5 Tips for Content Planning with Topic Clustering

Posted by Jessica Fender on May 14, 2018 11:29:00 AM

mind mapping board for content topic cluster

Thanks to our guest contributor Jessica Fender of Online Writers Rating.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) patterns have changed over the years. Regardless of whether you are a content creator or a planner, these things affect your everyday work. The latest trend to hit global search engines is the inclusion of “topic clustering” as a means to fight mechanical keyword optimization.

It’s no longer enough to simply abide by the logical rules of search engines – your content needs to have relevance and meaning. But how do we define topic clustering and how can we effortlessly implement it into already defined content planning strategies? Let’s take a look at some useful tips that can help you increase your ranking and traffic in no time at all.

Topic clustering 101

Topic clustering represents the next big step in SEO evolution. Gone are the days of targeting keywords and SERP parameters without any logic for the audience at hand. Instead, topic clusters enable you to create more organic content that plays off of single related topic.

For example, creating a pillar page (let’s say, for marketing) allows you to branch off into different topics that are related to the pillar. Anything that is remotely connected to the pillar you created can be considered a topic in itself (like marketing tips, marketing trends, marketing guides, etc.). This allows you to connect content with interlinked hyperlinks and rank it higher than it would otherwise be ranked.

Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have already implemented topic clustering as a means to provide more relevant and useful results for their users. Some of the most important benefits to consider when thinking about topic clustering in your content planning are:

  • Topics are relevant to your audience and not just algorithms or keywords.

  • A stable relationship with search engines due to topic clusters.

  • Build a long-term relationship with your audience.

  • Improve the overall visibility and relevance of every piece of content on your site.

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These benefits are important and can make a huge difference between your site and the competitors’. So what are some useful and actionable tips that you can implement right now to steer your content into topic clustering waters?

1. Focus on the Point

The pillar of your content is the most important part of a topic cluster. This means that your initial topic has to be striking, relevant and trending in your niche. Try defining a topic that can be explored in different areas, perspectives and parts.

The more comprehensive your pillar is, the more you will be able to branch out and cluster your topics. Many content creators settle for singular topics that may or may not be interesting to their audience. Topic clustering demands that you think in advance if you want to succeed.

2. Keywords in Titles and Subheadings

While keywords aren’t as important as they once were, they still play a vital role in SEO. Implementing keywords into your pillar content and subtopics allows for a greater range of SEO capabilities. For example, if the trending word in your niche is “marketing,” implementing this word into every subtopic can prove beneficial for your SERP ranking.

You can still use Google Adwords to find out which keywords are popular right now and use those the same way you did before. The main difference here is that your content doesn’t need to be as keyword optimized as it was before – you only need to focus on titles and subheadings.

3. Mind Map Your Topics

The easiest way to create a cluster of topics is to simply brainstorm them through mind mapping. Mind mapping is a technique that allows you to come up with different words and phrases that connect to your initial word – much like topic clustering itself.

Following the example we set before, “marketing” can branch out into different terms such as “profit,” “digital marketing,” “social media marketing,” and similar. All of these terms can be used to create subtopics that will become an integral part of your cluster. Make sure to always stay on the target however, since mind mapping can take you off track easily.

Focus on the terms directly related to the initial word you chose, and work your way out from there. Repeating this process will give you ample material for creating a cohesive cluster of topics for your content strategy and planning.

4. Think Long-Term

Clustering your topics means that you are ready to commit to a long-term content plan. Creating short-term content plans is not a feasible solution if you want to raise your ranking and improve your visibility while still using topic clustering.

Try to create pillars that can support up to a dozen subtopics each with a distinct take on your initial topic. This will allow your audience to adapt to your new content creation style and give search engines ample opportunity to spot you. Changing topic clusters mid-cycle is not a good strategy since it will confuse both your readers and SEO.

5. Don’t Settle for “Good”

Topic clustering won’t change your content creation process from the ground up. It will, however, affect your planning and tracking of said content. Don’t settle for “good” content that proves that content clustering works on your website. Try to understand why it worked in the first place and how can it work even better the next time.

Creating new pillars and subtopics will come in even intervals (depending on your content calendar). Make sure that you are ready with an exciting new topic that your content creators can work with when that time comes. Just “good enough” often won’t be what will make your site stand out from the crowd.

Exceptional content is hard to come by so don’t stop iterating and evolving your topics. Some of your subtopics may even have the potential to become pillar content themselves in the next content cycle. Always look for opportunities to improve upon your foundation and your topic clustering will bear ample fruit.

Relevance over keywords

Judging by the latest trends and developments, topic clustering will take precedent over keyword optimization in the near future. It might be a good idea to establish channels of communication with your audience to determine what they would like to see from you in the near future.

Readers often have very useful and objective tips about the content you provide for them, so your first pillar topics might come from them. Don’t overlook the benefits of implementing topic clustering in these early stages of development. Websites that are pioneering this technology have already seen improvements, so why not make the most of it?

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Jessica Fender

Written by Jessica Fender

Jessica Fender, professional writer, independent blogger and chief content officer at OnlineWritersRating.com. She is passionate about wise team management and self-development as a leader. Featured on Freelancer.com and Addicted2Success.

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