Topic Clusters for SEO: What They Are & How to Create Them

Rachel Handley

Mar 22, 20248 min read
Contributors: Christine Skopec and Zach Paruch
What Are Topic Clusters?


What Is a Topic Cluster?

A topic cluster (or content cluster) is a group of interconnected, thematically related pages on a website. 

Each cluster includes one pillar page, which is the main page that provides a broad overview of a particular topic. And multiple cluster pages, which cover associated subtopics.

All of these pages are connected with internal links (links that direct to other pages on your site).

Like so:

A central pillar page with arrows to and from various cluster pages representing links

What Are the Benefits of Topic Clusters?

An effective topic cluster strategy can help with search engine optimization (SEO).


Because the more quality content you publish on a relevant topic, the more keywords (search queries) you can rank for. And the more topical authority you can build.

This is important because Google wants to rank content that demonstrates Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

E-E-A-T: Google judges pages based on the credibility of the page, author, and website

Plus, SEO topic clusters contribute to an effective site structure.

By linking to and from a pillar page, you make it easy for Google and users to find related content. And understand semantic relationships—i.e., how the content fits together.

This can be great for SEO and the user experience.

Last but not least, establishing a reputation as a subject matter expert can help you attract and convert target audiences. Because people usually prefer to engage with credible companies.

How to Create Topic Clusters and Monitor Their Performance

Learn how to create topic clusters that drive organic traffic (unpaid search engine traffic). And improve user engagement on your website.

1. Choose a Core Topic

First, you need to choose a topic to base your content cluster around. 

Start with a simple brainstorming session, asking yourself:

  • Which topics are relevant and important to my brand? 
  • Which topics have worked well for me in the past?
  • What content do we already have?
  • Which topics does my target audience care about?
  • Which topics do my competitors talk about?

Your chosen topic should be broad enough to warrant several pieces of content. But not so broad that the cluster could become oversized and unfocused.

The right approach depends on your goals and audience.

For example, a travel company covering many destinations might create one topic cluster around Disney World planning.

Whereas the Mouse Hacking blog (a dedicated Disney World planning website) has separate clusters for each park and other important topics.

Image links to guides about Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, etc.

This enables them to go into more detail.

Understanding the level of interest in your topic and subtopics will help you decide on the right scope for your cluster. So, let’s perform some keyword research.

2. Perform Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of finding queries you want to rank for (i.e., target keywords). And collecting data that helps you evaluate ranking opportunities.

This is key to identifying the best topic cluster ideas. And creating SEO-friendly content.

With Semrush’s Keyword Manager, you can easily find popular topics and subtopics. And associated keywords.

Enter a seed keyword informed by the core topic you identified to base your search around (e.g., “plan a trip to Disney World”).

Then, choose your target country and click “Create list.”

"plan a trip to Disney World" keyword entered into the Keyword Manager tool

The tool will collect relevant keywords. And organize them into groups based on topic.

These groups are called keyword clusters.

Keyword clusters in Keyword Manager tool, "plan a trip to disney world," "disney platinum earmarked agency list," "4 keys disney" etc.

The idea is to assign one keyword cluster (rather than one keyword) to each page in your topic cluster. Then optimize your content accordingly.

This helps you rank for a wider variety of relevant keywords.

Find Keywords for Your Pillar Page

First, find the keyword cluster that best represents your core topic. This contains keywords that you can target on your pillar page.

To evaluate the overall search opportunity, look at the following metrics:

  • Intent: The types of keywords in the cluster. Topic clusters are often built around keywords with informational or commercial search intent (i.e., terms used to conduct research).
  • Volume: The combined search volume (average number of monthly searches) for keywords in the cluster. This indicates the potential reach of your content each month.
  • KD %: The average keyword difficulty score. Generally, the higher the number out of 100, the harder it will be to rank in Google’s top 10 organic results for these keywords.
"plan a trip to disney world" keyword cluster has a "high ranking potential" tag

Click the arrow to review the individual keywords in the cluster. And their metrics.

Take a look at the “Content references for the cluster” on the right, too. This helps you understand what type of content you need to satisfy search intent. And rank highly.

“Content references for the cluster” section in Keyword Manager tool

For example, to rank well for “plan a trip to Disney World,” you’d need to create a page like the one previewed below. 

A page titled: "Walt Disney World Planning Guide (2023 & 2024)"

Once you’re happy with your core topic’s potential, you can start to build a content cluster around it.

Find Keywords for Cluster Pages

To build out your topic cluster, look for keyword clusters around relevant subtopics. Which you can target on cluster pages.

For example, our pillar page on Disney World planning could link to cluster pages targeting:

  • “how many days for disney world”
  • “disney world tips and tricks”
  • “how much spending money for disney world”
“how much spending money for disney world” result in Keyword Manager tool

To find more subtopics for your topic cluster, perform additional searches related to the same main topic in Keyword Manager.

Or, use Semrush’s Topic Research tool.

Add your core topic, choose your target country, then click “Get content ideas.”

"disney world vacation planning" entered into the Topic Research tool search bar

And the tool will provide a variety of subtopic ideas. 

Look out for those labeled “Topic Efficiency: High”—this suggests the subtopic’s search volume is high relative to its difficulty score.

Subtopics in Topic Research tool with "Topic Efficiency: High" label

Click “Show more” on any subtopic to see popular headlines, questions, and related searches.

This can help you better understand search intent.

