Feeling stuck when it comes to creating content? Here’s a simple guide to streamlining your content and SEO strategy with pillars and clusters.

Life’s busy, right? I don’t know about you, but I feel it’s getting busier by the minute.

You know there are soooo many things you ‘should’ be doing. Your ever-expanding to-do list is a testament to that. When you’re busy juggling daily tasks, the struggle to create consistent, valuable marketing content can be a burden. Especially high-quality content that connects with your ideal customer and helps move you up the search engine ranks. 

Enter the content pillar and cluster content model. If you’re struggling with content creation and Google rankings, you’ll want to incorporate this strategy into your content marketing ASAP.

Why? Because the pillar and cluster approach helps you streamline your content creation process. Done correctly, you can map out your content strategy a couple of months in advance and improve your search engine ranking.

How? To understand how it works we need to look at the individual components. So, let’s dive into the ins and outs of how this model can streamline your marketing strategy and work toward improving your search engine rankings.

What is the pillar and cluster model, and how can it help your SEO strategy?

The pillar and cluster content strategy involves grouping your content into related pieces of information. Each article delivers your message in digestible, interconnected chunks. When linked together these articles provide an in-depth answer to the question your customers are asking. The SEO superpower in this strategy is internal linking. The connected content helps Google identify new content when it crawls your site and builds on your authority of a subject.

The strategy gains its magical powers when you combine three elements:

Pillar pages + cluster content + hyperlinks.

Before we go any further, it’s important to state that you need to do keyword research with any content you create for your website. A strong keyword strategy is vital for this content model to work. Start by researching and deciding the key topic and sub-topics you want to communicate to your target audience. You can find a list of free and paid keyword search tools in my SEO content writing article.

What are pillar pages, and how can they help you?

Ok, let’s look at pillar pages first.

Pillar pages are the foundation of this strategy. This topic should centre on a short-tail keyword you want to rank for. Tip: this doesn’t have to be one that you can easily rank for – when linked correctly, your cluster pieces will help to build your authority on the topic and help to grow your ranking organically.

In this pillar article, you explore the topic in depth. A pillar page is a long-form (1000 – 1200 words, minimum) article that covers a broad topic you want to communicate to your audience.

This content should be evergreen and high-quality. While you want Google and other search engines to like your site, you want your audience (i.e., prospective clients) to LOVE it. Remember – you need to write for humans first.

You format this article with lots of sub-headings that include the long-tail keywords relating to the pillar topic.

These sub-headings should be one or two paragraphs long and will link to the cluster article that explores the topic in-depth.

Next, we have the cluster topic articles.

Cluster articles are short-form (600 – 800 words) articles that cover the long-tail keyword sub-headings from the pillar article. These are the meat on the bones of this strategy. Each cluster article should explore the topic in-depth and answer your ideal customer’s question.

Cluster articles serve many purposes, including:

Help establish authority. Creating content around a topic (especially if it’s highly searched) that answers your target audience’s needs helps establish you as an authority. By diving in-depth, you position yourself or your brand as an expert.

Improve search engine rankings. When information is logically connected, search engines can better understand your content and see the value it offers — and so it improves your content’s visibility. When linked to your pillar page, cluster content allows you to target relevant keywords, improving your chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPS).

Enhances user experience. Structured and organised content improves the user experience. It keeps them engaged for longer (you want people on your site for as long as possible, as this indicates to search engines that you deliver helpful content). Related articles help your audience navigate and find answers quickly.

Increase engagement. Various content formats within a cluster, such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media posts, help keep your audience engaged and interested in the topic. This can lead to increased shares, comments, and engagement.

Easy content repurposing. Clustered content is easy to repurpose into different formats across different platforms. You save time by creating a bank of content around a particular topic.

Now, give your strategy superpowers with links.

Linking is the superpower that connects all the topics and helps your search engine rankings. Linking related content pieces through internal links can help increase website engagement, boost your SEO, and establish you as an authority.

It won’t happen overnight, but connecting related content whenever you create it means your content will do the heavy lifting for you. You’ll have in-depth content that talks to your ideal customer and shows them how you can solve their problem. They see that your site contains helpful information and explore it to learn more.

They may not convert to a buyer immediately, but they will see that you are a trusted authority on the topic they need help with. And that’s half the battle won.

