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
- 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.