Content Marketing, Thought Leaders

What Are Topic Clusters and Why Do You Need Them?

November 23, 2020

by Caio Nogueira

CMO, UpSites Website Development

Topic clusters are an important addition to your content optimization strategy. Learn how to implement them in your business and boost your traffic.

As a company or SEO professional, you know increasing organic search traffic is a big challenge. And it only gets harder when you consider the constant changes search engines make in websites ranking. 

A few years ago, blog content creation was based on keyword research and optimization strategies. However, nowadays there’s another factor to consider: topic clusters. 

Topic clusters are key if you want to earn a good spot on Google, so they’re a strategy worth studying and practicing. 

Let’s dive into what topic clusters are before learning 4 simple steps to effectively implement them in your marketing strategy.

What are Topic Clusters?

Topic clusters are a series of interlinked pages or articles that are related to a wider topic. With content organized this way, search engines can understand and identify more easily the authority of your blog or website.

You may start a topic cluster with one core topic (the pillar page). This pillar page will be your main focus, and it’s always a more general subject.

Topic Clusters
Source: Hubspot

After deciding on the main subject, you can start working on more detailed and focused content, as demonstrated in the graph above. 

For instance, if you’re looking to create content around podcasting, you might choose “podcasts” as your core topic. 

Podcasts Topic Cluster

Try to identify as many related subtopics as you can. These subtopics might include practical information, like “where to download podcasts” and “the benefits of podcasts. Or, they might help your audience discover new content, like “historical podcasts,” “self-help podcasts,” or “true crime podcasts.” 

All that matters is that they are all linked back to the pillar page. As a result, your website will have more authority on your main topic, and search engines will pay more attention to it.

In order to build up this complex structure, you have to know what you’re doing. If you don’t have the in-house experience, consider hiring a team of marketing professionals to create something customized.

Or, if you’re looking to dive in yourself, all you need to do is follow these 4 easy steps to create a topic cluster on your own. 

4 Steps to Create a Topic Cluster

  1. Identify the relevant topics your audience needs
  2. Make a list of subtopics for each pillar page
  3. Be sure to hyperlink to your main subjects
  4. Don’t forget to track and analyze everything.

1. Identify the Relevant Topics Your Audience Needs

The work you do in this first step will depend on the content you’ve already created in the past.

If your website was organized with your buyer persona in mind, this step may take less work and time. One option is to look for those high ranking, high traffic pages. The pages you find with this profile have a great chance of being your pillar pages.

However, if you’re starting fresh, a good idea is to determine what your clients are looking for when they find your website. Some questions you may ask yourself (and also future/old clients) are:

  • What do your potential customers need help getting done?
  • What do you want to be recognized for on the internet?
  • What do your clients want to accomplish with your product?
  • Why do people decide on buying from you?

Identifying the answers to these four questions will certainly lead you in the right direction to choose your ideal main topics.

2. Make a List of Subtopics for Each Pillar Page

Now that you’ve identified your pillar pages, the next step is to choose from 20 to 30 subtopics for each pillar page. In order to do that, you may use keyword research tools, or even get some help from Google. 

Here are some tips for finding high-quality, useful subtopics:

  1. Use old keyword research (as long as it’s still valid!).
  2. Search Google for a pillar topic you want to cover.
  3. Utilize features like “people also ask” and “related searches.” 
  4. Look at FAQs to find out what people usually ask about your products.

With these strategies, you should be able to come up with some ideas for content that your future clients may enjoy. 

Make sure everything is organized according to the different pillar pages you have, and after that, you can move on to the third step.

3. Make Sure to Hyperlink to Your Main Subjects

With all your topic cluster structure organized, it’s time to link everything back to the main page. Remember to do this every time you write something new related to a pillar page.

One critical step in your strategy is to hyperlink to all subtopic pages on your main page. This is how you tell Google how all your content pages (subtopic and main ones) are related.

4. Don’t Forget to Track and Analyze Everything

Once your topic clusters are set up, connect them to a campaign, and track all your results. You may want to wait a couple of weeks or even a month to analyze your performance in terms of leads and traffic, because results can take time. 

Tracking and analyzing your progress will help you understand which cluster is the most interesting or relevant to your audience’s needs. If one of your topics is performing particularly well, you might want to consider doubling down on your efforts towards it. 

On the other hand, the clusters that aren’t performing well should be analyzed more critically. It’s possible that the topic isn’t as important to your audience as you initially thought. If that’s the case, get to work revising the subtopics and creating more valuable content for that specific cluster.

Get Started With Topic Clusters

There’s no doubt that the constant changes in search engine algorithms are stressful. Rest assured, it’s a challenge that everyone who works with SEO has to deal with.

Luckily, with this guide, you can organize your content and make topic clusters work for your business

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