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In the orchestra of content marketing, the harmony of Topic Clusters is a symphony that captivates audiences, boosts SEO, and establishes brands as authoritative voices in their respective industries. This comprehensive guide delves into the world of successful Topic Cluster examples, dissecting strategies, dissecting strategies, and showcasing real-world instances where this content structure has proven its prowess in driving engagement, enhancing visibility, and delivering value.

Table of Contents:

Understanding the Essence of Topic Clusters

  1. HubSpot: The Pioneer in Inbound Marketing
  2. Moz: Navigating the SEO Landscape
  3. Neil Patel: Demystifying Online Marketing
  4. Buffer: Crafting a Social Media Symphony
  5. Shopify: E-Commerce Empowerment
  6. Healthline: Wellness Wisdom
  7. HubSpot Academy: Educating in Style
  8. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading
  9. Backlinko: Cracking the SEO Code

Understanding the Essence of Topic Clusters

It’s challenging to guess the purpose of a search by a user, much like you can’t predict the results of a lottery. People typically search for information on a given topic using a variety of keywords and phrases. You can’t foresee the cause. For example, there are several reasons why someone could look for a broad term like “data analytics.” They can be seeking for a project or task informally or hoping to launch a career in analytics.

Let’s take another example: what if somebody searches for “Thai food”? Are they looking to order Thai food or cook some Thai dishes themselves? Just like the lottery, it could be anything. 

Suppose you are an SEO strategist or a content marketing professional and want to rank for data analytics courses or Thai food orders. In that case, it is important that you cover a wide range of search intents through your content. 

The topic cluster content strategy is a systematic approach to content creation for producing quality content that answers every question a searcher might have. 

The topic cluster approach involves identifying high search volume and related keywords (short and long-tail) for a specific topic and creating content ideas around them. Then, you create an in-depth, long-form content that acts as a central hub of information, linking back to cluster content blog posts on sub-topics.

You need to do extensive keyword research and thorough analysis to create a topic cluster that gets the job done. 

Here are the key elements of a topic cluster:

  • Pillar Page: Every topic cluster model has a pillar content piece with internal links to all relevant content in a comprehensive overview of a specific topic. 
  • Extensive Research: Topic clusters need a lot of research. If you want to answer every question, you need to know every question. Existing SERP ranking, competitors, and community forums are great sources for analyzing the existing content on your topic. 
  • Interlinking Structure: Your topic cluster needs a great internal linking structure of relevant content to enhance the user experience and maximize organic traffic. If people did not find their answer on one page, help them with options of related content around the main topic. 
  • Engaging Content: While working on a topic cluster strategy, ensure that you create better pieces of content than the current top websites on the SERP to replace them. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of topic clusters, let’s look at some topic cluster examples to inspire content ideas for your topic cluster in this article.

Topic clusters are a simple and effective way to create and execute a content strategy. The approach provides focus to your site. Instead of having many pages that say very little about many different subjects, your site content guides the audience to explore topics deeper. The end result is greater on-page time and increased pages per visit, both of which are good for SEO and business too.

Pillar pages never dive deep into a particular topic. But although they may cover a broad topic, the links to further details keep readers satisfied. They won’t leave your site feeling that the content is too shallow.

For those used to a keyword-based approach, the main topic usually covers a broad keyword. The subtopic page, which is the supporting content, will focus on a long tail keyword.

Topic Cluster Example

Imagine we’re planning to create an article on how to start podcasting. Very quickly, you’d realized that it’s a pretty deep subject. I don’t know much about podcasting, but I imagine the major sections would address:

  • Creating a podcast script
  • Recording a podcast
  • Editing a podcast
  • Publishing a podcast
  • Promoting a podcast
  • Podcast performance analysis

That’s a lot of ground to cover in one blog post! There’s no way we could cover all those topics in any detail in just this one article. That’s fine as long we link to other articles that allow readers to further progress in their journey.

For the section on recording a podcast, I immediately wondered what equipment is used. I imagine that the options are vast, so I could probably create a slew of equipment reviews. 

Given the number of potential equipment reviews, I probably would have a “best of” page summarizing my reviews. That’s the page I would link to from my recording, a podcast pillar page. 

You can already see how this topic cluster model is starting to build out. One piece of pillar content introduces the audience to the basic concepts and allows them (and any search engine) to delve deeper into a specific topic. 

