What is a Keyword Strategy

This is how you develop an effective SEO strategy based on the topic cluster model

It's no secret that the rules of search engine optimization (SEO) have changed significantly in recent years. However, one important aspect is usually not given enough attention: the fact that the key to a successful SEO strategy no longer lies in keywords.

A purely keyword-based approach is not only cumbersome to implement, but also outdated and ineffective. The reason for this lies in the changed search behavior of the users: Instead of cryptic terms, they now usually enter longer, fully formulated search queries. And the algorithms of the search engines have also been adapted to this new search behavior. What this means for you is that you have to take these new realities into account when structuring your website and creating content, and that in turn requires a new SEO strategy.

What is an effective SEO strategy?

If you want to successfully operate search engine optimization today, you have to take the change from a keyword-based to a topic-based search into account. This shifts the focus to covering topics comprehensively and achieving good rankings for long-tail keywords with individual pages. You can do this by restructuring your website and creating so-called topic clusters. This means that you first structure your website according to various core topics and then subordinate these to more specific sub-topics. Your core topics correspond to your keywords and your sub-topics to your long-tail keywords.

So let's see how you can optimize your SEO strategy in just eight easy steps. (Our free on-page SEO template, which you can download below, will also help you with this.)

Step 1: make a list of relevant topics

While keywords still play an important role in SEO, modern SEO strategies are primarily used subjects on - Keywords come into play later.

So your first step is to find topics that are relevant to you and your audience. The best way to do this is to create a list of around 10 short terms that match your products or services. Then use a keyword tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner to see how often people search for those terms. The tool also helps you to find meaningful variants of these keywords for you.

Note that this step is to find out which keywords are being searched for in connection with the topics that are relevant to you - and NOT to find topics for your blog posts. Because keywords that you identify this way are extremely popular, which is why it would be difficult to get good rankings for them with individual posts. This is especially true if you are just starting to optimize your website for search engines.

Then select around 10 to 15 keywords (topics) that you want (and should) rank well for and rank them by priority or relevance.

Each of these keywords stands for one of your core topics, on the basis of which you structure your website. Pages on which these core topics are dealt with are called pillar pages. Each pillar page, together with the cluster content grouped around it (sub-pages dedicated to long-tail keywords), forms a topic cluster. The next step is to determine these subtopics.

Step 2: Make a list of long-tail keywords that are relevant to your core topics

This is where optimizing your website for specific (long-tail) keywords comes into play. Use a keyword tool to determine around five to ten long-tail keywords for each of your core topics, each of which represents an aspect of the associated core topic.

An example to illustrate this: Let's assume that “SEO” is one of your core topics. Then your goal would not be to get a good ranking for that keyword. Because given its great popularity, this would be an extremely difficult undertaking. In addition, if you optimize multiple subpages for the same keyword, you risk that your own posts will compete with each other in terms of their ranking. To improve your ranking for the keyword "SEO", you would choose this as a topic instead and create a pillar page for it. You would then subordinate various blog posts to more specific topics, such as keyword research, optimizing graphic elements for search engines, developing an effective SEO strategy, and similar relevant sub-topics.

You can also use a keyword tool to find out which subtopics are suitable for blog posts on a specific core topic.

At this point you should have determined five to ten sub-topics for each of the core topics defined in the first step.

The following video explains the topic cluster model again in detail:

 

As you can see, topic clusters are basically about helping search engines to get your content. And the more precisely you go into a specific aspect of a general topic on a subpage, the better this page will be rated by the search engines' algorithms. Also keep in mind that with regard to lead generation, it makes sense to examine specific aspects of a topic as much as possible. Because the more targeted users are looking for information, the more specific their requirements are and the more likely these visitors will become leads.

Step 3: Create a website for each of your topics

In the next step, you create a website (a pillar page) for each of the core topics determined in the first step, on which you offer your readers a comprehensive overview of the topic in question. Also briefly mention the associated long-tail keywords that you defined in step 2. In the case of our example above, you would give a brief introduction to the topic of "SEO" and briefly talk about aspects such as keyword research, optimization of graphic elements, development of an SEO strategy, etc. You can think of a pillar page as a table of contents, letting your readers know what content you will be covering in your blog posts.

When choosing the number of Pillar pages you can base yourself on the scope of your product or service offering or the number of your locations. The main thing is to cover the individual needs of your company as comprehensively as possible. In this way you ensure that your prospects and customers can find your content more easily - even if their search queries do not exactly match the keywords for which you have optimized your content.

When creating your content, make sure that you only choose content that is really relevant to your prospects and potential customers. Optimize the user experience by inserting graphic elements and linking other relevant content on your website at the appropriate point. You will learn how to set these links in the next step.

