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Before we dive into why a topic cluster plan is a must for any content marketing strategy, let’s start with a few SEO statistics that demonstrate the essential role of organic search.
- Organic search engines more than 50% of all website traffic. Paid search brings only 10% and social networks 5%.
- The top five search engine results receive almost 68% of all clicks.
- Google dominates the search engine market share, controlling nearly 87%.
Since organic search is the primary driver of web traffic to B2B and B2C websites, it’s clear that SEO should be a central strategy in your content marketing efforts. And since Google controls nearly 90% of the market share, Google has to focus primarily on SEO.
So what can you do to make sure you enjoy more than 3.5 billion searches every day and not give income to competitors?
Enter topic clusters, one of the most powerful SEO weapons to have in your toolbox.
What are thematic clusters?
Thematic clusters, AKA content clusters, are not a new concept for content marketing, but they are more relevant now that search engine algorithms have become more complex. A topic cluster is a group of content items (web pages) centered around a topic.
There are three main components to consider when creating an account group:
- Content of the pillar
- Cluster content
Each topic group is built around a pillar content piece or a pillar page (or power page). The pillar page serves as authority page for the subject you want to rank for.
Pillar pages should focus on broader domains and target keywords with higher search volumes. Two examples of asset types that could become pillar pages are an educational resource page and a service page.
For example, say your business offers content marketing services and your goal is to rank for “content marketing” (which has an average monthly search volume of 14,800). Your pillar page would be an in-depth resource covering the fundamental questions on this topic. In this example, your content marketing services page could be your pillar page.
Next is the accompanying cluster content, which should focus on long-tail queries related to your main topic. These are usually blog posts that explore a broader topic with more detail and specificity. The entire subject group should answer any questions a researcher may have about a specific topic.
The subtopic pages will all link to the pillar page, signaling to search engines that the pillar page is the authoritative resource on your main topic.
Using the same example as before, you can create the following content cluster to refine focus from the “content marketing” pillar page:
- Copywriting (average search volume of 6,600)
- Blog writing (average search volume of 720)
- E-book writing (average search volume of 90)
- White paper writing (average search volume of 50)
How topic clusters improve SEO
So how do topic clusters improve search engine optimization?
As search engine algorithms become more complex due to the rapidly changing search landscape, there is a need to change the way your content strategies are developed and organized for successful results.
Topic groups signal to Google that your site is authoritative in your main topics. Putting information on your website in this architectural format improves your SEO by…
- Allow Google to understand your website hierarchy and how your content relates
- Allow readers to delve deeper into the subject through interconnected content, thus staying on your site and increasing dwell time there
- Saves time over the original model of optimizing each post, as the pillar page is optimized for conversions and the cluster content is optimized to drive traffic (plus, each time the pillar page is updated, Google is offered new content, resulting in higher rankings)
- Raise the ranking of other cluster content linked to the same pillar page whenever one of those cluster pages performs particularly well
How to start with a thematic approach
Are you ready to improve your content strategy with a thematic cluster approach?
Follow these steps to get started:
- Align your core business offerings with your target audience. Start by mapping your audience’s issues. You can use surveys, research online communities and similar sources for your particular industry.
- Group each major issue into broad areas. Highlight how your product or service offers a solution to each problem.
- Build the main topic and subtopics using keyword research, analyzing competitors, and listening to the topics your target audience is discussing on social media.
- Create and grow your pillar pages and associated blog posts. When linking your content, make sure the pillar page stays at the top of the link hierarchy.
- Map your content strategy and track your documents, which can help you organize your process and ensure that all your content has been linked correctly.
Here’s a look at what your website could look like with multiple content pillars.
By focusing on creating content with a topic-driven approach, you’ll not only improve your organic search traffic, but you’ll also help create better content and provide a more positive experience for your visitors.
Start with the topic cluster framework on the next batch of content you plan to develop so search engines and readers recognize you as an expert in your niche.
More Resources on Topic and Topic Content Strategy
How to find the perfect content curation topics for your content strategy
So You’ve Got Your Topic, Now Here’s How You Create Content That Can Rank