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Ah, where are the good old days of one keyword-optimized pages?
When sprinkling in the same keyword into your content did the trick.
Things work a little differently these days.
Now Google is smarter. It has become much better at understanding context, synonyms, related topics, even whole paragraphs.
Plus, there is so much more content to answer a given query.
Can you guess how many blog posts are posted each day?
4.4 million!! 🤯
Making the competition for some first-page real estate as high as ever.
So not fun...
Anyways, you can either do something about it or still target one keyword per page and pray to the Gods to get ranked.
The choice is yours.
Ok, let’s back up a bit.
We all know content is the almighty and all that, but let’s for a second imagine a piece of random content that lies around on your blog that has absolutely no connection to whatever it is you’re selling/providing/doing, but is superbly written and optimized for one single search term.
- Would it rank?...
...No, really, would it?
By some unknown miracle to mankind, maybe.
Realistically, I don’t think so.
And pray tell why is that.
Because there is no contextual relevance.
And how do we build a well-rounded strategy that will let you have creative freedom to create relevant content for your audience while still keeping in mind your website’s architecture and thematic relevance?
Yeah, seems like another pointless SEO strategy that you need to get your head around.
Let me explain.
Everyone and their mother wants to gain authority in their niche, right?
You want to show Google that you are an expert on that particular topic and all that.
So think logically, what can you potentially do to make that happen?
Create as much relevant and high-quality content around that particular topic as possible, obviously.
And this is where keyword clusters come to play.
If we lived in an ideal world where search engines understood content as the human brain does and didn’t need keywords to interpret the meaning of a given page copy, then you could simply crack on creating as many pages of content on the field of your expertise as your heart desires without any pattern or logic behind it.
Snap out of it.
We are living in a world where if you want that ranking, your content should be for both the search engine bots and the user.
You’ve heard this a million times, I know, but do you actually use it for your content strategy?
I mean, do you actually have a clear content plan with target keywords and internal linking structure in place?
You need those keywords, my friend, if you want to stand a chance that is.
And I don’t mean just a couple of random keywords here and there, I mean a solid strategy that allows you to leverage content creation and the best SEO practices at the same time.
Seems a bit confusing.
First things first.
What Is Keyword Clustering?Keyword clustering is the process of thematically grouping keywords into themes that are relevant to your website’s pages, also known as semantic keyword grouping, if you’re more familiar with that term.
Basically, you have a single cluster that has a core topic and several related subtopics, which support and point back to the core topic.
Generally, the hub page is a long-form content page that’s rich in information on an extensive topic, while the cluster would be a more specific look at topics that relate to the pillar page.
That’s because I covered content silos in my previous post and if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for? (hint, hint, content silos is the core topic)
The immediate benefit of keyword clustering is that it allows you to target more than one search phrase per page while creating more opportunities for your content to be found online.
Who'd say no to that, duh?
So, instead of doing the usual, keyword clustering means putting together a whole list of keywords to target with a blog post and not just one focus keyphrase.
Let’s say you want to write about keyword research.
Obviously a wide topic with many target keywords that can become the core topic for our topic clusters.
Then we have subtopics such as:
- keyword research tools
- competitor keyword research
- youtube keyword research
- local seo keyword research
After we have all the pieces in place each supporting page (aka the subtopics) links back to the pillar page so that when one piece of content within the cluster does well the whole cluster does well too, giving your SEO a nice boost.
Now that we’ve covered the undeniable benefits of keyword clustering let’s see how to actually group keywords into thematically relevant clusters!
Understandably this seems like an awful lot of work and I’m going to be completely honest with you here: keyword clustering is a very labor-intensive task.
It takes time and a whole lot of brainpower.
But the good news is I have a solution for you to automate it so that you never have to rely on spreadsheets and "frying your brain".
Let’s dive right in!
Step 1. Collect a List of Target KeywordsThis should come as no surprise that we need a list of keywords to group from.
But I’m in no mood to "teach you how to do keyword research properly", so instead let’s see what exactly you are going to need before heading into step no 2.
- Your initial keyword research file that you did 200 years ago 😂
- Data from your GSC for ranking keywords
- Paid ads data, if you run any (if you sell on Amazon, don’t forget to bring in your data from Amazon ads + backend keywords too)
- Relevant search terms your competitors are targeting/ranking for (Ahrefs and Semrush are your friend here)
- Relevant search terms your competitors are missing (Semrush Keyword Gap analysis, give it a try)
- Any other search phrases you're intending to rank for
Now build that list until you have all the possible variations of every single keyword, plus their related search terms, plus related questions and everything else in between.
Expect to have a thousand or more keywords, depending on your niche. We’re not joking around here. 😈
Here’s how the initial file looks like:
Don’t forget to remove all the duplicates and super low-performing ones, because we don’t have an eternity here.
But don’t go around removing every low-volume keyword: search intent matters, not the volume.
Step 2. Create Keyword GroupingsJust putting it out there, you can actually group keywords manually.
By that, I don’t suggest that you go through several thousand keyword possibilities one by one and categorize them by hand.
But what you can do is some old-fashioned SEO work with a handy-dandy spreadsheet, a bit of trickery and some strange formulas.
