Chapter 2. On-Page SEO

Keyword Mapping and Clustering - Organize Multiple Pages

Keyword Mapping and Clustering - Organize Multiple Pages
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The previous learning section discussed SEO content-writing techniques for individual pages.

If you have (or plan to make) a website with multiple pages or blog posts, you may question how to manage SEO content writing for multiple pages.

Individual Page vs. Multi-Page SEO Content Writing

We will explain the following key points for multi-page SEO content writing in this learning section.

  1. Topical authority vs. keyword cannibalization
  2. How to optimize multi-page content?
  3. Topic clustering – pillar page and cluster pages
  4. Keyword mapping – avoiding keyword cannibalization
  5. Restructuring website architecture and web pages

Point 1
Topical authority vs. keyword cannibalization

When you manage multiple pages, you need to consider two trade-off aspects from the SEO point of view. One is building topical authority, and the other is avoiding keyword cannibalization.

Multi-Page SEO Key Considerations

What is topical authority?

A topical authority is a website's (or web page's) credibility and expertise on a specific subject gained through high-quality content.

As Google emphasizes E-E-T-A (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) in its search-ranking decision, building topical authority is critical in SEO content writing.

If you want to demonstrate E-E-T-A, more than single-page web content may be required. Having multiple web pages for related topics helps build topical authority if you have high-quality content on each page.

Topical Authority

To understand topical authority better, refer to these articles.

What is keyword cannibalization?

Many web pages compete for a specific keyword to get a higher rank on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Competition also exists between your web pages.

Keyword cannibalization is a situation where your pages compete for the same target keyword, which potentially causes them to rank lower in search results.

Having multiple web pages for related topics helps build topical authority; however, you must carefully manage keywords to avoid keyword cannibalization.

Keyword Cannibalization

To understand keyword cannibalization better, you can refer to these articles.

Point 2
How to optimize multi-page content

If you have been learning SEO, you might have heard about the two key approaches: Topic Clustering and Keyword Mapping.

Multi-Page SEO Content Writing

Both approaches are discussed when we optimize multi-page content, but they are used in slightly different contexts.

Topic clustering is a content strategy often used to structure multiple pages.

Keyword mapping is the process of assigning keywords to each web page.

When you optimize multi-page content, you cannot implement these two approaches separately.

There will be several iterations that involve the two approaches.

The following sections will explain how each approach helps you optimize multi-page content.

Point 3
Topic clustering – pillar page and cluster pages

Topic clustering is a content organization strategy that involves grouping related pieces of content based on their semantic relevance, and interlinking them.

The main idea behind topic clustering is establishing topical authority by providing comprehensive coverage of a subject and signaling the depth and breadth of knowledge to search engines.

By organizing content into clusters and aligning with user intent and search engine algorithms, websites can enhance their visibility in search results, increase user engagement, and improve overall SEO performance.

When you implement topic clustering for your website or blog posts, you need to manage the following three control points:

  • Pillar page
  • Cluster pages
  • Internal links
Topic Clustering

Pillar page

A pillar page on a website comprehensively covers content about a specific topic or theme; it can also have the form of an aggregation of blog posts. The pillar page covers all essential aspects of the theme and provides links to narrower subtopics within the same theme.

For example, "On-Page SEO Techniques - How To Do On Page SEO?" is the pillar page of this page (Keyword Mapping and Clustering – Organize Multiple Pages).

Pillar Page Content Structure

Cluster pages

Cluster pages are individual content pieces linked to a pillar page. They provide more detailed information on specific subtopics related to the main topic (theme), contributing to the content's overall depth and breadth. For example, this page is the cluster page to a deep-dive into the sub-topics of On-Page SEO.

Internal links

Internal links are crucial in topic clustering, connecting the pillar page and cluster pages, and establishing a hierarchical relationship.

Internal links help search engines understand content relevance and structure, improve crawlability and indexability, enhance user navigation between related topics, and strengthen topical authority for a website's target theme.

How to implement topic clustering

To implement topic clustering, you can follow these steps:

1. Design topic hierarchy: Under the target theme, you need to group key topics and structure them. If you have enough in-depth topic knowledge, you can also design multi-layer topic clustering using a pyramid structure.

2. Create a pillar page (or pillar pages): A pillar page should consist of summaries of cluster pages. As it covers the theme comprehensively, the content can be longer. If you apply multi-layer topic clustering, there will be a main pillar and sub-pillar pages.

3. Create cluster pages: Elaborate specific subtopics related to the pillar topic (theme) and create cluster pages for each subtopic.

