If you’re part of the HubSpot community, you probably know a thing or two about HubSpot CRM’s built-in search engine optimization (SEO) tools.
Despite his three years of experience in marketing, there is one HubSpot SEO feature that not everyone knows or uses: the Topics tool.
Data shows that topic clusters help marketers achieve incredible organic ranking improvements while organizing their blogging calendars. With a brief introduction to HubSpot’s theme features, we hope you can too.
In this post, we’re going to introduce you to the tool and explain a bit about its improvements over the years and how you can use it to improve your content strategy right away!
The early origin of the HubSpot tool “Topics”
When our team first got their hands on the HubSpot SEO tool three years ago, it was called the Content Strategy Tool. To be honest, many early adopters still call it that today. I think you could say, “Old habits die hard!”
The Content Strategy Tool is only available to HubSpot CRM users and is designed to help marketers organize content by sub-topic – all of which support an overarching current topic.
With this tool, a marketer could call up one of their product / service pages and display all the content they needed for support in one central location.
What is the point of a content cluster? Read more about how marketers can use topic clusters to improve ranking in this post.
The versions of the Content Strategy Tool from early 2017 mimicked the appearance of a “mind map” with a central column side or a starting point in the middle. From this main topic came branches of subtopics such as blogs and content offerings (e-books, downloadable one-pagers, etc.).
In our Sprocket Talk video at the end of 2018, we explain how we set up our topic cluster “SEO” (see figure above):
In the video, you’ll notice that this tool wasn’t just used to organize your blogging calendar. With the help of these topic clusters, marketers were also able to determine whether they were referring to their main service / pillar page across all content – a crucial ranking signal for Google.
HubSpot’s “Topics” tool in 2021
Three years after first launching their SEO tool, HubSpot decided it was time to make a change and renamed the content strategy to Topics accordingly.
This shift was mainly due to Google and other search engines preferring to review and organize content into topics and subtopics – and HubSpot was keen to take up the idea of thinking in “topics” to improve rankings.
If you’ve had a taste of the first version of the Content Strategy Tool, the good news is that the integration retained many of the same features.
While the branding is a little different – with a leaner UI from 2017-2021 – much of the tool itself remains the same. That means, except for a few important upgrades:
Today’s Topics tool now has a Google Search Console connection that allows you to easily integrate your traffic source data directly into HubSpot.
You can now also view your top queries or see who is searching for your article, reducing the need to double-check other SEO tools for the same data.
Use of the HubSpot Topic Tool
Now for the good stuff! The step-by-step instructions for creating topic clusters yourself.
- In the HubSpot marketing portal, navigate to Marketing> Planning & Strategy> SEO *.
* Access only to HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise accounts and CMS Hub Professional and Enterprise accounts
- From there you will see two tabs: Recommendations and Topics. Recommendations are lists of SEO problems and suggested solutions from CRM to improve your rankings. While this is an important component in improving your search rank, we are not going to focus on it in this article. Select the Themes tab.
- From here you will see the main screen for managing your topic clusters, where you can filter by date range to see all of the sessions your cluster has held in support of your pillar.
- Next, you’ll be asked to add your topic, which should focus on one of your key product or service offerings.
In our example, we have created a topic cluster for our Revenue Operations service. After entering your page name in the search bar, the monthly search volume of the keyword will be displayed. In the lower left corner, click Create Topic.
- From there, click on the mind map in the side field of your main column and add your service / product page. In our example we searched and found our RevOps page.
- From here, close the “Manage Topic” window and click the “Add Subtopic Keyword” button. This is where you need to know your content library. We know that at Impulse we wrote an article that searched for the keyword “What are Revenue Operations?”
- Next you will be asked to append the content url. Click and use the search bar to find the article you wrote. After attaching it, you will see that it is connected to your main column by a red or green line. If you are linked to your main service page in your content element, it will be colored green to indicate networking. If you haven’t created a link it will be red and a clear indication that you need to come back to this article and create a link to your main service page.
See how in the picture below our article “What is Revenue Operations?” Is appended by a green line, which means that we mentioned our main pillar on the blog! Nice.
And that’s it! You can add all of your subtopic keywords and articles one at a time to see if they mention your main pillar. With that in mind, you can see where to add links, as well as a holistic view of your subtopics on that main topic to cover keywords and concepts that you haven’t touched on yet!
If you consider yourself a long way from being an inexperienced blogger, consider improving your blogs a bit by learning more about how long your blog post should be: Recommendations on length and depth of content to rank smarter.
Don’t forget to keep track of your clusters
Do you remember the main screen from step 3 that showed your sessions? This is a great area to dig into analytics as you build clusters of topics. This is how you can see which subtopics generated the most organic traffic to inspire new related content ideas!
Couple this tool with the HubSpot topic generator
By the time you fill your topic cluster, you may no longer be familiar with new topics. Don’t worry, HubSpot is here! To do this, they created a handy support tool called the Blog Topic Generator.
Enter your main topic and watch the tool work out nouns or ideas to generate related subtopics. In the example below, we entered a few words like “cost”, “instructions”, etc. to generate related blog titles.
After clicking “Give me blog ideas”, you will receive five blog title ideas for free or you can unlock topics for an entire year for an additional fee.
Ready to Improve Your Blogging Strategy?
There is no doubt that the HubSpot Topics tool can really make your blogging game better. Do you know what else you can do? Download our beginner’s guide to blogging for business. Do you prefer to leave the ranking to the professionals? We blog differently at Impulse.