You can hit any buyer persona no matter where they are in the buy-cycle. But this information would be far too detailed to incorporate into one article.

1. HubSpot: The Pioneer in Inbound Marketing

A topic cluster is a method that uses a single “pillar page” as the main hub of content for a given topic. All of your content assets related to that topic link back to the pillar page — and the pillar links out to each asset.

Here’s why it’s critical to your content strategy.

Topic clusters aren’t just a nice, clean way of organizing content that brings glee to most Type A of marketers (me, for instance). It also keeps Google happy. As it turns out, the search engine giant has changed its algorithm to favor topic-based content, making pillar pages a requirement for content marketers who want to maintain a high SERP ranking.

Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving to provide the best possible answers to searchers’ queries. Some of these changes include penalizing too many irrelevant internal links, interpreting conversational queries as an entire thought instead of individual keywords, and using machine learning to serve up more accurate interpretations of specific terms.

What all of this means: Google is helping searchers find the most accurate information possible — even if it isn’t exactly what they searched for. For example, if you search for “running shoes,” Google will now also serve you up results for “sneakers.” This means that bloggers and SEOs need to get even better at creating and organizing content that addresses any gaps that could prevent a searcher from getting the information they need from your site.

Now, your site needs to be organized according to different main topics, with blog posts about specific, conversational long-tail keywords hyperlinked to one another, to address as many searches as possible about a particular subject. Enter the topic cluster model.

Topic clusters help more pages rank to give searchers better answers.

The way most blogs are currently structured (including our own blogs, until very recently), bloggers and SEOs have worked to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords. The result is disorganized and hard for the user to find the exact information he or she needs. It also results in your own URLs competing against one another in search engine rankings when you produce multiple blog posts about similar topics.

Here’s what the hubspot blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:

topic clusters to help more pages rank

Now, in order to rank in search and best answer the new types of queries searchers are submitting, the solution is to use the topic cluster model: Choose the broad topics you want to rank for, then create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that all link to each other, to create broader search engine authority.

Using this model, this is what made hubspot blog infrastructure looks like now — with specific topics surrounded by blog posts related to the topic, connected to other URLs in the cluster via hyperlinks:

hubspot topic cluster model

This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google — and to help searchers find information on your site more easily. This architecture consists of three components — pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:

pillar content cluster content & hyperlinks

Next, we’ll dive into pillar content — which represents the primary topic bloggers and SEOs are trying to rank for, by creating more specific pieces of cluster content.

A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.

Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth. For example, you might write a pillar page about content marketing — a broad topic — and a piece of cluster content about blogging — a more specific keyword within the topic.

Pillar pages are longer than typical blog posts — because they cover all aspects of the topic you’re trying to rank for — but they aren’t as in-depth. That’s what cluster content is for. You want to create a pillar page that answers questions about a particular topic, but leaves room for more detail in subsequent, related cluster content.

2. Moz: Navigating the SEO Landscape

How can you swiftly outperform your rivals? The solution is straightforward: produce high-quality SEO content and properly promote it. However, creating content for SEO isn’t that easy. Researching keywords, looking at rivals’ ranking keywords, estimating the complexity of ranking on Google’s first page, prioritizing keywords, constructing links, and other tasks are all necessary while planning your content. With Moz SEO Tools, all of that is achievable in a matter of minutes.

Moz is an all-in-one SEO software suite that helps you improve your search engine visibility by providing fresh insights and empowering you to stay competitive. Moz offers 55+ SEO tools for all businesses and individuals to improve search rankings, drive traffic, and get customers. 

SEO is a powerful digital marketing strategy, and Moz Tools grants you the power to optimize your website by measuring, evaluating, and monitoring the onsite and off-site aspects. It helps businesses track various aspects of SEO campaigns. Thus, facilitating their growth by luring valuable traffic. 

