So, Why Use Topic Clusters?

In an ever-changing, always evolving world of search engine algorithms; it’s important to keep up with the ways in which Google ranks pages. It changes almost every day! In the past, to have a successful website ranking in SERP’s (search engine result pages) keywords were, well… key. But each year Google is getting smarter. This is where topic clusters come in. Topic clusters help Google get a deeper understanding of the overall subject and not only how your website relates to it, but whether or not Google can trust your expertise on the topic.

Google’s algorithms are evolving and they now recognise more than just a word or a few words. Google is learning how to recognise the relationships between multiple pages and the overarching ideas between them. Which is why including ‘topic clusters’ in your SEO strategy is becoming more and more important. It will aid your website in gaining more authority for the good or service you are providing.  

So, what is a ‘topic cluster’? Essentially, topic clusters are a number of content pieces (often blog posts) on your site that are all connected to an overall subject matter. The main topic they all relate to is known as a ‘pillar’. The pillar content is linked to all the topic clusters which can strengthen the pillar’s authority.

Topic Clusters Example Graphic Sydney SEO

Google and Pillar Content: How They Work Together

Your ‘pillar’ page should be about a broad category. It should then link to subcategories (topic clusters) that go into greater detail about each more specific topic. Your ‘pillar’ page should be a topic that is one or two words and has a high monthly search volume, for example: ‘SEO Optimisation’. Your cluster content pages should be more specific topics that relate to the pillar, such as ‘technical SEO’ or ‘SEO web design’.

Now when a searcher types in (or uses voice commands with Siri or Google assistant) a lengthy question such as ‘who can help me improve SEO in Sydney’, Google will know that SEO Sydney is an expert on the matter. SEO Sydney will rank in the top ten SERPs. Google will understand what the searcher really needs and which websites can be trusted most. Based on the detailed content provided that links to the overall subject. 

Google recently developed E-A-T (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) which is not necessarily an algorithm, but Google uses this concept to determine the quality of a webpage. 

In the past, the search results may have related more to the keyword in the topic such as ‘SEO’ and ‘Sydney.’ SEO Sydney may have still ranked highly, but using topic clusters can assure that Google ranks the most trusted pages for almost any longer conversational queries and our users find exactly what they’re looking for.

Google trusts our website, therefore so do our users.

Google Search Results SEO Melbourne

Prioritise Topics

Now, you can’t just go into your site and start linking every blog post to every other page. It’s not quite as simple as that to create successful content. In fact, Google may even penalise you for that. It’s important to work on a topic-focused strategy. Spend some time working out exactly what your main ideas are and the clusters they need to go with them. 

At the end of the day, you want the user to find exactly what they need so that they’re totally satisfied. If a user gets to your page because it was at the top, but finds it actually has nothing to do with what they’re looking for then your SEO is working for the wrong reasons. 

Think about the user – what is their intent? Base your strategy around providing information to a searcher’s queries. In our case, perhaps a searcher doesn’t know the term ‘SEO’ and is searching for something longer to find out what it is they need. ‘Who can help me get my page to the top of the search results.’ In a question like this the keyword ‘SEO’ would not be useful.

Jesse McDonald is the global SEO strategist at IBM. He knows a thing or two about the benefits of topic-focused marketing. Listen to his podcast here.

Happy User Searcher Customer

So, you’re ready to start thinking about topic clusters for your website. Take a holistic approach and be patient, good things take time. Google will reward you for your efforts and users will be satisfied with your service or product!

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