building pillars representing content pillars

Creating Topic Clusters by Analyzing User Personas

Content creation is one of the most important tasks once your website is up and running. Its importance comes from both users’ expectations of and Google’s emphasis on good content. Nowadays everyone in digital marketing knows that creating useful content for the audience makes your website gain more and more traffic and also increases your brand’s trustworthiness.
So, once your business and site are up and running you should invest time in content. Your strategy for your blog, product or category pages, etc. should be aimed at creating content that your users would need or be interested in. So, what exactly should I write for my blog? Well, once you do your research carefully to craft your articles, you can eventually get better rankings in searches.
In this guide, we will go through a buyer’s journey and inspect topic clusters which make wonders when implemented correctly. From creating awareness to earning the loyalty of customers everything needs to be planned and mapped-out beforehand. First we will determine who our target audience is, then what their needs are before deciding on what to write about.

Creating Marketing Personas

Knowing your audience is vital. The more you know about them the better you can identify their needs and problems. Here we will focus on creating a persona in order to utilize it for our content strategy. A marketing persona is a great tool for marketers to understand and therefore influence our audience. Primarily, personas create tangible profiles from masses of people. They help you to create and keep track of your marketing strategy.
Before going into how to create a persona there are some land mines you need to avoid:
  • Never create a persona for the sake of it. You should always determine why you create a persona. For example if you need a persona to create blog content you will use different indicators from a marketing persona that is created to analyze customer satisfaction. So always determine your needs and then start creating marketing personas.
  • Do not overdo it. Personas should make your life easier. Do not create many personas as if you are trying to populate your SimCity game. Take the most overlapping key features and try to merge personas. Don’t go for extremely specific models.
  • Rely on data. Data is your biggest ally when it comes to personas. Use every data tool you have and consult with other departments. Usually sales departments collect the best data to create marketing personas.

How To Create A Marketing Persona?

  • As mentioned above, the first thing is to decide on your needs. Each persona is created in a unique way and must be personalized.
  • Collecting your data is the second important step. You can talk to different departments and utilize their data.
    • Statistical data from the market is valuable. You can consult a research firm to conduct a market research but you should check their data collecting methodology.
  • What if you are in a start-up and do not have sufficient data on customers? In this situation you can still create a persona but you have to be careful with your goals. What do you expect to learn from your persona? What information is essential for you? Answering these questions beforehand is essential. There is always a danger factor that you might end up with a persona with much information but gives you little idea how to use that info. In order to create a content strategy you may have to start without insider customer data but you would need to analyze your competitors better.
    • Imagining a buyer’s journey and targeting appropriate funnels can be enough to decide your content strategy. However, it is always better to have some data.
  • You can use online tools like Hubspot’s Make My Persona to create a template. However, online tools may not match your demands. So, you should be prepared to create your own templates which are suited best for your demands.

Imagining A Buyer’s Journey

Mapping out the buyer’s journey can give you insights about what to put on your blog. After all, you create that blog to cover the necessary information they require. After all, you create that blog to cover the necessary information they require. Don’t you think the audience deserves to be put in the first place when planning content? Depending on what part of the funnel you are targeting you will be writing blog posts that fulfill the buyer’s needs and answer their questions at that stage.
an infographic showing the sales funnel and buyer journey from awareness to consideration, decision
Buyer’s Journey may include additional steps, like loyalty or purchase, but we only included main points.
Let’s start with the awareness stage and think about what the general public would need to know about to be introduced to your product. For example, let’s say you sell kitchen products that make slicing, dicing and cutting easier. Then to create awareness about your product you should start with posts on saving time in the kitchen or dicing vegetables in the best way to cook like a chef. It’s always a good idea to focus on questions people ask and try to answer them.
Your articles should follow the buyer’s journey from awareness to post-sales. As you attract people by creating articles on general topics one should also find articles on every stage of the journey. Ask questions like these to understand your audience: What do they want? How do they make a decision before buying? What would they need before and after purchasing? What kind of problems might they face? With these kinds of questions you can have a better understanding of your customers and their behavior.
Once you understand your customers you may start to pitch for driving their behaviors. For example, you sell kitchen accessories and your persona Alex the Homecook wants their kitchen to be in order but usually lives in small houses. Then you might want to write articles on kitchen products to organize silverware,pans, glasses etc. or an article titled “9 Kitchen Hacks to Save Space”. With these articles you can plant an idea in Alex’s mind, and make these homecooks excited to know more and even buy your product.
Or let’s say you run a business which sells lore based board games. One of your personas is Cameron the Movie Geek. Cameron enjoys watching movies at home and is a fan of The Lord of the Rings franchise. Based on your users’ preferences you may also want to create content for fun engagements instead of informative ones. Posting a test titled “Which World of Warcraft Race Do You Belong?” would be interesting for your persona and could bring attention to your brand.
There are also online tools to help you to see what questions are asked the most. Usually it is a good idea to create a keyword list and search them on SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush but you can also check out sites like answerthepublic. Another good idea to identify what people wonder about your products might be “people also ask” questions & forums like Reddit or Quora.
Never forget the post-sales! Your site shouldn’t abandon people once they bought your product. Give insights about what they can do with your products, how can people maintain it or is there an alternative use for them. Always follow up your sales and be there for your customers.
Once you establish the topics and questions you can start writing your articles. But, don’t just write one after the other and create huge piles of articles. Always group them and make “topic clusters”.

