Evolving SEO: the role of topic clusters in modern strategies

Evolution of SEO and topic clusters

SEO is a main part of a successful digital marketing strategy. It is nevertheless one of the most complicated disciplines, as results are a rather abstract science.

Nevertheless, some recommendations, after extensive testing, have been validated by several SEO specialists.

In this article, you will learn how to implement a successful topic cluster strategy. Whether it is with an existing site and content or for the development of a new blog.

The topic cluster or content cluster consists of defining a topic on which you want to position yourself. A pillar page is developed that explains the topic from different angles and answers the main questions around it.

Finally, to develop the legitimacy of the pillar page, it is necessary to create related articles (subpages) that point to this page to obtain effective internal linking.

The evolution of user search intentions

Contrary to what we can read quite regularly, SEO is not dead!

It is constantly evolving. In the same way as the use of search engines in general.

In the past, users searched for one or more specific keywords. So SEO techniques were limited to creating content to rank for those keywords.

For example, a user searching for “Restaurant Bern” would receive a list of results from different sites that were ranked in order of relevance. 

As a result, directory-type listing sites (local.ch, search.ch, yelp.ch and many others) had the highest visibility, as they offered a wide variety of responses.

However, search engine results pages have evolved. For example, Google offers a list of restaurants ranked by relevance without having to leave the search engine. (Google my business)

Therefore, the whole point of SEO is not really to try to compete with Google, but to add value with information about the topic being searched.

So, people are no longer searching for “Bern restaurant” but “Which restaurant for a family with children” or “Best vegan restaurant open today”.

There is an opportunity to provide precise information on “family restaurant” or “vegan restaurant” and therefore to position yourself on these topics.

Search intent plays a crucial role in content creation.

Facilitating and prioritizing the indexing of a site’s content 

Previously, SEO strategy from a content marketing perspective was based on the famous keyword research.

Using tools such as SEMrush, a list was generated with the theoretical search volume and the difficulty of ranking for each keyword or phrase.

We would then create a blog post or website article for each word, and we would manage to rank on the different queries quite simply.

Website structure without topic Clusters SEO

In theory, this is the fundamental recommendations of SEO. The practice is now quite different.

With this technique, the number of pages with identical structures increases quite rapidly, especially if the primary objective is to produce content very regularly.

The pages and the targeted keywords are very similar, which makes it more difficult for the search engine crawlers (robots). In particular, to understand the structure of the site and the main pages to be indexed.

For this reason, it is much better to set up pillar pages which will be the content to be indexed first.

How to set up a topic cluster in SEO?

Keyword research is still the key to a successful SEO strategy, but it must evolve.

Firstly, it is necessary to define the main keywords called “Seed Keywords”.

These will allow the discovery of related expressions and thus encourage ideas for satellite articles.

Once the main keyword and the secondary keywords have been defined, you must structure your content.

Let’s take for example the seed keywords: “Online advertising”.

Here are some of the related keywords on this topic:

  • “Example of online advertising”
  • “How to measure the performance of a campaign”
  • “Digital campaign best practices”
  • “Top 3 ads on Facebook”
  • Etc.

At first, one might think that creating an article per keyword and publishing it on one’s blog or website would be enough to be visible in search engines.

However, if the main idea is to position yourself on the query “Online advertising”, it is much more judicious to set up a topic cluster. 

That is to say, create a main page (pillar) which explains more generally what “online advertising” is and which proposes different paragraphs (sub-topics) on related keywords.

You will then have to create a dedicated article for each paragraph (sub-topics) that will point to this pillar page.

Website structure with topic Clusters SEO

Increasing your legitimacy thanks to pillar pages

Creating topic clusters allows you to increase your chances of being positioned on a keyword or a very competitive expression. 

This translates into many searches per month. But also authority sites (high traffic) with quality content already positioned.

A single article on a blog that responds succinctly will have little chance of being placed in the first pages.

However, a topic cluster that has one main article and 5 to 8 sub-page articles will have a much better chance of being at the top of the ranking.

This is because the structure of the topic cluster allows search engines to understand that the topic is being worked on in a very precise way and from several angles.

You don’t necessarily have to start from scratch when you already have a large number of articles on your site. 

To set up a cluster strategy on an existing site, you can use a tool like Miro : 

  1. Map all your content.
  2. Then add the keyword or the main expressions on which you wish to position yourself.
  3. Define certain articles as pillars (pillar pages) and modify the contents accordingly in the form of sub-topics.
  4. Rework the internal linkage of related articles to link to your pillar article and improve your SEO.

A different approach to search engine positioning

There are many techniques to improve your SEO (inbound marketing). 

However, your content must first and foremost meet the expectations and search terms of your prospects or users.  

SEO is all about making the right choices between the (sometimes huge) investment and effort required to create content and the number of potential customers it could generate.

Some keywords are very difficult to reach these days. On the one hand, because they are “covered” by the paying part of the search engines, or simply because the site that proposes the content has a strong authority.

With cluster topics, you create new angles of approach and thus become visible on very competitive topics.

If you would like to have recommendations on how to implement cluster topics to improve your SEO, please contact us

I will be happy to discuss your project with you and answer your questions.