We have discussed this concept for over 20 years, creating significant new opportunities for clients to capture missed opportunities. There is a lot of chatter in the Search Community related to “Topic Clusters” advocating a move away from more traditional keyword-focused efforts. I agree with some of these ideas that you need to focus on the topic, especially if you are the category leader. Below are a few examples of research we have done for clients to help answer the question about how authoritative they are in the various categories related to their product portfolio.

For example, the highly competitive category of pet food.  Our research found that only manufacturers use this phrase as most people need dog or cat food.  Let us say, for example, that you have a broad portfolio of products like Purina that would be represented by 2,700 phrases. You have identified 500 words related to your dog food products and 300 for cat food and maybe another thousand for other types of pet food.  As the category leader, would you not expect to be at the top of the search results for all of these phrases?  In a consumer’s mind, the most authoritative on the topic, you would expect to be on the first page of the search engine for all or at least most of these phrases.  Are you even monitoring this?  In the analysis below, of the 2,700 words in the portfolio, Purina was only represented 170 times.  It was surprising that none of the online retailers performed much better.  The chart below shows the words in the cluster and how many times a specific domain appeared on page 1.

Let’s take another example from an online travel booking site. For instance, in the catch-all Air Cluster, there are 2,408 keywords they are targeting, which generate over 5 million searches a month.  Unfortunately, the site only gets 1.21% of the clicks for these words, but this tiny share of clicks currently generates over $500k in monthly revenue. As we drill down, we find that the site is only represented on Google’s search results page for 275 of the 2,408 keywords.  This means that despite being a dominant player in this space, they are only present to searchers 11% of the time for the cluster of words. Those who think this is not bad are not present 89% of the time, so they cannot be considered an actual authority in this category.  The big question is what if they could fix the gap of these phrases, they were missing an opportunity.  If being there 11% of the time generates $500k in revenue, what could they generate if they doubled or tripled their exposure for this cluster?

Note in some of the more specific topic clusters, they are getting 30 to 90 percent of the rankings, impressions generating significant revenue.