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How to use topic clusters to boost your blog’s SEO

How to use topic clusters to boost your blog’s SEO

Posted 11th June, 2019 by William

Algorithms are a bit like buses - just when you think one isn’t coming, three come along at once. SEO experts MOZ believe there were three algorithm changes at the start of 2019 alone, although only one of these was officially confirmed by Google.

For bloggers, this means that it can be increasingly difficult to get noticed by the search engines. However, one tool that can be used to help out here are 'topic clusters'.

In this post, we’ll explain what topic clusters are and why they’re an important feature to incorporate into your blog or website. We’ll then explain how they can be used to improve your search rankings.

What are topic clusters and why can they be valuable?

Although they can benefit a site in more ways than one, topic clusters are an often under-utilised SEO tactic – and you’ll read less on this topic than others in SEO guides. It doesn’t help that they’re often presented as being rather complex either.

Fortunately, they’re a lot easier to get to grips with than you may initially think. Put simply, topic clusters are a collection of articles or pages that are interlinked around one ‘umbrella’ topic. When implemented correctly, they’re a great way to boost your search engine visibility.

A topic cluster starts with the main topic, which is also referred to as a ‘pillar page’. This will be your main focus and is typically a more generalised subject. Within this, you’ll include links to a wider range of more detailed, focused pages that are all relevant to the main pillar topic.

These are known as ‘subtopics’. For example, if you run a health and beauty blog, you may wish to create a cluster around the topic of skincare. Your pillar page would contain the essentials of good skincare, whereas your subtopics would feature more detailed and additional advice - for example, delving deeper into moisturisation, cleansing or face masks.

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Whatever the context of your topic cluster, look to create them with the interests of your audience in mind. A focused approach will mean your content is more likely to appear in the search results of interested consumers.

If your target market is still unclear at this point, it’s important to carry out some research before proceeding.

3 ways using topic clusters can boost your SEO

Like other content strategies before it, the goal of creating topic clusters is to increase the visibility of your content within search engines. In a general sense, the more you have, the higher you’ll rank – as Google will realise that your site is providing all of the answers people desire. Given this, here are three ways using topic clusters can boost your SEO:

1. Increase the number of internal links on your site

Internal linking is a tried and tested SEO tactic. This process involves linking back to your own pages throughout your content, rather than external sources. Traffic is then driven across different sections of your site and search engines will better understand how content is related.

Using topic clusters helps you to focus on internal linking, as you’ll pay closer attention to how each area of your site is relevant to the other. As such, when creating a topic cluster, make sure you consistently link between each subtopic and your pillar page.

The included connections will signal to search engines that your pillar page is a central resource within your industry – and rank it more favourably as a result. It also provides Google’s algorithms with all the information it needs to find and index all of your related pages.

2. Improve the diversity of your on-site keywords

Despite the fact we’ve tipped topic clusters as an essential SEO practice, this doesn’t render traditional methods useless. The creation of topic clusters means you’re focusing on the relationships between your different pieces of content – of which keywords are an essential part.

By adding highly-targeted keywords into your subtopics, you’re able to improve SEO on each individual page. It will also be beneficial to the entire topic cluster as a whole. For example, take a focus keyword such as ‘best skincare advice’ on your pillar page.

Using this phrase on every subtopic page will increase the likelihood of you ranking highly for related searches. As always, ensure the keywords you use are relevant to your chosen industry – Google Keyword Planner is a great resource if you’re stuck for ideas.

You should also try to choose multiple keywords for each page in your topic cluster, focusing on long-tail keywords specifically. This will further boost the visibility of your website in relevant searches.

3. Keep visitors on your site for longer

As we’ve already discussed, creating topic clusters will build the number of internal links on your page. However, including these links doesn’t just help search engines to understand how your content is linked. It’s also a surefire way of keeping visitors on your pages for longer.

This is because users likely clicked on your site to read about a topic that interested them. Once they’re done with the initial post, they may want to further their learning and will click on the internal links you’ve attached.

As a result, they’ll remain on your site for much longer than they had previously intended. This can have a positive impact on sales and traffic but may also contribute to a reduced bounce rate. This is the number of people leaving your site after visiting just one page.

Google takes a low bounce rate as a sign of authority and may give your site a higher ranking as a result. In fact, research carried out by Moz found that sites with low bounce rates – defined as below 76 per cent – were more likely to appear in positions one to four on SERPs.

Categories: SEO, Blogging, Marketing

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