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How to Structure a Topical Cluster for Your Website’s Content

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Topical Cluster | One Search Pro digital Marketing

Would you trust a bald person giving you recommendations on which hairstyle to go for? Most likely not because they lack the credentials, experience, and authority to give solid advice. This narrative is also one of the key metrics for how Google ranks content. Through this line of logic, you want to let Google know you are an authoritative figure in your industry.

This brings us to our current topic where we’ll be exploring topic clustering. It is a powerful SEO/content strategy that can significantly enhance not only your website’s authority but also its visibility.

Before we go into the nitty gritty, imagine topic clustering as a web with a central, foundational piece of content (the pillar), surrounded by related subtopics. Each subtopic effectively backlinks to the pillar, creating a network of content that’s easy to navigate and shows off your expertise.

Before we jump into the fray, here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll be getting out of this article:

  • A firm understanding of a topic cluster’s elements, which are composed of pillar content, cluster content, and internal linking
  • A general step-by-step concept of building a topical cluster. 
  • Benefits of building a strong topical cluster, detailing improvements like authority, content structure effectiveness, and reputation.
  • Learn how Petcube’s Puppy, Healthline Allergy and Colgate have successfully structured their topical cluster
  • All the necessary metrics to keep an eye on when gauging your topic clusters’ content performance—organic search traffic, keyword rankings, bounce rate, and CTR.
  • Techniques you can apply when organizing and structuring your topic cluster content strategy. 

The Structure of a Topic Cluster

A general structure of a topical cluster | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

A general idea of how you want your topic cluster to look like. As you grow your blog, there will be more main topics and subtopics within it.

Your website is like a body and its contents are the backbones that help make everything flow like a well-oiled machine. Generally, the structure of a topic cluster is crucial for optimizing your website content.

The three main compartments that make successful topic clusters SEO are; pillar content, cluster content, and internal link strategy. These elements are imperative and before attempting to structure your content, it is highly recommended for you to know what they’re all about.

Let’s start with the heart of a topic cluster. The pillar content serves as the foundational piece for your topic cluster model that comprehensively covers the core topic and links to related subtopics. 

It’s an in-depth exploration of the main theme, brimming with valuable insights that meet your audience’s needs. Your pillar content should be broad enough to allow for linking to various subtopics, yet specific enough to provide substantial value.

Crafting an effective pillar page isn’t just about length, but relevance and quality. It should answer common questions, offer unique insights, and position you as an authority on the subject. 

Remember, this page is your chance to make a lasting impression, so make it comprehensive, informative, and engaging. It’s the cornerstone of your content strategy.

In the architecture of a topic cluster, cluster content plays a pivotal role, acting as the building blocks that delve into the specific aspects of your core topic. 

These pieces of content are your opportunity to display expertise in your field, providing in-depth insight into subtopics related to your pillar content.

Each cluster content page should focus on a specific keyword related to the core topic, offering valuable information to your audience. 

This structure not only enhances your SEO but also improves user experience by providing a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate resource.

Now that you’ve mastered the creation of compelling cluster content, it’s time to link these pieces together in a strategic way to form a cohesive topic cluster. 

This is where your internal link strategy comes into play. Your pillar page should link to each related subtopic page and vice versa.

This not only helps search engines understand the relationship between these pages but also enhances user navigation. 

Think of your internal links as guideposts, leading your visitors from one relevant topic to another. These links should be natural and relevant to the content.

Keep in mind, that a well-executed internal linking strategy can significantly improve your site’s SEO, boosting its authority, visibility, and ultimately, its traffic.

Steps of Building a Topical Cluster

Great! Now that we’ve established all the key components of a topical cluster, we can now focus on building one!

Possessing a solid topical cluster can significantly elevate your content strategy, guiding users and search engines through a seamless journey of interconnected ideas and information. Begin by selecting a core topic relevant to your brand and audience.

Next, conduct thorough keyword research to identify related subtopics. Each subtopic should be substantial enough to form a standalone page linked to your main topic, forming a cluster. 

Create high-quality content for each page, ensuring it’s informative, engaging, and optimized for search engines, and most important of all—make sure it is related to the main topic you’ve chosen.

It is also important to note that regular monitoring of the performance of your topic cluster to understand what’s working and what needs improvement is crucial. Building a successful topical cluster isn’t a one-time task, but an ongoing process of evaluation and refinement.

How to plan your topical structure | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

A step-by-step flowchart to how you should plan your topical cluster.

The Advantages of Topical Clusters

You’re probably wondering—why go through all this trouble?

Well, topical clusters can crank up your site’s authority and simplify your content structure, making it more navigable for users. You don’t want your readers to stumble around your blog like a blind person. 