Moz Pro vs Moz Local

Depending on your end goals, you can choose from two options: Moz Pro and Moz Local. The following table enumerates the key features of the two:

Moz Pro

  • Intuitive Suggestions
  • Access to Proven metrics
  • Accurate Volume Estimates
  • Competitor Rank Tracking
  • List import/export
  • Global Rank Tracking
  • Local Rankings
  • Search Visibility Score
  • Mobile Rankings
  • Universal and Enhanced Search Rankings
  • SERP Analysis
  • Link Profile Analysis
  • Link Opportunities
  • Competitive Link Metrics
  • Spam Analysis
  • Fresh Links
  • Page Optimization
  • Page Optimization Checklist
  • Automated and custom report
  • Historical Reporting
  • Competitive Reporting
  • Crawl Diagnostics
  • Issue Prioritization
  • New Issue Alerts
  • Instant Site Recrawl
  • Speed Crawl
  • Issue Ignore
  • Branded Reports
  • Report Export
  • In-Depth SERP Reporting

Moz Local

  • On-page recommendations
  • Weekly crawl and rank tracking
  • Competitive analysis
  • Open site explorer
  • Continual improvements
  • Moz toolbar
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Beta access to the news tools
  • Pro training webinars
  • Online marketing guides
  • Q&A forum
  • Pro Q&A forum
  • Discounted Moz seminars

Some top options for Moz users are as follows:

  • Link Explorer to navigate links for effective link building.
  • Keyword Explorer to conduct keyword research.
  • Free Competitive Research to check competitive analysis.
  • MozBar to examine and analyze page metrics of any site you visit in your Google Chrome browser.
  • My Online Presence to check out how your location appears on local search engines and directories.
  • MozCast to track day-to-day weather changes.
  • Free Domain Analysis to see SEO metrics such as top pages, ranking keywords, and more.

Moz Domain Authority is an accurate reflection of Google’s algorithm. It is a significantly ideal tool for assessing a website’s quality of the inbound links. While a score between 40 and 50 is rated as average, one between 50 and 60 is good, and above 60 represents excellent domain authority.

The Keyword Explorer tool in Moz has a “Priority” option, an assemblage of the other metrics, including search volume, CTR, and difficulty. So, a keyword with a high priority score has a higher CTR and volume and lower competition scores.

Some Moz SEO best practices are:

  • Creating human-readable URLs extends a better idea and attracts users to click on them
  • Checking your website’s analytics setup
  • Improving page and domain authority
  • Ensuring that a website is mobile-friendly.

3. Neil Patel: Demystifying Online Marketing

You may not know that behind the Neil Patel brand is a powerful and growing network of digital marketing agencies with offices around the world. NP Digital is an omnichannel agency built by marketers, and our global offices allow us to deliver our specialized services to clients worldwide.

Social media is a beast. This industry is gigantic, and according to recent research from the Digital 2022 July Global Statshot Report, there are 4.7 billion active social media users.

A graphic from Oberlo on the growing amount of social media users.

By now, there are a ton of social media networks out there.

This topic deserves a whole guide on its own, but if you want to be successful with social media (and you’ll HAVE to in the long run), your best bet for a one-stop shop is Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary is firing on all cylinders and platforms. He has written five New York Times bestsellers (two of which solely focus on how to use social media for your business), and he runs one of the biggest media agencies around.

He’s successful on Twitter because he’s witty and engages with lots of people individually. He has managed to amass 3.1 million followers on the platform.

Read Also: The Art and Science of Topic Clusters: A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Content Harmony

HubSpot excels at producing online marketing and entrepreneur-related content for its followers. Instagram is, of course, focused on visuals; HubSpot taps into this by producing beautiful images and video-related content with marketing tips.

It perfectly combines inspiration with tactical tips for a great, well-rounded Instagram account.

Do you want to get started with Instagram marketing? Create an Instagram for your business and start posting content related to your niche.

Online marketing is the practice of digital channels to spread your message about your products or services. Some of the ways you can do this are through paid ads, social media, emails, blogging, or even SEO.

The Neil Patel blog is always a great place to start. You can find articles on every area of online marketing, including on-page and off-page SEO, Google Ads, and affiliate marketing. The intention is to give you comprehensive, actionable content you can put into action today.

4. Buffer: Crafting a Social Media Symphony

Venturing into social media marketing without a strategy is like wandering into the unknown without a destination in mind — never mind a map to help you get there. If you don’t know the basics: your goals, target audience, and the kind of content that will resonate with them, you’ll be directionless. It’ll be impossible to know how your social media marketing efforts are meaningfully contributing to your business, if at all.