Benefits of using a pillar and cluster content strategy

The pillar and cluster framework can help you:

  • streamline your content creation strategy, making it easier for you to produce high-quality content that resonates with your target audience consistently
  • identify any content gaps or content that duplicates keywords. Creating articles on a specific topic helps reduce repetitive content
  • improve your search engine rankings. An SEO strategy that focuses on topics rather than keywords makes it easier for Google to determine that your site is credible and you’re an authority on the topic
  • drive more organic traffic to your site (less need for paid ads)
  • establish you as an authority in your industry (Google loves EEAT!)
  • create targeted marketing campaigns. Identifying key topics that show how your products or service solve problems for your target audience enables you to provide valuable, helpful content for them
  • measure campaign success. Linking content makes it easier to measure campaign success by tracking key performance indicators, such as website traffic and behaviour, engagement, and conversions

A quick recap…

Step 1: Do your keyword research. What question do you want to answer for your ideal customer?

Step 2: Decide the topic for your pillar page based on a short-tail keyword.

Step 3: Plan your cluster articles based on the long-tail keyword sub-headings in the pillar article.

Step 4: Link your articles whenever you create a new cluster article. Ensure you update the pillar page with the link to the cluster article too.

Step 5: Share your content. You can share as:

  • Short text posts
  • Infographics
  • Video snippets
  • Instagram tiles
  • Q&A posts

So, when you’re next at your desk, pulling your hair out trying to decide your next content piece, apply a strategic approach. Though it takes a time investment at the start, the pillar and cluster model can be a game changer for delivering high-quality content that helps your ideal customer and your search engine rankings.

How does Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) help get your content seen?

Want to master the art of getting your content seen through search engine optimisation? It’s easy to do with a bit of planning and strategy.

You diligently created content for months and added it to your website for all the world to see. Then you waited for the traffic to flow to your site and the sales to roll on in. But…the traffic hasn’t arrived, people aren’t engaging and converting, and the sales aren’t hitting the bank. What went wrong?

In previous posts, I’ve looked at authentic communication and defining your tone of voice to engage your target audience. In this post, I look at how search engine optimisation helps your content get found and improves your ranking on a search engine results page (SERP). 

SEO is a complex beast and a long game! There are no easy fixes – ranking well takes time and patience and has many puzzle pieces. Nobody can promise you guaranteed results – anyone who does may be taking you for a ride.

Content creation is one piece of the SEO puzzle. I’m a copywriter, not an SEO website developer so it makes sense that this post will focus on SEO copy, not technical SEO. 

What elements impact your website’s search engine rankings? 

There are many SEO ranking factors. Broadly, they fall under:         

Technical SEO: As the name implies, technical SEO relates to the technical aspects of a website, such as loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and crawlability, to ensure search engines can find your site and index it. 

Link building (also known as off-page SEO): shows search engines that your site is credible. When other websites link to your site, it can improve its authority and credibility. HOWEVER…backlinks can also harm your site. You want reputable, credible sites linking to you— gone are the days of the more backlinks, the better. You want links from sites with high domain authority to help your site, not hinder it.

Content creation (also known as on-page SEO): This is where you can take simple steps to increase your ranking. You want high-quality, relevant, engaging keyword-rich (without keyword stuffing) content to satisfy the reader’s search intent. The longer people stay on your site engaging with content shows the search engines that you have valuable content. This can help increase your SERP ranking. 

How do you optimise your content to improve your SEO ranking? 

It can be disheartening when all your hard work doesn’t result in the returns you were expecting. It’s hard not to become despondent, throw it all in, pack your bags and head off to live on a commune off-grid (perhaps a little melodramatic, but you know the feeling, right?).

Credible, engaging and valuable content targeted at your ideal customer is a powerful tool to get your brand noticed. The right content can help you attract customers, generate and convert leads, build relationships and position you as a thought leader. So how do you make it work for you once it’s out on the interwebs?

As mentioned above, content is only one factor that impacts your SEO ranking, but a good place to start is keyword research.

Keyword research is an essential part of content marketing and SEO. When creating content, it’s important to use keywords relevant to your product or service so potential customers can find you. You’ll need to understand the words and phrases your ideal customer uses when searching for your product or service. Once you know the primary words they use, you can compile a list of synonyms – similar words or terms people use to search for your products.

There are lots of tools to help you with your keyword research. Such as:

  • Google’s Keyword Planner
  • Ubersuggest
  • Answer The Public
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Semrush
  • Ahrefs

Keyword planning tools range in price and functionality, so it’s best to look around and see which best suits your needs and budget. As with everything, the more you pay, the more features you get. 