Having a topical structure is like giving your audience a map they can follow to access the information they want.

For a more in-depth context:

Harnessing the power of topical clusters not only organizes your content effectively but also significantly builds your website’s authority in the eyes of both users and search engines. This strategy demonstrates your expertise in a particular subject matter, making you a go-to source for relevant information.

Building your web authority | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

Both Love and Lemons and Once Upon a Chef have very strong niches in food recipes and if you were to search how-tos for food, they’ll be high up on SERP.

As your content is interconnected and focused, search engines will recognize this and improve your site’s ranking. 

Your users will also appreciate the easy navigation and depth of information available, enhancing their overall experience. 

This increased visibility and user engagement further solidifies your authority. You’re not just increasing traffic, you’re building trust.

In some ways, this is like branding. Being a jack of all trades and a master of none is kind of a no-no with Google because, without an identity, your content will be all over the place. 

Having a clear direction of what your content is going to be means you’ll have a better time ideating, making your content curation much more consistent.

Consequently, it also allows your site to form its own niche and stand out among your competitors.

Examples of Successful Topic Clusters

So how does the topical cluster strategy come into play in a real situation?  Here are some success stories from notable entities that have masterfully crafted their topical clusters.

These clusters not only boosted their website’s SEO but also established them as authorities in their respective fields.

Petcube's Puppy successful parent page | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

An example of a good pillar content page where it acts as a “parent” page to more subtopics to follow. Image source: Petcube.com

A personal favourite of ours, Petcube’s Puppy stands out as a shining example of effective content structuring. This pet-focused brand has built an engaging, informative hub around ‘puppy care’. The pillar content offers a comprehensive guide on puppy care, while related blog posts delve into subtopics like training, nutrition, and health, creating a well-structured, interlinked cluster.

Successful pillar content from Petcube.com | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

A brilliantly done cluster content that is strongly related to Petcube’s 101 guide pillar content. Image source: Petcube.com

As you explore Petcube’s Puppy cluster, you’ll notice how each piece of content complements the others, offering value to readers and enhancing the site’s SEO. 

This approach not only improves their search engine visibility but also positions Petcube as an authority on puppy care. We think Petcube’s successful execution is a great inspiration for creating your own topic clusters for your website’s content.

A comprehensive selection of subtopics | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

A great pillar page by healthline.com showcases the type of content they are experts in. Image source: healthline.com

Another excellent example of a successful topic cluster is Healthline’s Allergy section, which serves as a comprehensive resource for anyone seeking information about allergies.

They’ve developed a variety of subtopics, including types of allergies, symptoms, treatments, and prevention. 

This efficient structuring allows users to navigate easily and find precisely what they need, enhancing their user experience.

How healthline.com made their content flow together seamlessly | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

Navigating further in, you’ll notice that their subtopics are perfectly weaved together making for a seamless reading/browsing experience. Image source: healthline.com

As you browse through their allergy section, you’ll find in-depth articles, expert advice, and even quizzes. This breadth and depth of content demonstrate their expertise, making Healthline a go-to source for allergy-related information.

This is a great way to cluster your content especially if you’re running a site that covers a lot of complex STEM topics.

Colgate has also done a great job building a comprehensive hub around oral health, with a wide range of articles that not only provide value to the audience but also support and feed into each other.

A perfect hub of information from Colgate | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

A hub-like pillar page where it houses all articles relating to adult oral care. Image source: Colgate

The main pillar page, the Oral Care Center, provides a broad overview of oral health. Connected to this are numerous subtopic pages covering everything from dental tips to oral health concerns. This well-connected web of content enhances SEO, drives traffic, and positions Colgate as an authority in oral health.

Metrics to Measure Topic Clusters’ Performance

Understandably, without actual numbers or results, it is truly difficult to tell whether you’re doing the right thing or not. While they’re not set in stone, there are some metrics you can use to measure the success of your topic clusters. The key metrics include:

  1. Organic search traffic
  2. Keyword rankings
  3. Bounce rate
  4. Internal link click-through rate (CTR)

Understanding these four metrics will help you refine your content strategy and optimize your topic clusters for better performance.

Data from Ahrefs regarding Organic Search Traffic  | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

Using Ahrefs’ site explorer function, you can view a website’s organic traffic growth or decline.

When assessing the impact of your topic clusters, organic search traffic serves as a critical metric. Ahrefs organic traffic data provides invaluable insights into your content’s effectiveness in attracting and retaining your target audience. 

This data reflects the number of users who find your website through search engines without the aid of paid advertisements. A steady increase in organic traffic shows that your topic clusters are successfully capturing the attention of searchers, indicating you’re on the right track.

