Audit a Topic Cluster Strategy With Content Analysis

Christy Walters


October 3, 2022 (Updated: October 19, 2023)

computer with financial information on the screen to audit a topic cluster strategy

While a large part of a content marketer’s job is to create interesting pieces that generate brand awareness and customer loyalty, that’s not their only job. These marketing professionals also spend a lot of time focusing on how to do the best SEO to boost their content on search engines. They also focus on creating a top-notch user experience to please their audience. Marketers meet all these goals by engaging in topic clustering with their content. Today, we’re exploring how to audit a topic cluster strategy with content analysis data to improve the effectiveness of your strategy efforts:

What Is a Topic Cluster Strategy?

A topic cluster strategy is an organizational tactic content marketers use to link related pieces together within a content hub. Cluster strategies make it easier for search engines and searchers to find your content on your website and across cyberspace.

Rather than creating one extremely long piece of content that covers every facet of a topic, a cluster strategy breaks things down. Your team creates one longer definitive piece. Then, the team develops shorter, more in-depth content that links back to the original definitive piece. Topic cluster strategies have three major components:

  • Pillar posts: The primary definitive pieces that tell what your company does and why it applies to your audience
  • Cluster content: Shorter, in-depth pieces that explore more niche details of the pillar content
  • Hyperlinks: Digital pathways that connect pillar and cluster content to make it easier for people and bots to connect the ideas from both groups

Topic cluster models differ from traditional publishing because they require a strategy to work. Consider logically how search engines and searchers link content in their algorithms and minds. Then create the right structure to help them move through all the pieces you create in this same logical way.

Related: Can You Use Content Analysis Data To Pick Topic Clusters?

Why Should You Audit Your Strategy With a Content Analysis?

In marketing, you can audit your content and your strategic plan created to develop the content. When you do a strategic audit, you evaluate the frameworks designed to meet your current brand, department, or campaign objectives. When working with a topic cluster strategy, the aim is always to make your clusters easier for search engines and your audience to find and navigate.

Doing an audit on the framework and each individual content piece helps ensure your team continues to stay relevant to what the audience wants or needs and provides value to them through your marketing efforts. You may wonder why you should use content analysis data to do this kind of audit. Shouldn’t it be pretty common sense to look at what content you’re producing and see how it fits together?

A lot of cluster strategy amounts to common sense. You wouldn’t link an article about making DIY snow globes with an article explaining the history of sticky notes. These two things don’t go together, and common sense tells you that. But when you’re down in the trenches of making smaller, more nuanced decisions about clustering, it’s helpful to have actual strategic data to back up your decisions.

These small choices could be the difference between hitting position one or position two in a SERP and grabbing more of that coveted organic traffic for any keyword or topic.

How To Audit a Cluster Strategy With Content Analysis Data

Use these steps for auditing your topic cluster strategy with data from a content analysis report:

1. Create Topic Clusters

Before you audit a topic cluster strategy, have one in place first. Look at your content plans or an archive of all your existing content. Look for themes among the pieces and how they fit together. Use a spreadsheet, list-making tool, or mind map program to plan and segment your clusters into topics and subtopics.

You can also group topics and subtopics by search intent to make them even more impactful for your audience and help push people through the marketing funnel. Keyword research and other SEO tools can give you a head start in choosing which keywords are topics and which are subtopics. You can then check those predictions from the keyword research tools against the data from your content analysis to confirm you’ve made the right decision.

Related: How To Create Topic Clusters To Boost SEO

2. Run a Content Analysis

Choose a content analysis tool and run a report to get the data you need to understand how your content currently performs with your audience and on search engines. CopyPress has a free content marketing analysis tool that lets you do both things and see how your content compares to that of your top three industry competitors.

Your content marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so knowing what your competition is doing and how they’re structuring their content clusters can be a helpful tool for auditing your own strategy. Our report also provides a list of potential syndication partners to help spread your cluster content around the internet. This strategy helps increase your number of authoritative backlinks to boost SEO and share your clusters across the internet to link back to more valuable content.

