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The 6-Step Guide to Creating a Content Cluster that Ranks

By vivian on February 23, 2021

The past few years have witnessed an increase in the evolution of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content marketing. Such a positive change gives you an edge over other professional SEOs out there. 

With the exponential increase in competition for high ranking on Google, a number of people are coming up with great content. However, they are still not ranking in Google as high as they would expect. So, if you are one of those SEO professionals whose content is ranking low, you will find this guide to be extremely helpful.  

What is a Content Cluster

The only way to explain the true meaning of a content cluster is to illustrate two different sites. One must have content clusters while the other should be without content clusters. 

With no content clusters, your SEO content creation will not be as effective as you would want it to be. On the other hand, if your site has a content cluster, it will have an impeccably organized approach to SEO content creation. 

Content clusters use the pillar-topic cluster models that use an SEO strategy. This strategy is tailored towards focusing on the key topics rather than keywords. 

The content cluster targets topics while using internal linking to enhance user experience. As a result, it boosts SEO. This is contrary to what you would expect with the SEO content strategy that uses keywords.

The content cluster creates two major types of content which includes the following:

Content Pillars: This term refers to a type of content designed to give a complete answer to questions that users may have on certain topics. In most cases, you will find it in a long-form content that functions as the main go-to-content for the keyword cluster. As a matter of fact, it targets short tail keywords with high search volumes. 

Topic Cluster or Cluster Pages: It refers to a section of subtopic pages. Most of these pages consist of blog articles written to focus on related as well as longer-tail keywords. In fact, the topic cluster is more specific and detailed compared to content pillars.

Together, the two components allow you to create outstanding and high-quality content that is useful to your clients. Also, the same content makes it easy for Google to crawl. 

Basically, this information helps you to understand and explain what a content cluster really is.

How Did Content Cluster Come About?

There is no doubt that Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. This frequent transformation of algorithms keeps SEO professionals on their toes throughout. So if you are an SEO expert, you need to be aware of such changes from time to time. 

In the past few years, there has been a progressive shift in the way Google algorithms work. This drastic change has somehow affected SEO professionals in many different ways. For instance, if you are not giving your users priority, Google will put you first. 

Some years back, search engines would give you feedback based on keywords. But this is not the case at the moment. 

Initially, the keyword-focused algorithm had some weaknesses which led to bad SEO behaviors such as “black hat search engine optimization (SEO). Keyword stuffing is a perfect example of black hat SEO that you need to know. 

Keyword stuffing does not make your content relevant for your audience as such. What this statement means is that you are doing it for an algorithm which eventually results in black hat SEO. And this is where Google RankBrain comes in to save the situation.

The Emergence of Google RankBrain

Google has taken a lot of time to research its algorithm to improve SEO content. To achieve this feat, Google went ahead to introduce state-of-the-art machine learning technology known as Google RankBrain. 

This piece of technology expands the scope of how search engines such as Google evaluates and indexes pages for better ranking. However, keywords still matter despite the introduction of Google RankBrain in creating content clusters. 

Before the RankBrain, Google used the basic algorithm in a bid to determine the type of results users would get for their queries. But post-RankBrain works differently when it comes to showing the results for a given query. 

In this case, the query passes through the interpretation model first. Then the model applies some factors such as location (of the searcher), personalization and the information contained in the query. 

The model carries out this task to know the true intent of the searcher. Through discerning the true intent of the searcher, Google is able to give back more relevant results. 

In other words, if your dream is to have a site that can perform optimally in search engines, you should be in a better position to help Google provide relevant, reliable and high-quality content.

Content clusters play a critical role in connecting topically-related content on your website. Through internal linking, the content clusters are analyzed by Google BrainRank to evaluate the quality of your content during a crawl. This action helps users or searchers to get relevant results for their inquiries.

Why is it Important to Structure Your Content into Topic Clusters

Topic clusters have set a popular trend in SEO and blogging for quite some time. This is because they offer a better platform for your site to rank high in the search engine results. 

But for your site to scale such heights, it will take you a long process full of obstacles. With determination and persistence, topic clustering will help you improve your search rankings, not to mention generating organic traffic. 

In general, topic clusters work hand in hand with overarching subjects commonly referred to as pillar content. To give you a clear picture of what this means, pillar content focuses on a broad keyword while topic clusters focus mainly on specific keywords and phrases with smaller search volumes. 

This means that the more your content achieves better ranking, the more credibility it builds up in the Google search engine for the pillar content. 

Below are some of the benefits that come with pillar content:

  • More time is spent on your site
  • Reduces bounce rate
  • More keyword mentions
  • Increases social media shares and backlinks
  • Better Google ranking with longevity

After creating your pillar content, don’t let it remain idle and age. Instead, find some time to update it with fresh data, examples, tips and expert quotes. All these features will stay relevant to your audiences. In return, it will rank high on Google search engines.

How Do You Create Effective Content Clusters?

Now that you have an idea of content clusters, it is time to learn how you can successfully create effective content clusters. Here is a step-by-step guide for building a good content cluster strategy.

a) Choose the Topics For your Content Pillars

When deciding on the topics, you must consider the function of your content clusters. As such, you should try to ask yourself if your content will reach the target audience, convince and close important sales or convert leads. In this step, your main goal is to consider the buyer personas and their search intents.

b)Carry out Analysis Goals and Conduct Keyword Research

Before you start touching on any content, you must do a thorough analysis of what you expect after creating a content cluster. 

During the analysis, you may take into account the following points:

  • What you are hoping to achieve with your target SEO content strategy
  • The type of keywords you want to focus on more than others
  • The most important conversion goals that will make your content effective

Once you have these goals at the back of your mind, you will be able to start building out your clusters.

c) Perform Content Audit

Performing an audit of your content is critical, especially if you are working with sites that have an extensive archive of cluster content. In this regard, you will have to categorize the existing blog content topic by topic. Keep in mind that these topics will become your clusters while any content about specific topics will become cluster content for those topics.

d) Establish Pillar Pages

After you have identified your cluster topics, the next task is to establish a pillar page. This page will help you connect all the content found within the cluster. Essentially, the pillar is the hub or cornerstone of a cluster. Its main function is to connect other content within the cluster. Apart from that, it has a broader scope to  interlink every element in the content

e) Implementation of the Internal Linking

Now that you have your pillar pages and clusters ready, the next task is to implement the internal linking. This process will involve the use of hyperlinks. Therefore, every content should have a link to your pillar page. The pillar page, on the other hand, must be naturally interspersed with several links to your cluster content.

f)Promote Your Content

At this point, you must know that your content is ready and the next task for you is to promote it. This step will help your content to reach as many users as possible. With time, it will rank high on Google search engines and that should be your ultimate goal.

Measure and Maintain the Success of Your Cluster Contents

There are two ways you can measure and maintain the success of your cluster contents. The first one is the creation of content gaps while the second process involves optimizing and updating your pillar content. These two methods will help you generate fresh ideas for your future content.

 Conclusion

There you have it! This comprehensive guide to creating a content structure that ranks enables you to shift your focus to this subject matter. In fact, it helps you pay attention to creating content that is based on a keyword-by-keyword structure. In the end, you will find it easier to build up better content, enhance your visibility on Google and provide the best user experience.

Updated: 3 August 2021

Vivian

About Vivian

Vivian is an anthropologist lost in the world of digital marketing. She has an interest in learning about the science of marketing and the creativity that businesses use to transform themselves into purple cows.

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