If you haven’t heard of a content cluster, it is a content marketing strategy that has seen great success in helping brands heighten their SEO value and bring customers engaging content. We will be breaking down what a content cluster is, how to create one, and how it can help your brand.
What Is A Content Cluster?
So, what exactly is a content cluster? Well, a contextual content cluster is a content marketing strategy where you create topically relevant content by producing a ‘cluster’ of content around one overarching topic and link each piece of content to each other. For example, if you wanted to create content around the topic of ‘healthy breakfast’ you would create articles that laddered up to the overarching topics.
- Importance of Eating Breakfast
- 5 Foods You Should Eat For Breakfast
- What Happens To Your Body When You Skip Breakfast
- 7 Healthy Smoothie Recipes To Drink For Breakfast
Above are four examples of topics you could write about that would cluster around the overall topic of ‘healthy breakfast.’ Once these articles have been written you would then internally link the articles to one another to create an educational, relevant and in-depth bank of content around ‘healthy breakfast.’
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How would you internally link these articles? Here is an example: if in the ‘Importance of Eating Breakfast’ article you have a sentence that says: “There are many things that can happen to your body if you skip breakfast.” You would internally link the anchor text and when users clicked on it, it would send them to the article ‘What Happens To Your Body When You Skip Breakfast.’ That way you are leading readers to another related article so that they can expand their knowledge even further on this subject.
With a content cluster, you are creating a bank of engaging, relevant, and related content in addition to supporting SEO efforts. At the same time, you are becoming a thought leader because of the in-depth content you are creating.
The Content Cluster Process
We’ve created a five step process on how to create a content cluster. We will be guiding you step by step through this process so that you can take this knowledge and create a content cluster of your own. Read on to learn exactly how to do it!
1. Conduct SEO Keyword Research
The first step in creating a content cluster to conduct keyword research. Before you can choose a topic you need to know which keywords have high search volume and which keywords you will be able to rank for.
In addition, it is essential to understand who your audience is. An important part of creating a content cluster is creating relevant content that will resonate with your audience. So think about who will be reading your content, what your audience is interested in, and what is already being talked about? Google Trends is a great tool to use to see what people are asking the search engines and what they are interested in.
Other tools you can use during this process are Keywordtool.io and the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool. With Keywordtool.io you can type in a topic and it will give you hundreds of keywords that are similar to the topic you searched for. It will also show you the search volume of each keyword and give you questions that include the keywords you are searching for.
Related: Are You Choosing The Right Keywords?
Moz Keyword Difficulty on the other hand will show you the Domain Authority of the ten sites who are ranking on page one for that keyword. If you are within 10 DA positions away from at least two of the websites on page one then there is a chance for you to be able to rank for that keyword.
The purpose of this step in the content cluster process is to identify highly relevant long-tail search queries that your audience is interested in and that your brand can rank for. Long-tail keywords are three and four word keyword phrases that are specific and relevant to what your brand offers.
These keywords are deeper in the funnel and are what customers are searching if they are closer to purchasing. Usually when customers are using a very specific phrase in the search, they are looking for exactly what they want to purchase.
So for example, bringing it back to the healthy breakfast example a few long-tail keywords would be:
- what are healthy breakfast foods
- how to eat healthy breakfast
- how to make healthy breakfast with eggs
- how to make healthy breakfast bars
These long-tail keywords are highly relevant to the specific niche. People who are searching for these terms are interested in healthy breakfast and want to learn more about the types of healthy breakfast, how to make healthy breakfast and potentially purchasing healthy breakfast foods. These long-tail keywords would be great for a health food company to use on their blog and build a cluster around.
Overall, the goal of of this step is to identify keywords that connect with your brand, have high search volume and you are able to rank for. With the keyword research complete, you can now move onto the next step which is determining an overarching topic for your cluster.
2. Determine An Overarching Topic
Through the keyword research process you should be able to determine an overarching topic to focus on. You know who your audience is, you know what they are searching for, and you’ve done the keyword research so you know which keywords have high search volumes and which ones you can rank for.
From there, it should be easy to narrow it down to a few topics you can start with. It is important to pick a topic that has an opportunity for a lot of content to be produced around it. If you choose too narrow of a topic that it could be hard to produce an in-depth bank of content around that topic.
On the other hand, you don’t want your overall topic to be too broad either. It is important to find the balance between the two and come up with a theme that is relevant to your brand and audience, but that also has a lot of content that can be written about it.
3. Create Article Topics In The Cluster
Now that you have an overarching topic, it is time to come up with the core article topics in the cluster. These topics need to support and ladder up to the overall topic and the title of the articles should have the long-tail keyword in them. So, if you were creating an article topic around the keyword: how to eat healthy breakfast, your title could be ‘The Ultimate Guide On How To Eat A Healthy Breakfast’.
