A topic cluster is where a single “pillar” page becomes the core element of a group of content for a large topic. In other words, a pillar page is an agnostic overview of a highly-specific topic. You can consider it as an extensive summary and can be around 2,000 to 5,000 words in length. Linked to it and to each other are numerous pages of content that are related to the topic. These pages of content are known as a ‘content cluster’.
The idea behind this approach is that you build a central page that provides an in-depth overview of a specific topic, and then write a series of in-depth subtopics related to the main topic, covering different aspects, and link them back to the pillar page.
If you provide accounting software for small businesses, your pillar page could be something along the lines of: ‘Accounting Software for Small Businesses’ and your cluster content – the pages linked to the pillar page – could be blog topics around ‘Choosing the right accounting software’, ‘Benefits of accounting software for small businesses’, and ‘How to get the most out of your accounting software’ as they are all aspects that fall under the accounting software spectrum.
Take this scenario for example: A potential prospect executes a search for ‘Accounting software for small businesses’, they are then presented with a list of results and click on your pillar page for ‘Accounting software for Small Businesses’. Your pillar page provides them with a comprehensive overview of accounting software and includes cluster content that provide detailed breakdowns of each element involved. Your prospect leaves your website informed and educated – and you have positioned your business as an authority on that topic.
As more and more people find your pillar page, its ranking on SERPs increases and more organic traffic comes to your website.
Topic clusters are an excellent way to demonstrate your business’ knowledge of a specific subject. It not only helps your customers to understand and find solutions to their problems, but also improves your ranking on Google over time. It’s a powerful content strategy that can really deliver results.
It’s important to remember the fact that when we search, there are a number of variables involved. For example, typing into Google: ‘Burger joints in London’ is not the same as ‘Best burger joints in London’. In the first instance, one is vague and not concerned with the quality of those burger joints, whereas the second is. A slight variance in the search – though similar – should deliver different results. And so, by using topics clusters, we change our approach to creating content to ensure it delivers the right content based on what prospects are looking for. Another example would be ‘How to create a Twitter page’ – similar results could be:
- Twitter page design
- How to design a Twitter page
- Twitter page design templates
All the searches are incredibly similar, but each search has different context and intent. That said, someone searching for ‘How to create a Twitter page’ will most likely be interested in finding out more about designing Twitter pages and Twitter page design templates.
So, if someone’s looking for ‘How to create a Twitter page’ the surrounding articles could easily be those mentioned above! Topic clusters are an opportunity to engage with prospects who have more questions around a specific topic – and they allow you to nurture leads from an initial top of the funnel enquiry that might be “What is HubSpot?”, for example, through to “How much does HubSpot cost” – purely with content! It’s a cost-effective way to generate quality leads.
By using a topic cluster setup – you signal to search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex that there is a semantic relationship between your pillar page and the content that it links to. Bots crawling the page will be able to quickly map out what your topic cluster is about, what the main page is, and how your information can help searchers. As your content is clearly laid out and easily understood, search engines will identify your pillar as valuable, and the quality inbound links to and from the pillar page, via the subtopic content, will increase the pillar page’s value and rank on search engine results pages (SERPs) over time. And, when one piece of interlinked content does well – so too do the other pages. As you continue to build out your topic cluster, the page’s authority will increase and you will generate more organic traffic to your website. It’s a more structured approach to content creation that not only improve your SEO but also helps to inform your content creation.
Using topic clusters is an easy way to build website authority with a B2B copywriter. If you have in-depth content on your website addressing a specific topic, and subtopic content answering questions related to that topic – all of which is interlinked – Google will look at your web page as an authority on that subject matter. Remember, search engines use links as a signal of authority, so by linking subtopic content to your pillar page and your pillar page to subtopic content, you enhance the value of all your pages, and make it easier for website visitors to find what they are looking for.
Topic clusters puts strategy back into your content creation. Rather than creating one off pieces based on keywords, you look at the bigger picture and start to create content that will not only improve your pillar page’s authority in the eyes of Google, but also answer the questions your prospects have. Topic clusters simplify your content hierarchy, making it easier for interested parties to navigate their way through your website and for you to move them further into the buyer’s journey.
Greater lead generation
Topic clusters provide the perfect opportunity for you to create top, middle and bottom of the funnel content and have it all under one umbrella, allowing you to move website visitors from simple visitors to leads all through content. For example, let’s say you provide Inbound Marketing consultancy and someone has questions around Inbound, what it is and how it can benefit their business. They investigate your website and find your topic cluster on Inbound Marketing and read an article entitled “What is Inbound Marketing”. Having found out more about Inbound, they want to know how it can benefit their business, so they look through your topic cluster and find an article on “The Business Benefits of Inbound Marketing”. Now convinced and educated on the benefits of Inbound, they want to know how your business can help – so they read another piece of cluster content, this time a case study, and decide that they are ready to engage with your business. Suddenly, from that initial website visit, you have generated a lead – all through content.
How to create topic clusters
As topic clusters are comprised of a pillar page and cluster content (clusters), you need to come up with a central topic and surround that central topic with relevant, in-depth articles (cluster content).
First, construct a plan with a B2B copywriter that covers the cluster content you will create to surround your pillar page with – make sure the cluster content relates to the pillar page and answers the questions your prospects have (buyer personas will help in the process). You should keep adding more cluster content to your pillar page over time, as this will help to improve the value of the pillar page (and the cluster content) in the eyes of Google.
A topic cluster should have at least ten subtopics that address specific questions, problems or pains your customers may be exploring related to the core topic of your pillar page. There isn’t a definitive number to how many blogs you should add to your pillar page, it completely depends on how many topics you think you can cover.
Build out subtopics
Having built your central pillar page, you need to create specific and detailed subtopics. As mentioned previously, how you come up with these topics will be based on your buyer personas and the questions they might be asking. Chances are, you are probably blogging anyway – and if you are not, you should be. This strategy is not a complete overhaul of your content marketing efforts, but more a process of realigning your strategy to ensure its focusing on current SEO best practice, and that you are not blogging for the sake of blogging.
In terms of format, these subtopics could be blogs, articles, eBooks, whitepapers, case studies or otherwise – but what’s important is that they answer the question(s) your prospects have in detail and link back to the pillar page. If you are struggling to come up with ideas, think about related concepts rather than exact topic matches; look at other popular content pieces relevant to your industry; use Google; use Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ box; or use Content Marketing Artificial Intelligence platforms such as Concured.
Regardless of format, make sure your subtopics answer the questions your prospects have in depth. Keywords can still play an important role in your strategy, but it’s more important to think about related questions to your topic that prospects might be having.
Finally, hyperlink text in your core topic to your subtopics were relevant – and link your subtopics back to the pillar page. This is the most important step when it comes to creating topic clusters. The internal linking between your topic and subtopic pages demonstrates to search engines that the content across your pages have a semantic relationship.