Being visible on Google and other search engines is a key goal for your website if you want to attract new customers. For this reason SEO an important part of your online marketing strategy. SEO can be a complex task, however, and competition for the coveted top spots on Google can be fierce. That's why it's important to have a handle on your SEO tools.
In this post, I dive into the toolbox and take a closer look at a model that is increasingly influencing SEO - and which you can therefore incorporate into your current SEO strategy: namely topic clusters.
Overall, Topic Clusters are an upgrade to your current SEO strategy, which focuses on topics rather than keywords. In English, topic clusters are also called content clusters or topic clusters. A topic cluster consists of one overarching topic plus a group of landing pages with related subtopics that provide comprehensive coverage of the overarching topic.
It allows you to organise your website's content, which basically makes it easier for search engines to navigate important topics and find related content.
This will create clarity, focus and legitimacy behind your brand - together increasing both the usability of your website and its visibility in search engines. In other words, it can be an important part of your SEO strategy.
Google's algorithm is constantly evolving, and the search engine is getting better at understanding what consumers are actually looking for when they Google. We've touched on this before in our post on search intent.
This development also means that Google has become better at assessing when a given page will be able to answer a given search. SEO is therefore no longer just about keywords, but rather about relevant topics.
Let's take an example
If you're interested in exploring Copenhagen's culinary specialties, a typical Google search would sound: "Where to eat tonight?". This type of search is based precisely on the assumption that search engines are smart enough to understand the intent of your search - and your SEO strategy should reflect that.
This is where the topic cluster model becomes relevant. It works as part of a strategy to gain higher authority and legitimacy in your specific field. By structuring your content under topics, you show Google which areas you know a lot about and which questions you can answer.
It's important to understand how your audience searches when they use search engines. Few people actually search for keywords. Most will be trying to solve a given problem or question, and it's Google's job to answer that. Therefore, your content should be based on human needs and thoughts rather than keywords.
Topic clusters consist of three parts:
1) A pillar page
The pillar page is the core of your content cluster. It consists of a landing page covering the main topic, which is then supported by a series of supporting pages.
The topic should of course be relevant to your company's products or services, which are then unfolded on your supporting pages. Overall, it should be the keyword that you want to rank extra well for.
Let's take an example from Webamp. As SEO represents a large part of our business, we want to rank for the keyword "SEO-bureau", and therefore we have of course a landing page targeted to this search. This is our pillar page.
But we also know that our pillar page can't take the strain alone. We need to have a number of supporting pages that can unfold SEO as a topic rather than just thinking of it as an autonomous keyword. I've illustrated this visually below (note, by the way, that this post about topic clusters is very meta-ish also part of our topic cluster, which is meant to uncover SEO as a topic).
You can do the same yourself, based on your knowledge of your products or services. You know what you offer and know your range inside out. Then all you have to do is start writing!
2) More supporting pages
Supporting pages are pages in your topic cluster that uncover related subtopics. Your supporting pages should support your pillar page both in terms of content and internal links. They should contain related sub-topics, and consist of both blog posts, product pages or other types of content. The most important thing for subpages, however, is that they answer users' questions by uncovering the topic.
3) Internal links
Hyperlinks are the final part of the model, and indeed the most important part of your topic cluster. First of all because internal links are the link between your pillar page and your supporting pages - and thus the essential piece that helps the algorithm identify a topic cluster. At the same time, internal link building is an often underestimated part of your link building strategy.
Your supporting pages should always include a link back to the pillar page, as this makes it easy for the user to navigate around the site. Conversely, your pillar page does not necessarily have to link to all supporting pages.
Now that we have elaborated on the different parts of the topic cluster, it is also very relevant to look at the ideal size. In principle, the number of supporting pages depends mainly on the topic.
The smallest topic clusters typically consist of a pillar page and a handful of supporting pages, while a larger one may consist of several hundred pages. However, as a rule of thumb, it is always beneficial to organise your content into smaller, more defined cluster models. The key is to maintain an overview and focus - it's all about the depth of the topic.
Hopefully, you now have a sense of how a topic cluster works and why it's a great upgrade to your current SEO strategy. With that said - let's look at how you build your content clusters.
1) Get an overview of your ideas
The first step in building a topic cluster is to create an overview of all topics relevant to your business - and especially your customers. Here it can be a good idea to brainstorm which topics and issues your target audience would like to know more about.
Here you can use tools like AnswerThePublic, Ahrefs or Search Console to find ideas for topics.
Once you have your relevant topics, you can categorize them into potential topic clusters. First, choose your top topic - your pillar page - and then choose which subtopics you can develop on your supporting pages.
2) The content is the most important
Once you have selected your pillar page and supporting pages, you need to start writing. It's a good idea to start by drafting your pillar page, as this is the whole foundation for your supporting pages.
If there are existing pages in your topic cluster, you should optimize these as well. Remember to promote your pages using hyperlinks!
Now you know what topic clusters are - and not least how to make them. But let's be clear about why you should invest time in making them.
Using the cluster model, it is therefore possible to cover any conceivable topic and keyword based on clustering. The method shifts the general focus of SEO strategies from keywords to topics, thus grouping content into overarching themes.
When your company creates valuable content, it positions itself as an expert in the given field, which gives it authority - and therefore higher rankings on your most important keywords.
I hope you feel equipped to take on the task of optimising your current SEO strategy. Before you embark on your new project, here are 3 pieces of advice:
1) Keep track of your links
Your hyperlinks are the essential part of your topic cluster, and it is therefore crucial that you keep track of your link structure. The most important links are those that link from your supporting pages to your pillar pages - they should always be present. Conversely, it may be an idea to link from your pillar page to supporting pages, but only if this makes sense.
2) Visual elements create overview
It is a good idea to include visual elements - for example videos, images and infographics - on your pages. Especially on your pillar page, as this will often be longer than your supporting pages and therefore can be heavy to read. By making use of visual content, you will also capture readers who are more visually oriented and prefer to watch videos.
3) Keep your content sharp
It's important that your pillar page gets around the main topic well without exhausting it completely. Similarly, there should still be value for readers in clicking through to your supporting pages.
If you remember to follow these sharp rules, topic clusters can become a valuable tool to make your website rank better on search engines.
Would you like to learn even more about how to improve your current SEO strategy or the user experience on your website? Contact us up 70 60 50 28 or email@example.com - As a SEO agency, we're ready to help you get more visibility on Google.
In a topic cluster create structure and organize the content on your website. It can be a group of landing pages, blog posts and guides that all have the same main topic.
The short answer - YES.
If you are interested in appearing in the good rankings, you need to have your topic clusters under control.
For example, in Webamp we have a topic cluster called SEO. Our topic cluster is created through landing pages, guides and blog posts about SEO advice, 10 tips for a good SEO strategy and more.
Whether you're a generalist or a marketing specialist, our SEO specialists have put together some great advice for you on our blog.
Learn more about SEO in Webamp Academy.