What are topic clusters and how can they support your SEO strategy?

19.11.2021 · By Camilla Allen

As Google continually updates its algorithm, the quest to provide quality articles that rank well and reach readers is ever-evolving. Here’s the latest strategy – topic clusters – to help you build authority around a specific topic. 

I know, here’s yet another SEO strategy to get your head around! But don’t worry, by the end of this blog post you’ll know exactly what topic clusters are, why they’re so important for SEO, how you can build an effective linking framework and three key takeaway benefits.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in. 

What are topic clusters?

In simple terms, topic clusters are groups of articles that fall under the same umbrella topic within a publication’s content hub. They are a great way to build authority around a specific subject area, something every ambitious news organisation should be striving for. 

However, in order to inform Google that each article is related and part of a ‘topic cluster’, internal linking is key. By linking each sub-page to the pillar article (the king-pin article, so to speak) within the cluster and fellow sub-pages.

Let’s break it down even further, shall we?

The pillar page – This is one broad article that outlines the overall topic. It will link out to topic cluster pages to add more context and in-depth information.

Topic cluster pages – These are multiple off-shoot articles that link back to the pillar page. They will go into more detail on specific areas of the broader topic, e.g. opinion pieces, news stories etc.

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LOYAL tip:
Building out topic clusters within your content is a fantastic way to build authority around a specific subject area but that’s not the bee-all and end-all. Learn more about how Google measures your E-A-T (“Expertise, Authoritative, and Trustworthiness”) score. Read our 5 E-A-T tips to ensure your articles rank higher on Google

Why are topic clusters so important for publishers?

Every publisher should be thinking about topic clusters when it comes to improving their SEO strategy. Not only does this content model improve audience retention, but it is proving even more valuable in helping articles rank well in Google search results.

For example, Google’s been making changes to its search algorithm which will make topic clusters all the more beneficial for organisations to hone in on:

“We now understand subtopics around an interest. As an example, if you search for “home exercise equipment,” we can now understand relevant subtopics, such as budget equipment, premium picks, or small space ideas,” says Google.

In addition, Google recently announced that it is advancing its ability to understand subtopics around a broad area of interest through the use of neural networks.

“In the future, MUM [Multitask Unified Model] will unlock deeper insights you might not have known to search for […] and connect you with content on the web that you wouldn’t have otherwise found,” commented Google in September 2021 as it announced its highly intelligent “things to know” feature.  

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Source: Google

This means that, in order to keep up with the curve and make sure articles rank well on Google, publishers need to be doing everything they can to increase their coverage – and quality of coverage – on key topics.

Topic clusters allow you to cover broad subjects and dominate keyword categories in organic search to help catapult your articles up Google search results. 

How to quickly link to related content within topic clusters?

A strong internal linking framework is integral to creating effective topic clusters. Nail this, and you’ll quickly be able to pass authority between sub-pages and improve your publication’s SEO. 

You can use our Archive Search tool to link to articles within the same topic cluster as you write. Simply, run the Google Chrome extension to pull up highly related articles to the one you’re writing about and add internal links as you go.

Pull up content from any time-range within your publication’s archive down the side of your working document, or as you surf the internet using our Context Menu Search. This enables you to search your entire content library wherever you’re working without having to scroll through deep backlogs to find the perfect internal link.

Using LOYAL, the most relevant content from your archives is automatically matched with the piece you’re working. This allows you to connect the dots quickly and effectively and share authority between pages. The fact that LOYAL can search all the way back to the start of your content library means you never miss related articles, despite their published date. You can connect up your entire content library with ease.   

archive-result

See how our Archive Search tool can free up time when searching for internal links:

What’s more, LOYAL automatically analyzes article topics. This means you can easily identify the key topics of any article at a glance. Quickly assess the topics covered in any article from your content library to add articles to the most relevant topic cluster.

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3 key takeaway benefits of topic clusters

Here are three key benefits for developing a topic clusters content model within your publishing organization:

1. More organised content

Pillar pages allow your organization to segment and keep track of your content. Pillar pages are designed to organize your blog around topic cluster pages.

2. Improved SEO

Linking topic cluster pages to pillar pages will eventually improve your SEO by giving your blog authority over a particular topic.

3. More in-depth coverage

By building out topic clusters you’ll be able to avoid overlaps or gaps in your content. This is because you’ll stick to a more structured web of articles that interlink and add contextual information, but don’t overlap. 

Topic clusters can be a highly effective SEO strategy, but make sure you maintain them. Even after you’ve published content, you will still have work to do. 

As you publish more articles, make sure you revisit content within your topic cluster to update and add internal links continually. Then, watch as your authority grows…

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