B2B SEO: How to Rank With Topic Clusters

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According to Foundation Labs, over 39% of B2B marketers struggle to create an SEO plan that effectively targets their primary keywords and topics.

They find that no amount of keyword research, publishing frequency, backlinks, outreach, social media sharing or website redesigns seems to move the needle. They see absolutely no bump in organic traffic.

If this sounds familiar, it’s likely because the strategy behind your SEO is out of tune. In B2B SEO, your ability to rank for your targeted topics comes down to authority. And since most B2B companies focus on niche topics, they need to demonstrate heavy expertise on these select topics in order to rank.

The way to do this in B2B SEO is through topic clustering. It’s a simple yet effective SEO strategy that produces amazing results.

This guide will explain what a topic cluster is, how it works, and what’s needed to develop a customized cluster content strategy for your SEO.

What is a Topic Cluster?

Let’s begin by understanding what a topic cluster is.

A topic cluster is when a piece of pillar content is linked to by other pieces of related content. This is a fancy way of saying writing multiple pieces of content that are all related to a primary topic.

If you’re a B2B cybersecurity SaaS, you’d want your primary topic/keyword to relate to cybersecurity.

Simply writing multiple articles targeting “cybersecurity” will not be enough. First, your keyword ranking will be far too narrow with too much competition.

Secondly, you miss out on longtail keywords that users frequently search when doing research on topics like cybersecurity.

If you were to introduce secondary keywords like “How to Prevent Phishing Emails”, “Setting Up a Firewall”, “The Benefits of a SCADA System”, and “How to Respond to a Cyber Threat”, then you’d begin to create a content cluster.

As you can see, each secondary topic is strongly linked to the main topic (in this case cybersecurity). This is the premise behind a topic cluster as it aims to build on top of what you already know to provide a more in-depth look at a topic.

When done right, topic clusters have major SEO advantages for businesses. It presents your business as an authority on the subject and it also allows Google and other major search engines to direct highly targeted traffic in your direction.

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Using topic clusters, we helped a niche B2B service company triple their organic traffic in just 4 months.

Cluster vs Non-Cluster SEO

To further understand what topic clusters are all about, it’s important to recognize the difference between cluster and non-cluster SEO.

Let’s take a look at the same example as before and see how it compares to a non-cluster set of keywords.

Main Topic: Cybersecurity
Secondary Topics (Cluster): How to Prevent Phishing Emails, Setting Up a Firewall, The Benefits of a SCADA System, and How to Respond to a Cyber Threat
Secondary Topics (Non-Cluster): The Benefits of a TV, Using a Computer Properly, Finding the Right Document Conversion Software

As you can see, topic clusters give you the opportunity to create a tightly-linked set of keywords, which feed off of each other and help teach the lead about a specific topic. While the non-cluster approach is simply the idea of finding loosely-linked keywords and tossing everything at the website to see what works.

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Non-cluster SEO focuses on topics outside of a defined niche. You might write one article about how to take a great photograph and the next about how to design a website. Usually, non-cluster SEO stems from keyword cherry-picking.

The reason non-cluster SEO rarely works is due to authority and trust. Google is more likely to reward a website that has expertise in defined areas. In B2B marketing campaigns, the goal is to find targeted leads. The best way to use your website’s SEO strategy to find these kinds of leads is by producing authoritative content.

Topic clustering has become a wonderful way to generate results and is an essential requirement for modern businesses. If it’s time to build a proper SEO campaign, it’s best to start here.

The Benefits of Using a Topic Cluster

1) Generates Targeted Traffic

The primary advantage of a topic cluster is generating targeted, organic traffic.

By creating a topic cluster, it’s easier to generate targeted leads because you gain authority in a niche. Google ranks you higher for related search queries since you’re noted as an expert at specific topics. Having this type of website traffic is a game-changer.

2) Builds Niche-Related Authority

Want to become an authority figure in your niche? Then great SEO is going to be a requirement.

And a topic cluster is going to get the job done. By answering related search queries, you’re immediately showing comprehensive knowledge when it comes to the main topic and its sub-topics.

As you start to create additional clusters, you will notice a rise in your authority and the type of leads being generated. The quality is going to improve and each lead will be ready to buy. This alone is a great way to yield impressive results.

3) Improves Your Conversion Rate

When you write generic content, you’re going to drive in generic leads. Sure, you might get more traffic, but what’s the point if all the leads are unqualified or not relevant to your business?

By using a topic cluster, your SEO and authority naturally increase your conversion rate since the reader is highly interested in what you have to say and what you’re selling.

Topic clustering also allows you to write content for the different stages of the buyer journey. This is key for improving conversion rates through SEO.

