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6 Step Process for Creating a Topic Cluster

This document outlines a simple six-step method for planning your topic cluster while taking advantage of any existing Topic Authority. In general, we’re looking to:

  • Get insight into our current Topic Authority.
  • Build out the topic universe around a subject.
  • Conduct competitive content cluster quality analysis.
  • Map existing content against the topic universe.
  • Update existing pages and create new content to address any topic gaps.

Step 1 — Determine Your Existing Topic Authority

Go to Topic Inventory and type the focus topic (subject) of your cluster into the search bar. What you see will give you a quick idea of the extent of your coverage (look at Topic Authority, Ranking, and Personalized Difficulty) and how much work will be required.

If there aren’t any topics in your inventory, you likely have your work cut out for you. Likewise, if you generally have low Topic Authority, poor ranking, and high Personalized Difficulty.

Step 2 — Improve Existing Content

The first step will probably reveal many opportunities to update existing pages and create new content. Work on these first. This Page Improvement Framework for Content Optimization can help you in making those decisions.

Step 3 — Build out the Topic Universe

In the first step you find all the topics that contain the term your searching for. It’s just one lense into your topic coverage, so we’ll need to look at the cluster from another perspective.

Go to Research and type the focus topic (subject) of your cluster into the research bar. MarketMuse creates a topic universe that includes data from the Topic Model, Keywords, and Questions.

Step 4 — Add Topics You Want to Rank to Your Inventory

While you may want to cover a topic, you may not necessarily want to rank for it. For example, a topic cluster on “growing tomatoes” would include “soil conditions” as a topic. But you may not care about ranking for that general term.

Adding a topic to inventory automatically adds it to a plan with the current date as its name. You can always rename the plan to reflect the name of your cluster. Existing items already in inventory can’t be added from the Research application. You’ll need to copy and paste those into your plan.

Adding a topic to your inventory provides you with personalized insights. It takes a little while to generate those, so in the meantime we’ll move onto the next step.

Step 5 — Conduct Competitive Content Quality Analysis

I find it helpful to conduct some competitive analysis to get a better understanding of the type and level of content required. Go to SERP X-Ray and Heatmap to get that information.

I also like to use Heatmap to explore the websites of the competition and get insight into their content quality. This information gives me an appreciation of their capabilities and insight into the extent of their content cluster.

Step 6 — Create/Update Content Ideas Found in Step 3

We’ve built out our topic cluster, added the topics we want to track to inventory, received personalized metrics, and had MarketMuse map our content to these topics. Now it’s time to create new content or update existing pages, based on our personalized metrics.

Updated on May 18, 2023

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