Step 4: set up a blog

Blogging can be an extremely effective way to improve your ranking for certain keywords and increase the number of visitors to your website. Because the more posts you publish, the more likely it is that one of your articles will appear in search results. So it's definitely worth keeping a company blog. Remember that it is only in the blog posts that you actually address the information that users - and thus search engines - are looking for.

There are three important rules to keep in mind when creating blog posts:

  1. Mention long-tail keywords a maximum of three or four times per post. Because if you overload your articles with keywords, you run the risk of being penalized by search engines for “keyword stuffing”.
  2. Include links in your posts that lead to the respective parent Pillar side refer back. To do this, you can either integrate hyperlinks in your body text or you can set the appropriate tags in your content management system (CMS).
  3. Add your Pillar pages then add links to the subordinate posts. It is best to place the links in the places where you introduce the topics covered in the linked blog posts.

By linking your pillar pages and your cluster content in this way, you show web crawlers that there is a connection between the linked long-tail keywords and the overarching topic.

Step 5: Blog Regularly to Build Your Website Authority

Not all blog posts and subpages have to be part of a topic cluster. The main thing is that you cover topics that interest your target group, even if they are marginal topics. Because the more popular your content is, the higher the authority of your website and the better the ranking of other content outside of the cluster model.

It is therefore advisable for companies to publish at least one blog post per week. Do not let yourself be tempted to plan your posts primarily with a view to the search engines, but rather orient yourself primarily to the needs of your target group. If you focus on covering topics that interest your readers and prospects and then weave relevant keywords into those posts, you will automatically build a loyal audience and authority.

Before you start creating your posts, you should first consider which topics you should prioritize according to your company goals. The best way to do this is to create a list of all topics, arrange them according to relevance and then plan your posts accordingly.

Keep this list up to date, review which articles are most effective at helping you achieve your business goals, and then prioritize these topics.

Step 6: Develop a strategy for building backlinks

While the introduction of the topic cluster model is currently the best way to improve the rankings of your content, your options are not yet exhausted.

In steps 1 through 5, we only looked at on-page SEO tactics. In addition, there is another, extremely effective way to improve the ranking of your content: off-page SEO. This basically means building backlinks, the so-called link building.

Backlinks, also called inbound links or inbound links, are links that refer to your own pages from external websites. The value of these links lies in the fact that the authority that search engines assign to certain websites can be transferred to other sites. I. E. that your website can benefit from the authority of the websites that refer to it. In general, the following applies here: the higher the authority of the external site, the greater the impact on the ranking of the linked site.

So your goal is to ensure that your content is linked on external pages as often as possible. There are various options available to you for this. For example, you could arrange with other companies in your region to refer each other to your content. You can write blog posts and share them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can also post guest posts on other blogs and refer back to your own website in those blogs.

Blog posts on current events or happenings are also a great way to increase the number of your backlinks. With a little luck, influential industry experts or other bloggers will come across your articles and link them in their own posts.

Step 7: Keep up to date with the latest SEO trends and best practices

Since the rules of search engine optimization keep changing, it is not easy to stay up to date. Fortunately, there are some online resources that are specifically devoted to current SEO trends and inform you whether and which adjustments to your website and SEO strategy are recommended.

Here are some examples:

Step 8: measure and analyze your results

Optimizing content for search engines can cost a lot of time and energy. So make sure that your efforts are paying off by recording and analyzing the results of your SEO efforts. A whole range of key figures are available for this purpose, which you can collect on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Since search engine optimization is all about organic traffic, it is best to use a tool like SEMrush, with which you can collect general figures about your organic traffic, but at the same time also specifically check which ranking individual pages are achieving for specific long-tail keywords.

Record your results monthly in an Excel or Google spreadsheet or a web analytics tool so that you always have an overview of how much organic traffic your website is generating.

If you also record key figures on indexed pages, leads, backlinks, keywords as well as search engine rankings and the ROI of your measures, you can determine more precisely how you can improve your rankings even more specifically.

 

frequently asked Questions

What is domain authority in the context of SEO?

The Domain Authority indicates how popular and trustworthy a website is rated by search engines - compared to other domains. In general, the higher the authority, the higher the probability of achieving good rankings.

What are SEO experts responsible for?

SEO experts are responsible for optimizing websites for search engines so that they are displayed as high as possible in the search results and generate more organic traffic.

Who creates SEO content?

Some writers specialize in creating content specifically designed for SEO initiatives. This requires knowledge of both content marketing and search engine optimization.

How do you become an SEO expert?

Many SEO experts have studied marketing or completed a similar SEO-relevant course and / or attended various seminars and courses on search engine optimization. Some simply have years of practical experience in the field.

This is a guest post by Drew Forting of The Predictive Index, which originally appeared on the HubSpot.com blog and has been translated from English.