Content clusters are beginning to play a big role in search engine ranking.
The Google algorithm is getting better and better at understanding thematically related content.
That means that the algorithm is giving preference to clusters of pages that deal with the same topic.
This article shows you an easy way to create content clusters.
And the best part?
This method uses Google's own algorithm to find your content clusters.
Lets' dive in.
Do you remember when keyword density was the big thing?
All you had to do was scatter your keyword throughout your content, using a density of about 3%, and you were good to go.
Well those days are over. Well and truly.
Why? What happened?
In a word: Hummingbird.
In 2013 Google introduced the Hummingbird algorithm.
This was like no other algorithm we’d ever seen. For the first time, Google was able to understand the meaning of the words on your page.
By detecting patterns in the way that words cluster together, Google can now map out entire topics.
That means that Google now understands the breadth and depth of any topic you care to write to about. It does this through topic modeling.
Through the Hummingbird algorithm, Google knows all the semantically related words associated with the topic you’re writing about. And that means it has a detailed understanding of the sub-topics that make up your topic.
To put it in a nutshell: Google is not focused on single keywords anymore – it’s focused on context.
And that’s why content clusters are now a key factor in how your content ranks on Google.
1. What are Content Clusters?
Topic clusters are groups of articles or blog posts that cover the same broad topic. Each article in a content cluster focuses on a slightly different sub-topic of the main topic.
For example, if the topic was email marketing, the content cluster might consist of five articles:
- List building
- List segmentation
- Email service providers
- Automated sequences
- Email marketing funnels
The crucial aspect of a content cluster is that every page in the cluster is semantically related to every other page.
2. Using ‘Related Article’ Blocks To Create Content Clusters
A few weeks ago, I sat down and tried to work out how to create content clusters out of my existing content.
I knew that Google is now using clusters of semantically related content to decide how relevant your content is to a given search query.
And I wanted to make sure that my content was organized into these kinds of clusters.
So, I decided to place a ‘Related Article’ block at the foot of each of my blog posts. These blocks would contain links to 3 to 5 articles on semantically related topics.
But I needed a way to group my 70-odd published articles into semantically related clusters.
In short, I needed some software that would rank my online content into thematically related groups.
The kind of software I needed was the software used by ‘Related Posts’ plugins. But where could I find such software? And how much was it going to cost me?
I started Googling it.
And then it hit me.
I had the best topical relevance algorithm in the world, staring me in the face!
Google had already indexed all of my online content. So, I would get Google to tell me what my content clusters were.
Here’s how to do it:
3. How To Find Your Content Clusters
Take any article that you have optimized for a particular keyword.
Then go to Google and type in inurl:yourdomain +keyword
Google will list the blog posts on your website that share the most topical relevance for that keyword.
Link those articles to each other and you have a topic cluster!
4. How To Create Your Topic Clusters
First of all, download and install the Export Post Info plugin.
Once you have the plugin installed and activated, enter a name for your download file, click ‘save Changes’, and then click on the download link:
The plugin creates a CSV file with the following columns:
- Number of words
Open the CSV file in either Microsoft Excel or Numbers for Mac.
Create a new column and give it the title ‘keywords’
Then create an additional three columns and name them:
- Related Post 01
- Related Post 02
- Related Post 03
Then copy the titles (not the URLs) of those blog posts from the Google search results and drop the titles into the three related posts columns
Now just copy and paste the text of those three titles into your Related Posts block
Select the text of the article title and click on the link tool in your editor. Then start typing in the title of the related article.
The link tool should automatically find the article that you want to link to:
And that’s it!
You’ve now added links to 3 to 5 thematically related articles.
In other words, you’ve created a topic cluster.
5. SEO Benefits of Topic Clusters
Content clusters result in two SEO benefits:
1. Your visitors stay on your site longer because they’ll probably want to read at least one of the related articles. That means more ‘time on site’. And that’s going to boost your SEO.
2. Google detects, through the Hummingbird algorithm, that you have clusters of thematically related content. That’s going to raise your topical authority. And that’s another SEO boost.
Do this with every blog post on your site and you should see an increase in your organic traffic.
I started creating these content clusters about two weeks ago and I’m already seeing a spike in my organic traffic:
As the Google algorithm gets better and better at understanding meaning and context, content marketers need to move away from a focus on individual pages.
Instead, we need to focus on clusters of thematically related content. These clusters will help Google understand that your website has topical authority on that particular topic.
And increased topical authority will translate into higher rankings in the search results.