What is and how to use the Topic Cluster strategy?
Learn how to structure your content to appear on the first page of search engine results.
Learn how to structure your content to appear on the first page of search engine results.
If you’re looking for ways to make your business stand out in the digital environment, you’re surely considering investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques.
However, to boost your digital marketing performance even further, you should definitely understand the strategy of topic clusters.
The fact is, that with the fierce competition on the web, investing in increasingly directed actions towards attracting and retaining a qualified audience has become crucial. After all, you can’t work hard on a strategy that doesn’t bring results.
But how can you improve your SEO routine?
Keep reading this post and understand the importance of topic clusters and how to structure them strategically.
First of all, we need to give a brief explanation on why investing in SEO is so important.
Search Engine Optimization can be understood as the techniques used so that search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo Search and especially Google, can display your page to users.
Thus, when someone searches for a product or service on the web, they can find your offer in an organic manner, i.e., without the need for paid ads.
The mere fact that you don’t have to pay anything to apply it should be enough to justify the use of an SEO strategy.
However, there are plenty of other reasons why you should invest heavily in these techniques.
Check them out below:
If you think about it, your greatest asset online is your website. This is because it gathers everything you do and provides the most important information about your business and brand.
As relevant as your social media is, they don’t carry your brand and aren’t actually an asset. They belong to Google, Facebook, etc.
Therefore, when you invest in SEO, you are promoting your website, something that belongs to your company and not to another.
When you search for any subject, you have probably noticed that there are many result pages. However, only a few websites appear at the top position of search results.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that these companies or websites have the best product, it means, however, that they have the right SEO strategy and offer a more relevant content related to the term search.
Still, the overall feeling is that the search engine displays the best businesses on the market or the blogs with the most interesting content, and so forth.
Truste me, if you appear on the first search result pages, people are way more likely to visit your page, what could lead them to acquire your products, services or content.
Consequently, if whenever a person searches for a product you offer they find your website, your brand becomes as reference point for them.
After all, when searching for a given subject on Google, people want to find a solution for their problems.
With a good SEO strategy, you can get the most out of this result, not only by answering all of your audience’s questions on your website, but by also optimizing it for the search. Thus, it will be better ranked since it truly helps users.
Again, if your website appears on Google’s first page, it will probably receive more hits.
In order to optimize your page, it needs to be easy to browse, with relevant and attractive content.
Over time, the tendency is that the number of hits will only increase, resulting in more leads and conversions.
Otherwise, your website will lose relevance in relation to others, receiving fewer hits.
Now that you’ve seen why you should invest in SEO, we’re going to show you the advantages of topic clusters. They are a way of organizing content according to the changes in how the searches are made and the replies provided by the search engines.
The method was developed by Hubspot, a global standard in digital marketing.
Topic clusters can be understood as a group of contents organized in topics.
In conjunction with the skyscraper and several other techniques, it has revolutionized the way content is optimized and better results.
Later we’ll explain how to structure them.
It’s important to show where the idea of topic clusters came from and why it can help in the SEO strategy, contributing to improve your position in an organic search.
The fact is that a strategy based on topic clusters makes the content more organized, structured and clearer, both for users and for search engines.
On a website, it’s easy to come up with the structure of a home, institutional, contact pages and a content blog.
Actually, unlike the main pages, blogs are rarely structured.
When categorizing a blog, it can have a more organized structure; however, each category is still a compilation of posts.
In other words, there is no logical organization, and it doesn’t allow you to present in-depth content to users or a path to help them reach the answers they seek.
So, one way to improve this would be to adopt a model with complete content, with internal links to other supporting texts.
In other words, you can produce longer content, a pillar page, serving as the basis for the subject or topic, and from it, all other shorter related content can be linked.
Basically, this is the idea of a topic cluster.
But why should I adopt this strategy?
How people are searching and consuming information changes over time, as do the search mechanisms themselves. It is necessary to adapt to this.
Not long ago, Google gave results in a more specific manner and keywords determined exactly how they would appear.
But, there was a change in how the search engine operated (and in others), with more intuitive searches. This way, the results can be directed according to the user’s intent.
In order to understand this more thoroughly, we can say that search engines have become smarter. They respond in a more interactive manner to users’ questions, delivering more interactive results.
An example of this are the voice searches, made in conversational language, which are a major SEO trend for the next few years.
With them, searches have become more natural, as if we were talking to someone. However, as with interpersonal relationships, the responses aren’t always what we were expecting, but something approximate.
Thus, keywords are no longer the main SEO tool, although they are still very important.
As essential as they may be, they are no longer the only factor to be taken into account for a good search positioning.
Actually, topic clusters provide context, and it’s this contextualization that search engines value in the post.
Consistent internal linking serves to show the search engines that the content is more complete and therefore, can provide users with the best response.
In order for topic clusters to be efficient, they need to be structured correctly. They must work strategically, with clear objectives and that can be measured.
Thus, a topic cluster consists of three basic elements:
This basic structure can show the search engine how complete and relevant your content is, improving your pages’ results in the ranking.
Below, we’ll show you how to organize a topic cluster within an SEO strategy. Check it out!
If a topic cluster can be understood as a group of contents, a pillar post is its base. This is where you build the rest of the structure, working to support all internal links.
Thus, without a pillar post, the topic cluster strategy does not exist.