In other words: Random acts of content = random results. So whether you want to grow your brand or level up as a marketer, developing a social media marketing strategy is essential. Here’s one way to do it — in five steps.

Some social media experts will advocate for a separate social media marketing strategy and social media marketing plan. The idea is that a strategy is where you’re headed, and a plan is how you’ll get there. 

However, at Buffer, they prefer to work with a combination approach — their social media strategy contains much more than just high-level goals (though we do have separate plans for specific marketing campaigns where we get more granular).

Every company and seasoned marketer will have a different methodology. Some may prefer an all-encompassing document. In contrast, others might want to zoom in on specific platforms and develop a Facebook marketing strategy or Instagram marketing strategy.

The foundation of this approach is these five questions or the 5Ws:

  1. Why do you want to be on social media?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. What are you going to share?
  4. Where are you going to share?
  5. When are you going to share?

The good news: your social media strategy is ready to be moved into the implementation phase. In other words, it’s time to put all those big plans into action. 

But that doesn’t mean your social media strategy is ‘done.’ It likely never will be. In this next phase, you’ll keep a close eye on those social media analytics you pinpointed in Step 1 as part of your SMART goals. These goals and metrics will be your north star, helping you identify whether or not your social media tactics have been successful — and when you may need to go back to the drawing board.

This is where a social media marketing tool like Buffer will come in handy, particularly if you have multiple platforms to manage.

With Buffer, you’ll have a single dashboard for all your social media analytics and reporting. It’ll give you insights on post engagement, the best time and post frequency for your business, plus more details on your audience demographics.

One final point before we go: your strategy will never really be ‘done.’ You will build on, refine, and iterate on it as you build your social media channels and presence. So, your final step in creating a social media strategy is this: set a reminder to revisit your strategy every quarter — and do just that.

5. Salesforce: The Cloud Computing Maestro

You’ve finally created your pillar page as well as your cluster topics and… it isn’t performing quite like you’d hoped. Before you go thinking all that hard work was for nothing, there may just be a few simple fixes that can get your content to rank.

Pillar pages tend to be long-form pieces and if you find your bounce rates are high, you may need to section the long-form content to make things more skimmable for the user. There are a number of ways you can do this, such as:

  • Table of contents
  • Various headings – H2s, H3s
  • Bullet points
  • Other content design – images, columns

Internal Links Aren’t Being Utilised Properly

A pillar page strategy works through the internal links between your parent page and topic cluster pieces. Now, you may be linking from your topic clustering content to the pillar page but are you linking to your topic cluster pieces from your pillar page?

If not, this may just be the reason you aren’t getting the results you expect from this content strategy.

Your Content Is Gated

A pillar page is part of an SEO strategy, so it should play by SEO rules. Therefore, if your pillar page is gated behind a form it’s no surprise it isn’t performing as you’d expected!

If you do need to obtain data and information from your users, try doing this from a different page to allow your pillar page to perform to its potential.

One Last Pillar Page Example

This example of What is CRM from Salesforce is a product or service-led pillar page. The content explores the basics of CRM (customer relationship management), who it is for, and why it is essential to business.

salesforce pillar page example

Unlike the previous examples we have shown, this pillar page aims to provide useful information to the reader and also convince them they need Salesforce’s CRM – which can be seen in the sidebar.

Although the intent may differ from previous examples, this is still a great pillar page example as it still leaves the reader with useful information regarding a broad topic. The content is divided by various H2s and H3s, infographics, and includes links to other related content that may benefit the reader.

We have included this example to show you that even though the approach is the same, you can manipulate the pillar page and topic clustering strategy to suit the needs of your business.

Getting out of the renovate mindset is crucial, and Simon Mulcahy suggests that businesses follow what he calls “The Five Transformation Disciplines” in order to achieve a successful business transformation.

