Very few companies begin a blog with a plan of how it will relate to the overall site architecture and how to maximise the linking structure for SEO gains or even how they will measure its ROI. Planning this from day one has major advantages, you can reap the rewards of the Pillar/Cluster strategy from the start.
Legacy content without structure
As a company such as HubSpot grows, and it’s blog along with it, more and more content is added, that, while inherently valuable in terms of informing readers, ultimately lacks direction and cohesion, compounding the problem and not making use of the internal Pagerank that the site has built up over time.
In the scenario above, linking can be ad hoc and patchy, it’s hit and miss as to whether the reader can find what they want and you are spreading your authority randomly rather than being more strategic and linking out to the content you want to push up on search engine results pages.
As well as losing out on potential organic traffic due to poor or non-existent internal linking, content heavy sites, particularly those with large back catalogues have many pages covering the same or similar subjects. These pages end up directly competing with each other on search engines.
3 Blogs - 12000 URLs
As the HubSpot team and it’s blog had grown they had learnt along the way what worked and didn't, but the approach was inconsistent and there was no clear web holding it all together.
The potential for such a large body of work was huge.
So HubSpot found itself in a tricky situation ….
TEN YEARS worth of valuable, relevant content.
HubSpot Blog Architecture - Pre-Topic Clusters
The prospect of organising such a massive amount of content would be daunting to say the least …
But not easily deterred, the team decided to use the opportunity to consider how they could tackle overall architectural issues that had arisen over the years in relation to the sheer volume of content present on their site.
The Challenge for Hubspot
The HubSpot Team really had some big questions at the start of this massive undertaking that fell into four main areas
- How do we make the blog back catalogue more user and search friendly?
- How can we make our use of tags and filters more intentional?
- How can we ensure the quality of the information that we publish?
- How can we link the insights from the SEO team up with the content that is being produced?
- How do we create a site architecture that benefits our website users and ourselves?
- How do we set up the pillar/cluster architecture behind the scenes?
- How can we create a structure that will enable us to scale when working with vast amounts of content?
- How to devise a uniform linking structure that will streamline content production and linking procedures going forwards.
- What is the most effective way to monitor rankings at a topic level?
- How can we make better use of our crawl budget?
- How can we make better use of our internal Pagerank?
The team had some idea of what they expected to see from the application of their strategy but were aware that in a project of this scale that they could be in for surprise or two.
What they expected to see from the implementation of the new architecture included:
- Increased rankings on search engine result pages and a rise in organic traffic.
- The ability to spot content gaps much easier and quicker.
- Avoid keyword cannibalisation, having multiple blog posts ranking for the same keywords but none ranking well.
- Increased “Share of Voice”
- Increased backlinks to both the pillar pieces and the cluster content over time.
- Combat content saturation and overwhelm
- Raise quality and authority by improving existing pieces using the topic cluster approach to see what's working and what needs more attention.
Despite having a huge website, HubSpot’s SEO team is small yet capable - so it was essential that they were armed with the right tool. The combination of intelligent, advanced in-house SEO expertise and cutting-edge rank tracking capabilities create a partnership that delivers real results. To learn more you can visit HubSpot's SEO Training section.
Download your Free How To Guide
AccuRanker: Topic Clusters and Rank Tracking
So the HubSpot SEO team set about reimagining the foundations on which they would build their Content Strategy to capture organic search traffic across a large number of relevant and semantically related keywords.
Following a full audit of the content on their blog, they grouped the content by topic, and then segmented along “cluster lines”. For more info and best practice on how to achieve this then you can download our guide here.
Once the overall structure was confirmed with the relevant pillar pages, corresponding cluster content and confirmed internal linking structure, the next stage was to allocate the relevant primary keywords and semantically related keywords to each cluster within AccuRanker.
The HubSpot SEO team knew from the outset that a vital element of a successful Topic Cluster strategy would be the ability to track the impact of what they were doing.
Without an accurate reliable way of tracking their results, they knew there was no way of evaluating whether their assumptions and their innovative new strategy, was having an impact.
It was also essential for the team that they collaborated with a tool that was able to process large volumes of data, that was able to deliver results on demand, and that had a reputation for serving reliable results.
When working with such a large volume of data - the results of which will be informing and assisting decisions on content ROI and strategy for the market leaders in Inbound Market and Sales Software, there was no room for doubt concerning the validity of their data.
Segmenting and filtering keywords for Topic Clusters
HubSpot’s SEO team allocated each Topic Cluster its own set of keywords, within the hierarchy of keywords. Each keyword was tagged with the respective cluster it belonged to.
AccuRanker - Tag Cloud Feature
Using the categories, tags and star mark functions in AccuRanker to segment the keywords according to the clusters, the team were able to set up their views within the system to track and monitor the fluctuations and overall progress of their primary keywords.
Each cluster would be allocated a "head" keyword which would be closely monitored.
By doing this they were able to get a picture of the “health” of each cluster and exactly how they were performing and effectively monitor the traffic at a topic level.
AccuRanker Filtering and Segmentation Features
The filtering and segmentation features are crucial for companies that monitor their Content ROI on a daily basis and need to see the impact of their strategies fast. Companies such as Kinsta that rely on the data from AccuRanker to really drive their own and their clients strategies.