As you can see, the long-tail keyword is included in the title. That way people are more likely to click on your article if the keyword is included in the title. In addition, this tactic helps with SEO efforts as your article is more likely to show up higher in the search if the title includes the keyword that is being searched.
A question that people often ask is: how many topics should be in a content cluster? As a general rule of thumb, the minimum amount of topics that should be in a content cluster is 4 long-form articles (2,000+ words). But, there is certainly no limit to the amount of topics that can be in the cluster.
In fact, the more topics, the better. Don’t focus on the amount of topics in your cluster, simply focus on what your audience will want to know and how can you give them all the information possible on that subject. Go-indepth into these topics so that you have every angle covered.
For example, one article in your healthy breakfast cluster will be ‘The Ultimate Guide on How To Eat A Healthy Breakfast’. If in that article you will be speaking about how eggs are a good way to get protein in the morning than you could do an additional topic just focusing on eggs titled ‘Why Eggs Are A Great Healthy Breakfast Option’.
By continuing to go deeper into one subject you are able to create an extensive library of relevant and useful content for your audience. Not to mention that Google will reward you for your thorough information.
4. Produce High-Quality Long-Form Articles
In the production phase you will actually be creating the content. While you can create short-form content (700-800 words) for these clusters, we have seen this strategy be more successful when creating long-form articles (2,000+ words). But, if 700-800 words is enough to explain all of the information about that topic than that works too.
It is important to remember quality over quantity. Google doesn’t care if you have 3,000 words on a topic if the content isn’t relevant or if it doesn’t bring value to readers. So while 2,000+ word articles perform better, they need to be well-written, engaging, and pertinent to the topic.
Ensuring that your content is high-quality not only matters for SEO value, but also for keeping your readers engaged. If you aren’t producing excellent content, the audience won’t want to continue to read what you are posting. By consistently having great content, your audience will want to continue to subscribe and it will be more likely that they will purchase your products down the road.
Related: How Long Should A Blog Post Be?
In addition, throughout this article we’ve been using the examples of articles as content, but the content in the cluster doesn’t have to just be limited to blogs. We’ve seen the cluster strategy work best with blogs, but you can utilize any other piece of content that relates to the topic to include in a cluster. Whether it be an infographic, quiz, or research study the more content you have on one subject the better.
After the content has been written, a great tool to use is called MarketMuse. One great feature that MarketMuse has is called the content analyzer. It allows you to input your content, the focus topic and title of your article and it will analyze your content and compare it to other articles on the web that are similar.
It will show you the content depth score, the average content score and the best content score compared to other similar content on the internet. After that it will provide you with a list of keywords that other content has and isn’t included in yours. These keywords are shown because of their relevance to your topic. By incorporating those additional keywords you will be creating more comprehensive content and increase your ranking in the search because your content is more relevant to the search query.
Finally, once you’ve finished the production on your content it is time to execute an internal linking strategy.
5. Execute An Internal Linking Strategy
Although this is the last step, it is certainly not the least import. In fact, some might even say it is the most important. Creating a technical internal linking strategy can make or break your content cluster. What is an internal linking strategy you ask? It is actually quite simple in principle, it is linking web pages together through anchor text. Anchor text is the text on webpages that is highlighted in blue and underlined. See below ‘Google study’ is blue and highlighted.
This anchor text links out to another web page that leads readers to another piece of relevant information that connects with the initial article. This step in the content cluster process is so crucial because Google uses internal linking to see what a particular page is about. In addition, if you link to a page with a specific anchor text, you can improve the chances that the page will rank for that specific keyword.
When you are determining which anchor text to use, be mindful of where that link is going. You wouldn’t want to link anchor text to a completely irrelevant page. If you wanted to link out to the article ‘The Ultimate Guide on How To Eat A Healthy Breakfast’ you would want to use an anchor text that relates to the article. For example, ‘how to eat a healthy breakfast’ or ‘eating a healthy breakfast’.
Each article in the content cluster should link to each other with specific anchor text. This anchor text should be the same in each article as to make the internal linking strategy stronger and heighten the change that anchor text will rank for that individual article. By creating an organized internal linking strategy, it will not only support SEO efforts, but allow your audience to consistently be lead to additional engaging content.
Now that you know what a content cluster is, how you can create one, and the value it will bring to your brand, try this strategy and let us know how it goes. As mentioned, the five steps of creating a content cluster are: conducting SEO research, determining an overarching topic/theme, create article topics in the cluster, produce high-quality long-form articles, and execute an internal linking strategy. If you have any questions, feel free to comment and we will answer any questions you have.