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How to build an authoritative article using the topic cluster method …and ChatGPT

Lots of people – including our competitors – will be using AI to speed the creation of content nowadays. Those that have got any sense will be using it to outline articles, not write them in their entirety. But the net result will be that they’re creating more and better resources on their website.

Like it or not, we have to keep up. Here’s a method that works, and which any of us can try out right now.

Armed with our new helper, we can focus more on the structure of our new content. One technique that springs to mind which has been around for ten years or so, and seems well respected, is the ‘Topic Cluster Method’. This builds a ‘hub’ of information around a central target subject, and it lends itself to AI’s ability to suggest ideas.

To illustrate the concept, let’s say we want to build a topic cluster around the term ‘blue widgets’, which we hope to rank for. The first step is not to write the main article about blue widgets, but to research perhaps 6–10 more niche articles around the main one, and write these as separate pages. Then go back and write the hub article, ensuring there’s two-way linking at every opportunity between this and each of the ‘cluster’ articles.

Let’s say that we want to create a hub article targeting the term ‘how to choose a blue widget’. I know that this is a nonsensical subject, but ChatGPT doesn’t care, so for the purposes of this illustration, let’s ask it to list of a whole load of ‘how to’ article titles that we could write for our cluster articles. Here are its suggestions (I asked for 10, but could have asked for 100):

  • “How to properly install a blue widget in your home or office”
  • “How to maximise the efficiency of your blue widget”
  • “How to perform basic maintenance on a blue widget”
  • “How to troubleshoot common issues with blue widgets”
  • “How to customise settings on your blue widget for optimal performance”
  • “How to safely dispose of or recycle your old blue widgets”
  • “How to update the software or firmware of a blue widget”
  • “How to integrate blue widgets with other devices or systems”
  • “How to protect your blue widget from wear and tear”
  • “How to claim warranty service for your blue widget”

I’m sure that we could write articles along these lines, for whatever field we operate in. But let’s say we pick a handful of the most promising topic suggestions, and perhaps add more of our own. Step one is to write those articles, which will be useful in their own right, and to publish each on its own page.

Now we go back to ChatGPT and ask it to write an outline with subheadings for an extensive article about “How to choose a blue widget”, which should include the following topics (list those we’ve written).

Here’s the response I got when I did exactly that:

How to Choose a Blue Widget: Your Comprehensive Guide

Introduction

  • Brief overview of blue widgets and their importance in modern homes and offices.

Understanding Blue Widgets

  • Explanation of what blue widgets are.
  • The role of blue widgets in home and office environments.
  • Types of blue widgets available on the market.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Blue Widget

  • Performance specifications: What to look for in terms of efficiency and power.
  • Compatibility with existing systems: Ensuring the blue widget fits your current setup.
  • Durability and warranty: The importance of choosing a widget that lasts.
  • Environmental impact: Selecting eco-friendly blue widgets.

How to Properly Install a Blue Widget in Your Home or Office

  • Pre-installation checklist: What to prepare before installation.
  • Step-by-step installation guide: Detailed instructions from unboxing to setup.
  • Tips for ensuring optimal placement and connectivity.

How to Maximize the Efficiency of Your Blue Widget

  • Understanding default settings vs. optimal settings.
  • Adjusting settings for energy conservation and better performance.
  • Scheduling regular check-ups to maintain efficiency.

How to Perform Basic Maintenance on a Blue Widget

  • Cleaning and care tips to extend the life of your blue widget.
  • Schedule for routine maintenance checks.
  • DIY maintenance vs. professional servicing: When to call in the experts.

How to Troubleshoot Common Issues with Blue Widgets

  • Identifying common problems and their symptoms.
  • Step-by-step troubleshooting guide for each issue.
  • When to seek professional help for unresolved problems.

How to Customize Settings on Your Blue Widget for Optimal Performance

  • Overview of customizable settings available on most blue widgets.
  • How to access and adjust these settings.
  • Examples of customized settings for various needs and scenarios.

How to Safely Dispose of or Recycle Your Old Blue Widgets

  • The importance of responsible disposal and recycling.
  • How to find local recycling programs for electronics.
  • Preparing your blue widget for disposal or recycling.

Conclusion

  • Recap of key points covered in the article.
  • Final thoughts on the importance of choosing, using, and maintaining blue widgets responsibly for a sustainable future.

Additional Resources

  • Links to blue widget manufacturers and product guides.
  • Contact information for recycling centres and professional services.
  • Online forums and communities for blue widget enthusiasts.

Just writing 100 words under each subheading provides a 3000-word hub article, which can link out to the cluster topics we’ve written. And remember, just getting an expert to talk for one minute on each of the subheadings will easily give us the 100 words.

The result? A substantial article targeting a key search term, linking out to a series of supporting articles, and being linked back from them. The format has been proven to be attractive to Google, and why wouldn’t it be? It should be genuinely useful to buyers in the real world, and that’s exactly what Google is trying to highlight.