Topic Clusters: What Are They and Do I Need Them for B2B?

You may have been hearing about them a lot lately: But what is a topic cluster, anyway?

A topic cluster is a series of digital content that is published on your website and covers a specific topic, usually a keyword target. A topic cluster (also known as a content cluster) helps structure your articles for search engine optimization, or SEO. 

In this post, we’ll show you why topic clusters matter for many B2B marketing objectives like lead generation, and how to be successful with your content strategy.

What’s the Big Deal About Topic Clusters?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of getting your website to “rank” for specific search terms in Google and other search engines. This way, you can be found by potential leads online when they start a buying process. So ranking for terms related to your business is critical in order to generate leads online. 

In the not too distant history of SEO, marketers focused on keywords, or highly searched phrases, to drive their content strategies. They would usually write one article per keyword, then move onto the next. However, Google is getting smarter and now gives priority to websites that show wider knowledge and topic authority. So, simply publishing one article — being a “one hit wonder” — often isn’t enough to help you rank.

That’s where topic clusters come in: Topic or content clusters represent the strategy of building many published pages and articles around the same keyword-optimized topic.

The cluster strategy also helps you avoid having duplicate or competing pages around the same topic, since competing pages aren’t good for search engine optimization.

Are Topic Clusters Important for B2B?

Topic clusters are as important for B2B as any other business. In fact, at Ironpaper we’ve doubled the organic search lead generation rate for B2B businesses using a topic cluster strategy.

Here are the major things you can achieve with a topic-based content strategy:

  • Create a reliable new lead source for your marketing and sales funnel
  • Enable new customers who haven’t heard about you to find you in search engines
  • Educate potential leads about the value of your company, leading to higher deal values and more committed customers
  • Shorten your sales cycle for existing prospects by offering authoritative, helpful information
  • Demonstrate thought leadership to help meet non-sales goals, such as customer retention, hiring, partnerships and PR

What Does a Topic Cluster Look Like?

Central Hub

SEO research using HubSpot’s Keyword Tool that displays topic clusters.

A topic cluster usually has an SEO page or other important website page at the center. This is the “final destination” where you want to drive new leads. So this central page should have three things: 

  1. A form and a conversion offer, such as a demo or content offer to download (a simple “contact us” form usually doesn’t do the trick)
  2. A clear keyword target with high search volume 
  3. Very few (if any) links to other pages, so that you keep attention on this conversion point when someone reaches it

Blog Post “Spokes”

In addition to your central destination page, you should think of adding more content, most often blog articles, to push links back to the central page. (Think of a visual of many spokes on a wheel pointing back to the central hub.)

Each blog article should be optimized for SEO with a keyword variation and modifiers, making it what we call “long tail.”

Each blog post should also include a hyperlink somewhere to your central SEO page. This link give Google a hint to the relationship of your pages, like handing over a roadmap. You’re saying, here is the most important page for this term across my website.

How to be Successful With Topic Clusters

In addition to the best practices for topic clusters that we outlined above, there are a few more things you need to do to be successful and see positive results:

  1. Technical SEO – Make sure your website is technically built for conversion. Follow technical SEO best practices for a fast website performance and mobile responsiveness, and make sure you’re using SEO-friendly HTML tags on your content.
  2. Good keyword targeting strategy – Select and target keywords that have substantial amount of searches and low difficulty. You can find both of these numbers with a tool like SEM Rush.
  3. Conversion Offer testing – Driving people to the page isn’t enough; You need to compel them to become leads. So you can test different conversion points, such as demo requests, content offers, and exploratory calls to see what draws in the most leads to submit your form.

Conclusion

Topic clusters help B2B businesses more precisely generate leads that are a match for their business. Use clusters to structure both your content plan and your keyword linking strategy — and make sure to follow the best practices for your wider SEO plan.



Follow Ironpaper to receive new insights on B2B marketing and sales.

* Your privacy is important to us.


Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.