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How to Improve Your SEO with Topic Clusters and Internal Linking

Recently, HubSpot reported a rise in SERP impressions after they implemented strategies to boost internal links. So what is this all about? Why would Google trust internal links as an indicator of site quality? It is all about Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages.

Internal linking and topic clusters are important to SEO for outdoor brands. Topic clusters are interlinked pages that are all related to a particular topic. Nowadays, you have to focus primarily on site structure and topics instead of keywords implementation for a successful and modern SEO strategy. This type of architecture focuses on structural shift to lower easier navigation to related content. It focuses on greater search engine visibility through the use of topics instead of keywords.

According to a recent study (The results are based on a survey of 240 SEO specialists, 100 of whom support enterprise companies either in-house or as agencies) from seoClarity, North Star Inbound and BuzzStream two of the search engine optimization strategies that are being prioritized are content development and link building. 

Content Development

  • SEOs rely most on keyword research when determining which content to create or optimize. Search intent and volume are closely grouped as the most important factors when analyzing keywords for content strategy. Companies are finding improvements in content optimization through topic clusters.

Link-Building

  • The vast majority of respondents across company sizes are either keeping their link building budgets steady or increasing them, likely due to the difficulty they’re finding with this activity.
  • PR is perceived to be the most effective link-building tactic used in the past 12 months, particularly for enterprise SEOs. For the smallest companies, (1-100 employees), guests posts closely follow in effectiveness.

clarity SEO Enterprise SEO Most Successful Strategies Aug2017

Persistently developing content strategy is absolutely necessary to combat changes in search method.
Web search is evolving to include more abstract and less specified phrases. Users are and have been hoping Google will recognize there intent, and Google has been doing a pretty good job. For example, when you search for 'restaurants near me' Google will identify your location and show you results accordingly. Moreover, Google is now showing you the estimated wait times for restaurants in real time with a new feature to Google Search. This new and intent-focused search method calls for a shift in site structure to better accommodate the needs of the user. 

The Problem with 'Direct Keywords'

Direct keyword searches have too many subtle variations for users to have a specific and focused search. Because of Google's new ranking factor, Rankbrain, it is important that we optimize our websites around topics rather than a limited amount of keywords. This combined with streamlined internal linking can greatly increase the accessibility of your website. This subtle shift in structure allows for a more streamlined architecture and harmony among keywords on the same topic.

Topic Clusters (or Pillar Pages) are Key

Google's algorithm is constantly evolving to provide the best possible answers to searchers queries. Some of these changes include penalizing too many irrelevant internal links and interpreting conversational queries as a thought instead of direct keywords. A pillar page is a comprehensive resource page that covers a core topic in depth and links to high-quality content created for the supporting subtopics. This allows users find the related and accurate content they need more easily and allows a more streamlined process for web crawlers to understand and relate topics on your website.

 

Cluster model-1

It has three main components:

  1. Pillar content (your pillar page)
  2. Cluster content
  3. Hyperlinks

An additional benefit of the structure is that when one of these pages performs well, it is still related to the rest of the top a cluster. This helps all pages in that topic cluster get more SEO authority. Topics boost your signal to Google that each individual long-tail keyword in a topic cluster is semantically related to slinking related content more easily and increasing search visibility. Optimize your SEO efforts and save precious time with topic clusters that help more pages rank to give searchers better answers.

If your website doesn’t have pillared content, don't worry! It’s very easy to start. The HubSpot tool is really easy to you. Here are five examples from HubSpot and nine more from another post to help get your creative juices going. The steps are:

  1. Enter a core topic
  2. Build out your suptopics
  3. Connect your subtopics to core topics
  4. Rinse and repeat

Latent semantic indexing is the focus here.

Google recognizes internal links as being vitally important. Where you link within your site is an important part of your SEO strategy because it shows Google what content is a priority and what is related. 
In conclusion, topic cluster is a way to re-organize your content to perform better with new search engine algorithms and user behavior. For example, if your pillar page is 'email marketing' then subtopics like 'how to build your email list' and 'increase your email your mail opt-ins' will support the topic cluster.

To choose primary or overall topics, simply review the primary landing pages of your site. The subtopics will take a bit more critical analysis. Frequently viewed links are a good place to start. Keep in mind, subtopics are usually designed to continually shift, grow, and adjust with your site. 
This new SEO strategy of Topic Clusters and Internal Linking will illustrate to Google that you are an authority on your subject. This will help propel you into a primary position in search.

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