Keyword Research Strategy header image

Conventional SEO practice would suggest that each page focuses on and is optimized for one main keyword. Today, keyword clusters can help with a more efficient SEO strategy that enables you to target multiple keywords on the same page, assisting search engines in understanding the relevance of that page to various queries. This lets you focus on perfecting each page versus expending resources on multiple similar pages that may be thinner and less informative.

As long as the words you target have the same search intent, it’s possible to target them despite a difference in phrasing — as long as your SEO team knows how to distill and use keyword clusters to their full advantage.

In this blog, we will explore different ways in which you can integrate keyword clusters within your marketing strategy while avoiding content cannibalization.

What Are Keyword Clusters Or Topic Clusters?

With every page, post and piece of content on your website, you give Google multiple clues to help its algorithms understand that content. Once Google understands what the content is about, it can match it to relevant queries.

Keyword clustering helps disseminate some of these clues. They comprise numerous word combinations to include in your content. These show that your content matches a user’s search intent, no matter how it is worded.

To illustrate, let’s use an example of a skincare brand with a website full of helpful resources to educate its target audience about skincare. And they’ve really put in the work in creating a specific guide that speaks to the following keyword terms:

  • Serums for dry skin
  • Hydrating serums
  • Face serum for dry skin

Would it make sense to create three separate blog posts with similar content on these topics, each targeting one of those terms as the focus keyword?

A quick Google search will reveal that all these keywords pull similar search engine results pages (SERPs) because they essentially talk about similar subjects.

Sample Google Search Results for Skincare search

Google Search example

Instead, the content can aim to rank for all these keywords from the same post. Because the same search intent can be communicated in many ways — clustering these three keyword phrases presents an opportunity to rank higher and cover all versions of user’s search intent.

How to Find Keyword Clusters

As mentioned, topic clusters or content clusters represent a broad net of related terms. These cover what you want to communicate in particular pieces of content. A topic cluster approach includes:

  • Identifying core topics (or pillar topics), i.e., broad subject areas that are relevant to your niche. In the skincare brand example, this could be “natural skincare.”

  • Coming up with narrower topics that fall within this broad pillar topic and are related to the primary keyword. For natural skincare, these could be “DIY masks routine”, “fruit masks acne”, and so on. All of these will constitute starting your keyword list.

  • Using keyword research tools to include variations of these above narrow topics.

  • Incorporating long-tail keywords (specific keyword phrases, generally 3+ words in length) that customers usually search for. They differ from other keywords because they deal with one narrow subtopic. For example, “natural acne clay masks for men”.

  • Classifying these keywords in groups according to patterns such as synonyms, extended phrases, and so. For example, “DIY skincare kit”, “best DIY skincare routine”, and “DIY skincare tips” could all be clumped together. Semantic relationships will help you group these keywords. Other parameter, such as search volume and CPC, will help you filter keywords.

Once you have keyword clusters, they become the indicators for the content you produce.

How Do Topic Clusters Support Your SEO Strategy?

You need to align what you want to share with what the target audience searches for on Google. Once you do that, you will get organic traffic from readers. You are answering with relevant content that follows keyword clusters.

Topics clusters are essential because they help with:

Ranking

Google peruses your website for indexing purposes and to gauge your content’s value. Using these keyword clusters will show that your brand understands a user’s search intent.

It will assure Google that you can answer relevant and common search queries. Google will then promote you in their search results. Your cluster will include low-ranking long-tail keywords with less competition and high-ranking short keywords that most of your competitors are vying for.

Authority

When you shape your blog post based on keyword ideas and clusters, you cover a breadth of information from different perspectives. You are not just identifying semantic relationships between words to help Google understand your content. You are also displaying authority over the subject by recognizing related topics.

For example, “moisturizing cream” and “moisturizing lotion” may be interchangeable search terms for your users. Addressing these topics (even though lotion and cream are different products) will educate the user while also answering their query.