  • 1. Make decisions: Transformation starts with data, and companies need to capture customer data and leverage it to make smarter decisions.
  • 2. Engage Customers: Re-imagine your business to be customer-centric. Unleashing the power of digitalization on old processes doesn’t work —the processes have to be redesigned with the customer in mind. The goal should be to streamline key customer touchpoints to increase speed and reduce effort.
  • 3. Engage employees: Break down silos, empower employees with the right tools, and enable collaboration around a single source of truth. The workforce needs to have the right skills to tackle new challenges, and providing access to learning and development platforms will help prepare them for transformation.
  • 4. Become digital-first: In the near future, every company will be a digital company. Businesses need to shift from IT departments to enterprise platforms that can absorb the latest technologies. Datasets, processes and apps should be shared across the company, and data needs to be integrated to provide a single source of truth. Technology vendors should be looked at as partners rather than just suppliers.
  • 5. Serve society: Salesforce believes that business is a powerful platform for change. Having strong leadership, measurement and reporting in place is important, especially in tumultuous times. Support your employees by providing them with programs that empower them to act.

6. Shopify: E-Commerce Empowerment

Creating valuable and engaging content is critical for businesses looking to attract and retain an audience organically. Developing a thoughtful content marketing strategy helps companies build brand awareness and loyalty, provide useful information to prospective customers, and position themselves as an industry authority.

But simply producing more website content isn’t always the answer; there must be a method to the madness.

A content hub is a centralized collection of in-depth content focused on a specific topic that serves as an authoritative resource. This approach enables you to strategically organize content, often in clusters, to provide comprehensive information to readers. A content hub aligns topics and messaging, optimizing for discoverability. This system allows easy navigation to subtopics and also makes content production and distribution more efficient and effective.

The goal of a content hub is to be the go-to destination for users interested in learning more about a particular topic, as well as to establish domain authority and increase organic visibility.

Fitbit specializes in health and fitness wearables, offering trackers and smartwatches to monitor activity and well-being. On its website, the brand has content hubs categorized into sections including activity, nutrition, stress, and sleep. Each hub presents a wealth of articles, offering everything from workout tips to advice on better rest, showcasing Fitbit’s dedication to fostering a holistic health journey for its customers.

Content hubs come in various forms, each tailored to meet the goals of a business and the informational needs of its audience. Here are five different types of content hubs:

Hub-and-spoke model

The hub-and-spoke model uses a central hub page to provide an overview of content on a broad subject, while various subpages or “spokes” branch out with more detailed explorations of related subtopics. While the core hub page targets a primary keyword, the spokes aim at long-tail keywords and FAQs, forming an extensive repository of information requiring minimal updates.

This model is advantageous for crafting evergreen content that remains relevant over time. For instance, a hub page could broadly cover “smart home automation.” The spoke pages might delve into specific areas such as “energy-saving smart thermostats,” “secure smart lock systems,” and “integrated smart lighting solutions.” 

Content library

A content library is a more expansive type of content hub, offering a wealth of topics on a neatly organized digital shelf. A landing page serves as a directory, guiding visitors to grouped themes and categories for easy navigation. With a content library format, each broad topic gets a dedicated pillar page corralling all the relevant pieces into subgroups, making it easy for readers to delve into specific subjects.

The content library model is ideal for blog homepages or resource sections, ensuring evergreen pieces are as accessible as the latest posts. When your content covers a broad range of topics, a content library allows for a blend of diversity and order. A content library housed on a homepage could offer a navigation option titled “home office essentials” with a submenu linking to pages on “ergonomic chair selections,” “high-tech desk gadgets,” and “desk organizational tools.”

Topic gateway

A topic gateway zeroes in on one primary subject, presenting a more focused deep dive than a content library. It begins with a static page offering a high-level overview of the main topic, which then funnels readers to a wealth of in-depth content on related subtopics through in-text links. Wikipedia pages are a prominent example of this.

A topic gateway format enriches the user experience by combining evergreen content with a dynamic feed of the latest articles and updates. A topic gateway for a fashion retailer might feature an overview page on “sustainable fashion” linking to in-depth resources on “organic cotton fabrics,” “eco-friendly manufacturing processes,” and a dynamic section with the latest on “emerging sustainable designers.”

Content database

Content databases are designed to handle and organize many content marketing materials, such as articles, videos, and infographics. With advanced filtering, search functionalities, and automated categorization, content databases provide a user-friendly experience, even when dealing with many content types and topics, making them perfect for sites with rich and diverse content offerings.

These databases are a strong choice when users need to filter and search through many options to pinpoint the content that fits their needs. For example, a content database for a home improvement retail chain may offer a searchable collection of DIY guides, product videos, and instructional demos across topics. Multiple filter options would allow users to define their search by content type (blog, demo, etc.) or topic (kitchen remodels, garden landscaping) to help them find what they need. 