To get your report delivered right to your inbox today, fill out the form below. After you get your results, use them to complete the rest of the steps in this guide.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

Related: 12 Things To Look For in a Content Strategy Analysis Tool

3. Review Your Content Analysis Results

When your content analysis results arrive, take the time to look them over thoroughly. Go through each tab and get a good understanding of the data you’ll find within. This helps you learn how each data point relates to your topic cluster strategy audit. In the CopyPress report, you can browse the following tabs of information:

  • Dashboard: Provides a high-level overview of how your content compares to your competitors in areas like traffic performance, backlink profiles, and SERP rankings
  • Content gaps: Shares quick ideas for content creation based on keywords that all your competitors rank in the top 100 results for on Google that your brand does not
  • Potential syndication partners: A list of websites with similar link portfolios to your domain to start the outreach conversation about sharing your content across the web
  • Your top keywords: Shows your keywords that rank in the top 10 on Google, limited to 5,000 potential ranking keywords
  • Your best pages: Uses raw keyword data to rank and cluster keyword topics based on the ranking URL in Google
  • Your best links: Shows your top 5,000 backlinks based on trust flow (TF) and citation flow (CF) to prove link value
  • Competitor 1-3 top keywords: Shows the keywords that rank in the top 10 on Google for each of your provided competitors’ domains
  • Competitor 1-3 best pages: Uses raw keyword data to rank and cluster keyword topics for each of your top three competitors based on the ranking URLs in Google
  • Competitor 1-3 best links: Shows a list of your competitors’ top 5,000 backlinks based on TF and CF data

4. Compare Analysis Clusters To Your Current Clusters

The “Your Best Pages,” and “Competitors 1-3 Best Pages” tabs on your content analysis are most helpful in comparing your current clusters to your most effective clusters. Each of these sheets uses a table to show your or your competitors’ top-ranking content on Google by URL. As you expand and collapse each row, you can see the number of keywords each page rank for, what keywords those are, and the amount of traffic each page brings in.

These lists, especially the ranking keyword lists, help you determine if you’ve clustered your content directly. Pages that rank for the same or similar keywords should appear in the same topic clusters. They should link to each other through hyperlinks. The most definitive page or pages should serve as your pillar content for that cluster.

screenshot of cluster analysis titles for content audit

screenshot of cluster analysis on a piece about article titles

For example, in CopyPress‘ report on our own assets, we have two different pieces of content that both focus on titles and headlines for content. Both rank for search terms that use the words “title” or “headline” and related variations within them. This data helps us confirm that clustering these articles together around a pillar page is the right choice for SEO. It also proves that you’re creating logical content links for your audience.

5. Make Cluster Adjustments Based On Your Results

When reviewing your analysis data, you may find that you’ve miscalculated where some of your content should cluster based on search intent and search engine results page (SERP) rankings. If you find you’ve made some of these errors, or you were unsure of where to categorize some unsorted pieces, change your lists, spreadsheets, or maps that you created back in the first step. Make sure the changes reflect your analysis data.

For pieces you’re unsure of where to put them, you can also use the keyword and cluster data from your competitors’ pieces. Doing this helps influence your strategy structure. Look for similar pieces, how they rank, and what keywords they target. This may give you more insight into how to structure your own clusters. Aim to be more competitive based on what larger segments of your audience expect to see.

6. Review Content Gaps and Opportunities

Topic cluster strategies work for both new and existing content. With so many potential subtopics for any one pillar piece, you’re bound to miss at least a few potential keyword topics that fit within any cluster. Use the low-hanging fruit tab in your content marketing analysis to browse potential opportunities for new content. Sort these keywords into your newly adjusted clusters and prioritize them as the top new pieces to create to bring more traffic and get your content onto the SERPs where your competition already has positioning.

7. Run Content Analysis and Audits Periodically

Search engine rankings can change daily thanks to Google’s algorithm and core updates. When the rankings change, so do your content analysis statistics. It’s not enough to do a content analysis once and stay satisfied with the results. Check up on your search rankings and content performance constantly through audits and strategy realignment.

Schedule times throughout the year to run a new content analysis on all your existing content. Make sure your topic clusters are still relevant and in line with SEO best practices and audience expectations. The more you check your strategy, the less chance you have of ever losing positioning or traffic because of a Google penalty.

If you’ve been experiencing traffic fluctuations and general anxiety over Google’s latest Helpful Content update, join CopyPress and Search Engine Journal for a webinar on how to adapt and keep your content and cluster strategies at their peak performance.

Take Your Cluster Strategy Beyond Data With CopyPress‘ Full Range of Services

Content analysis and strategy planning are far more in-depth than looking at some numbers in a document. To do it right, you need a qualified team ready to crunch numbers, test theories, and adapt as you learn more about your audience and industry SEO. At CopyPress, we’re dedicated to blending next-level strategy with high-quality valuable content to help your business get the reach and recognition it deserves from your audience and search engines.

After you request your free content analysis report, schedule your first no-obligation strategy meeting with our team. During this call, we’ll chat about your business goals. Then we use the data from your content analysis report to help you plan the best topic cluster strategy to bring in results.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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