4. Build internal links: Establish internal links between cluster pages and their respective pillar page for clear connection and navigation. You should ensure that the cluster pages are linking back to the related pillar pages to build two-way links.

Multi-Layer Clustering

To optimize topic clusters from the SEO point of view, you also need to follow the keyword mapping approach explained in the next section.

Your topic clustering draft may impact keyword cannibalization. In that case, you need to refine your topic clusters.

To understand topic clustering better, you can read these articles.

Point 4
Keyword mapping – avoiding keyword cannibalization

Keyword mapping is the process of assigning specific target keywords to individual pages on a website.

The key idea of keyword mapping is to set a unique keyword for each page and ensure that the pages will not be cannibalized.

By nature, keywords for pillar pages tend to be short-tail or mid-tail keywords, while keywords for cluster pages are long-tail or mid-tail keywords.

Keyword Mapping

Integrating the keyword mapping process into the topic clustering approach

The keyword mapping approach is effective when implemented along with the topic clustering approach, although these two approaches are often explained separately.

The illustration below conceptually describes how to integrate the two approaches.

Integrating Keyword Mapping and Topic Clustering Approaches

At a high level, there are three key steps in keyword mapping.

  • Step1. List keyword candidates for each topic cluster page and the pillar page
  • Step2. Check the pages for keyword cannibalization
  • Step3. Finalize keyword assignment

How to check for keyword cannibalization

Checking for potential keyword cannibalization is critical for keyword mapping.

You can use search engines to check how your keywords are cannibalizing. Here are the simple steps:

  • First, identify keywords that may potentially be cannibalized
  • Search the keywords using a search engine and check the top 10 ranking search results on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
  • If the top 10 search results for the keywords you identified are similar, those keywords are likely cannibalizing.

To understand keyword mapping better, you can read these articles.

Point 5
Restructuring website architecture (or blog posts)

If you have a website with multiple pages or blog posts for the same theme and haven't done any SEO work, you may need to rearrange your website architecture or blog post structure.

When you rearrange your website architecture or blog post structure, you should also consider improving general user experience (usability) and crawlability from a technical point of view.

Here are additional technical aspects you should consider on top of the topic clustering and keyword mapping approaches:

Canonicalization

Canonicalization is the process of selecting the preferred URL version when multiple URLs have similar or identical content.

Canonicalization helps avoid not only duplicate content issues but also keyword cannibalization.

How to implement canonicalization is explained in this learning section: Index Your Website – How To Fix Page Indexing Issues.

Combining pages and 301 redirect

If you have pages covering similar topics and creating keyword cannibalization, consider combining those pages.

As you might have backlinks on the existing pages and built some good reputations with crawlers, you should carry them over to the new combined page.

301 redirect is the technique used to let crawlers know the original page has moved to another location, so they can match the backlinks and reputation of the old page to the new page.

301 redirection is explained in this learning section: Index Your Website – How To Fix Page Indexing Issues.

The following aspects are only applicable to website architecture (not for blog posts).

Navigation bar

Having a navigation bar improves both usability and crawlability.

With a navigation bar, users can quickly move to other website pages with minimum clicks. It also helps users understand website content layout easily.

A navigation bar also improves the internal linking structure, improving crawlability.

Breadcrumbs

Having breadcrumbs is recommended for SEO. There are two types of breadcrumbs.

One is HTML-based breadcrumbs, which are displayed on a webpage. HTML-based breadcrumbs improve usability by providing users with a clear navigation path, allowing them to understand where they are within the website's hierarchy.

The other is breadcrumb schema, a structured data markup implemented using JSON-LD or another format in order to provide search engines with additional information about the breadcrumbs. Breadcrumb schema improves crawlability and indexing efficiency.

How to implement breadcrumb schema is explained in this learning section: What Is Schema in SEO? | Structured Data and Rich Results.

Sitemap

A sitemap helps tell users and crawlers to create a comprehensive list of your website pages.

There are two types of sitemaps. One is for users, and the other is for crawlers.

The sitemap for users is coded in HTML and CSS. For crawlers, the XML format is often used.

The XML sitemap is critical for indexing efficiency of a large website. How to implement the XML sitemap is explained in this learning section: Index Your Website – How To Fix Page Indexing Issues.

To understand website architecture better, you can read these articles.

Conclusion

We explained SEO for multiple web pages using the topic cluster and keyword mapping approaches.

We also covered additional technical aspects you may want to use when reorganizing your website architecture or blog post structure.

In this learning section, we covered SEO content writing mainly from the structure and topic coverage point of view. For SEO content writing on each page, check the previous learning section (9 Key Steps for SEO Content Writing for Individual Web Page).