If your budget is a little tight right now, you’ll find a more extensive list of free tools here. A really quick and easy place to get started is by typing your search phrase into Google and looking at the related searches at the bottom of the page:

When you’ve decided on your keywords and synonyms, you optimise your content by including them in:

  • your page title
  • headlines and headings (H1, H2)
  • the page URL or permalink
  • image titles
  • image alt text 
  • the first 100 words of your text

Once you’ve done your keyword research, it’s time to start writing content that not only uses the right keywords but also provides value to your readers. 

Focus on quality content, not quantity

Quality trumps quantity when it comes to creating content. There’s no point creating copious amounts of content if it isn’t engaging and informative. Content for the sake of content is, well…just content. Your content needs to answer your customers’ needs and offer value.

The Google bots look for EEAT when trawling the interwebs for quality content. What’s EEAT, you ask? It’s a principle. When the Google bots trawl the internet, they look for content that’s going to add value for the searcher:

E – Experience. Does the content reflect your experience in the subject?

E – Expertise. Does the content highlight your expertise on the subject and back that up with credible facts?

A – Authority. Are you an authority to write about the subject? Have you written about it before, or can you demonstrate how you’re an authority on the subject? 

T – Trust. Can you link to testimonials and social proof that demonstrates your brand is trustworthy?

To help your content capture attention, cover topics that appeal to your target audience —this will help widen the scope of potential customers and subscribers you’ll reach. Focus on creating quality, expert posts and articles that your audience will find valuable instead of churning out generic posts that don’t stand out from the crowd. 

Provide value by offering actionable advice or new insights and perspectives on a particular topic. This could be interviews with experts in your industry, case studies that highlight customer successes, or data insights and analysis of current trends that relate to your product or service. 

Also, use visuals that illustrate the value of your content. These can be images and infographics that engage readers while helping them digest the key takeaways. This leads to my next point…

Use optimised visuals throughout your content to break up text

Incorporating visuals like photos, graphics and videos into your content is a great way to capture attention and stop your ideal customer from scrolling on. They’re great for emphasising important points or breaking up longer text pieces. People process visual information faster than text, so images are often more effective at capturing and keeping people’s attention. 

Images should contribute to your overall message. When selecting images for your content, choose ones that are relevant to your topic and are high quality. If an image adds clarity or emphasises important points, then go for it. If not, avoid cluttering your blog with lots of unnecessary photos or videos.

If you’re creating content for your socials, using images and videos is vital. Hootsuite report that 47% of adults prefer content in the form of images. Just make sure the visuals you use are relevant and appropriate for the platform you’re posting on — what works for Facebook won’t necessarily work for LinkedIn and vice versa.  

47% of adults prefer content in the form of images


2023 Guide to Creating Stunning Visual Content for Social Media

Use keywords in engaging headings to make readers stop the scroll 

Your content needs an eye-catching and engaging title to stand out from the crowd. Keep in mind that the title is important for getting readers to engage with your content and can also impact how search engines rank it. Make sure your titles are concise and catchy, and use relevant keywords. Also, posing your title as a question can help you land a Google featured snippet.

If you’re creating an article, alternate between focus keywords and synonyms in the title, sub-headings and throughout the body of the text. For videos, add relevant keywords to your video titles and transcripts. When labelling images, make sure you include your focus keyword. Finally, ensure your headings accurately represent what you’re talking about so your readers aren’t disappointed when they click on them. 

There are loads of headline generator tools to help you with this task. Just Google headline generator and take your pick! I also like to use Coschedule Headline Analyser to rate headlines that are generally more appealing to readers and more likely to rank higher in search results.

Not strictly SEO, but…make use of your social media platforms

You’ve put in the hard work of producing valuable, scroll-stopping content – now it’s time to get it out there. Take advantage of your social media following on whichever platforms you market yourself. 

Take time to research what type of content performs best on each platform. Then create a social media strategy that includes repurposing your online content with a compelling call to action. This will increase the visibility of your content, encourage engagement and help you reach more potential customers.

Need help with search engine optimisation of your website content?

If you need help optimising your content to achieve more Google love, get in touch. I’d love to help you with one piece of the SEO puzzle!

How Can a Content Writer Help Your Business Find Its Tone of Voice? 

Think about the businesses or brands you interact with regularly. What’s their communication style? Are they friendly and personable, or serious and to the point? How do you feel when you interact with their content? Do they communicate in a way you expect them to? 

The tone of voice a business uses plays a significant role in how customers and potential customers view them. That’s why you need to find your business’s unique tone of voice and use it in all your communications—from website copy to blog posts to social media captions and even internal communication. 

