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What are Keyword Clusters?
When it comes to search engine optimization, it can be difficult to determine which techniques and methods are worth pursuing for your online presence. This is especially true when considering how intelligent and complex search engines have become. Over the last few years, search engines have gained a deeper understanding of natural language including synonyms, abbreviations, and phrases that require a significant level of relevant knowledge. Despite this enhanced understanding, many site owners still optimize their websites with only a few keyword targets in mind.
While this may have once been sufficient, this approach is now outdated. This is especially true when you consider how landing pages often end up ranking for hundreds of keywords anyway. As the capabilities of search engines continue to improve, your on-page SEO strategy also needs to evolve to reflect these changes. As experts in SEO and content writing, the team at FirstPage Marketing knows that utilizing keyword clusters can help you elevate your content SEO strategy. That is why we have compiled some information to help you understand what keyword clusters are, the benefits they provide, and how to create them.
Keyword Clusters – An Overview
Keyword clusters are groups of keywords that represent users with similar search intent. For example, “blackout curtains”, “linen window curtains”, and “short curtains” are different keyword phrases, but they all represent searchers who want to buy curtains. In this example, “curtains” are the keyword cluster and the specific search terms represent related keywords.
If you only try to rank for the first keyword, you end up limiting your search engine visibility and potential traffic. Instead, it is best to try to get your page ranking for your primary keyword, the long-tail variants, and related subtopics. If you achieve this, your page will often end up ranking for many additional keywords and pick up significantly more traffic.
Benefits of Keyword Clusters
Before creating keyword clusters, it’s important to note that this strategy takes far more time and resources than most techniques. It requires more keyword research, more content planning, and, of course, more content writing. While creating keyword clusters requires more work than other methods, the benefits are worth it.
Typical benefits of keyword clustering include:
- Strong rankings for long-tail keywords.
- Improved rankings for short-tail keywords.
- Higher organic traffic through increased search engine visibility.
- Faster ranking improvements in SERPs.
- More opportunities for internal linking (linking blogs to service pages, etc.).
- Building expertise and content authority in your industry.
4 Steps to Create a Keyword Cluster
To create effective keyword clusters, you will need to perform the following steps:
Step 1: Perform Keyword Research and Build Lists
Effective keyword clusters start with a lot of in-depth keyword research. First, think of the primary keyword you want your page to rank for. Next, identify all the variations, long-tail phrases, and subtopics of that keyword that searchers are using.
To complete this task, look to your competitors to see what keywords they are currently ranking for and use a keyword tool to find related keywords, subtopics, or questions that searchers are using to find products and services like yours.
Be sure to note these keywords in a spreadsheet and include the organic difficulty, search volume, and cost-per-click metrics of each term in your list. These metrics will help you prioritize which keywords have the most value and should be the “core” keywords in your clusters.
As you generate your keyword list, it is crucial to keep user intent and relevance in mind. You only want to include keywords that will bring those who are interested in the products or services you offer as they will be far more likely to convert.
Step 2: Organize Your Keywords into Groups
Once you have an extensive keyword list, you will likely start noticing patterns in your keywords. These patterns include same/similar words, phrases, synonyms, or subtopics that users include in their search queries. Each of these patterns can represent a potential keyword cluster, though they should meet the following criteria to ensure that they are effective:
Semantic Relevance—Your clusters should share similar search intent. If you try to optimize a landing page for keywords that have few similarities, it will make the content less readable and make it difficult for search engines to determine what your page is about.
Search Volume—The core keywords in your clusters should have a reasonable search volume. If you are targeting keywords with no search volume, you are optimizing for an audience that does not exist.
Organic Difficulty—Whether you include keywords that have higher organic difficulty will depend on your site authority, backlink profile, and how established your website is. To increase the effectiveness of your content, you should only include keywords that your site can realistically rank for. For example, it never makes sense to target a business name as a keyword as you will never outrank the business itself.
Step 3: Create & Optimize Pillar Pages for Your Keyword Clusters
Now that you have grouped your keywords into clusters, they will provide a roadmap for how to create, optimize, and organize the content on your website. Essentially, your keyword clusters represent the core topics of your website. These core topics are also commonly referred to as “pillar pages.”
For example, if you are an IT company, you may have a “data backup services” page as your core topic/pillar page. From here, you can then create a pillar page for each of the services you offer from managed IT to cybersecurity, so long as they have an applicable core keyword. To improve the ranking potential of your pillar pages, it is worth prioritizing the following areas during their creation:
Topical Depth—Focus on writing long-form content that offers unique insights into a topic while displaying your subject knowledge. Answering common questions or discussing related trends are both great ways to achieve this.
Design and Structure—Have a clear page structure and include your keyword phrases in your h2s and h3s. If your page looks messy or has no clear structure, no one is going to want to read it.
Page Experience—Add interactive on-page elements like videos, jump links, and carousels to improve the page experience for the user, though you should be careful not to overdo it.
Step 4: Reinforce These Pillar Pages with Related Blog Articles
Now that your pillar pages have been created, it is time to reinforce them with quality blog posts. These blogs can target long-tail keyword phrases, subtopics, or questions related to your core keywords. Regardless of the topic, each blog post should link back to the appropriate pillar page to strengthen your chances of ranking for those higher-value keywords.
To further expand on an IT provider as an example, you could write a blog about “effective data security practices” and link it to your “data backup services” page. This allows you to promote your services and build internal links while providing valuable information that targets related keywords. As you continue to write posts that can be linked to the data backup services, your service page will be viewed with higher authority and priority, increasing its ranking potential.
If your business has multiple products or areas of expertise, you will be able to create many different clusters on your website for every service or type of product you provide. If you only sell one core product or service, it is crucial to ensure that you are putting in the time and effort to ensure that you are choosing the right core keyword and building the right cluster as this can be the difference between passing your competitors or falling behind them.
For more information on keyword clusters or other areas related to SEO, get in touch with the experts at FirstPage Marketing. We can be reached through our online contact form or by phone at 1-800-676-4393 and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services or how we help you grow your business.