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 deal with Google’s useful content update?

Don’t know how to get your organic traffic back if your keyword strategies are no longer effective?

Instead of just making sure keywords are present in each individual piece of content, try to focus on general topic modeling and topic groups to boost your content SEO strategy.

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

Here’s a recipe to make it work.

Use topic modeling and topic groups, not just keyword research

Theme modeling is how machine learning detects and understands themes and related themes across multiple pieces of information. This can help you understand which pieces to create as part of a theme group.

Topic groups are the actual groups of linked, related pieces of content that have a similar theme.

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

The difference between keyword lists and topic models

When conducting keyword research, you will typically end up with hundreds of different terms and still not have a clear understanding of what is required to adequately cover a topic. It’s a case where more is not always better.

With theme modeling, you have a clearer roadmap to a more successful piece of content.

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

Here’s 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. They are fundamentally different approaches.

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

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

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

In SEO, a theme model serves dual functions: prescriptive and descriptive.

  • Mandatory means it indicates what topics should be covered.
  • Descriptive means you can check if an article covers those required topics.

Google loves this.

How do I discover my first theme model?

In the case of MarketMuse, our proprietary topic modeling technology analyzes thousands of pages to help you discover those topics faster.

Try to get your first theme model, now.

How topic modeling produces high-quality content

Theme modeling serves as a blueprint for producing 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 the very least, you should acknowledge that in your article, but it would be better to offer a solution.
  2. There is a pest (the tomato hornworm) that also needs to be addressed, as does the disease.
  3. Soil is an important factor in the success of tomato cultivation.
  4. You should take into account the cultivation of different varieties (determinate and indeterminate).
  5. Tomato cages are a useful and popular accessory for growing tomatoes.
  6. You’ll want to discuss buying tomato transplants, as well as growing them from seed.

Plus 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 is not simply restating what others are 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 theme model, one based on your analysis of multiple data sets.

Step 1. Compare your theme model with that of your competitors

Now that you’ve created your first theme template, you’ve seen that our optimization screen ensures that we cover all related themes, like an expert.

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

Run models on each of your content URLs to understand your topic groups and topic models, then determine where the content gaps lie.

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

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

Screenshot of MarketMuse Compete, October 2022

Here, you’ll see a heatmap with the top 20 results along with their URL and content score. Next to it are all 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 the competitors; these are the ones that build content around it.

You now have a verified theme model for creating content.

Still not convinced of the need to go further in differentiating your content?

Please note 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 on 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 discover individual addresses that are high-quality, comprehensive, and fill the gaps in their industry.

Now, let’s see how it can help in the development of topic groups.

Let’s go back to the model topic of “how to grow tomatoes.”

How do we create a group of content, a section or an entire site on the same topic?

Instead of briefly mentioning these topics on one page, we’ll create dedicated pages for each topic. That offers a much greater opportunity to explore these issues in depth.

Start with “How to Grow Tomatoes” as your main page, then create separate pages for each supporting topic, such as “end rot of blossom.”

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

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

Then create separate theme templates for each of those pages and develop your high-quality supporting content.

Finally, add another layer to the group by using model themes for the term “soil current” as individual supporting pages.

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

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

Repeat this process as necessary to explore the topic, building the group to an even higher level.

Step 3. Link your theme groups at scale with theme modeling

The last piece of the puzzle is to internally link pages to build authority and provide a path for your audience to explore the topic further.

Once again, we use theme modeling to help.

On the “How to Grow Tomatoes” pillar page, where blossom end rot is discussed, link to the new page on that topic using “blossom end rot” as the anchor text.

Doing it this way ranks all the SEO stars, so to speak.

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

Image from MarketMuse, October 2022

Both its pillar page (on growing tomatoes) and supporting content (on blossom end rot) are semantically connected because “blossom end rot” appears in the topic model for “how to grow tomatoes”. The link itself reinforces the connection, as it also uses the term “blossom end rot.”

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

MarketMuse Connect helps discover this content by scanning your site for pages that match the themes within the model.

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

Screenshot of MarketMuse Connect, October 2022

You 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 those themes. Just be sure to cover that topic in your article and link to the tip.

Start creating authoritative topic groups and better content with MarketMuse.


image credits

Featured Image: Image by MarketMuse. Used with permission.