You can also learn this topic on Kindle. ClickAmazonKindle.

The previous learning section discussed SEO content-writing techniques for individual pages.

If you have (or plan to make) a website with multiple pages or blog posts, you may question how to manage SEO content writing for multiple pages.

Individual Page vs. Multi-Page SEO Content Writing

We will explain the following key points for multi-page SEO content writing in this learning section.

  1. Topical authority vs. keyword cannibalization
  2. How to optimize multi-page content?
  3. Topic clustering – pillar page and cluster pages
  4. Keyword mapping – avoiding keyword cannibalization
  5. Restructuring website architecture and web pages

Point 1
Topical authority vs. keyword cannibalization

When you manage multiple pages, you need to consider two trade-off aspects from the SEO point of view. One is building topical authority, and the other is avoiding keyword cannibalization.

Multi-Page SEO Key Considerations

What is topical authority?

A topical authority is a website's (or web page's) credibility and expertise on a specific subject gained through high-quality content.

As Google emphasizes E-E-T-A (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) in its search-ranking decision, building topical authority is critical in SEO content writing.

If you want to demonstrate E-E-T-A, more than single-page web content may be required. Having multiple web pages for related topics helps build topical authority if you have high-quality content on each page.

Topical Authority

To understand topical authority better, refer to these articles.

What is keyword cannibalization?

Many web pages compete for a specific keyword to get a higher rank on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Competition also exists between your web pages.

Keyword cannibalization is a situation where your pages compete for the same target keyword, which potentially causes them to rank lower in search results.

Having multiple web pages for related topics helps build topical authority; however, you must carefully manage keywords to avoid keyword cannibalization.

Keyword Cannibalization

To understand keyword cannibalization better, you can refer to these articles.

Point 2
How to optimize multi-page content

If you have been learning SEO, you might have heard about the two key approaches: Topic Clustering and Keyword Mapping.

Multi-Page SEO Content Writing

Both approaches are discussed when we optimize multi-page content, but they are used in slightly different contexts.

Topic clustering is a content strategy often used to structure multiple pages.

Keyword mapping is the process of assigning keywords to each web page.

When you optimize multi-page content, you cannot implement these two approaches separately.

There will be several iterations that involve the two approaches.

The following sections will explain how each approach helps you optimize multi-page content.

Point 3
Topic clustering – pillar page and cluster pages

Topic clustering is a content organization strategy that involves grouping related pieces of content based on their semantic relevance, and interlinking them.

The main idea behind topic clustering is establishing topical authority by providing comprehensive coverage of a subject and signaling the depth and breadth of knowledge to search engines.

By organizing content into clusters and aligning with user intent and search engine algorithms, websites can enhance their visibility in search results, increase user engagement, and improve overall SEO performance.

When you implement topic clustering for your website or blog posts, you need to manage the following three control points:

  • Pillar page
  • Cluster pages
  • Internal links
Topic Clustering

Pillar page

A pillar page on a website comprehensively covers content about a specific topic or theme; it can also have the form of an aggregation of blog posts. The pillar page covers all essential aspects of the theme and provides links to narrower subtopics within the same theme.

For example, "On-Page SEO Techniques - How To Do On Page SEO?" is the pillar page of this page (Keyword Mapping and Clustering – Organize Multiple Pages).

Pillar Page Content Structure

Cluster pages

Cluster pages are individual content pieces linked to a pillar page. They provide more detailed information on specific subtopics related to the main topic (theme), contributing to the content's overall depth and breadth. For example, this page is the cluster page to a deep-dive into the sub-topics of On-Page SEO.

Internal links

Internal links are crucial in topic clustering, connecting the pillar page and cluster pages, and establishing a hierarchical relationship.

Internal links help search engines understand content relevance and structure, improve crawlability and indexability, enhance user navigation between related topics, and strengthen topical authority for a website's target theme.

How to implement topic clustering

To implement topic clustering, you can follow these steps:

1. Design topic hierarchy: Under the target theme, you need to group key topics and structure them. If you have enough in-depth topic knowledge, you can also design multi-layer topic clustering using a pyramid structure.

2. Create a pillar page (or pillar pages): A pillar page should consist of summaries of cluster pages. As it covers the theme comprehensively, the content can be longer. If you apply multi-layer topic clustering, there will be a main pillar and sub-pillar pages.

3. Create cluster pages: Elaborate specific subtopics related to the pillar topic (theme) and create cluster pages for each subtopic.

4. Build internal links: Establish internal links between cluster pages and their respective pillar page for clear connection and navigation. You should ensure that the cluster pages are linking back to the related pillar pages to build two-way links.

