Topic clusters are an essential content strategy tool to help you simplify your content creation and concentrate your efforts around the manufacturing subjects that matter most to your customers.
In this blog post, we explore how topic clusters work, why they’re so useful for your content strategy and how you can go about creating them.
So what’s changed?
Keywords have been at the heart of successful content creation for over a decade.
But changes to Google’s algorithms over the last several years (most significantly Hummingbird in 2013, and Rankbrain in 2015) have seen a distinct move away from exact keyword matches.
In its place is a shift towards an ‘interpretation model’ that seeks to better understand contextual search and user intent.
Just as significant too is the explosion in the use of voice search, with experts predicting that 50% of all searches will be voice activated by 2020.
The reality is, if we continue doing we've always done, we’re no longer going to get the results we want.
Topic clusters haven't replaced keywords, however what they have done is pushed content marketers to look beyond singular search terms to thinking about topics in a broader context.
The emphasis now is not on writing for search engines - but on creating semantically relevant, useful, long-form content that informs, assists and reassures your manufacturing prospects as they move through each stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
Topic clusters explained
First things first, let’s take a closer look at the two key elements that make up a topic cluster:
1) A Pillar Page
A pillar page is a comprehensive, long-form, resource page that sits at the top of your website's navigation and that explores a central topic in depth.
The primary purpose of a well-constructed pillar page is to act as the leading, trusted authority on a chosen topic.
2) Cluster Content
Cluster content is the selection of related sub-topics that support and expand upon your central theme or pillar.
These shorter items of content can take a variety of forms - whether they're internal links to your own website pages, blog posts or landing pages or high-quality links to external sources that you know and trust.
Why do topic clusters matter?
- They help search engines recognise and make sense of your content
- They help you build greater authority with your audience
- They ensure you optimise the performance of each piece of content you create
- And they ultimately lead to higher rankings, increased traffic and more conversions
Creating a topic cluster relies on four simple steps:
1) Choose your primary topic
When deciding on a topic, you’ll want to hone in on what's core to your business.
This is the area in which you can demonstrate true authority; an opportunity for you to show how much better you know your subject than any competitor competition.
2) Identify your sub-topics
This next step is an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customers.
What are their most frequently asked questions? What are their pain points? And how can the issues you address in your sub-topics provide the solutions they're looking for?
Keyword research will be an invaluable resource at this stage of the process - both to ensure that you’ve covered all the important subject areas and to help stimulate new content ideas,
3) Collate/create your sub-topic content
Any topic that is already at the heart of your business is likely to have a body of existing content for you to draw on.
So this step will be first and foremost about collating and organising what you already have - and then supplementing that by filling in the gaps where necessary.
If you use an automated software system such as HubSpot, then their content audit feature can help streamline the process by automatically organising your relevant web pages and blog posts into topics for you.
4) Interlink your content
The final piece of the puzzle is to link each of your sub-topics back to your central pillar page.
This demonstrates to search engines how your content ties together and establishes link-rich authority, supporting your existing pages with other relevant and valuable content.
Developing topic clusters around the key areas of your manufacturing business will help to simplify your content creation activities, elevate your search engine visibility and ensure you remain focused on what's important to your customers.