Boost your SEO with topic clusters: Why and how it works

To create content in a way that can better increase your search engine visibility, the topic cluster model is worth familiarising yourself with. From what they are, why they work and how to develop them from scratch, here's all you need to know.

Posted by Team Edisol

Gone are the days where a keyword-only SEO strategy works. Today, users communicate with search engines much like they would with another person. In other words, you don’t always have broken search terms fed into an engine, but actual sentences, often in the context of voice search. After all, voice searches are already on the rise!

Search engines have also grown smarter and know to answer search strings like ‘places to visit near me’ with actual content pieces. To target user intent in your content strategy and marketing initiatives, it is better to shift focus from keywords to topics. The topic cluster model gives you a way to create and organise content in such a way that will boost your visibility on search engine result pages.

Read on to know what topic clusters are, why the model works, and how to use it.

What are topic clusters?

Topic clusters consist of a host of content pieces that are all connected to a broader, main topic. For example, consider that your main topic is ‘personal loans’. Your subtopics could take the form of:

  • ‘How to use a personal loan to finance your business’ – Answers a user query
  • ‘Things to look for before you opt for a personal loan’ – Provides product information
  • ‘How to repay a personal loan without default’ – Provides a solution

These subtopics are linked to the main topic, so that a semantic relationship between the pages is built. In addition, these topics fulfil the user journey from awareness, through consideration and can take the consumer on to the final decision-making stage.

What are the different parts of a topic cluster?

Now that you get the general concept of topic clusters, read on to know the anatomy of topic clusters in detail.

Topic clusters have 3 main elements.

  • Pillar content: The pillar content lies at the heart of a topic cluster. It is the main, broad topic that every other subtopic eventually links back to. A pillar page should be detailed and long-form. It must be well organised, diligently written, backed by solid research and divided into subheads that give it a proper flow. While being comprehensive, it still leaves room for sub-topics to be fully addressed by cluster content.

  • Cluster content: These are pages that are related to the pillar content. They need not be long-form but must cover the subtopic in depth. Each cluster content piece targets a specific long-tail keyword.

  • Hyperlinks: Internal links connect your cluster content to your pillar content. The pillar links to the cluster pages and vice versa, with the same hyperlinked keyword. This interlinking makes your content easy to crawl through.

Why do topic clusters work?

Here are 5 solid reasons why you should adopt the topic cluster model.

More topical authority: The interlinking between pillar and cluster pages show web crawlers that there is a semantic relationship between your pages, making related content discoverable. This can help you establish yourself as an authority on a topic. Moreover, search engines look to provide authoritative results.

Better page performance: Since your cluster and pillar pages are linked to each other with the same hyperlinked keyword, when one cluster page performs well, the entire cluster wins brownie points.

Easier-to-consume content: With your content neatly organised, it is easy for readers to dive into particular topics through cluster pages or settle for an overview through the pillar page. Better user-experience is sure to improve your SEO.

Improved website traffic: Once your search page ranking improves, you’ll have more organic traffic. With more conversions and readers happy to consume well-organised content, you’ll have a constructive feedback loop in place.

Simpler website architecture: With content segregated into designated topic clusters, you do not have content pieces simply floating around. Instead, they all have a place within the topic cluster hierarchy.

How to develop a topic cluster from scratch?

Here’s a 5-step guide you can use.

  1. Select a theme that you’d like to talk about and that is relevant to your audience

  2. Research keywords and find a core keyword for the pillar page and related, low-search-volume keywords for the cluster pages

NOTE: Ensure that your pillar pages are based on keywords that are broad in scope, possess informational intent, and have traffic potential

  1. Look for formats that would best match your content: blogs, videos, microsites, infographics, etc.

  2. Create your content and publish it

  3. Review its performance and tweak it for newer SEO trends

Topic clusters may take time to generate results but are in line with the desire of many a search engine, that is, to give value to the user. Make it a part of your content marketing strategy and grow your business with Edisol. Our team of content creators, SEO experts and strategists can help lay out a comprehensive content marketing plan.