How to create a Topical Map

When it comes to mapping out a content strategy for your website, understanding how to build and create topic clusters is crucial. A topical cluster comprises a core topic, or pillar post, surrounded by subtopics or supporting articles. These subtopics are all related to the core topic and are internally linked together to form a topic cluster.

However, it’s important to note that simply focusing on commercial content and neglecting informational content can lead to declining website traffic. Building expertise, authority, and trust through diverse content, including a well-organised topic cluster, is critical to a successful content strategy. Mixing up your keyword research and understanding user intent, you can create a topical map that covers all topic variations and links them together for both Google and your audience.

Key Takeaways

  • Topical clustering is an essential part of mapping out a content strategy.
  • Building expertise, authority, and trust through diverse content is crucial for success.
  • Mixing up keyword research and understanding user intent is key to creating a successful topical map.

Understanding SEO Topic Clusters

One of the biggest mistakes people make when mapping out their website’s content strategy is not understanding topical clustering. A topical cluster, or the topic cluster model, is a simple concept that involves having a core topic or pillar post and surrounding it with subtopics or supporting articles. These subtopics can be blog posts, landing pages, or subpages.

For instance, if your core topic is podcasts, your subtopics could be comedy, business, dramatised, self-help, and true crime podcasts. Similarly, if your core topic is emergency plumbers, your subtopics could be emergency plumbers in North London, South London, East London, and other areas within London.

To create a topical cluster, you need to internally link all your supporting articles to the main page. This helps Google understand that your core topic, supporting articles, and related keywords are all internally linked together to form a topical cluster.

It’s important to note that every website should have informational content, regardless of whether it’s an e-commerce site. When compiling your keyword strategy or topical map, you need to consider informational and navigational content in addition to commercial content.

To avoid falling off a cliff like some websites have, you need to mix up your content strategy and understand the intent of the search term. If someone Googles “how to,” don’t try to sell them something. Instead, please provide them with the information they’re looking for.

When building out your topical cluster, it’s best to do it one cluster at a time. Cover the entire topic, including all variations and search terms, before moving on to the next one. This approach helps with internal linking and ensures your website is easy to navigate.

In conclusion, understanding topical clustering and implementing a topic cluster strategy are crucial to mapping out an effective content strategy for your website. Creating a topical cluster can help Google understand the relationships between your core topic and supporting articles and provide users with the information they’re looking for.

Mapping Out Content Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes people make when mapping out a content strategy is not understanding the concept of topical clustering and content clusters. Content clusters organise related web pages into a strategically interlinked structure around a central pillar page, enhancing SEO by creating a clear topical map for search engines.

The core topic of your website should be the primary keyword or pillar post, acting as the central pillar page for your content cluster. For example, if your website is about emergency plumbers, that would be your core topic. Surrounding that, you will have subtopics or subpages, such as independent pages about comedy podcasts, business podcasts, dramatised podcasts, self-help podcasts, and true crime podcasts. These are all related to the core topic and are seen as supporting cluster pages within the content cluster framework.

To form a topical cluster, you need to link all your supporting articles to the main page internally. This helps Google understand that your emergency plumber page, all the emergency plumber supporting articles, and related keywords are all internally linked together.

It is essential to understand that every website needs informational content, not just sales pages. Consider informational and navigational content, even for e-commerce websites, when compiling your keyword strategy or topical map.

When someone searches for “how to” or “what is,” they’re looking for information, not necessarily a sales page. Make sure your website has informational content to meet these needs.

To build a successful content strategy, focus on building one content cluster at a time, covering all the variations and local landing pages. Look at successful websites and take inspiration from their structure.

By understanding topical clustering, content clusters, and the importance of informational content, you can effectively map out your content strategy and improve your website’s ranking.

The Role of Internal Linking

One of the biggest mistakes people make when mapping out a content strategy for their website is not understanding the concept of a topical cluster. A topical cluster is a simple concept where you have a core topic, also known as the pillar post, and surrounding it are subtopics or subpages related to the core topic. These subtopics are supporting articles, landing pages, or blog posts. The connection between the pillar and cluster pages is established through internal links, which are essential for forming a cohesive topical cluster.

