Topic clusters – a must-have content marketing tool
Content marketing has evolved dramatically in format, style and delivery through the years. SEO was used to remain in Google’s good books, but people realised that it’s not about creating content for search engines, they aren’t the ones that engage with your brand online and read your content.
The recent techniques of content marketing involve sophisticated storytelling, using smarter distribution techniques and placing greater emphasis on the customer experience through generating personalised content.
Everyone’s fighting for their audience's attention and with so much content being placed online, a search engine like Google has to constantly find new ways to make the content easier to find.
Google introduced the Hummingbird algorithm in 2013, which caused a stir because it was the first major update since the 2010 Caffeine search architecture upgrade. Google then introduced the RankBrain algorithm in 2015. It uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities it can understand. For words it can't understand, it guesses by linking similar words and filters the result. Since Google has changed its algorithm to favour topic-based content, SEO experts are exploring the "topic clusters" model to improve site architecture and boost search engine visibility.
This new SEO strategy focuses on fully covering a topic and building relationships between keywords. Companies can craft a single “pillar” page to act as the main hub of content for the main topic and multiple topic-related content pages that link back to the pillar page and to each other. Google will then identify the pillar page as an authority on the topic and the page might rank higher over time as it builds credibility. The aim of topic clusters is to organise your website’s content using cleaner and more deliberate site architecture.
Carefully pick a topic
Figure out what subject you want to be a thought leader on, then build content around this topic. The topic should be a cornerstone of your business. You probably already have a web page and supporting content on this subject, so you can start there. Conduct a content audit to see how much content and how many web pages you already have in place.
Now brainstorm subtopics to build out a topic cluster. Subtopics will help you to cover a topic in detail. Think about the relevant content your buyer personas will look for when researching a new solution or product. If you pick the topic, “industrial network security”, the next step is to brainstorm relevant subtopics and content that an engineer will look for online.
If you are in the business of cybersecurity, your subtopics could include phishing emails, network security solutions or patch management. You can then come up with a blog post or subtopic page with the title “How to protect your business from cyberattacks” and focus on generating this type of content on that page.
It seems that linking is essential. HubSpot employees, Anum Hussain and Cambria Davies, launched topic cluster experiments for a select group of topics in 2016. Their findings showed that the more interlinking they did to related, external content correlated with their own content, the better the placement in search engine results pages. Impressions also increased with the number of links they created.
Building a new content strategy from the ground up is difficult and can easily go wrong if done incorrectly. This is why you require an expert business to help you. We are digital experts in our industry. We believe in making mistakes faster so that we learn quicker. That’s digital, you have to experiment, make mistakes that are measurable and adjust your strategy to succeed.
Jackie Stierlin, General Manager of League Digital, says: “We are excited about this evolution in the content marketing realm. We see the value in generating rich content focused on a theme rather than a stream of blogs based on the trend of the week. As a Google and Hubspot Gold Partner, we have been experimenting with these elements and have seen a measure of success to date.”
Contact us if you want to start building topic clusters in your business today.
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