Why Topic Clustering is Taking Over Keyword Research
Keyword research, or discovering and analyzing words that users are going to search in search engines, is a crucial part of several different pillars of marketing — content marketing, search engine optimization, and paid advertising. It consists of tracking visits, ranks, keyword difficulties, performance, competition, cost per click, and more to help determine which keywords are going to optimize your content and bring traffic to your site. By finding out what people are searching for, you can better plan your campaigns to achieve the best results possible. If you don’t know what a user is looking for, how could you even begin to help them find it? Because SEO is always evolving, we want to highlight a growing trend in the world of keyword research: topic clustering. Instead of obsessing over individual keywords, we want to shift the focus onto broader topics that address a conversation as opposed to a specific question. These clusters of information will help predict what the users are looking for next and lead them to it, which keeps them engaged with your site.
Topic clustering involves connecting pieces of your content so that related information is easy to access, which is also where internal linking comes into play. All of these factors work together to reach a common goal: improving the user experience!
In this blog, we’ll discuss how topic clustering can improve your SEO strategy and how it ties into other aspects of marketing.
Why Topic Clustering is so Important
We can’t overstate this: the user experience is the most important part of any SEO strategy. The whole reason we work so hard to optimize our sites is to make sure that people are finding what they need — and that they’re coming to us to find it. The difference between a customer going to you or to your competitor comes down to what you’re able to provide them with, so producing the best content is so crucial to driving traffic to your website.
This is why topic clustering has become so important. Keywords draw people to your site, but topic clustering keeps them there.
The whole idea of topic clustering boils down to a few aspects you need to keep in mind: understanding your audience and the intent behind their searches, providing them with relevant answers to their questions, and continuing to produce authoritative content that keeps them coming back.
Benefits of Topic Clusters
As stated previously, topic clustering is identifying broad ideas and organizing your content based on those categories. Essentially, this is a way to keep similar things together within your site and make it easier for users to find related information to what they’re already searching for. Here are a few benefits of creating topic clusters:
1. Your site will be easier to crawl.
Because you’re already organizing the content on your website, search engines like Google and Yahoo will have an easier time analyzing everything. Over time, this will improve your standing on search engine results pages because they often register topics in clusters as more informative and authoritative, boosting your credibility in the process.
2. It will improve your semantic search results.
Semantic search refers to how search engines can read the context or intent behind a user’s search. They don’t just analyze the specific words keyed in, but use their built-in intuition to better guess what the searcher is looking for. Because you have your content organized, search engines recognize it as more comprehensive, as opposed to shallow pages that may lack the in-depth information the user needs.
3. Users will find it to be more organized.
Again, the user experience is the most important part of SEO. If your site is a jumbled mess of random pages with irrelevant content, they’re going to click away as fast as possible. By building topic clusters, you’re organizing your site in a way that makes it easier for them to navigate through. You want people to stay on your website and continue to come back to it — they’re not going to do that if it’s confusing and untidy.
How to Implement Topic Clustering
Not sure where to begin? Follow these steps on how to create the perfect clusters:
Step 1: Identify a broad topic related to your business.
The first thing you need to do is actually pick the topic that the cluster will be about. As a digital marketing agency, Pinckney Marketing could choose “Search Engine Optimization” as a topic cluster because that is one of the services that we offer. Other examples could be “Inbound Marketing” or “Website Design”.
Step 2: Identify related subtopics.
Once you have your topic cluster, pick out some subtopics that specify different areas of the topic. For example, under our SEO category, we could branch out into subcategories like “Keyword Research”, “On-site SEO”, and “Content”. SEO is such a broad topic (as it should be!) so thinking of more specific areas helps you to organize your content even further. After identifying subtopics, you can now assign pieces of content to different areas so that related pieces are found in the same place, leading the user to the next things they’ll be searching for. Remember: once a user is one your page, you want them to stay there. These groups of content pieces will provide them with information from the beginning of their search to the end.
Step 3: Create a pillar page for your topic.
A pillar page is a page that touches on each part of your topic but doesn’t go into extreme detail. It’s a short summary of everything you’re going to be talking about with hyperlinks sprinkled throughout to lead you to the subtopics’ pages. This gives the reader a sort of overview about the topic cluster and helps them to understand which areas would be helpful in regards to their search query.
Step 4: Connect your content with linking.
Now that you have your topic cluster, subtopics, and pieces of content laid out, you need to go back through and link, link, link! This shows search engines that your web pages have a semantic relationship — there’s an association between certain things — which improves your rankings. Wherever you can link internally, or link to other pages within your own site, you should do it, as long as it feels natural. For normal web pages, the typical rule is no more than 100 links per page, but as far as blogs go, stick to 4-8 links (depending on length).
As you can tell, the world of search engine optimization is always evolving, so make sure you’re staying up to date with the best practices. To learn more about basic SEO strategies to help boost your business, check out our free, downloadable SEO Guidebook where we teach you all about driving quality traffic to your site and outranking your competitors. If you need some extra help in developing your marketing plan, contact us!