For instance, if your core topic is emergency plumbers, your subtopics can be emergency plumbers in North London, South London, East London, and other areas within London. Similarly, for a core topic such as podcasts, your subtopics can be comedy, business, dramatised, self-help, and true crime podcasts.

Once you have mapped out your topical cluster, the next step is to use internal links to connect all your supporting articles to the main page. Creating topic clusters and utilising internal links helps Google understand that your emergency plumber page, all the emergency plumber supporting articles, and related keywords are interconnected to form a topical cluster.

Internal linking is a crucial aspect of content strategy, as it helps search engines understand your website’s structure and how different pages are related to each other. By linking your supporting articles to your main page, you can improve your website’s overall authority and help your pages rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

However, it’s important to note that internal linking alone cannot guarantee higher rankings. You must also ensure that your content is informative, engaging, and provides value to your audience. This means including informational and navigational content in addition to commercial content.

In summary, a topical cluster is a great way to map out your content strategy and improve your website’s authority. Internal linking plays a crucial role in helping search engines understand your website’s structure and how different pages are related to each other. Creating a topical cluster and including informative and engaging content can improve your website’s rankings and provide value to your audience.

Case Study: Decline of Which Cooker

While researching content strategy, I came across the case of whichcooker.com. This website experienced a significant decline in traffic and search engine rankings after a Google update in November 2020. Although the website had been steadily growing throughout the year, it lost almost 90% of its traffic after the update.

Upon further analysis, it became clear that the website’s downfall was due to its lack of informational content, negatively impacting its search engine rankings. The website was monetized through affiliate marketing, with content focused on promoting products and making sales. There was no variety in content, with every page being commercialised and sales-oriented.

The website’s content strategy was flawed, as it failed to consider the importance of informational and navigational content. Users searching for information do not want to be bombarded with sales pitches. Instead, they want to find relevant, valuable information that answers their questions.

To avoid a similar fate and improve search engine rankings, creating a topical cluster that includes a mix of informational, navigational, and commercial content is important. This will provide value to users and help improve the website’s ranking on search engines.

When conducting keyword research, it is important to consider the intent of the search term. If a user is searching for information, provide relevant and useful content. If they are looking to make a purchase, provide commercial content.

In conclusion, the decline of whichcooker.com serves as a cautionary tale for website owners. Building a successful content strategy requires a mix of content types and a focus on providing value to users. By creating a topical cluster that includes a range of content types and considering the intent of search terms, website owners can avoid falling off a cliff like whichcooker.com.

Content Strategy and Search Engine Optimisation for Website Recovery

One of the biggest mistakes people make when mapping out a content strategy for a website is not understanding the concept of topical clustering. A topical cluster is a simple way to map out the content strategy for a website. The main keyword or pillar post is the core topic, and surrounding that are subtopics or sub-pages related to the core topic.

For example, if the core topic is emergency plumbers, the subtopics could be emergency plumbers in different areas, such as North London, South London, and East London. These subtopics would be seen as supporting articles and landing pages, and they would all be internally linked to the main page to form a topical cluster.

It’s important to note that every website should have informational content in addition to commercial content. When compiling your keyword strategy or topical map, you should also consider informational and navigational content. This will help your website rank better and provide a better user experience. Additionally, understanding the search volume for each keyword within your topical clusters is crucial. Targeting a mix of keywords with varying search volumes can significantly enhance your content strategy, starting with low-competition keywords to build site authority and gradually targeting more competitive terms.

In early 2020, a friend of mine added a lot of content to her website, which gradually increased traffic. However, in November 2020, an update hit her website hard and lost almost 90% of its traffic. The website was an Amazon affiliate website that focused solely on commercial content with no informational content. The author’s profile was also unreliable and lacked a social media presence.

To recover from the update, we redirected the website to a new domain name, which helped it regain some traffic. However, the website lacked informational content and eventually fell off a cliff again. This highlights the importance of having a well-rounded content strategy that includes informational and navigational content in addition to commercial content and the strategic use of search volume analysis to target keywords effectively.

