page serves as a manual that facilitates navigation throughout the website for users (and Google robots) and allows easy access to information on a particular topic. That’s why it should have a clear information layout that encourages users to explore the deeper structures of the website.
Let’s assume that you run a website for your company offering box catering delivery services. One of the available options is a ketogenic meal plan. When planning a content strategy for the blog section with the aim of increasing organic traffic to the site, it would make a lot of sense to create a pillar page focusing on the keyword ‘ketogenic diet’.
Step 3: Plan and create your cluster content
Cluster content comprises texts revolving around the main topic of the cluster. In most cases, these are blog posts which expand on various aspects of the main topic and together constitute a comprehensive material for a particular topic. While planning the topics for the blog posts, take into consideration the following:
- Each subtopic should be somehow related to the main topic so that the whole cluster can form a coherent whole.
- It’s not only the structure of the cluster that is important, but also of each individual article – you should ensure its transparency by appropriately placing headings, including a table of contents or bulleted lists.
- The content of individual cluster articles should be saturated with long tail phrases, dependent phrases and synonyms so that the texts guarantee high degree semantic coherence.
- Make sure you create content that is substantively relevant and responds to the needs of users. Thanks to this, you will increase the chance that readers will want to share your articles with others, e.g. on social media.
Using the example of a ketogenic box diet, let’s consider what blog articles are worth including in a common cluster, the center of which is a pillar page created for the ‘ketogenic diet’ phrase. For this purpose, it is best to conduct keyword research to find out what information about the ketogenic diet Internet users are looking for. Specialized tools, both free and those available to subscribers, can help with this.
You might have heard about Answer The Public. It’s a free tool for analyzing searches related to a given keyword. Thanks to it, you can check what questions and phrases Internet users enter in the search engine, which will allow you to better understand their needs. The data is presented in a form of a clear visualization with long tail queries, which are grouped according to individual interrogative pronouns.
What will surely come in handy while building a topic cluster is Contadu, a tool supported by AI. The platform enables end-to-end planning of SEO content, and thanks to the Content strategy module which analyzes keywords for a given parent topic, it allows you to generate an interactive topic map containing many phrase suggestions.
If we are already on AI, it is worth mentioning the possibilities of using ChatGPT when creating a topic cluster. A properly written prompt will allow you to generate a list of topics that can be part of your content strategy.
Provide 10 semantically related, yet unique topics for the main topic category ‘ketogenic diet’
Here are ten semantically related, yet unique topics for the main topic category – ‘ketogenic diet’:
- 1. Benefits and drawbacks of the ketogenic diet.
- 2. What products are allowed in the ketogenic diet?
- 3. What products should I avoid in the ketogenic diet?
- 4. What are the symptoms of being on the ketogenic diet?
- 5. What are the most common mistakes made during the ketogenic diet?
- 6. Ketogenic Diet and diabetes – what impact does the ketogenic diet have on my blood sugar level?
- 7. What are other low-carb diets?
- 8. Is the ketogenic diet safe?
- 9. The ketogenic diet and workouts – how does it affect my performance?
- 10. What are the most popular recipes for ketogenic meals?
There’s a number of tools supporting the design of a topic cluster and what you will find above are only a few examples. Creation of cluster content is a gradual and time-consuming process that requires ongoing monitoring of the results. It certainly offers multiple benefits and allows to improve the conversion on a long-term basis.
Step 4: Set internal linking
The last step in the process of topic cluster creation is to plan internal linking. The links are designed to connect all content in the cluster and create a coherent structure, readable by both Google robots and website users. Internal links should lead from each topic subpage to the main topic page (pillar page) and to other pages in the cluster.
How to implement topic clusters in an existing website?
Implementing topic clusters in an already existing website can be challenging, but it is possible. It may require advanced changes to the site’s structure, but once you carry it out with care, it will surely have the desired results, such as improved visibility in organic search results in Google.
The first step is to conduct an audit of your content. Create a sitemap that will help you identify connections between content pieces and group them into categories and subcategories.
The next stage involves selecting a pillar page (or even multiple pillar pages, depending on the size of the site). Then, relevant blog posts that already exist on the site should be assigned to the pillar page(s). It may be necessary to optimize these posts by selecting appropriate keywords. Additionally, the established cluster may require the planning of new content to fully cover its topical scope. It is also essential to develop an internal linking strategy.
The topic cluster method will allow you to organize the content on the website in a way that will be transparent to both users and Google robots. This way of organizing the content makes it easier to navigate the site and encourages you to explore its content. The publication of articles that extensively and comprehensively discuss a given issue is also a contribution to building the website’s authority, which affects the evaluation of the website by Google according to the E-E-A-T index.
Thanks to the use of topic clusters, the website has a better chance of ranking high in search results for various keywords. This, in turn, translates into increased website traffic and allows you to work effectively on conversion. Planning content according to topic clusters requires a lot of work, both at the beginning of the process and during it, but the effects are really worth it!
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