The Way We Search Has Changed
The way we search has changed over time, as Google has evolved its search algorithm and introduced new features to better understand and respond to user queries. This evolution can be seen through the various updates that Google has made to its algorithm over the years – from the Penguin update (2012) to the Hummingbird update (2013), to the mobile-friendly update (2015) to RankBrain (late 2015) and the introduction of Topic Clusters (2015).
All of these updates have contributed to a greater emphasis on creating high-quality, relevant, and user-centred content. They also have led to a greater emphasis on understanding user intent, optimizing for mobile, and using natural language.
What is a topic cluster content strategy, and why should you use it?
A topic cluster content strategy is a way of organizing your website's content around specific topics. The strategy involves creating a "pillar" page that covers a broad topic in-depth, and several "cluster" pages that delve deeper into specific subtopics related to that main topic. This structure helps search engines understand the relationship between your pages and rank them more effectively. According to Hubspot, topic clusters can also help boost your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website.
The importance of using a topic cluster content strategy lies in the fact that it helps to improve your search engine rankings, drive more traffic to your website and establish your business as an authority in your industry. By grouping related content together, it makes it easier for search engines to understand the relationship between your pages and understand the context of your content. It also makes it easier for your audience to find relevant information on your website, which can lead to higher engagement and lower bounce rates.
Furthermore, it's a way of providing comprehensive information about a specific topic, and it helps to create a cluster of content around it, making it easier for the audience to find all the information about a topic in one place. By creating a pillar page, you can establish your business as an authority in your industry and provide valuable information to your target audience. This can lead to increased trust, and brand loyalty and ultimately lead to an increase in conversion.
Importance of topic clusters
Topic clusters are important for many and varied reasons such as:
- Improves search engine rankings by helping search engines understand the relationship between your pages and their context.
- Drives more traffic to your website by making it easier for users to find relevant information on your site.
- Establishes your business as an authority in your industry by providing comprehensive information on specific topics.
- Enhances user experience by providing a cluster of information on a specific topic, it makes it easier for the audience to find all the information about a topic in one place.
- Increases engagement and reduces bounce rates by making it easier for users to find relevant information on your site.
- Helps to create trust and brand loyalty by providing valuable information to your target audience.
- This can lead to increased conversions by establishing your business as a trustworthy source of information.
- Helps to create a structure for your content and makes it more organized, making it easier for you and your team to plan, create, and manage your content.
- Encourages internal linking and improves the overall navigation of your website.
- Facilitates the process of repurposing content by allowing you to easily create new cluster pages from existing pillar page content.
- Helps to target long-tail keywords, which are more specific and have less competition.
How to Build a Topic Cluster
4 steps to developing a topic cluster content strategy
- Define your topic areas:
In this step, you will determine a broad topic area you want your business to be known for and build authority around. This could be a product or service you offer, an industry you are a part of, or a problem that your business helps solve. Choosing a topic that aligns with your business goals and interests your target audience is important.
- Identify your core topics:
Once you have defined your topic area, you can begin to contextualize it into more specific core topics. These core topics should be closely related to your business and your audience's interests and should be specific enough to provide value and attract a specific audience. It's important to identify a few core topics that align with your business and can be used to create a series of cluster content.
- Identify your subtopics:
After identifying yo....ur core topics, you can begin to identify a series of subtopics that support them. These subtopics should be specific and relevant to your core topics and should provide additional value to your audience. You can use tools like Hubspot's Blog Topic Generator to help you identify subtopics related to your core topics.
- Create a pillar page:
The final step in developing your topic cluster strategy is to create a pillar page that covers your core topic comprehensively. This page should serve as the foundation for your topic cluster and provide an overview of the subtopics related to that core topic. It should be comprehensive, well-researched, and well-written, and should include internal links to your cluster pages. The pillar page should be designed to attract your target audience and provide them with valuable information, this will help establish your business as an authority in your industry.
