Latest SEO technique: Topic Clusters

Search engine optimisation is more than just an online marketing tool. It’s a discipline, and one that evolves over time and not only as its users become more expert. SEO develops as Google and other search engines change their algorithms over time, promoting new practices while letting others become entirely obsolete. One of the latest SEO shifts has been the change in how these sites understand language. Instead of just keywords, now we have to start thinking more about topics and, in particular, content topic clusters.

What are topic clusters?

While keywords still do (and likely always will) play an important role in SEO, many are seeing success where focus on a topic is found. In particular, there has been a lot of success in creating a hub for content becoming known as a “pillar”. From this pillar, they link to content across the site relevant to the topic of the pillar. Different pillars for different categories, with each individual page linking back to the pillar. This is how you form a Topic Cluster.

What those clusters are depends on what your site aims to do. For instance, an individual cluster might cover on service your business offers, such as routine maintenance for a garage business. Then the cluster content will go on to cover different aspects of routine maintenance, including diagnostics, routine wheel balancing, engine checks and so on.

How and why do they work?

Relevance and specification is growing more important in SEO. This is due to Google and other search engines become more aware and more wary of practices like keyword flooding and keyword cannibalisation (where multiple pages on the same site compete for the same keywords, reducing all pages chances of success). Topic clusters stop keyword cannibalisation, by acting as a hub for all pages that might cannibalise each other.

While external links greatly help with SEO, it’s becoming clearer that internal linking is just as important, which topic clusters promote. It allows the pillar page to target the keywords and topics that all the individual cluster content shares. The purpose of individual cluster content is to target more specific, long-tail keywords.

How do you make your site fit this latest SEO technique?

Amongst the latest SEO recommendations is a change in website architecture that allows you to reorganise all your existing content so that those pages stop competing with one another. It’s recommended you carry out an audit that spots potential topic clusters and helps you reorganise the content of the site to fit the model. All relevant graphics, articles, posts, and content should be linked, with an existing or new piece of content serving as the pillar. Then, that pillar is linked to the other pieces of cluster content.

Create topic clusters from scratch

To make the best use of this latest SEO technique, you might start creating content with the specific aim of forming topic clusters. Here’s our 4 steps to create topic clusters:

  1. Start with buyer personas – what problems does your persona have and what questions do they need answering? Which services are they looking for?
  2. Group these into different categories
  3. Create a pillar page that covers the overall topic, while linking to different content pieces that cover the specifics
  4. Optimise on-page SEO – make sure each piece of content has a different long-tail value, while the overarching keywords are marketing directly from the pillar 

Topic clusters could change the whole SEO landscape, so it’s a good idea to start learning about them now. 

To get started with topic clusters or to find out more about other new SEO techniques likely to become more important in 2018, please feel free to contact us. You can do us by calling us on 01295 221296 or alternatively request a call back here

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Author – Lizzie Griffiths

Lizzie is a digital marketing executive at Toast Inbound. She works with clients to help them achieve their SEO goals and improve their presence in Google’s search results.

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