How to Write Useful Content with Topic Modeling and Topic Groups

This post was sponsored by MarketMuse. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the sponsor.

Wondering how to handle Google’s helpful content update?

You no longer know how to recover your organic traffic if your keyword strategies are no longer effective?

Instead of just making sure the keywords are present in each individual piece of content, try to focus on the whole topic modeling and topic clusters to drive your SEO content strategy.

Topic modeling and topic clusters go hand in hand when it comes to creating useful content. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, pastries and pies. You get the picture!

Here is a recipe to make it work.

Use topic modeling and topic groups, not just keyword research

Topic Modeling is how machine learning detects and understands related topics and themes across multiple pieces of information. This can help you understand what to create as part of a topic cluster.

Subject groups are the actual groups of linked related content items that have a similar theme.

As Google’s algorithm continues to evolve, it’s becoming clear that it favors topic clusters because they better match the user’s entire search journey and user intent.

The Difference Between Keyword Lists and Topic Templates

When driving keyword research you will usually end up with hundreds of different terms and still not have a clear understanding of what is needed to properly cover a topic. This is a case where more is not always better.

With topic modeling, you have a clearer roadmap to more successful content.

Topic modeling reveals how experts write about that topic, which directly reflects how readers typically navigate a topic.

Here is a short example using the key phrase and topic “how to grow tomatoes”. As you can see, comparing keyword research to topic research is like comparing apples and oranges. These are fundamentally different approaches.

Ideally, our MarketMuse topic template recommends 50 semantically related topics, but even the small snippet below provides critical insight into the coverage needed.

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

In SEO, a topic model fulfills a dual role – prescriptive and descriptive.

  • Prescriptive means it indicates which topics should be covered.
  • Description means you can check if an article covers these mandatory topics.

Google loves it.

How do I find my first topic template?

In the case of MarketMuse, our patented subject modeling technology analyzes thousands of pages to help you discover these topics faster.

Try grabbing your first topic template now.

How Topic Modeling Produces High-Quality Content

Topic modeling serves as a map to produce comprehensive content.

In the case of “how to grow tomatoes”, following the map reveals:

  1. There is one particular disease (Blossom End Rot) that many tomato growers have to deal with. At a minimum, you should acknowledge this in your article, but it would be better to offer a solution.
  2. There is a pest (tomato hornworm) that also needs to be dealt with, as does the disease.
  3. Soil is an important factor in the success of tomato cultivation.
  4. You will need to consider growing different varieties (determinate and indeterminate).
  5. Tomato cages are a useful and popular accessory for growing tomatoes.
  6. You will want to discuss buying tomato transplants, in addition to growing them from seed.

As well as many other related topics that help make the article more relevant.

How to Create More Useful Content with Topic Modeling & Topic Groups

Screenshot from MarketMuse Research, October 2022.

How to Use Topic Modeling to Create Original Content

Original content isn’t just about rephrasing what everyone else is saying.

Original content goes beyond what already exists, adding value to the conversation.

You can achieve this quite easily with the help of a robust topic model, based on its analysis of multiple datasets.

Step 1. Compare your topic template to your competitors

Now that you have your first subject model builtyou have seen that our optimization screen ensures that we cover all related topics like an expert.

Next, you’ll need to map the top 20 SERP results against your topic model to determine any gaps.

Run models on each of their content URLs to understand their topic templates and topic groups, and then determine where the content gaps are.

The easy way: Do this step automatically with MarketMuse. Simply visit the “Competition” tab and create content around the red squares.

How to Create More Useful Content with Topic Modeling & Topic Groups

Screenshot from MarketMuse Compete, October 2022

Here, you’ll see a heatmap with the top 20 results at the top, along with their URL and content score. On the side are all the related topics in order of relevance.

The colored squares show how well each URL covers the topic, based on the number of mentions.

The red squares show that these topics are mentioned zero times by competitors; they are the ones around which to build content.

You now have a verified topic template to create content from.

Not yet convinced of the need to go further to differentiate your content?

Keep in mind that Google has a patent (US20200349181) that can analyze any document to determine if it provides additional information. Based on the patent filing history, they have been using this type of algorithm for quite some time.

Step 2. Create topic groups with your verified content templates

So far, we’ve used topic modeling to uncover high-quality, comprehensive, and gap-covering individual directions for your industry.

Now let’s see how this can help develop subject groups.

Let’s go back to the topic template for “how to grow tomatoes”.

How to create a content cluster, a section or an entire site around the same subject?

Instead of briefly mentioning these topics on a single page, we will create dedicated pages for each topic. This provides a much greater opportunity to explore these topics in depth.

Start with “How to Grow Tomatoes” as your pillar pagethen create separate pages for each subtopic, such as “Blossom end rot”.

How to Create More Useful Content with Topic Modeling & Topic Groups

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

Then, create separate topic templates for each of these pages and create their high-quality supporting content.

Finally, add another layer to the cluster using the template’s headings for the term “ground flow” as individual support pages.

How to Create More Useful Content with Topic Modeling & Topic Groups

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

Repeat this process as needed to explore the topic, expanding the cluster to an even higher level.

Step 3. Link your large-scale topic clusters with topic modeling

The final piece of the puzzle is to link the pages internally to build authority and provide your audience with a way to further explore the topic.

Again, we use topic modeling to help you.

On the “How to Grow Tomatoes” pillar page, where you discuss blossom-end rot, link to the new page on this topic using “blood-end rot” as your anchor text.

Doing it this way brings all the SEO stars into alignment, so to speak.

How to Create More Useful Content with Topic Modeling & Topic Groups

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

Your pillar page (about growing tomatoes) and supporting content (about blossom-end rot) are semantically connected, because “blood-end rot” appears in the topic template for “how to grow tomatoes.” The link itself strengthens the link, as it also uses the term “blood end rot”.

Often, you may have pre-existing content that fits into a group of topics that you may not know existed.

MarketMuse Connect helps discover this content by analyzing your site for pages that match the template topics.

How to Create More Useful Content with Topic Modeling & Topic Groups

Screenshot of MarketMuse Connect, October 2022

It can find up to 10 topics for which there is matching content on your site. Additionally, MarketMuse Connect offers up to 10 unique suggestions for each of these topics. Just be sure to cover this topic in your article and link to the suggestion.

Start building authoritative topic groups and better content with MarketMuse.


Image credits

Featured Image: Image by MarketMuse. Used with permission.

Jessica C. Bell