Organized, Fast Content Idea and Execution Engine

Your content will be more focused when your keyword clusters dictate what to write about. You will also be better positioned to scale your content production efforts.

Avoiding Keyword Cannibalization

This is one of the many ways to master your keyword research strategy. When you have a list of unstructured keywords, you may be tempted to pepper them across all your content pieces in a haphazard manner.

This leads to keyword cannibalization, and, in turn, Google will not be able to tell which of the content pieces are trying to rank for a particular keyword. It won’t know which page to rank and may lead to unintended rankings for pages that are not directly relevant to the reader.

Content clusters may seem like a lot of work at the start. But, it’s worth investing in. They make your content and SEO strategy laser-focused, scalable and efficient, all while generating authority and organic traffic for your brand.

Tips for Incorporating Keyword Clusters in Your Content Strategy

You have your list of focus keywords, pillar topics, and keyword clusters. What next? Your instinct might say to include these keywords in as many web pages, video descriptions, and image tags as possible. But that is keyword stuffing, something that Google recognizes as spammy (it can harm your search rankings), and worse, cause your business to be seen as inauthentic.

Keyword stuffing affects the reliability of the content. Trustworthiness is an underlying factor for methods data aggregators use to improve local SEO.

In the short term:

  • Begin creating new content with these keyword clusters.
  • Dedicate one piece of content to one cluster of related keywords and one broad primary keyword.
  • Follow SEO best practices related to keyword usage for this page.
  • Then move on to the next piece and repeat.

In the long-term:

  • Update your pre-existing content with these keyword clusters. You will notice that your older pieces will get an SEO boost.
  • Start with the highest-performing blog posts on your website, then focus on your blog posts that have an opportunity to rank, and update them with your keyword clusters.

The most important step is adding internal links to all the new and old content. When you link to related pages on your website, you create a chain of valuable content that the reader can journey through from one page to another. While executing this step, follow internal linking best practices for SEO purposes.

The aim is to create a web of interrelated content from primary keywords, all of which will fall into a single cluster. While doing this, you will find gaps in your content ideas, which can be the foundation for new keyword clusters.

You can employ the takeaways from the 2021 local search ranking factors report as a blueprint for internal links.

Specific places you can choose to include your keywords are:

Backlinks

When you write guest posts  or press releases related to the topic you have a keyword cluster for, it can help to include that keyword in the anchor text if it naturally fits.

Alt-text

The biggest mistake you can make here is to include “skincare solutions” or a similar broad keyword in every alt-text for videos and images. Make a deliberate effort to include long-tail keywords relevant to the visual component.

URLs and Meta Tags

Keywords can go beyond the content on your website. Strategically adding them to your URLs and meta-tags will help boost your pages.

Finally, include keywords in all the local search ranking factors for your Google Business Profile.

Additional Tips for Incorporating Keyword Clusters

  • Make content updates related to keyword clusters a part of your SEO spring cleaning  or ongoing clean-up practices.

  • Use keyword grouping tools, like answerthepublic.com or Soovle, to augment your keyword research process. This tool will help find out queries related to the 5Ws (Who/What, Why, When, Where, Which) that people use in their search queries.

  • Unlock patterns and user pain points by mobilizing social media platforms like Reddit. Join the subreddits that are the most relevant to your niche and track the questions that people post there. The more organic your keyword research, the more relevant these keywords will be. Other sources include Amazon reviews, troubleshooting forums for tech products/services, and Facebook communities. This doubles as audience research for content and product ideas in general and not just for keyword clusters.

  • Supplement the work done by keyword research tools with manual keyword searches. Type the primary keyword in Google Search and scroll to the bottom. Look at ‘related searches’. Using Autocomplete was one of the lessons we learned from the top google searches of 2021.

  • Discover keywords ideas from mining competitor websites.

Regardless of where you are in your content journey, including keyword clusters in your SEO strategy and local landing pages will streamline your content execution. If you are unsure where to begin, contact us, and we will get you started.