Headlines, questions, and related searches shown for "packing list" subtopic in Topic Research tool

Then, go back to Keyword Manager to build out the keyword cluster. Or use Keyword Magic Tool to find related keywords yourself.

In the end, you should have an SEO topic cluster made up of keyword clusters.

Try planning it out like this:

A mind map with a Core Topic Keyword Cluster at the center, with links pointing to and from several Subtopic Keyword Clusters

3. Create Quality Content

Once you’ve planned out your topic cluster, you’re ready to create and publish quality content

It’s a good idea to start with your pillar page. Because this is the page that provides a broad overview of your core topic and the foundation for your topic cluster.

You should create your pillar page with links to your cluster pages in mind. 

For example, the heading structure of our Disney World planning guide might look something like this:

  • Disney World Vacation Planning: The Ultimate Guide for 2024
    • 1. Plan Your Budget
    • 2. Decide When to Travel
    • 3. Choose Where to Stay
    • 4. Create an Itinerary
    • 5. Book Restaurants
    • 6. Create a Packing List
    • 7. Learn Disney World Tips & Tricks

After publishing your pillar page, you can create cluster pages at your own pace. (Of course, the sooner you publish your content, the sooner you can start seeing results.)

Remember to add internal links from the pillar page to its cluster pages. And vice versa.

Internal links from the pillar page to its cluster pages, and vice versa

If you need help creating search-friendly content, use Semrush’s SEO Content Template.

Enter the target keywords, choose your focus country and device, then click “Create content template.”

Target keywords added to the SEO Content Template tool

The tool provides suggestions based on the top 10 rival webpages.

This includes a recommended text length. And ideas for domains you can earn backlinks from.

(Backlinks are links from other websites pointing toward your website. Google treats certain types of backlinks like recommendations. So, they can boost your topical authority even further.)

Key recommendations (based on Google top 10 rivals) in SEO Content Template tool

When you’re ready to start writing, head over to the “Real-time Content Check” tab.

And click “Open in SEO Writing Assistant.”

"Open in SEO Writing Assistant" button

Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant scores your content’s readability, originality, SEO, and tone of voice in real time.

In addition to improving your content’s quality and SEO potential, this tool helps you maintain consistency across your content cluster.

A page on "How Much Spending Money Should I Take to Disney World?" with content's score section on the right-hand side in SEO Writing Assistant

As you review the tools’ recommendations, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a primary keyword: Pick the main keyword you want each page to rank for. Try to use this primary keyword in your page’s title tag, meta description, URL slug, H1, and first paragraph of body content.
  • Include secondary keywords: Use the other keywords from your cluster (secondary keywords) within the content. But be careful to avoid forcing keywords in, as this can harm your SEO.
  • Analyze competing content: Look at rival pages so you can work out how to create something even better. This will also help with the research process.
  • Write for people first: Make sure your content is created primarily for your target audience—not for search engines. Providing genuine value should improve rankings and engagement.
  • Be clear and concise: Make it quick and easy for readers to get the information they need. Structure and format your content thoughtfully to make it more digestible.
  • Build internal links: Link to other pages in the cluster so users can easily navigate between them. And attach your links to keyword-rich anchor text to enhance Google’s understanding.

4. Measure Your Cluster’s Performance

Monitor your content clusters’ performance, so you know what’s working and what isn’t.

That way, you can:

  • Expand top-performing clusters with additional content
  • Review and improve low-performing content
  • Adapt your topic cluster strategy based on meaningful data

There are many content marketing metrics you can track. But SEO topic clusters are primarily used to generate organic rankings.

So, we recommend adding your target keywords to Semrush’s Position Tracking tool.

The tool allows you to track your Google rankings for individual keywords.

Rankings overview table in Position Tracking tool shows Google ranking changes for individual keywords

Plus, you can use tags to group related keywords (e.g., keywords targeted on the same page or in the same cluster). 

Navigate to the “Tags” report to see how each keyword group is performing as a whole.

"Tags" report in the Position Tracking tool

Topic Cluster Examples

For a better understanding of what topic clusters are and how they work, check out these topic cluster examples:

Healthline’s Allergy Content Cluster

Healthline has an article called “Everything You Need to Know About Allergies” that acts as a pillar page for an allergy content cluster.

It provides an overview of several subtopics, including symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Healthline's article called “Everything You Need to Know About Allergies”

The article links through to cluster pages that provide more detailed information on these subtopics.

Like this:

"Food allergies" and "Hay fever symptoms" links

Here’s a snapshot of the linked food allergies cluster page:

A page called: "Common Food Allergies"

Petcube’s Puppy Care Content Cluster

Petcube, a pet technology company, attracts its target audience with a “Puppy Care 101” guide. Which covers all the basics that first-time puppy owners need to know.

Petcube's article called: "Puppy Care 101: A Guide for the First Time Puppy Owner"

At the ends of many sections, Petcube links through to more detailed subtopic guides.

Like this:

"Read more: How to Stop Your Puppy from Chewing" end of section in Petcube's guide

Other cluster page topics include raising a puppy, adopting from a shelter, puppy-proofing, puppy supplies, and crate training.

Start Researching Content Cluster Ideas

Have a content cluster idea in mind?

Enter your topic into Semrush’s Topic Research tool to discover popular and trending subtopics.

Author Photo
Rachel has been a digital marketer for over 11 years. Having worked both in-house and agency-side, she has a wide range of experiences to draw on in her writing. She specializes in creating beginner-friendly articles on topics including keyword research, on-page SEO, and content creation.
More on this