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Topic clusters, or content clusters, are groups of blog posts which discuss the same subject yet provide individual value. They help you establish “topical authority” on a particular subject.
What are Topic Clusters?
Topic clusters are groups of content centered around one topic. In other words, they’re a way to organize a content website’s articles to better rank in search engines and improve traffic.
How do topic clusters work? It’s simple: create a pillar post that broadly covers one topic and put links to secondary pages (called supporting posts) that explain the subject more thoroughly.
Niche sites use this strategy to organize blog content and help users navigate their site.
Benefits of Topic Clusters
Here are some benefits of content clusters for niche blog owners.
Establish Expertise on a Subject
The right topic cluster will help you establish yourself as an authority figure. Doing so will increase your traffic. The bigger and more thorough you are when creating it, the better. Avoid off-topic subjects, though. It defeats the entire purpose of a cluster.
A perfect cluster will show your expertise on a subject. That’s what users are looking for when searching for a keyword or question. Becoming an authority figure is the perfect SEO strategy for bloggers.
Provide Value to Your Audience
There are 1.7 billion websites on the internet. That means being unique is out of the question. You still need something to stand out to attract new visitors and turn them into customers (if that’s what you’re after). Providing more value than the competition is the right way to do so. That’s why topic clusters exist.
You can write separate articles that do not link with each other. Unfortunately, users will walk away after reading one piece of content. With a cluster, you help visitors stay on your page and jump from one article to another. The more they stay on your site, the more valuable it’ll be for them.
How to Create Topic Clusters
Ready to create your first topic cluster?
Decide On Your First Topic Cluster
Ask yourself what you want to write about. Make sure it’s broad enough for you to expand into many other topics. Specific subjects work better as supporting posts than as the main cluster.
Writing about nutrition is a perfect cluster subject – while the keto diet, paleo diet, and other examples work as secondary pages.
Don’t beat yourself over if you can’t think of anything yet. Take a break. Check what the competition is doing. Brainstorming ideas is the toughest part.
Do Keyword Research On the Primary Topic
You can’t escape the keyword research part of blog writing. Find as many keywords as possible first; divide them into different areas second.
Make sure you don’t choose competing keywords for different articles. Otherwise, your own pages will fight each other to rank higher.
Look for keywords on the primary topic. You will find supporting keywords by doing that alone. Before you know it, you’ll have enough to create an entire cluster.
Create a List of Supporting Posts for that Topic
After doing keyword research, start drafting different supporting posts. Have every idea ready before you outline the pillar post. Otherwise, you won’t know what to do when it’s time to start writing.
It’s not the time to write yet! It’s better to have every outline ready before you do. Draft or write down ideas for secondary posts too.
Start writing articles if you feel like it, but it’s easier to be over the hard part before you take care of the actual writing.
Outline the Primary Pillar Post
You have to take care of outlines before you draft articles (let alone finish writing them). The pillar post may feel too broad at times – and that’s okay. Your job here is to provide surface-level answers to questions you will explain thoroughly in supporting posts.
Your outline should feel like it flows naturally, like a set of steps. Think about what needs to be said first and what can be said last.
Outline the Supporting Posts
Outlining supporting posts is harder than anything else. Picking the right keywords and making sure they don’t clash with other articles is key.
You may have to update the primary post outline if you want to change supporting posts or add more to the mix.
This part is a process. You will update different things as you begin to see how they complement each other. Don’t be afraid to make changes.
Write all the Content
Now comes the fun part! It’s time to start writing. Begin writing the secondary posts first, then write the pillar post. It may seem counterintuitive – but doing so in that order will help you create the best pillar post possible in one attempt. Otherwise, you will have to edit it countless times.
Don’t be afraid to change outlines, throw away ideas, and add new posts into the mix. A topic cluster is all about having the most content possible – adding more stuff is always the right choice.
Publish the Cluster
Publishing the cluster is far from easy. Sure, going live is but a click away. That’s not the hard part, though. Check and double-check how the content looks. First, check the pillar post. Then, look at the supporting posts.
Your site’s design matters a lot – as well as readability does. It’s also important to see how it looks through different screens: desktops and mobile. After doing that, there’s one more thing left.
Add Internal Links Between the Articles
The last part brings everything together. Start linking your blog posts with each other – called internal linking. Do it in the pillar post first, then build backlinks in the supporting posts.
Check that every link works, though. You want no dead-ends on your website!
How many articles should be in a topic cluster?
You can have as many articles as you want – as long as they don’t steer far away from the main topic. The idea behind a cluster is to create a thorough explanation of something that spans several pages.
Avoid writing about unrelated subjects to the main topic. At that point, it’d be better to create another cluster and start from scratch. Focus on one cluster at a time. Otherwise, you will have a hard time getting anything done!