Topic Clusters and their Context with Regards to Google and its Updates
In terms of Google and its updates, topic clusters are particularly relevant in light of Google's recent emphasis on E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) and the role of content in building a website's reputation. Google wants to provide its users with the most relevant, high-quality and trustworthy information. A topic cluster approach helps to signal to Google that a website is providing comprehensive information on a specific topic, which can help to establish the website as an authority on that topic. Google's recent updates have been focusing on quality content and user experience, and topic clusters can help to provide both.
Additionally, by targeting long-tail keywords which are more specific and have less competition, topic clusters can help a website to rank for a wider range of keywords and drive more traffic to the website.
In summary, topic clusters are a way to organize content around specific topics, making it easier for both search engines and users to understand the relationship between the pages and find relevant information. It helps to establish a website as an authority on a specific topic and improve its visibility in search results.
Google Algorithm Updates
Google's algorithm updates have had a significant impact on how we plan and create content. Here is a brief overview of some of the critical updates from 2012 to 2015:
- In 2012, Google released the Penguin update, which targeted websites that were using manipulative tactics to improve their rankings, such as buying links or using keyword stuffing. The update aimed to penalize these websites and improve the search results for users by promoting websites that provided high-quality, relevant content.
- In 2013, Google introduced the Hummingbird update, which focused on improving the way Google understood the meaning behind queries and the context in which they were being used. This update helped Google to better understand natural language queries and deliver more accurate search results.
- In 2015, Google had mobile-friendly updates, commonly known as "Mobilegeddon" that favoured mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. The update was designed to help users find websites that were easy to navigate and read on mobile devices, as more and more users were using smartphones to access the internet.
- In 2015, Google also introduced RankBrain, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that uses machine learning to understand natural language queries and the context in which they are being used. It helps Google to better understand the intent behind a query and deliver more accurate search results.
All of these updates had an impact on how we plan and create content. The Penguin update emphasized the importance of creating high-quality, relevant content and avoiding manipulative tactics. The Hummingbird update reinforced the importance of understanding user intent and creating content that answers the questions people are asking. The mobile-friendly update emphasized the importance of making content accessible on mobile devices and designing websites that are easy to navigate. And RankBrain reinforced the importance of understanding user intent and creating content that is relevant to the user's query.
What is a Pillar Page?
A pillar page is the main page on your website that covers a broad topic in-depth. It serves as the foundation for a topic cluster and provides an overview of the subtopics related to that main topic. The pillar page includes internal links to the cluster pages, which cover specific subtopics in more detail. This structure helps search engines understand the relationship between your pages and rank them more effectively. According to Hubspot, creating a pillar page is essential for the success of your topic cluster strategy and can help improve your search engine rankings.
Continue to Attract Organic Traffic
These major algorithm updates and changes in user search behaviour mean that marketers need to adapt their strategies in order to continue to attract organic traffic. Here are a few key takeaways for marketers looking to attract organic traffic:
- Create high-quality, relevant content: The Penguin update emphasized the importance of creating high-quality, relevant content that provides value to users. This means that marketers need to focus on creating content that is informative, engaging, and relevant to their target audience.
- Understand user intent: The Hummingbird update reinforced the importance of understanding user intent and creating content that answers the questions people are asking. This means that marketers need to research what their target audience is searching for and create content that addresses those needs.
- Optimize for mobile: The mobile-friendly update emphasized the importance of making content accessible on mobile devices. This means that marketers need to ensure that their website is mobile-friendly and that their content is easily readable on a mobile device.
- Use natural language: The RankBrain update reinforced the importance of understanding user intent and creating content that is relevant to the user's query. This means that marketers should use natural language and avoid keyword stuffing in their content.
- Use topic clusters: The topic clusters strategy is an approach that groups related content together, making it easier for both search engines and users to understand the relationship between the pages and find relevant information. This means that marketers should use this approach to structure their content, making it more organized and easier to navigate.
Overall, these updates have led to a greater emphasis on creating high-quality, relevant, and user-centred content. It's important for marketers and business owners to stay up-to-date with these updates and to create content that is optimized for both users and search engines in order to achieve better search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic.