17.05.2019

SEO & Paid Media

Topic clusters - what's in it for you?

11 min read

Matthew

In this blog, We explain how businesses can use topic clusters to improve the visibility and authority of their content, as well as increase website traffic and search engine rankings.

Content marketing has been one of the hottest trends for a while now and most B2B companies are on board with it and practicing it in different ways.

This is content marketing – creating blogs, eBooks, case studies, new web pages and other content assets – is a great way to drive targeted traffic back to your website and generate leads.

But with so much content being produced on a daily basis, the challenge is standing out from the crowd and establishing your authority in a particular subject area.

Gone are the days where you could just throw out content optimised for every keyword possible and rank for it. Nowadays, you need to work to create compelling, high-quality content that resonates with your target audience!

As such, businesses are changing their approach. Instead of just creating content optimised for keywords, they are focusing on topics and using a “topic cluster” approach.

But what is a topic cluster approach?

 


In this blog, We’ll outline the benefits of using topic clusters for your business.


How do topic clusters work?

The topic cluster model involves creating a single ‘pillar’ page, which acts as the central piece of content for a broad topic and links to other relevant content on your site. This pillar page should be a very in-depth, well-written, ridiculously helpful web page answering all questions someone may have on a particular topic.

By creating lots of smaller pieces of content (e.g. blogs, videos) and linking each to and from the central pillar page (to which they sit outside), you signpost your pillar page for search engines, enabling them to understand its authority (as all the other pages link to it). Each topic is optimised for a long-tail keyword term that’s linked to the core pillar page topic.

Don't believe us? Check out these examples (they'll also help you to identify other pillar pages): 

You can also check out this video for an in-depth explanation of topic clusters:

Pardon references to The B2B Marketing Lab, this video was created before we merged with MPULL to form Huble Digital. 

As you continue to add content to your pillar page, over time it will move up search engine rankings for the topic that it covers. Pillar pages typically have a lot of internal links and are longer than long-form blogs.

But you're probably thinking:

“What are the other benefits of this approach and organising your content using a pillar page structure?”


Well hold on and I'll tell you 😊

1. All your content is accessible and relevant

It’s a similar story for resource pages, too.

The reason for this is because unless you have been structuring your content the same way as a pillar page, a lot of what you have produced already will cover several topic areas and not around one key topic.

Filters can only do so much, and as busy marketers, you want to create compelling and engaging content that people will find and read again and again. Using topic clusters and interlinking relevant content will ensure your blog posts and landing pages continue to be found, even if you aren’t actively promoting them on social media.

By arranging your content into interlinked clusters, prospects can spend more time navigating your site and discovering helpful content that relates to their pain points! Woo!

 

TIP: Housing your pillar pages in your navigation or footers will make them easier to find for anyone visiting your website and your areas of expertise will be clear.

2. Become an authority for a specific topic 

When brainstorming topic clusters for your content, and once you’ve completed buyer persona research, decide what you want your business to be known for online.

- What areas would you like to be an authority in?

- What problems do your prospects come to you for help with the most?

- What are the overarching topics?

The points above will give you a great starting point to find broad, high-level keyword terms that encompass topics relevant to your industry. However, remember it all has to be brought back to the  buyer persona. YOU might want to be found for something, but if your target audience are looking or searching for that, you need to re-think.

Don’t be put off by keywords that have a high search volume, or even high competition. The role of supporting (cluster) content you create is to help your pillar page increase its authority over time. Eventually it will be able to rank for these highly competitive short-tail keywords.

 

3. Improve search engine rankings

Structuring your content using topic clusters also makes it easier for Google to crawl your site and identify semantic relationships between topics.

So, if your topic cluster page is performing well and moving up search engine rankings, your other pages will improve as well. You can even hold multiple positions on a search engine results page for a specific keyword!

How great is that?!

"OK, that does sound great, but how much supporting/cluster content do I need to create a pillar page?"

In truth, there's no limit to how much supporting content a pillar page needs - but to start with, you should have a minimum of 10 pieces of content linking to and from your pillar page. 

4. Increase traffic and conversions

Using topic clusters, you create more routes to supporting content and downloadable assets on your website. This helps to move website visitors through the buyer journey and increase website traffic.

You can also use pillar pages to increase conversions. If you have eBooks or other downloadable content assets relevant to your pillar page, feel free to add in-text links or calls-to-action (CTAs) in the pillar page copy.

Also, if you want to link to the right content, HubSpot’s Content Strategy tool can help. It can look at all of your existing content to see how relevant it is to a pillar page, helping you to decide which pillars to link specific content to.

Finally, it’s important to consistently produce content that is:

- related to your core topic and;

- something your audience is interested in.

Make sure that your topic cluster and supporting content complement each other for an effective, long-term content strategy.

 

5. Make more informed decisions about your content strategy

By using the topic cluster method, you can start planning for the long-term and make solid decisions about your content strategy. For example, if a pillar is performing well, you can then create more detailed content related to it. This ensures that you give your business the best chance of ranking for specific long-tail keywords, rather than making content planning decisions based on individual topics.

Really it’s all about structuring your content to get the most out of it and use what you have already created (and is performing well) to inform future strategy.

No more guesswork! 😊

So, topic clusters – what’s in it for you?

To recap, there are several benefits to using topic clusters to structure your long-term content strategy, including:

- Increasing traffic to your older pieces of content without actively promoting it on social channels

- A ripple effect from the best-performing content to related content (if one page in the cluster performs well, the others benefit)

- Creating a solid, structured content plan based on pillar page and topic cluster performance

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