4) Simplifies Research

A lot of businesses don’t realize this, but creating a topic cluster makes life easier for them too.

It’s easier to research interlinked, connected topics rather than having to research multiple topics at the same time. You want to create a tight-knit topic cluster, do your research, and put together multiple pieces of content to showcase your knowledge.

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Not only do you save time but your SEO campaign begins trending in the right direction too.

How to Develop a Cluster Content Strategy

1) Begin with a Parent Topic

It’s important to start with a well-targeted parent topic.

What’s a “parent topic” in this case? It’s the primary keyword and topic you’re going to focus on.

Let’s assume you’re running a nutrition company and want to target supplement buyers to buy your products online.

Your parent topic shouldn’t be general nutrition. Instead, it has to start with supplements. You want supplements to become the heart of your website, which will allow you to flesh out multiple articles on the topic.

If you’re selling supplements, does it make sense to attract users wanting to learn how to do the bench press properly? While it might be loosely related to nutrition, users searching for bench press techniques are looking for other information and aren’t targeted to your business and your needs. This is why a topic cluster starts with a strong parent topic and then has related topics that all focus on that parent topic.

You want something related to what you’re selling (in this case supplements) and generate topics around that point.

2) Longtail keywords

Once you know your focal point and primary keywords, it’s time to find closely matched search queries.

Cluster topics often come in the form of longtail keywords, which can be targeted with well-written content. Instead of being all over the place, you’re creating a small cluster of articles that are going to attract high-value supplement buyers. The same applies to any niche as long as you do your research.

Studies show a well-designed SEO campaign is built on the shoulders of genuine keyword research, and topic clusters rely heavily on deep keyword research.

When you’re searching for keywords, take the time to figure out what a potential buyer could search for on Google. What is running through their mind? What type of answers are they after that your site could help with? And what targeting can you employ to reach users each stage of the buying journey?

These are important questions to ask during the research phase and will help over the long-term.

Too many B2B campaigns fail because businesses don’t think about finding closely matched search queries. Find at least 8-10 related keywords to start a small cluster of articles. This is going to go a long way in setting the foundation for your website and its ability to attract new leads.

3) Implement Seamless Interlinking

Interlinking, also called internal linking, is vitally important for an SEO campaign, and topic clusters make it simple and natural to internally link your website pages. Internal linking is when you link one page of your website to another and vice-versa.

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The idea of interlinking is to keep the reader interested in the topic by embedding links to related articles. For example, in your article about cybersecurity, you should include links to related articles on your website such as “How to Prevent Phishing Emails” and “Setting Up a Firewall.” By doing this, you help answer the reader’s questions and allow them to explore your other related content.

Google appreciates this because it shows your website is legitimate and an expert resource, and it helps them crawl and understand a website. While the reader is happy that they’re getting a comprehensive resource on a topic that’s piqued their interest.

In simpler terms, would you trust a website with one article on cybersecurity or hundreds? This is where interlinking helps. It shows you’re the real deal and well worth the reader/search engine’s time.

Remember, if you can show this type of authority, it will go a long way in ranking higher and generating new leads.

4) Each Article Should Be Its Own “Mini” Cluster

While a topic cluster is critical, it’s also important to take a micro approach to content creation.

When an article is written, it should include a separate small-sized cluster of related keywords. For example, if you are writing about the best supplements for bodybuilding, it makes sense to add additional keywords such as how to use supplements and the best dosage for bodybuilding supplements. Don’t overdo keyword insertion just for the sake of ranking, but do make sure to include keywords in titles and subtitles.

You can play around with what works but the goal is to show search engines what your article is about.

Building a topic cluster is great but it’s also important to think about each article as a separate asset. This lets you create a well-rounded SEO campaign.

As you start to build out a long list of articles, these small clusters will go a long way in targeting multiple keywords. Sometimes, you’re going to find keywords that aren’t worth creating separate articles on but could do well as part of a “mini” cluster. This is when you want to insert the keyword as an H2 or H3 heading for improved relevancy.

Google and other major search engines appreciate these related keywords as long as they make sense with the article’s topic. If yes, you’re going to see incredible returns and become an authority resource online.

Final Thoughts

The best B2B SEO campaigns use clusters to build authority and grow targeted traffic. When your potential customers see an authoritative voice that consistently ranks high, they’re more likely to buy.

You want to grab their attention and become the go-to option in the niche. Start with this strategy, do your research, and watch as your B2B SEO campaign reaches new heights quickly.

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Austin Cline is the founder and CEO of ASUN Digital. He frequently writes about brand strategy and digital marketing with expertise in B2B marketing. He has served as a senior director of marketing and director of digital and web for previous marketing agencies and has over 10 years of marketing experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @_austincline or connect with him on LinkedIn by visiting his profile.