Multi-Layer Clustering

To optimize topic clusters from the SEO point of view, you also need to follow the keyword mapping approach explained in the next section.

Your topic clustering draft may impact keyword cannibalization. In that case, you need to refine your topic clusters.

To understand topic clustering better, you can read these articles.

Point 4
Keyword mapping – avoiding keyword cannibalization

Keyword mapping is the process of assigning specific target keywords to individual pages on a website.

The key idea of keyword mapping is to set a unique keyword for each page and ensure that the pages will not be cannibalized.

By nature, keywords for pillar pages tend to be short-tail or mid-tail keywords, while keywords for cluster pages are long-tail or mid-tail keywords.

Keyword Mapping

Integrating the keyword mapping process into the topic clustering approach

The keyword mapping approach is effective when implemented along with the topic clustering approach, although these two approaches are often explained separately.

The illustration below conceptually describes how to integrate the two approaches.

Integrating Keyword Mapping and Topic Clustering Approaches

At a high level, there are three key steps in keyword mapping.

  • Step1. List keyword candidates for each topic cluster page and the pillar page
  • Step2. Check the pages for keyword cannibalization
  • Step3. Finalize keyword assignment

How to check for keyword cannibalization

Checking for potential keyword cannibalization is critical for keyword mapping.

You can use search engines to check how your keywords are cannibalizing. Here are the simple steps:

  • First, identify keywords that may potentially be cannibalized
  • Search the keywords using a search engine and check the top 10 ranking search results on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
  • If the top 10 search results for the keywords you identified are similar, those keywords are likely cannibalizing.

To understand keyword mapping better, you can read these articles.

Point 5
Restructuring website architecture (or blog posts)

If you have a website with multiple pages or blog posts for the same theme and haven't done any SEO work, you may need to rearrange your website architecture or blog post structure.

When you rearrange your website architecture or blog post structure, you should also consider improving general user experience (usability) and crawlability from a technical point of view.

Here are additional technical aspects you should consider on top of the topic clustering and keyword mapping approaches:

Canonicalization

Canonicalization is the process of selecting the preferred URL version when multiple URLs have similar or identical content.

Canonicalization helps avoid not only duplicate content issues but also keyword cannibalization.

How to implement canonicalization is explained in this learning section: Index Your Website – How To Fix Page Indexing Issues.

Combining pages and 301 redirect

If you have pages covering similar topics and creating keyword cannibalization, consider combining those pages.

As you might have backlinks on the existing pages and built some good reputations with crawlers, you should carry them over to the new combined page.

301 redirect is the technique used to let crawlers know the original page has moved to another location, so they can match the backlinks and reputation of the old page to the new page.

301 redirection is explained in this learning section: Index Your Website – How To Fix Page Indexing Issues.

The following aspects are only applicable to website architecture (not for blog posts).

Navigation bar

Having a navigation bar improves both usability and crawlability.

With a navigation bar, users can quickly move to other website pages with minimum clicks. It also helps users understand website content layout easily.

A navigation bar also improves the internal linking structure, improving crawlability.

Breadcrumbs

Having breadcrumbs is recommended for SEO. There are two types of breadcrumbs.

One is HTML-based breadcrumbs, which are displayed on a webpage. HTML-based breadcrumbs improve usability by providing users with a clear navigation path, allowing them to understand where they are within the website's hierarchy.

The other is breadcrumb schema, a structured data markup implemented using JSON-LD or another format in order to provide search engines with additional information about the breadcrumbs. Breadcrumb schema improves crawlability and indexing efficiency.

How to implement breadcrumb schema is explained in this learning section: What Is Schema in SEO? | Structured Data and Rich Results.

Sitemap

A sitemap helps tell users and crawlers to create a comprehensive list of your website pages.

There are two types of sitemaps. One is for users, and the other is for crawlers.

The sitemap for users is coded in HTML and CSS. For crawlers, the XML format is often used.

The XML sitemap is critical for indexing efficiency of a large website. How to implement the XML sitemap is explained in this learning section: Index Your Website – How To Fix Page Indexing Issues.

To understand website architecture better, you can read these articles.

Conclusion

We explained SEO for multiple web pages using the topic cluster and keyword mapping approaches.

We also covered additional technical aspects you may want to use when reorganizing your website architecture or blog post structure.

In this learning section, we covered SEO content writing mainly from the structure and topic coverage point of view. For SEO content writing on each page, check the previous learning section (9 Key Steps for SEO Content Writing for Individual Web Page).


You can also learn this topic on Kindle. ClickAmazonKindle.

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