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!