So, what is tone of voice in business communication? 

Tone of voice refers to the overall feeling your business content conveys. It should be consistent across all platforms and align with your brand identity. A well-defined tone of voice will help you build trust and credibility with your target audience and differentiate you from your competitors.

How can a content writer help you find your tone of voice? 

As a business owner, you already have enough on your plate, juggling all the balls and keeping your business afloat. When there aren’t enough hours in the day, and you feel you don’t have enough hands to keep all the balls in the air, how can you ensure your business communication and tone of voice are on point? 

That’s where a content writer can help you. A content writer will work with you to find your tone of voice by helping you to:

  • understand your target audience
  • define your positioning statement
  • clarify your product/service features and benefits
  • generate a customer avatar
  • establish brand, tone and writing guides.

From there, they can craft copy that accurately reflects your unique personality and ensure your business communication is consistent. 

Your business’s tone of voice is an essential part of its brand identity—and it’s something that should be carefully crafted and maintained over time.

If you’re unsure where to start or how to keep things consistent, it’s worth looking into working with a content writer to help ensure your content accurately reflects your brand.

Need help nailing your tone of voice? 

Get in touch to schedule a free discovery chat. In this 20-minute call, we’ll discuss what you need and see how I can help you.

If you decide you’d like to work with me, I’ll send you a document for you to complete before we have our briefing call. We’ll talk through the document in our call to ensure I understand your business. Then I’ll get to work. I’ll check in with you throughout the process to ensure I’m on the right track and you’re happy.

It’s a bit of a time investment upfront that could save you hours in the long run and help build your brand credibility.

Drop me an email at info@jacquisumner.com if you’d like to learn more.

Authenticity in business writing. What is it and how do you achieve it?

In business, authenticity is key to building trust with your customers. Customers can smell BS from a mile away, right? They see through empty marketing speak and phony promises and call it out. As a customer, you know when a business isn’t genuine, and it doesn’t instil trust or inspire you to do business with them, does it?

A Stackla consumer content report revealed that 86% of respondents said authenticity was important when deciding which brand to support. While authenticity ranked high across the generations, Millennials valued authenticity the most at 90%, followed by Gen X at 85% and Baby Boomers at 80%.

That’s why it’s so important for you to be authentic in your business communications. But what does it mean to be authentic, and how can you embed it in your brand? 

First. Be True to Yourself

The first step to being more authentic in your business writing is to be true to yourself.

As one of my favourite quotes states:

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” 

After all, you’re the point of difference to your competitors, right? No one else can do you.

The tone of your writing communicates your brand’s personality. How do you want customers to feel about your brand? More importantly, how do you feel about your brand and the message you want to send to your customers?

Not being true to yourself can mean you miss out on attracting your ideal customer. If you write with a particular tone because you think you need to sound professional to impress your audience, you could be turning away the customer your service or product is designed for.

This means being honest about who you are, what you do, and what you offer. 

Be genuine in your communication and your interactions

Think about how you talk to your ideal customer. Are you relaxed and casual, perhaps throwing in a swear word here or there? Or are you more old-school, where you were told never to swear in front of customers? 

What works for your brand? What works for one organisation won’t work for another. For example, a finance institution targeting Gen Xers generally won’t use the same tone as a casual clothing brand that targets Gen Z. This is all part of finding and deciding on your business tone of voice

Whatever your style, get comfortable with it, own it, and communicate your brand message in that tone—whether that’s old school or new age. An authentic tone of voice will shine through and attract your ideal customer. 

But being authentic isn’t just about your tone of voice. Authenticity means being genuine in your daily interactions and getting to know your customers and their needs. 

Don’t always go in with the hard sell. If you’re a member of an online forum and someone asks a question in your area of expertise, offer advice and support free of charge. Be prepared to forgo short-term profit to build lifetime customer trust. Karley Beadman consistently does this on Findheronlinedirectory.com.

Educate and inform instead of push. Don’t try to beat someone over the head with your product or service. If you educate correctly, the customer will understand how your product or service can help them.

Respond to queries in a timely and personal manner. 

Be transparent about your business processes and prices. Honesty and transparency go a long way toward building trust with your customers. 

By being genuine in your interactions and authentic in your communication, you’ll show your customers they’re more than just another sale; they’re valued members of your community.

Then they’ll make a buying decision.

Be consistent with your message

Once you’ve decided your tone of voice, your message must be consistent. This means staying true to your brand voice and values across all communications. Whether you’re sending an email newsletter or posting on socials, ensure the message you’re sending is consistent with the image you want to project. By being consistent in your message, you’ll build trust and credibility with your customers. 