Why Topic Clusters Are Important?

Topic Cluster is a way to organize a brand’s content marketing strategy. Basically you divide the keywords that are valuable for your brand and then “cluster them together” around a pillar page. This strategy is better than just creating content for each long tail keyword you have and adding them to your blog pages. Why? Because;
  • When built properly, topic clusters help crawlers to understand the relation between your content pages and build a semantic relation. That way when a cluster page increases in performance, the other pages’ performance also increases.
  • Topic clusters help you to become an authority on a specific topic, thus increasing your chances of rankings in organic search.
  • They make your site better structured so people can easily navigate between relevant content.

Creating Content Pieces

Creating content clusters is a fundamental part of a successful SEO strategy. These clusters not only help search engines but also makes it easier for users to navigate through your site’s content. So what should you begin with? Of course with keyword research. Your keywords will be the road signs showing the right path.

Keyword Research

Conducting keyword research is a necessity for writing content. You can better understand and define topics and without the right keywords you would be paddling aimlessly. So how should you do it? Here are the steps:
  • Start with creating your buyer persona and imagine what kind of problems or questions they might have.
  • Brainstorming. Think about what people would be interested in about your product or service. You should plan your content in accordance with the buyer’s journey. Starting from the top of the funnel to guiding after purchase.
  • Map out what kind of questions your buyer persona is asking and group them into broad topic bubbles. When creating your content, answering user intent is your top priority.
  • You should refine the keyword ideas in your mind to determine your primary and secondary keywords. You can make use of keyword research tools (Semrush, Ahrefs etc.). Also take data from the sales department. Determine your pillar and cluster content based on your keyword research.
  • Check Google’s People Also Asked questions for ideas. These questions usually offer some nice ideas to put in an article.
  • Even though your keyword research is on point, it is always a good idea to make a competitor analysis to see their strategy and what keywords they are ranking for. Choose 4 or 5 companies within the same sector and check their keywords (again the keyword research tools can help you here). By doing this you can find and fill in the gaps in your content so you can make comprehensive content clusters.
  • Make a comprehensive list of keywords and create a matrix. Put keywords, search volume and keyword difficulty on the list. This would make your job a lot easier when refining the keywords.
  • When choosing for cluster content, go for the low-hanging fruit. Choose long tail keywords with less difficulty. Try to answer questions with your content.

Pillar and Cluster Articles

Pillar and cluster pages are created by grouping your keywords together semantically, so that this semantic correlation between your articles helps Google to understand the relationship between them. It can also support your pages to gain visibility for keywords that are not your primary targets.Topic clusters consist of these two main elements:

Pillar Content

  • Comprehensive and exhaustive pages that focus on a single core topic. These pages are generally long since they are centers for cluster pages and should include every cluster topic broadly.
  • These pages provide exhaustive information and aim to answer users’ questions at every stage.
  • Contains links to cluster pages (usually as H2 or H3). So people can easily navigate between relevant pages.

Cluster Content

  • These pages aim to rank in long tail keywords since users’ search queries are more specific and intent-driven.
  • Cluster pages contain relevant topics to pillar pages.
  • All cluster pages must be linked to the pillar page.


topic cluster content relationship with a focused pillar page surrounded by cluster content

Analyze Your Articles’ Success

Whether the topic clusters you’ve just created or already existing blog posts, you should check their performance. Keep track of your blog posts by conducting a content audit. Analyze the data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console and create a data sheet.This sheet will help you understand performance of your pages individually. You can also analyze internal links and GA behavior flow charts to see the correlation between the pages and users flow on your website. We prefer to visualize your data at Google DataStudio so that we can interpret the data and identify the next steps. 

After checking your data, you will be able to determine what articles will stay and what needs a rework or should be merged with other articles. Some of your articles may become outdated so check your performance periodically. The KPIs and frequency may change based on your needs.

How Can Topic Clusters Help Growth?

After adopting topic cluster content strategy, many webpages saw an increase in organic traffic and leads. For one example, Matt Osborn from Apruve reports an increase of 246% in organic traffic. Apruve is a mid-sized B2B company that operates a credit network. First, they ditched their old content policy which was targeting random keywords and hoping for better traffic. Instead, they put their keywords together and organized their content into clusters.

Topic Clusters are like flowers in a garden that attract honeybees. When bees enjoy the nectar from one flower they’ll visit other flowers too and the garden will become a gathering hub for the bees. Topic clusters create this hub for users, so they can go from one article to another and with good content your pages will have a better chance of attracting more people. At BK Solutions we run our content marketing strategies  to create these beautiful hubs for you. Reach out  and let’s unlock the content marketing success for your brand.

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