When researching keywords, it’s essential to understand the intent of the search term. For example, if someone is searching for “how to clean trainers,” don’t try to sell them a pair of trainers. Instead, please provide them with information on how to clean their trainers.

In summary, when mapping out a content strategy for your website, focus on topical clustering and include informational and navigational content in addition to commercial content. Consider the intent of the search term when researching keywords, and take inspiration from websites that are ranking well. Following these guidelines can improve your website’s ranking and provide a better user experience.

The Importance of Content Diversity

As I have learned through my experience, content diversity is crucial to any successful content strategy. Incorporating SEO topic clusters is a simple yet effective way to map out a content strategy for your website, enhancing SEO benefits through a diverse content approach. The core topic or main keyword is the pillar post, while the subtopics or subpages are the supporting articles surrounding it.

For instance, if the core topic is emergency plumbers, the subtopics could be emergency plumbers in different areas like North London, South London, and East London. These subtopics can be blog posts, landing pages, or subpages. It is essential to map out all the subtopics and link them internally to the main page to form a topical cluster.

However, it is crucial to note that a topical cluster should not only consist of commercial or sales-oriented content. It should also have informational and navigational content to cater to the user’s intent. For example, if someone is searching for information on how to clean trainers, it is better to provide them with information on how to clean their trainers rather than try to sell them a new pair.

In my experience, a lack of informational content and a heavy focus on commercial content can lead to a website’s downfall. For example, a friend of mine added a lot of commercial content to her website, which resulted in a significant drop in traffic after an algorithm update. The website lacked credibility and authority, and the content was not diverse enough to cater to the user’s intent.

Therefore, mixing up the content and covering the entire topic, including all the variations and search terms, is crucial. Building a topical cluster, one section at a time, is more effective than building 100 pages a month. Drawing inspiration from successful websites’ structures and internal linking strategies is also essential.

In conclusion, a diverse content strategy with a mix of informational, navigational, and commercial content is crucial to the success of a website. Emphasising SEO topic clusters and internal linking can help to form a topical cluster and improve the website’s credibility and authority, ultimately enhancing search engine optimisation efforts.

Expertise, Authority, and Trust

One of the biggest mistakes I see when creating a content strategy is a lack of understanding of topical clustering. A topical cluster is a simple concept involving a core topic or pillar post and surrounding it with subtopics or supporting articles. These subtopics are related to the core topic and are internally linked to form a topical cluster.

To build expertise, authority, and trust, it is essential to have a well-structured topical cluster with a central pillar page. This pillar page acts as the cornerstone of the cluster, linking to and from the subtopics. It outlines the relationship between the pillar page and cluster posts, emphasising the significance of the pillar page as the central element of a topic cluster. You can create interconnected and thematically related content that establishes authority and trust through a topical cluster by implementing pillar pages, as successful examples from HubSpot, Healthline, and Atlassian demonstrate.

A successful content strategy involves building a cluster at a time, covering the entire topic, including all variations and search terms. It is also essential to take inspiration from the structure of successful websites and mix up the content to provide a well-rounded user experience.

In my experience, having a website with only commercial and no informational content is not a viable strategy. Such websites are likely to fall off a cliff when an update leads to a significant traffic loss. Building expertise, authority, and trust involves combining informational, navigational, and commercial content and linking them to form a topical cluster with a central pillar page.

In conclusion, understanding topical clustering and building a well-structured content strategy with pillar pages is crucial for building expertise, authority, and trust. It involves mapping out the content strategy, considering the intent of the search term, and providing the right information and content for the user. Following these steps, you can build a successful website that provides a well-rounded user experience and ranks well on search engines.

Keyword Research and User Intent

One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating a content strategy for a website is not understanding the concept of topical clustering. Topical clustering is a simple yet effective way to map out a content strategy for your website. It involves having a core topic, or pillar post, and surrounding it with subtopics, or sub-pages, that are all related to the core topic.

