How To Make Strong Topic Clusters: The Next Wave in B2B SEO
Keywords are out, and topics are in. Well, maybe not completely, but most B2B SEO agency experts certainly see topics as the future of content and, to some extent, SEO. You might be wondering why, and the answers are semantic search and customer experience (CX).
This guide dives deep into the subject of topic clusters and why they work better, including:
- A comparison of topic and keyword strategies
- An explanation of why topic clusters are the better choice
- Five steps to move to a topic cluster strategy
There’s a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes.
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The Difference Between Topics and Keywords
You are probably tired of hearing everyone (especially experts) talk about keywords. You might have already heard it all before, in fact. You might be glad to know that, while still necessary for content, keywords are now yielding to topic clusters as the go-to content strategy.
What is the difference? A topic-based strategy starts with a central theme (called a pillar page) that you build around using supporting content pages. On the other hand, a keyword-based approach focuses on one page at a time but maximizes its appeal by finding the best keyword.
Here is another way to describe the difference between a topic and a keyword approach to content:
- Topics set the tone for your strategy by establishing a theme for future content.
- Keywords work one-to-one and often mean every page is separate from other pages.
Why Topics Are Better for B2B SEO Strategies
Sometimes, users input keywords that do not exactly match your target keyword. That makes it hard for them to discover your content, no matter how useful or accurate it is in solving their problems. A topic cluster resolves this by exhausting all possible talking points.
By using topic clusters, you improve your content and website’s SEO performance and raise the likelihood of meeting your audience halfway by broadening the overall scope of your content. In addition, a topic cluster strategy delivers the following benefits for websites and SEO in general:
- Your website becomes a more reliable source of information through connected topics.
- Building links among thematically-related content improves your domain authority (DA).
- Publishing more content boosts your chance of ranking better for your target keyword.
5 Steps to Transition From Keywords to Topics
Switching from a keyword to a topic cluster strategy is not that difficult. However, it might be somewhat confusing if you cannot differentiate the two. To help with that, imagine it as changing from coming up with a single, self-contained idea to a topic that inspires new ideas organically.
That is the biggest hurdle when moving to topic clusters — framing your ideas so they are automatically part of a series. You can group your articles and create an overarching theme or pillar page. That can work, too, or follow the steps below instead.
1. Decide on a Good Content Niche
As mentioned, topic clusters are all about following a theme, almost like you are writing a book chapter by chapter. To do that, you need to know which content niche works best for your business. Not all niches are viable for one reason or another; use the tips below:
- A niche with good demand but few rivals is best. Too much or too little of either is bad.
- A good content niche sits at the intersection of your business and customers’ needs.
- Niches are specific enough for you to dominate but broad enough that people find them.
2. Collect and Group Your Content
If you already have a lot of concepts, works-in-progress, or even published articles, rework them into a topic cluster strategy by grouping them according to themes. Then, construct a pillar page to connect all of them. You should also aim to link your supporting pages to each other.
With a topic strategy, you want to produce original content that speaks to your target market. Do not fall into the trap of using black hat SEO tactics such as content spinning or buying expired domains to steal well-performing posts. None of them bring long-lasting success.
3. Fill in All the Gaps You Can Find
Regardless of where you started your topic cluster strategy, you must continue building on it if you are to keep receiving its benefits. Otherwise, your content grows stale, and you inevitably lose your momentum. Besides, new information always comes up, so updates are necessary.
More than updating old content, though, you have to keep your website fresh by adding new supporting content. Look for subtopics or subthemes you haven’t written about yet; cover them in a page or two. You’ll have new content informing your users and supporting your pillar page.
4. Connect Your Content
One of the primary benefits of topic clusters is that they automatically expand your internal link profile as part of your content strategy. However, just because you intended to link pages together does not mean you do that. Be mindful of this and ensure the links are there.
An expansive internal link profile boosts DA and makes your website easier for bots to crawl and index. Moreover, internal links make navigating your website immensely simple for your target users because it is all connected. That leads us to the next point, which is sitemaps.
5. Create a Sitemap for Better UX
Finally, to round off your topic cluster strategy, you must perform an SEO content cleanup now and then. Sometimes, you get busy with other website concerns; it happens. However, that does not let you off the hook for letting your website structure get out of hand.
If you have not already, organize your internal links (again, ensure they are all there) before heading to a free XML sitemap generator. You can use that sitemap to manage crawling, but more importantly, you should upload it to your website to improve its user experience (UX).
Unless you already work with a B2B SEO agency, you might not have heard of — much less applied — a topic cluster strategy before. Now that you know about it, get the change underway as soon as possible to keep your competitive edge in this semantic and user-centric SEO era.
Need help switching your B2B SEO content strategy to topic clusters? Contact us to learn how we can help.
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