Topic matrix

A topic matrix hub organizes informational content through a meticulously crafted URL and folder structure. It starts with a pillar page focused on a broad, evergreen topic and branches into subtopics following a logical and uniform URL pathway. Medical sites commonly use this technique, such as a main “Diseases” page with subpages for specific conditions, neatly organized under a consistent URL structure. This method improves SEO while providing a clear navigation path for website visitors. 

The topic matrix takes a template-driven approach, allowing for the efficient creation of content that sticks to a uniform format. This is beneficial for ecommerce businesses, enabling them to deliver detailed product information with consistency across multiple product categories. A fashion retailer could use a topic matrix to organize their content by starting with a pillar page about seasonal trends, which then breaks down into subpages for specific items, like “winter boots” or “summer dresses,” each with a consistent URL structure.

7. Healthline: Wellness Wisdom

Healthline is one of the biggest health niche websites. We’re talking tens, if not hundreds of millions of clicks every month with fierce competition. It doesn’t get much more exciting in SEO than this.

Healthline is owned by media giant company Red Ventures, which has a whole RVO Health subdivision comprising many domains in this YMYL niche. One of them is also Medical News Today which you can see among the biggest players.

Let’s take a look at 3 insights that stood out to me from many hours of analysis.

1. You can perfectly align with search intent using templates

It’s hardly a surprise that you’ll find patterns after publishing tens of thousands of pieces of content. In Healthline’s case, it currently has around 34K pages in its Health and Nutrition article subfolders that drive the vast majority of its traffic:

Healthline site structure
Screenshot taken from the Site structure report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Certain types of content, like food item overviews, can be templated pretty heavily, as you can see from the title tags and H2s here:

Templated content on Healthline

But more often than not, you’ll need some more unique points and headings to align perfectly with the search intent.

For example, here are three SERP snippets that use the same title tag template that tells you the focus of the article.

We have crackling in ear…

Crackling in ear search result

Followed by wrist pain…

Wrist pain search result

And ending with contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis search result

Causes, symptoms, and treatment are variables the vast majority of searchers will be interested in when looking up these health problems.

But crackling in ear can be something you may be able to fix easily with home remedies:

"Crackling in ear" sections

Wrist pain usually requires you to do some exercises to get better:

"Wrist pain" sections

And contact dermatitis is something you likely need to see photos of to confirm if you landed on the right health problem:

"Contact dermatitis" sections

All of these articles have huge structural overlaps but are still unique in one way or another, which makes them great for answering all sorts of questions a searcher may have.

Healthline uses the title template of {health problem} followed by the most relevant combination of words like causes, symptoms, treatment, diagnosis, risks, preventions, pictures, etc., across the board.

It sounds simple. But choosing the right combination that best aligns with the search intent results in SERP titles that are better—or at least on par with the competition:

SERP for skin lesions

And this goes on and on throughout different content types. Here, we have a bunch of pages where people are likely most interested in the difference:

Example of templated title tags

While others are positioned toward picking a winner for a certain quality (better, healthier, etc.):

More diverse examples of templated title tags

2. Own more search results without cannibalization

Nailing search intent alignment is one thing. But being able to do it with multiple pieces of content that have huge target keyword overlaps is an advanced SEO and content game.

I think most people associate ranking for one keyword using multiple pieces of content with a phenomenon that hurts one or more of these pages. This is known as keyword cannibalization.

But take a look at this:

Ranking with more pages thanks to mixed search intent

As someone who’s done a bit of research about creatine in the past, I can see myself clicking on both of these results. They cover the topic from different angles that don’t result in cannibalizing each other’s organic traffic. 

Anyway, you can’t even cannibalize your own content when you already rank at the top with one of those pages. Occupying more search results simply gets you more traffic.

There are currently over 40K keywords in the U.S. where Healthline owns the top SERP position and one or more lower positions:

Healthline ranking for over 40K keywords with two or more pages

Not all of these keywords have a mixed search intent, though.

In some of these cases, Healthline likely ranks with more pieces of content that serve the same purpose just because it is a huge authority in the space. I didn’t encounter this from examining many of its SERPs. But the following data speaks for itself.

