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Topic Clusters

Updated at 2018-06-22 03:38

Topic cluster is a search engine optimization strategy that focuses on topics as opposed to keywords. It improves content architecture, search rankings and your standing as a thought leader in the problem domain.

Topic cluster has six parts:

1. Buyer Personas 2. Key Problems 3. Core Topics 4. Subtopics 5. Support Content 6. Pillar Content

You start planning from the high level, dive deep and then revise as you rise up.

1─2 = Problem Layer (Personas and Problems) │ 6 3 = Core Layer (Core Topics and Pillar Content) │ │ 5 4 = Support Layer (Subtopics and Support Content) └─┘

1. Buyer Personas Buyer personas are fictional and generalized representations of your ideal customer. Companies can have from one to 20 different buyer personas. You need more insight until you can predict what an interviewee will answer to each question.

One good way to create buyer personas is to look at your current users and split them into distinct groups through analytics, surveys and interviews.

Example questions to ask:

# Personal, context dictates if you can ask these First Name Age Gender Family Location Educational background Career path; past and future?

# Work What is your job role, title and industry? What does a typical day look like? What are you responsbile of and how is your job measured? What does it mean to be successful in your role? What skills and tools are required to do your job? Who do you report to? Who reports to you? What is your biggest challenge?

# Marketing Which publications or blogs do you read? How do you prefer to interact with companies; email, phone, in person? Which industry terms or buzzwords do you use? What social networks do you participate in?

# Product, don't ask in interviews How does our product help them? What situations cause the persona to realize they need our product? What are their common questions about our product? What are their common objections against our product? What makes our product different from alternatives?

2. Key Problems Figure out up to 10 key problems that your buyer persona has. Use surveys, interviews and research, it is good to ask the "biggest challenges" in their day to day job.

We need to get more traffic on our website. Adopting new tools in my team takes way too long. We want to get exposure but company marketing budget is very tight. Finding keywords for marketing ads is hard in our industry. Our company needs to get more creditable in a new problem domain ASAP.

3. Core Topics Group key problems into broad core topics, a single problem can belong to multiple topics. Core topic is up to 4 word phrase that includes the terms that buyers would use to search for solutions to their concerns that your business solves.

We need to get more traffic on our website. (problem) + We need more exposure with a tight budget. (problem) + Company needs more creditability. (problem) = inbound marketing (core topic)

4. Subtopics Use keyword search to find 4+ subtopics for each of your core topics. What are the core topic related questions that your business could solve. Searching for your core topic on search engines might highlight common questions customers have.

inbound marketing = (core topic) * social media lead generation (subtopic) * inbound marketing agencies (subtopic) * inbound marketing tools (subtopic) * local inbound marketing (subtopic) * b2b inbound marketing (subtopic)

5. Support Content Plan at least 1 content for each subtopic, preferably more. Each support content must contain a link to the pillar content. This signals to search engines that all your subtopics are related to the core topic. Support content is the meat of the system and builds you authority around the core topic.

6. Pillar Content Plan at least 1 pillar content for each core topic. Pillar content need to cover the core topic broadly enough so it makes sense to link all support content to it. Pillar content should be at least 1200 words but can be build over time.

Repurposing existing content is essential in the long run. When you start writing more and more content to for your core topics and subtopics, keep in mind the old content you have available. If you can repurpose the well performing content to act as pillar or support content for another topic without editing it too much, do it.

Note that content can be something else than blog posts. Guides, tutorials, infographics etc. are all acceptable; just make sure that the content is SEO friendly.

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