Keeping a close eye on your organic search traffic can also help you identify potential areas for improvement. Notice a sudden drop in traffic? This could signal the need for a content refresh. 

No doubt, optimizing your topic clusters isn’t a one-time task, so make sure you have it scheduled as an ongoing SEO process to consistently monitor and adjust your content accordingly.

Ever wondered how your topic clusters are affecting your keyword rankings? It’s crucial to monitor this metric as it directly reflects your SEO success.

When you create a robust topic cluster, you’re essentially telling search engines like Google that you’re an authority on a particular subject. This builds your site’s credibility, potentially boosting your keyword rankings.

Data on the keyword rankings from Ahrefs | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

Ahrefs has a handy organic keywords tab in which you can view the performing keywords for a website.

Use SEO tools like SE Ranking and Ahrefs to track how your targeted keywords are performing in search results. If you notice an increase in rankings after implementing topic clusters, that’s a clear sign your strategy is working.

However, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep refining your clusters and producing quality content, and you’ll likely see improvement over time.

Data from lovesdata.com regarding bounce rate | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

Using tools like Google Analytics you can view the bounces and bounce rates of specific pages. Image source: lovesdata.com

Knowing the importance of a low bounce rate is crucial in assessing the performance of your topic clusters. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate may indicate your content isn’t resonating with your audience or meeting their needs.

That said, it’s a good idea to check the bounce rate on your site’s Google Analytics dashboard. You’ll want to aim for a lower bounce rate, which signifies that visitors are finding your site engaging and exploring more of your content. 

Ideally, you want your readers to fall into a rabbit hole where they consume your content from one link to another, not just clicking and leaving within seconds.

From the CTR column on Google Analytics, you can see how your pages/campaigns’ CTR is performing. Image source: Semrush

Just as monitoring your bounce rate is key, keeping an eye on your internal link click-through rate (CTR) within your topic clusters is equally important. This metric on Google Analytics shows you how often visitors click on the internal links within your subtopic pages.

A high CTR indicates that your links are relevant and engaging, leading readers to explore more of your content. If you notice a low CTR, it’s a sign that you might need to revise your linking strategy. Ensure your links are contextually appropriate and enticing enough to encourage clicks.

Handy Techniques to Help Organize Your Topic Clusters

As tough as all the above might sound, organizing your topic clusters doesn’t have to be daunting. You can streamline this process by mapping out your audience’s core problems, crafting content ideas around these issues, and validating your content through competitive research.

Let’s explore these handy techniques to enhance your site’s structure, boost your SEO, and engage your audience effectively.

Knowing your searcher's intent | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

Understanding the core issues your readers are facing and addressing them is a great way to start topic clustering. Image source: schudio.com

To effectively organize your topic clusters, it’s crucial to first map out your audience’s core problems and address them in your content strategy. This understanding serves as a foundation for your website’s content, guiding what topics you’ll cluster together. In the SEO industry, we call this search intent.

Start by conducting audience research. Utilize surveys, social media, and customer data to identify the main issues your audience faces. 

Are they seeking solutions to specific challenges? 

Are they looking for advice on certain topics? 

By pinpointing these problems, you’ll align your content with their needs.

Competitor research | How to Structure a Topical Structure | One Search Pro Marketing

Take a peek and doing some oppositional research can give you hints and validation for your content clustering. Image source: sproutsocial.com

After mapping out your content ideas, your next step should be to validate your concepts through competitive research. 

Start by identifying your main competitors and examining their content. It is best you can answer these questions before you start competing:

– What topics are they covering?

– How are they structuring their information?

– Are there any gaps you could fill with your own content?

These insights help you prioritize certain topics or approaches. Competitive research isn’t about imitation, it’s about innovation and strategic planning. You’re not copying but learning from your competitors’ successes and mistakes. 

Wrapping Up

So, you’ve got a solid grasp on the concept of topic clusters and their importance in enhancing your website’s SEO performance and user experience. You’ve learned how to select core topics, perform keyword research, and structure your content around these clusters. You’ve even got a handle on verifying your content’s effectiveness through competitive research.

Here’s a short recap of all that is important from this article. 

  • Start creating your first topic cluster. 
  • Consistency is key when building topic clusters. 
  • Ensure all your content pieces within a cluster are interlinked, enhancing your website’s navigation, user experience, and SEO performance.

Also, don’t forget to monitor the performance of your topic clusters. Use analytics tools to track metrics like organic traffic, bounce rates, and conversion rates. These insights will help you understand which clusters are performing well and which ones need improvements.

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