For example, if the core topic is “emergency plumbers,” the subtopics could be “emergency plumbers in North London,” “emergency plumbers in South London,” and “emergency plumbers in East London.” All of these subtopics would be seen as supporting articles and would be internally linked to the main page to form a topical cluster.

It’s important to note that when conducting keyword research, you should consider user intent and focus on identifying relevant keywords. If someone is searching for “how to clean trainers,” they are looking for informational content, not a sales page, indicating a specific search intent. Therefore, it’s important to have a mix of informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional content on your website that aligns with the search intent of your audience.

Having a well-structured topical map and keyword strategy that considers search intent and incorporates relevant keywords can help you avoid falling off a cliff like the example website, which suffered a significant drop in traffic due to a lack of informational content and a focus on commercialised content.

To create a successful content strategy, it’s recommended to build out one topical cluster at a time, covering the core topic and all its variations and local landing pages before moving on to the next topic. Drawing out a topical map on paper or using an app can help you visualise the structure of your website and ensure that all supporting articles are internally linked to the main page.

In summary, understanding the concept of topical clustering and considering search intent when conducting keyword research with a focus on relevant keywords can help you create a successful content strategy that provides the right information and experience for your users.

Building a Topical Map with Pillar Pages

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to mapping out content is not understanding the concept of topical clustering, also known as topic clusters. This strategy is a simple yet effective way to map out a content strategy for your website, emphasising the process and benefits of building and leveraging topic clusters to improve organic traffic and search rankings.

To create a topic cluster, you start with a core topic or main keyword, a pillar post or main page. For example, if your core topic is emergency plumbers, your subtopics could be pages or blog posts about emergency plumbers in different areas, such as North London, South London, and East London.

Each subtopic is like an offshoot of the core topic; all of these pages are linked together through internal linking. This helps Google understand that all pages are related and form a topic cluster, significantly boosting your site’s SEO by establishing a clear, thematic structure.

It’s important to include informational and navigational content in addition to commercial content. For example, if someone is searching for how to clean trainers, you don’t need to try to sell them a new pair of trainers. Instead, please provide them with the information they need to clean their trainers.

When building out your topical map, focusing on one cluster at a time is best. Cover the entire topic, including all variations and local landing pages, before moving on to the next topic.

By mapping out your content strategy using topic clusters, you can create a website that is easy for users to navigate and provides valuable information while also significantly enhancing your search engine rankings. Don’t forget to mix up your content with different types of pages, including informational, navigational, and commercial.

Content Strategy Best Practices

One of the biggest mistakes people make when mapping out a content strategy is not understanding the concept of a topical cluster. A topical cluster is a simple yet effective way to organise your website’s related web pages and content strategy. Subtopics or subpages related to the same primary topic surround the main keyword or pillar post. These subtopics can be in the form of blog posts, landing pages, or independent web pages.

To illustrate this concept, let’s use a website that focuses on emergency plumbers. The core topic or pillar post would be emergency plumbers, and the subtopics could be emergency plumbers in different areas such as North London, South London, or East London. All the subtopics are linked to the main page through internal linking, forming a topical cluster with interconnected web pages.

It’s crucial to understand that every website needs informational content, and having a sales page for every search query is not always necessary. Consider informational and navigational content, even in e-commerce, when compiling your keyword strategy or topical map. For example, if someone searches for “how to clean trainers,” don’t try to sell them a pair of trainers. Instead, please provide them with information on how to clean their trainers.

To build a thriving topical cluster, it is recommended that you cover the entire topic, including all variations and search terms. Link all the web pages together and move on to the next topic. This approach is more effective than building 100 pages a month, which is a scattergun approach.

When researching your content, look at the structure of websites that rank well and take inspiration from them. However, it’s essential to understand the search term’s intent and provide the user with the correct information, content, and experience.

In summary, a topical cluster is a simple yet effective way to map out your content strategy. It’s crucial to include informational and navigational content. Cover each topic and link all the web pages to form a topical cluster.

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 20 years.

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