Pillar posts serve to address a topic in a broader manner by taking on other smaller subjects in its structure.
But how do you define what the pillar post will be? It’s easier than you think!
A pillar post is usually built around a main keyword. It refers to a broader subject. It will often be a more generic short tail at the top of the funnel, but not necessarily following this pattern.
Another pillar post feature is that it is quite relevant to the SEO strategy as a whole, addressing subjects directly related to your business. Therefore, it tends to have high conversion rates.
Therefore, if you have a health food store, with a blog about healthy diet and lifestyle, one of your pillar posts would probably be related to this.
A possible title could be “The importance of a healthy diet” and in the text, you could demonstrate the pros of eating natural foods, their health benefits, etc.
In the example above, you can see how the theme is directly related to the business and to the SEO strategy to be adopted. After all, if someone searches the “healthy diet” keyword, they will probably be interested in your post and by the products offered in your store.
Pillar posts should have relevant content not only for your business or strategy, but especially for your audience. In other words, the subject addressed deserved to be treated in depth.
Therefore, when choosing a topic cluster, it’s essential that you consider how capable it is to fully address a subject, answering the main user questions who are searching for that keyword.
It is also necessary for users to be able to cover other related content, serving as a basis for them.
So, have you already identified what your possible topic clusters might be?
To help you identify the keywords that define your business comprehensively.
Because they are more specific, long tails, albeit important for your SEO strategy, shouldn’t act in topic clusters, since they don’t support other posts.
After establishing the pillar post, it’s time to understand which content complement it.
These posts act with the pillar to turn it into a relevant and significant page for the search engine. In other words, they will assist in the main post’s strategy, so that it can be placed in the top positions in organic searches.
This way, although there is the possibility of providing keywords at the top of the funnel, they usually address more specific subjects in the middle and bottom of the funnel.
Your clusters should address more specific subjects, which are related to the pillar post. In other words, while the main post deals with a generalized subject in its different aspects, a cluster focuses on a specific point in a detailed manner.
A pillar usually briefly addresses all clusters, having approximately 10 to 30 of them within its structure. But there’s no rule for this. It will depend a lot on the subject being addressed.
If we continue with the example given above, in a pillar post about “health foods”, we can identify some of the clusters below:
As you can see, clusters are related to the term “healthy food”, but are more specific.
Together, they help structure and expand the pillar subject.
In fact, if you search for healthy food, you’ll find a series of posts on the subject, addressing balanced diets, the danger of ultra-processed food, the importance of macro and micronutrients and so on.
In order to define your clusters just search for keywords associated to the main cluster. There are several tools for this.
However, the most important thing here is to understand how clusters related to the pillar post and to each other, they are complementary.
Backlinks, or links external to your page, are essential for the SEO strategy of any website or blog. However, it’s common for professionals to focus on them and forget about the importance of internal links, those that direct to other pages.
Although they don’t have the same value as external links, internal links are necessary to show the search engine how well your pages are organized and that your business has authority in the subject.
Together they form what is called link building.
Thus, if a topic cluster gathers a group of related posts, internal links are essential for this type of strategy.
Internal linking serves to support the pillar post, giving it credibility. One of the common SEO mistakes is not using internal links.
In order to build internal linking into the topic cluster strategy, it’s necessary to always link the cluster to its pillar.
Ideally, the first link on the cluster page should be from the pillar post, with the precise keyword. In other words, in the cluster “balanced diet”, the first link should be “healthy food” for the corresponding pillar post.
In the same manner, the pillar should present return clusters.
Each one details a subject that should be mentioned in the pillar in a comprehensive manner. This can be done through the internal links directly in the keywords corresponding to each cluster.
The clusters themselves may be interconnected by the internal links. Thus, you build a web of content that helps support the subject as a whole.
With this structure, Google understands that your content is relevant in that topic because it’s more complete and well structured.
This entire strategy isn’t easy to do. After all, you need to organize the content and its respective keywords, analyzing which posts will be linked to other ones.
There are tools that help you create a map for this structuring of clusters. But the most important thing here is for you to understand this strategy.
A good example is Hubspot that, as we said earlier, outlined the principles of topic clusters, although similar concepts already existing earlier. The tool helps you plan your content and organizes the strategy within the platform.
But you should be aware that topic clusters can be created and organized automatically, with a simplified view.
In addition, never forget to rely on data analysis, which allows you to understand more about hits and conversions, to help you understand where you can get better results.
With competition for the top positions on Google being so fierce, it’s necessary to innovate your strategy.
Many businesses don’t obtain good results with their blogs because they merely produce content and don’t invest in optimization.
In fact, creating a variety of posts and expecting to have a lot of engagement and many conversions isn’t enough. Search engines have improved their tools to provide not only the best response, but also the best user experience.
Therefore, before you set up a Topic Cluster strategy, think about how your audience will react and interact with your posts.
These and other questions must be asked, but certainly, they won’t be answered all of a sudden.
Any SEO strategy takes time, dedication, a lot of testing and improvements based on realistic data. And this is also true for topic clusters. They need to be tested, evaluated and improved constantly.
Even older posts that have had good results need to be reviewed and adapted to the new search engine standards and changes. After all, the digital medium is fluid and is in constant transformation. It is essential that your business keep up.
Did you like learning about how to structure topic clusters? Do you still have questions about how an optimization strategy works? Well then, read our post on what an SEO is and learn more about the subject!