If you’ve ever thought about creating a content plan for your website with an SEO agency (or by yourself), you might find yourself becoming a little overwhelmed with the sheer amount of keyword ideas that you can generate from third party SEO tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs.
From a large list of keywords, you’ll soon start to notice that the same topics and themes crop up again and again. The keywords themselves are different, but you can infer that certain queries should return the same results in Google and so, therefore, should be targeted within the same article.
This leads us to ask… how many pages should actually be created from a list of say, 1000 keywords? Is it 10, 100 or even 1000?
This is where keyword clustering comes in. It allows us to determine which semantically-related topics and keywords should be targeted together based on the current results in the SERP and the intent behind each query.
Keyword clustering is the method used by content marketers and search engine optimisers to plan out which keyword phrases should be associated with one another and targeted within a singular post or topic. Without it, you may find that you cover the same topics across separate pages on your site; leading to cannibalisation issues further down the line.
There are two ways you can cluster your keywords, you can either do this the old-fashioned way (manually in a spreadsheet). Or, you can make use of any of the automated solutions that are available on the market today. However, there are pro’s and con’s to each method:
This is by far the most time-consuming way to cluster your keywords. You’ll need to manually work your way through a spreadsheet and assign a top-level topic to each of the keywords that you encounter. You may also need to add sub-topics or sub-sub-topics, depending on how extensive your keyword list is.
Typically, one of the easiest ways to do this is by sorting the keywords A-Z so that you can see similar keywords grouped together. This way you can quickly visualise the different keywords by topic or by the letters and words that the keywords begin with.
For example, keywords which begin with “how to”, “what” “why” or “when” are question-based keywords which should be answered throughout your content. However, simply sorting your keywords alphabetically won’t always catch the same topics. For example, “how to learn seo online” wouldn’t be anywhere near the keyword “learn seo online” since they both start with different letters.
In this instance, column filters are extremely useful in searching for particular keywords. Once you’ve entered a common keyword into the filter you can simply write the main topic in the column beside those filtered keywords.
The main benefit of manual clustering is that you can check every keyword yourself to ensure that the words you’re associating together are actually about the same topic. This is something that we, as humans, can understand. Whereas, a clustering automation tool will never fully understand the meaning behind a keyword as it sorts them based on correlation data.
Automated clustering tools use machine learning and AI to determine which keywords are semantically-related to one another and group them based on the search intent and correlations found between each keyword.
Some tools, such as the content planner by Surfer SEO, allows you to enter a singular keyword or topic, which it can then use to discover dozens of relevant keyword ideas. It then neatly clusters all of the associated topics together for you within their stylish user interface.
Other tools, such as CluserAI or Keyword Cupid take this a step further. For these tools, you need to provide your own list of keyword ideas so you’ll need to export these from Ahrefs or Semrush first. Cleverly, these tools scan each keyword in your list and search Google to record the URLs that are ranking in the top 10 positions of the search results.
Then, it cross references against the other keywords to find instances where different keywords return similar search results. In other words, Google believes the intent to be the same so you can target these two keywords within the same piece of content.
Finally, once the tool has analysed the full keyword list it will organise the keywords into topics and show you all of the secondary keywords you can also target within the same article. Pretty cool, right?
As topical authority becomes an ever-increasingly important way to improve search positions and organic traffic, it’s going to become even more important that your content strategy aligns with your industry FAQ’s and keywords to create a ‘topical map’ of your buyer journey. With this, comes an increased risk of duplicating content across the site that targets semantically-related topics that could have been otherwise targeted in the same article.
In this instance, you may find that cannibalisation issues arise, where 2 or more of your pages are ranking for the same or similar keywords. Therefore, in order to prevent this you should consider clustering your keywords before planning out your content strategy.
This will prevent you from covering the same topics again and again and in turn, your site will benefit as a whole once you’ve covered all sub-topics within a niche. This blanket-like coverage of your industry keywords allows Google to consider your site as an ‘authority’ in your niche and it will reward you with rankings and traffic as a result.
Depending on which method you opt for (manual or automatic clustering tools), you may be able to ask the clustering tool support team for advice on how best to cluster your keywords. However, if you’d like us at Koozai to handle this entire process for you from start to finish then feel free to contact us about our SEO services today… we’re friendly!
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