A couple of weeks ago I shared a small sample of a full topical map that I delivered to an agency. Alex retweeted my tweet on the sample, thus the screenshot.

One of the comments in Alex's retweet caught my attention because the person was saying that it seemed to be the "normal keyword research" for his sites and not some secret technology.

And that commenter is definitely right. Topical maps are not magic. I replied that it's pretty much 4 steps:

  1. Search for all the keywords related to your seed topic
  2. Do keyword clustering to avoid cannibalization and duplicate content
  3. Structure the topics hierarchically
  4. Prep site structure, internal linking and anchor text strategy

I'm making it sound 'easy', but it's actually not that easy. It's not just using a keyword tool and exporting the results.

There's a lot of semantic searching and linking that's needed. Then the structure and hierarchy based on the niche. Some are easier than others.

There's also a reason why you don't really see full topical map samples out there. As far as I know, my sample is the largest one out there.

Agencies will have their own designs and ways they present it to clients, but it's not magic.

It's a huge time saver is what it is. Depending on your topic, topical maps can take 10-100+ hours.

If others were to share samples publicly like I did, they'd start seeing copycats. I've already seen at least one other service change their deliverable to my format.

I may have ordered one from them and when they were taking longer than expected, they said they switched the formatting recently and when it was delivered, it seemed a lot like mine :)

They didn't go deep into topics though and barely scratched the surface, so not really usable.

Hey, they were trolling on Twitter and said how their topical maps were superior to mine. I had to check it out. But I can assure you it's not even in the same ballpark - even as they emulated my deliverable formats.

Their topical map ended up with 95 topics. When I did my own version of the topical map previously, I had 200+ in just one subtopic, one of the 95. If I were to only write articles for those 95 topics, the site would have very little chance of ranking.

All I can say is, be careful who you go with and do your own research. If you don't know what topical maps are and how they help, there are plenty of resources out there to help create your own.

But whether you pay for one or DIY a topical map, it will help you immensely. You've basically done your keyword research for months and months, maybe years of your site. And you don't need to worry about how internal linking should be done, because it's all pre-planned too.

Jasper Pieterse also created a YouTube review of the topical map that he received. Check out his thoughts here.


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