What surprised me the most is the fact that out of the 1K keywords with the highest search volume here, it manages to rank for 994 of them with two or more results in the top 10 search results:

Deeper research into Healthline's multiple rankings

Last but not least, another way of taking more SERP estate is to rank with both written content and videos. You guessed it. Healthline also has a thriving YouTube channel, and it manages to own multiple results in this manner as well:

Simultaneously ranking with an article and a video

3. Don’t overlook your visitors’ engagement 

Two confessions: I hate the UX of most websites with display ads, and I often refer to engagement metrics like bounce rate as vanity metrics.

Yet I find the experience of browsing through Healthline smooth, with many nudges to keep me engaged with it longer. And I’m sure its team does a great job of doing visitor engagement analysis and goal setting.

There are three aspects worth taking a closer look at because SEO and UX are closely intertwined disciplines.

  • Keeping ads in moderation

Display ads, pop-ups, and interstitials are usually a nightmare for many browsing experiences without an ad blocker. (Are you really a marketer if you’re using one?)

Healthline seems to have found a great balance between monetization and user experience. Especially on desktop, it doesn’t stuff ads in between paragraphs, which I highly appreciate. I don’t mind seeing the ads at the top of the content or on the side:

Ads layout on Healthline

The experience obviously gets worse on mobile, as there is no sidebar. But the ads within the content still aren’t overwhelming. It also applies to pop-ups, as I only recall getting one for an email newsletter subscription, which is totally OK from time to time.

Infinite scrolling

A lot of Healthline articles use an infinite scroll feature where you seamlessly “flow” into reading another article related to the one you landed on. The URL changes as you go along.

For example, here’s an ending of a Beetroot 101 article that flows into the health benefits of beets with an ad in between:

Infinite scrolling example

I got into reading some Healthline articles and sometimes didn’t even realize that I was already reading another piece of content. It nails down the relevance, making the reader stay on the page longer, which naturally results in more monetization opportunities.

Chances are that it’s also a positive SEO signal, but we’re getting into speculations here. No one officially confirmed signals like dwell time to be a ranking factor.

Truly related content suggestions

The key factor in keeping readers engaged with more content is the relevance of the suggestions. We already showed an example of infinite scroll, but Healthline also employs other content suggestion methods.

There’s a well-known “related reading,” or as Healthline titles it, “read this next” section. For example, these are suggestions at the end of an article with the title “Healthy Eating Is Human: Joys, Challenges, and 3 Things You Can Do”:

"Read this next" section

Looks good to me. What also looks good are its “related videos” sections to provide content in different formats, like this one in between the list of the “healthiest vegetables around”:

"Related videos" section

Being able to show video ads in there is just the cherry on the top.

8. HubSpot Academy: Educating in Style

HubSpot created an “Ultimate Guide to Productivity Apps and Software” to help readers improve their productivity.

  • Type of pillar page: 10x content pillar
  • Number of internal links: 8
  • Number of external links: 47
  • What makes this a pillar page?

You may think this blog article isn’t a pillar page because it contains way too many external links. However the guide is a pillar page because it links to other pages on HubSpot’s website, such as articles they created about other apps.

The pillar page digs deeper into productivity apps with a brief overview of what a productivity app is. Then it discusses 41 of these apps with information about who the app is best for, the cost, a summary of what it does and key features, and what HubSpot likes about the app.

Hubspot's productivity guide pillar page.

What do we love about it?

The information on this pillar page is very well organized with clear headings. The progress bar that appears at the top of the article when scrolling is a great idea so you know where you are on the long page.

I also like that the pillar page is scannable so I can quickly see what productivity app will be best for my team and me.

9. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

Imagine building a foundation for a house. Content pillars act as a foundation of your content marketing strategy. They are the main themes that your content revolves around. Having well-defined content pillars allows you to create a consistent and focused content strategy, keeping your audience hooked and coming back for more!

Content pillars serve as a roadmap for your content marketing efforts. They give your content strategy direction and prevent you from roaming off-track. With well-defined content pillars, you can create a consistent brand identity and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.

The following four broad types of Content Pillars are in the content marketing industry.

  • Content to Entertain:

First up is the “Content to Entertain” pillar. Everyone loves entertainment, right? Whether it’s funny videos, heartwarming stories, or mind-boggling quizzes, entertaining content never fails to bring a smile to our faces. This type of content aims to engage your audience emotionally and create a sense of enjoyment.