Here is a rundown of how it works:
- Run your keyword list through a word and phrase frequency counter to find the most-used terms
- Figure out the most important terms and phrases to create topical groups
- Use a bunch of formulas on Google Sheets to create keyword clusters
If you’d like to go the manual route I suggest you check out this guide for more in-depth information:
While it's great to get your hands dirty and fully understand the whole process, there's an easier way out.
Paid Keyword grouping toolsThere are a number of tools out there that can group your keywords automatically and all you need to do is feed them your list and the rest happens by itself.
Today I’m going to focus on one particular tool though.
Keyword Cupid! 🏹
The first truly unbiased keyword planning tool that doesn’t rely on any manual action and uses machine learning to quickly and accurately group keywords into different silos.
And you might ask how?
By using Google's own SERPs and understanding the thematic connection between each search term.
I’m not gonna go into the pretty terms and the multidimensional smth smth so, if you’re interested in how the tool works and all that good stuff, check out our Keyword Cupid guide.
Now let’s see how Keyword Cupid manages to do everything for you while you rest and enjoy your cup of coffee.
The basic principle is the same, you import your keyword research file, wait around a bit and the tool gives you your keyword clusters.
And this is where things get interesting.
First and foremost, unlike other somewhat similar tools on the market (there’s no second tool like Cupid, this is a whole new ballgame, btw), with Keyword Cupid, you have data straight from the big ‘G’ itself plus a machine-learning thingy that does all the grouping and the analyzing.
And grouping it does.
You get a full-on visual mindmap with 3 categories to guide you: search terms related to 'Big Silos', 'Small Silos' and 'Singles'.
To put it plainly the keyword from the 'Singles' bunch are not thematically relevant so it’s better to do more research and target those later.
The keywords from the 'Small Silos' only have a few supporting keywords that’s why they are deemed as a bit weak.
Still, the clusters in this branch can be very related to each other so don’t scratch it off just yet.
And we have the 'Big Silos' where all the fun happens. This branch contains some serious clusters with many related keywords which makes it a goldmine for SEOs.
You basically have your whole silo structure mapped out right in front of you, no questions asked.
What more could you want?
Wait for it…
You have report setting options!
To choose which geographical region you want to target (I mean cities and small towns even), on which devices and all of that with the search engine of your choice.
I didn’t get to the best part yet.
Keyword research isn't just blindly taking phrases from Ahrefs and clustering them together.
It's research into where you fit in the spectrum of 'how many of these could I actually rank for?'
Meaning, you need to analyze the SERPs!
Not sure if you consider it fun but scraping and analyzing 1,000 SERPs is not my idea of fun...
Lucky for me, Keyword Cupid has been updated with an amazing new feature:
SERP SpySERP Spy "spies"/scrapes the SERPs for each keyword and presents you with data on average word count, average H2s, H3s, the number of outbound links, the average number of images, bolded keywords.
See for yourself.
And it goes without saying, you can hover your mouse over any keyword and you have the first 10 location-specific search results for that particular keyword at your fingertips.
Step 3. Put Your Keyword Clusters to Good UseAlright, now that you’ve run the report and you have all these groups of keywords, what do you do with them?
So you chuck them all into your next post?
It does make sense on paper, to stuff your content to the brim with all the keywords in your cluster but it will result in an unreadable mess.
The groups are simply a guide to inform your choices about what content to create.
They just point out concepts and topical areas that are either you, your competitors or both are missing out on.
It’s your job to take that info and do whatever you please with it.
Plus you can always use common sense and break up particularly large groups into a few pages.
Having enough wiggle room to target potentially well-performing keywords wouldn’t hurt now, would it?
The easiest way to use keyword clusters is to take them as starting points for new content pieces.
And if you play your cards right, you can easily target a good number of high-potential keywords instead of just one.
However, you don’t need to use every single search term in the cluster, only use the most important ones and let the rest guide you in the right direction to create useful and informative content that’s helpful for your users.
Again, I sound like a broken record at this point, content is for users first and then search engines.
And yes, you might come across some search terms that you feel like you absolutely need to target but they don’t fit in with your content, or even worse they don’t align with your user intent.
What do we do then?
Get rid of them.
Ok, maybe keep it and do some more research, maybe write a new piece of content and all that good stuff.
Alternatively, you can (and you must) apply keyword clusters to existing content so that they get a nice shot of SEO boost.
Chances are there are some that you are not using at all that fit in perfectly with your existing pages.
A word of advice, don’t be afraid of tweaking some on-page copy.
Content is not write it and forget it type of thing, it needs love and care and updates.
I mean you can always write a few paragraphs, add in some target terms and call it a day.
Just remember my naggy voice in your head: write for the user. Please.
Final WordsWhew. That was a ride.
Hope I made your inner researcher curious.
And your inner SEO giddy.
(I mean if I didn’t you wouldn’t be reading this anyways)
Keyword clustering really is an interesting concept that lets you take advantage of the way Google approaches search these days making it a lot easier to go up those rankings.
Especially if you have the first-hand data straight from Google to guide you along.
Give Keyword Cupid a try and let us know how it impacted your content game in the comments below.
Jump on a "non-committal" 7-day-trial and test out Keyword Cupid's capabilities.
Join our Keyword Cupid Facebook page for more updates and success stories from our lovely SEO family.
And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen.
Until next time!