What Is Keyword Clustering? The Strategy Google’s NLP Loves

Adam Steele
Apr 4, 2024
what is keyword clustering

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From the advent of neural matching to the development and release of the Hummingbird and BERT algorithm, each core update makes Google increasingly literate.

Yet, despite these leaps in natural language processing (NLP) and algorithmic sophistication, a surprising number of content marketers, website owners, and SEO professionals continue to optimize their sites around a narrow set of keywords. It’s an approach that’s not just antiquated and outdated—it’s a missed opportunity.

The solution? Keyword clustering.

To get you up to speed with keyword clustering, here, we’ll

  1. answer the question “What is keyword clustering?”,
  2. break down its search engine optimization (SEO) benefits,
  3. and offer you actionable steps to implement it.

What Is Keyword Clustering?

Instead of treating similarly worded keywords or keyword variations as separate entities, keyword clustering—also referred to as keyword grouping—recognizes that they serve the same search intent and groups them together.

👉 Real-world example: Suppose you’re creating a local SEO content strategy for a bakery that operates in a local market. You could cluster keywords like “freshly-baked sourdough,” “sourdough bread near me,” and “best sourdough bakery in downtown Seattle” together. Why? Because these keywords all point to the same search intent—finding a local bakery specializing in, yup, the fan favorite, sourdough bread.

The beauty of this approach is that it aligns perfectly with Google’s NLP advancements—understanding context and relationships between words. But it’s not only about aligning with search engine preferences. Using keyword grouping, you’re also optimizing for a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

Learn more: Interested in broadening your SEO knowledge even further? Check out our SEO glossary, where we’ve explained over 250+ terms.

Why Is Keyword Clustering Important?

Now that we understand keyword clustering let’s explore why it’s indispensable in today’s SEO landscape.

Maximizes SEO Benefits

  1. Enhanced keyword visibility: Keyword clustering maximizes the chance your web pages will rank for related keywords, potentially amplifying your content’s visibility and discoverability.
  2. Boosts organic traffic: A single page that ranks for an array of keywords naturally attracts more organic traffic, as it appears more frequently in search results.
  3. Leverages long-tail keywords: By incorporating keyword clusters, you increase the likelihood of ranking for long-tail keywords, which often serve as a gateway to ranking for more competitive, short-tail keywords.
  4. Deepens search intent understanding: Keyword clustering provides invaluable insights into user behavior and search intent, enabling more precise targeting and optimization of your digital marketing strategies and product offerings.
  5. Expands internal linking opportunities: Keyword clustering offers a structured approach to internal linking, as all pages within a cluster can link back to a central pillar page and interlink among themselves.

Enhances User Experience

  1. Intent-focused SEO: The true beauty of keyword clustering lies in its ability to decode search intent. By grouping similar phrases, you’re not just targeting a single keyword but addressing a whole spectrum of user intent, making your content more relevant and comprehensive.
  2. Personalized user journeys: Understanding keyword clusters allows you to tailor the user experience more effectively.
  3. Boosts site authority: When your content is semantically rich and interconnected, it increases your website’s authority in the eyes of search engines, which, in turn, can lead to better rankings and higher engagement.

👉 Real-world impact: Keyword clustering helps you see your site from a search engine’s perspective and allows you to evaluate and improve your site’s architecture. For example, if you’re an online fitness store, clustering keywords like “best home gym equipment,” “home gym setup guide,” and “top-rated treadmills for home” guide website visitors through a customer journey that answers their initial query and introduces them to additional, relevant content.

How to Implement Keyword Clustering

While implementing keyword clustering may seem daunting, it’s quite straightforward when broken down into manageable steps. Below is a quick guide to get you started:

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Keyword research: The first step is gathering a list of keywords relevant to your business or industry. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs.
  2. Identify search intent: Categorize the keywords based on what the searcher is trying to achieve. Are they looking for information, a product, or a local service?
  3. Group keywords: Once you understand the intent, start grouping related keywords together. Use a keyword clustering tool to identify ungrouped or irrelevant keywords. Doing so will make your keyword list more manageable and focused, saving time and reducing errors.
  4. Analyze competitors: Look at how competitors are ranking for these clusters. This will give you insights into what Google considers to be contextually related.
  5. Create content: Develop content around each keyword cluster. This could be a single comprehensive page or multiple interlinked pages.
  6. Optimize on-page elements: Include the clustered keywords in the title, meta description, and throughout the content.
  7. Internal linking: Use your keyword clusters as a guide for internal linking, connecting related content together.
  8. Monitor and tweak: After implementation, use a tool like Google Search Console or Google Analytics to monitor your web page metrics. Are the clusters driving traffic and engagement? Make adjustments as needed.

FAQ About Keyword Clustering

What Is the Difference Between Keyword Cluster and Topic Cluster?

While both keyword clusters and topic clusters aim to improve your SEO strategy, they do so in slightly different ways. A keyword cluster focuses on grouping related or relevant keywords together based on search intent. These clusters guide the optimization of individual pages or pieces of content.

On the other hand, a topic cluster is a broader concept. It involves creating a “pillar” page that serves as the main hub for a particular topic and linking related “cluster” pages to this pillar. The idea is to provide comprehensive subject coverage that establishes authority and improves SEO.

How Do Keyword Clusters Affect Search Intent?

Keyword clusters directly impact search intent by allowing you to target a broader range of queries that users might enter. When you group similar keywords together, you capture various ways people search for the same information, product, or service. An approach that enables you to create content that is more aligned with what users are looking for, improving your chances of ranking higher in search results.

Can Small Businesses Benefit from Keyword Clustering?

Absolutely, keyword clustering isn’t just for large corporations with expansive websites. Small businesses can also reap significant benefits. A strategy that can lead to improved search visibility, more organic traffic, and more sales or leads. It’s a cost-effective way to maximize your SEO efforts without a large budget.

Conclusion and Next Steps

By now, you should have a solid understanding of how keyword clustering will elevate your SEO game, improve user experience, and boost your site’s visibility. But understanding is just the first step—the real magic happens when you implement this knowledge.

That’s where Loganix comes in. Our SEO audit services are designed to help you identify opportunities for keyword clustering, among other advanced SEO strategies. We take the guesswork out of the equation, providing actionable insights to improve your site’s performance.

Ready to take your SEO to the next level?

🚀 Don’t wait—head over to Loganix’s SEO audit services. 🚀

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Written by Adam Steele on April 4, 2024

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.