BuzzFeed’s “Which Disney Character Are You?” Quiz: This entertaining quiz discovers which Disney character best represents your personality. It’s fun, shareable, and taps into the timeless appeal of Disney characters, making it a hit among users.

  • Content to Educate:

Let’s move on to the “Content to Educate” pillar. Knowledge is power, and your audience craves valuable information. This type of content is about sharing insights, tips, tutorials, and industry-related news to educate your audience.


Neil Patel’s SEO Guides: Neil Patel is a master at educating his audience on digital marketing topics. His comprehensive SEO guides walk readers through the intricate world of search engine optimization, providing practical tips and actionable strategies.

  • Content to Inspire:

Next, we have the “Content to Inspire” pillar—a potent way to connect with your audience on a deeper level. Inspirational content is about touching hearts, stirring emotions, and motivating your audience to take action.


TED Talks: TED Talks are a prime example of inspiring content. Renowned speakers share their powerful stories and ideas on various topics, leaving the audience feeling motivated and ready to make a positive change in their lives.

  • Content to Convert:

Lastly, the “Content to Convert” pillar is the key to turning your audience into loyal customers. Conversion-focused content is crafted to drive action, such as signing up for a newsletter or offering a consultation.


HubSpot’s Free CRM Guide: HubSpot offers a free CRM guide that helps businesses understand the benefits of using their customer relationship management software. Their valuable insights build trust and encourage users to try out their products.

10. Backlinko: Cracking the SEO Code

A pillar page is a page on a website that explores a topic broadly (yet comprehensively), and is then supported by a cluster of other pages through internal links. These pages, called topic clusters, contain subtopics related to the pillar page. 

For example, if a website’s pillar page is about content marketing, the supporting pages will cover topics such as “does my website need a blog?” or “how to find content ideas”.

Pillar pages differ from landing pages in that they contain navigation and more text. A landing page is designed with a high conversion rate in mind, which dictates its design, copy, and highlighted CTAs. Whereas a pillar page is often designed to be an educational or informative tool.

Even if there is no one way to build a pillar page, there are some best practices to help make it more successful. The following elements will help your pillar page to be more engaging. 

  • Digestible – Present the information in multiple ways while avoiding walls of text.
  • Shareable – Your audience is looking to share useful information, to raise their own profile. Give them something to talk about. 
  • Original research – original research will help you stand out from the crowd by presenting a new story. It is also a great strategy for getting backlinks.
  • User-friendly – Core Web Vitals are going nowhere. Make sure the page loads quickly and is easy to navigate. Remember to check it on desktop and mobile!
  • Concise – Avoid the 10k word guides. A pillar page is an overview of a topic so aim for around 2000 words.
  • Interactive – Break up the page with videos, quizes, sliders, or other interactive elements.
  • Table of contents – Help website visitors navigate your pillar page easier by providing a table of contents with jump links.
  • CTA – It doesn’t need to be a sales one. Lead your reader through your cluster by linking to more content, or a free trial. 

Topic clusters are the pages that support your pillar page. They target secondary keywords and long-tail keyword subtopics at length. 

Topic clusters are subtopics that are strong enough to stand on their own (i.e. blog post, video, etc.), but have a common connection with the pillar topic, and can be clustered together with other subtopic content to help tell a story.

Connecting these pages provides a positive experience for website visitors, as they’re easily able to find the similar-themed content they’re looking for – and what pleases users, pleases Google! Making this an extremely valuable strategy from a search engine perspective. 

Search engine bots crawl through content like a human reads it, and recognizes the connections between all of these similarly themed pages.


  • Backlinks: 4k
  • Keywords: 600
  • Total engagement: 11.2k
  • Evergreen score: 160
  • Internal links: 67
  • External links: 34
  • Type of pillar: 10x Content
  • Why it works: Image jump links look clean and make navigation easy. This page offers a wealth of information and examples to help visitors understand the topic.

Coda: Lessons from the Symphony of Success

In the grand crescendo of successful Topic Cluster examples, certain patterns emerge: comprehensive content, user-centric design, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By examining these real-world instances, content creators and marketers can draw inspiration and insights to orchestrate their own successful Topic Clusters, making a lasting impact in the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of content marketing.

About Author


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