What is Topic Cluster and how using them can power-up your 2021 SEO content strategy
Daniel Nguyen | 12 mins read
Penning the first line is the most challenging part of writing. Even professional content creators find it difficult to choose the perfect start for their article. A possible reason could be a lack of purpose, indecisive structure or absence of cohesive concept. And it reflects on the merit of the content.
In the Google age, every content is measured in value and paid in exposure. It is the exposure that brings your objective to life. To create valuable content, you need to understand what it implies and how Google assesses it.
Value is measured through adherence to the context, presence of in-depth knowledge and lastly, presentation.
This is where an effective content strategy comes into play. The strategy helps you achieve your end goal by displaying value, as the search engine understands. By using the right keywords, linking them suitably, you can get organic traffic and successfully convert them into $$$.
Let's look into what goes into the making of an effective content strategy:
- Defining grandfather topic - To start with the strategy, you need to be aware of the topic or the niche you’d be focusing on. Pick a topic broad enough to form the pillar page content, and let’s call it the grandfather topic. A content pillar is a piece of information that is large enough to be broken into many sections or subtopics.
- Building topic strategy - With the vastness of the pillar page content comes a challenge. You need to decide how to channel your content in a specific direction. Align your direction with your ultimate goal.
- Creating topic clusters - Now, you are left with making a topic cluster that enlists the pillar topic as well the sub-topic, wherever they follow. You need to pick the pertinent topics based on your purpose as well as their performance on the search engine.
Importance of topic cluster
If you are still unclear about what topic cluster means, then here it is: it is a group of related content topics that cover a substantive piece of information. It contextualises all pages related to the topic into a group and lays the foundation for the interlinking structure. As mentioned earlier, the value of the content depends on the knowledge shared in it. The topic cluster you select enables Google to determine the level of expertise or knowledge you have shared.
Step by step guide to building a topic strategy
WriterZen has the advanced intel to identify topics with high search volumes valued in Google’s eye. Here is how you build a topic cluster using WriterZen tools.
- Choose a grandfather topic to build the pillar page.
- Run the topic discovery tool with the grandfather topic as the seed. The tool scans through 100 URLs related to the content and picks out topics used by best-ranking pages.
- You can adjust the relevancy and search volumes to filter through 100 URLs. Pick topics with medium or high relevancy and low search volume to build the pillar page.
- Now adjust the filter again to choose topics that have high search volumes and add them as subtopics. The subtopics and the linking system is an opportunity to display your in-depth knowledge to Google bots.
- Draw pillar content map to show where and the subtopics link with the grandfather topic.
- Use the keyword explorer tool to find keywords that have a low allintitle value. Filter the keywords using the KGR function to find ones that have high volume search and low competition.
- Import the keywords and activate the cluster to a group. You can manage the clusters by breaking the topics with many keywords into two or more or filtering out the ones you feel are not worthwhile.
- Let’s figure out how to apply these strategies into a real scenario with “indoor plant" topic.
Use case scenario
Choose a topic that is informative enough to be broken into many subtopics and derivative pages. For this case scenario here, we will be dealing with “indoor plant”. Here is a detailed run-through of how to create a topic cluster.
Step 1: Run the topic discovery tool with the seed keyword
Run your seed word, in this case “indoor plant” through the topic discovery tool. WriterZen will scan through the top 100 URLs to identify valuable topics that make you appear an expert to Google.
Step 2: Adjust the relevancy and search volumes to select keywords for the pillar page
Set the relevance to medium or high based on whether your topic has been popularly searched or not.
You can also arrange the suggested outcomes based on relevancy or search volumes. The relevancy filter provides suggestions that are well related to the grandfather topic. Whereas when you filter by the other, the topics have a high search volume.
Pick topics that have high relevance and low search volume to build the pillar page. In this case, we can choose “yucca plant”, “leaf plant”, “pothos indoor plant" as the keywords that can be used in the pillar page content.
Step 3: Use the volume filter to select sub-topics
Change the keyword filter to volume, and choose topics with high search volumes. These would be included as sub-topic pages and be internally linked to the pillar page.
It suggests many possible topics, out of which we have selected, “tall house plants”, “snake plant”, “grow light” and “cheap house plant”. They have various suggested topics with good volume search revolving around like “snake plant toxic”, “snake plant poisonous", “Robusta snake plant", which can help you build deeper layers of topics.
Decide whether you want the subtopics to be focused on knowledge sharing or achieving more traffic. And run this step as many times as you desire to create layers and layers of topics that all connect back to the pillar page. This way, if a Google bot lands on one of your pages, it will be taken to all the internally linked content and display your expertise.
Step 4: Draw a pillar content map to show where and the subtopics link with the grandfather topic
This would help you sketch out relevant topics and place them as and how they link to the pillar content. You can also add multiple layers to one subtopic in case you want to build it as a knowledge base. The pillar content map helps you visualise the overall interlinking structure that you want to portray to the Google bots.
Step 5: Use the keyword explorer tool to find keywords that have high volume search and low competition
Look for relevant keywords that go along with the chosen topic from Keyword explorer for “Snake plant” - a sub-topic page as an example. The goal here is to look for long-tail keywords that have high conversion rates but low competition.
Filter the suggestions using Volume, KGR, Allintitle value to find the desired ones. You can even exclude certain keywords from the list that you feel do not relate to your topic.
In this case, we have a list of 284 keywords with a low level of Keyword Golden Ratio (0-30), less than 20 in Allintitle metric, and Volume Search above 50, then add them into a list for the next step.
Don’t forget to check the ultimate WriterZen workflow article and videos to see how you can utilize these filtering metrics in keyword research.
Step 6: Import the keywords and activate the cluster to a group
Now that you have the desired set of keywords, go to the Keyword importer that has the list you handpicked. Activate the keyword cluster that extracts the ones that are related and groups them into small sets. It may take some time as the algorithm manually computes through the URLs and extract keywords that go together. But remember, WriterZen computes the suggestions fastest when compared to other tools in the market.
After clustering, we have a really well-planned picture of the “snake plant" topic. You can export these keywords in an Excel file for further structure building. With the clustering group that has a high number of keywords, you can break it down to 2 - 3 articles to cover most keywords and utilize the total search volume.
Last but not least, it’s time to put all your research products together! By using the Content Creator tool, you can build a seamless outline for your content using all your research and topic optimisation so far, then create the written content effortlessly but effectively!
A topic cluster is among some of the advanced features that WriterZen offers. It not only finds relevant topics for your content but categorises them together using factors like relevancy and search volume. It serves as an efficient strategy that allows Google to scan through your content, understand the value you are offering and ultimately rank you better.
For better understanding, you can have a look at our third online webinar to have a better view of Topic Cluster & How to building an effective content strategy. It is a very interesting and informative webinar that shouldn't be missed!
Lahey, C. (52751–07-03). What Are Topic Clusters and How Do They Work? Semrush Blog. https://www.semrush.com/blog/topic-clusters/
Sickler, J. (2021, August 23). What are Topic Clusters? (How They Improve SEO). Terakeet. https://terakeet.com/blog/topic-clusters/.
CEO and Founder of WriterZen