Customers want to know that they can trust the businesses they’re dealing with. The best way to build that trust is by being truthful, transparent, and consistent in everything you do.

Need help delivering authentic business content?

Get in touch. I’d love to help you out.

I’m Doing What? The Bumpy Ride to Becoming a Freelance Writer

As a newbie on the freelance writing scene, I was a bit overwhelmed when trying to figure out what to write in my first blog. Unlike those who come before me, I have no words of wisdom to impart. I can’t offer ’10 best tips to make your content pop’ or ‘5 tried and true strategies to write killer prose’. Well, I probably could, but nowhere near as well as the myriad of professionals with years more experience already have.

So I thought I would write just a little about my journey to becoming my own boss and touch on some of the inspiration and support networks that help keep me sane.

First, the emotions. I don’t know if anyone agrees, but the manic fluctuations of feelings such a career change incites are like being stuck on a malfunctioning sideshow ride! Has anyone else experienced the merry-go-round of elation and terror?

Elation as I feel like a boss because I finally took the leap to do something I love, even when it meant leaving a steady, secure income to go out on a limb–well before I was ready (yep, you read that right…crazy, huh?).

Then terror as reality hits.

I’m doing what?!

What if I’m no good?

What if I fail?

What if people see me for what I am…a fraud? (of course, the sane me knows that’s not true but try explaining that to the curled in a foetal position, questioning my sanity, me. There’s no getting through to that maniac).

Then as the calm returns, I look to the sources I drew inspiration from to give me a gentle reminder of why I am doing this.

I did my research. My Business Plan was feasible. It’s time to Just.Do.It.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

This saying is commonly misattributed to Mark Twain. However, it’s believed writer H. Jackson Brown Jr is the correct author (ref: Quoteinvestigator)

I’ve always loved this quote. I used to have it stuck on my wardrobe to remind me every morning not to be afraid to take chances.

Inspiration that helped me start my freelance journey

Aside from having a trusty inspirational quote to motivate me, I also drew immense inspiration from two champions for female entrepreneurs whose books changed the direction of my life. 

Image: Goodreads

Winging It by Business Chicks Global CEO, Emma Issacs. Emma’s book taught me to stop thinking about it and just do it.

Image: Goodreads

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. Marie’s book taught me to believe in what I have to offer and reinforced Emma’s message of just getting on with it. Don’t wait for the right minute because there is never a right minute.

Freelance support networks I can’t live without

I also subscribe to professional networks to bounce ideas off and keep myself accountable. 

I laugh when I look back to when I started on my own and what I thought I knew about running a business. Especially a copywriting business. Thankfully I stumbled across the brilliant Clever Copywriting School early in my market research. Headed by one of the most generous, supportive and kind (not to mention funny) people, Kate Toon, this community of like-minded copy beasts is an endless source of support, inspiration and it’s a safe place to laugh, cry or scream about the joys and despair of being your own boss. Besides this wonderful community, Kate also heads up The Digital Masterchefs and The Recipe for SEO Success. In her own words, Kate is: “…an award-winning misfit entrepreneur who works with small businesses and big brands to transform their online presence: through powerful SEO, captivating content and all the right digital marketing moves.”

Another inspirational powerhouse is Karley Beadman. Founder of the Findher online business directory, Karley is a Certified Practising Marketer with a Master of Marketing. Karley established FindHer Online Business as an online networking community for women-led businesses in Australia and the FindHer online business directory to drive website traffic. She is selfless with her time and constantly provides tips and tricks while encouraging women to support each other in business. She is a true gem.

I’m a member of the fabulous networking group, Business Chicks #businesschicks. The support from this bunch of talented, caring, generous women is great. And the access to online masterclasses, professional resources, and events is well worth the small annual investment to become a premium member.

I can’t recommend accessing a support network strongly enough. Make sure you have a strong network you can call on for support. Whatever form that takes. One of the best remedies to those inevitable bouts of self-doubt is to connect with people in similar positions. Knowing you’re not alone makes all the difference in the world.

Oh, and my fantastic network of personal supporters – my family and friends who provide an abundance of support, encouragement and love. I honestly would not be here without them. I’m eternally grateful for their love and support.

How about you? What was your journey to self-employment like? Are you still heading toward that path? Where did you draw your inspiration from? 

Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about your experience.  

Disclaimer: I have not received payment from any of the above sources. These are purely my saviours on my freelance journey!