Readers are invited to submit a question which we will then pose to one of our Forbes Councils members. This group is full of knowledge and experience — we’re eager to share their insights with you.
Question: What Are Topic Clusters and How Do I Use Them?
I’m launching a new content strategy and want to incorporate topic clusters. What are topic clusters, and how do I get started using them?
Meet our Executive: Lavall Chichester, CMO, JumpCrew
Lavall Chichester, Forbes Communications Council, is CMO of JumpCrew and formerly head of search, content, and voice at MullenLowe Mediahub and Profero. Lavall has 13 years of developing search, social media, and content marketing strategies for brands like Apple, Western Union, Smirnoff, Kaiser Permanate, Vitamin Water, and others.
Answer: Topic Clusters Are Essential to Organic Search and a Good Content Strategy
What Is a Topic Cluster?
A topic cluster is created when multiple types of content on a website are organized around a topic. The structure of the website usually contains a main category page to target a topic and then articles and other content that target specific words or phrases that relate to the topic. For example, if you have a fitness website, one of your topics might be protein. You would create a main category page dedicated to “protein,” then write articles to target different subtopics like “What is protein?,” “Best protein powder,” and “Natural ways to get protein,” etc. The more high-quality content you produce, organize, and optimize around a topic, the more search engines will recognize you as an authority on the subject, and the better you will rank for that topic.
Start by using SEMRUSH.com to find and group the keywords you and your competitors are currently ranking for organically on search engines. This will help you see what topics are relevant to you. It will also let you see what topics your competitors are targeting so you can assess whether you should also target those topics. Use the keywords’ search volume, the intent, and ranking difficulty to decide. You can take this a step further: use your website analytics to see what pages get the most engagement, and use social media to further verify whether your audience is interested in the topics.
Valuing Content Topics
Check the cost per click of the keywords in the topic group to get a sense of the monetary value Google Ads places on those terms. Each keyword in Google Ads has a price per click. The higher the cost per click, the more expensive and thus valuable the keyword and topic will be. This data is important because you can use it as a guide to prioritize your content production.
Optimizing Your Content
Ensure that you are creating content that targets your selected keywords, and optimize them for SEO to give them the ability to rank on search engines. Cover the basics like making sure the keyword is in the article’s meta title, meta description, URL, H1 – H3 tags, and page content — along with synonyms of the words. Make sure that you optimize videos and images on the page to target the terms as well. Content also needs to be optimized for ADA compliance so that it is accessible for people with disabilities. SEO elements like H1 tags, image file names, and alt text are important for this.
Your content strategy should be built so you can repurpose the content for lead generation. This is key for B2B. For example, you can write a ten-article series and then repackage the articles as a whitepaper download. There is tremendous value in repurposing your content for both you and your audience. It is cost effective and allows site visitors to see more of your content. Some will appreciate the convenience of downloading a whitepaper or ebook to read.
Always remember that the topic you are targeting should align with your overall business goals, should provide a benefit to your customers, and should be a topic your brand has the right to create content about.