Developing quality content is central to strong SEO, but your choice of topics and organizational structure can make the difference in your search engine ranking. Content has the potential to draw customers to explore your site, but only if they can discover you in the first place. Organizing your content using topic clusters, the latest innovation in website structure, can help you get in front of your target audience.
What Are Topic Clusters?
Topic clusters are groups of pages related to a particular subject. The core of the cluster, or the pillar, is one page that provides a comprehensive overview of the topic. As an example, this would be a topic related to one of our bigger posts about how to get started with content marketing, which sits at the core of a good SEO strategy. Related issues, or subtopics, are explored in more detail in separate pages, so readers can dig deeper as their interests desire. These subtopics, or the cluster content pages, link back to the pillar page. They also link to each other, creating a web of related text. Your pillar page should adhere to SEO best practices and link to approximately six to eight cluster pages.
Why Do Search Engines Like Topic Clusters?
Google’s algorithm looks for the most relevant and authoritative results for every search. This algorithm changes every couple of years, however, evolving with how users interact with search engines. In 2013 Google’s Hummingbird update started matching full phrases instead of simple keywords. At this point, the search engine shifted to looking for relevant content according to topic instead of individual words.
The 2015 RankBrain update went even further, reviewing the content’s context. The topic cluster approach mirrors this approach, creating an in-depth, comprehensive structure that produces a strong result for the end user. In general, strong content is longer but focused. This type of focused, linked and comprehensive content typically meets the needs of the user and therefore is the first result returned by the search engine.
What Are Your Next Steps?
As some may question whether SEO is still relevant or even something worth spending their time on, it very much is something you need to evolve with in your content strategy. Many content marketers may be excited by the prospect of a topic cluster approach, but fear it requires an overhaul of existing pages. In fact, it may be possible to simply reorganize and refresh your site so related topic pages are linked to each other and to a pillar page. By working with an SEO marketer, you can pinpoint the strengths in your existing content and develop new strategies to connect with your customers.
Do you need help developing your SEO or content strategy? We should talk.