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Building a Topic Model: What Is it, Why, and How?

Learn how to use a content topic model to find valuable insights, gain new topic ideas, and understand pain points for better SEO rankings.
Learn how to use a content topic model to find valuable insights, gain new topic ideas, and understand pain points for better SEO rankings.

The first result on Google has a 36% clickthrough rate. Meanwhile, those in third place have already dropped to a 9% clickthrough rate. Getting that first spot isn’t as easy as a few strategically placed keywords, as many outdated SEO strategies suggest. A well-crafted topic model can make all the difference.

Today’s Google algorithm takes more into account than your keywords, which is why you need to upgrade your SEO strategies to include a topic model for finding relevant topics.

Wait, doesn’t your keyword research tool already find topics consumers are searching for?

Your keyword tool supplies you with a list of commonly searched phrases within your topic. However, your topic model digs deeper and shows what keywords usually appear together as well as connected topics, which help your content rank higher in search queries.

Learn what a topic model is and how to build one for your modern marketing strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Topic modeling analyzes large volumes of text to find common themes for sorting, managing, and creating content.
  • Topic modeling helps you see relevant information from reviews, blog posts, emails, and social media posts.
  • You can build a topic model manually, through AI tools, or run code through a specialized algorithm.

What is topic modeling?

Topic modeling identifies repeated phrases and contextual cues to find common themes or categories of content in a collection of long-form or short-form content.

You can use the model to find topics and related terms covered in a set of documents or group texts by their themes.

For example, you can use topic modeling to analyze your current blog content by listing your target keywords. You will see what keywords and topics you address and find areas that you haven’t covered. This process gives you ideas for future content marketing plans to ensure you cover the whole industry.

Some other types of content you can analyze and categorize using topic modeling include:

  • emails;
  • social media posts;
  • blog content;
  • customer reviews; and
  • feedback received from surveys.

MarketMuse Academy — All Topic Models Are Not the Same

The Role Natural Language Processing Plays in Topic Modeling

Topic modeling identifies related keywords through natural language processing (NLP) models. Computers use NLP to analyze and replicate human language by using semantics and surrounding words.

For instance, NLP software can see the word “lead and know whether the text is about a dog’s leash, a position in a race, an element, or a potential customer by the words around it. It can then connect that word to related terms. For example, the phrase “marketing leads” shows up alongside phrases like “nurturing” and “sales.”

A common use of NLP is search engines.

When you search a phrase, your results relate to your query, even though you used different word variations or articles than the results. As a marketer, your articles should contain variations of a keyword to rank higher for a topic and appear more relevant when performing SEO.

Why do you need a content topic model?

A topic model has several analytic and research uses depending on your department and industry. However, below are three applications of a topic model in content marketing and SEO.

1. Researching Content Topic Ideas

If you want the best results, you should publish a new blog post two to four times a week. However, that means coming up with over eight new topics a month.

Instead of guessing what topics resonate with your audience, you can use a topic model to categorize topics and find related themes. You can also use it for customer journey mapping, which will pinpoint relevant topics for every point of the customer journey.

2. Finding New Consumer Pain Points

Topic models can also find recurring terms in feedback, forums, and social media posts from your consumers.

Reading through hundreds or thousands of consumer comments will take hours and waste your time.

Instead, you sort and analyze content from consumers through topic models that pull out repeating and relevant phrases. These repeating phrases will alert you to consumer pain points specific to your business and products. Then, your content can address these pain points and resolve common issues.

3. Optimizing Content for SEO

Consumers conduct over 3.5 billion searches daily. However, over 92% of search terms appear in less than ten searches a month. This is because each person will use a slight variation of each phrase depending on their search purpose and demographics.

For example, one consumer might search for “marketing platforms” while another will look up “marketing tools.”

There are dozens of similar phrases that all relate to the same topic. If you only target one variation, you will only get results from that topic.

Google’s 2015 update, RankBrain, started using machine learning, which analyzes themes alongside keywords to offer more accurate search results.

When you include several variations as secondary keywords, you will show up in more searches. Using variations and related words tells search engines what your topic is about so that an article on “sales” shows up for sales and marketing teams and not for a consumer looking for a deal.

3 Ways to Build a Content Topic Model

Choose how to build a content topic model depending on how extensive your research is and your end goals. Here are three ways to make a model to find new topics for your content.

1. Manually build a topic model.

The simplest form of topic modeling is manually listing and analyzing content. You can create a manual topic model using a spreadsheet that lists your content side by side. You will then identify patterns and gaps in the content.

This form works best for examining content you created that has listed keywords.

2. Use simple programs to analyze text.

Some programs aren’t built for in-depth topic modeling, but you can use them for identifying recurring themes and connecting words.

For example, on a very basic level, word clouds are a visual representation of repeated phrases throughout text, with the most-used terms appearing larger than infrequently used words.

AI platforms that optimize content offer deeper insights and identify content topic gaps. As a result, they suggest related keywords for a topic using topic models. You can look at platforms like MarketeMuse and Clearscope.

3. Get your data techs involved.

If you want to analyze a large volume of documents, reviews, emails, or text, you need help from someone who understands computer code.

Most topic models involve a complex process of training an algorithm to identify topics within text and sort content according to themes.

Improve your SEO through topic modeling.

Have you upgraded your SEO strategy to focus on topics rather than a list of keywords?

To get started, you can create custom SEO strategies that find and target themes in your industry for maximum online exposure.

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