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Need an SEO Boost? Discover How Content Clusters Can Help

Regarding search engine optimization (SEO), content clusters, also known as topic clusters, are worth considering as part of your content strategy, especially if you are trying to show your expertise to Google. When used correctly, content clusters can help elevate your website's search engine ranking.

But what are content clusters, and how do you master them?

Business people are working on the floor at a creative workspace, laying out a content cluster web page.

This article will help you understand whether a content cluster strategy can help you achieve your marketing and website goals.

Be warned that organizing your website's content into topic clusters demands time and dedication. Yet, this time and investment will pay off, regardless of your website's age or stage of development.

For partners who are at the beginning of their digital presence, content clusters offer a robust framework around which to craft website content.

While a seasoned website is struggling with SEO, this strategy is the perfect option to help with content reorganization and can potentially boost search engine visibility.

Are you ready to learn more about content clusters and discover a step-by-step approach to refine your website's SEO strategy?

What defines a content cluster?

A content cluster is built from a group of web pages and blog posts focused on a specific topic.

At the core, there is a pillar page that typically outlines the specific topic, and then it is surrounded by multiple pages supporting the topic.

This may remind you of cornerstone content, where pillar pages are the foundational elements that interlink related content on a given subject.

Going further than the traditional cornerstone content, content clusters, and their associated pillar pages allow you to introduce a more structured approach to organizing your online content.

By pulling together your content into well-defined clusters, you're not just cleaning up your website's layout but also asserting your expertise in the subject matter.

This will allow you to demonstrate to Google and your audience that you possess a wealth of knowledge on that topic.

When executed correctly, content clusters can help you build a solid foundation for your SEO efforts and significantly enhance your search rankings.

If you have many topics you want to talk about, featuring multiple content clusters allows you to showcase your authority across these subjects.

But don’t forget that each cluster should remain a dynamic component of your content strategy.

This could be in response to emerging trends within your industry or new queries from your audience, ensuring your content remains relevant and authoritative.

Example of a content cluster page

Let's bring this concept to life with a practical touch.

For example, a Microsoft Dynamics partner website might have a topic cluster around upgrading to Cloud ERP:

Example of a content cluster page

When is it appropriate to implement content clusters?

As previously mentioned, content clusters effectively organize your website's content, though they're not the sole strategy available.

With various content structuring techniques at your disposal, determining whether content clusters suit your needs is crucial.

For websites that establish authority within their industry, topic clusters stand out as a particularly strategic choice.

They allow for targeting more niche, less competitive keywords, often referred to as long-tail keyphrases.

While the allure of focusing solely on your primary keywords exists, leveraging these niche keyphrases can attract initial traffic to your site.

Upon establishing your key content clusters and witnessing an uptick in traffic, predominantly through these long-tail keyphrases, you'll likely observe an overall improvement in your site's search rankings.

This progress not only boosts your visibility for primary keywords but also elevates Google's recognition of your site as an authoritative source within your field. Consequently, this enhances the ranking potential of your individual pages.

Moreover, content clusters simplify Google's task of deciphering your website's structure and the interrelation of your content, fostering a clearer understanding of your site's hierarchy.

Google encourages you to demonstrate your expertise

Google, along with other search engines, aims to deliver the most relevant and superior content to its users, addressing their queries and guiding them to the information they seek.

By consistently producing high-quality content within your area of expertise, you broaden the spectrum of keywords that can be used to discover your website.

An extensive library of content allows Google to better understand the interconnections within your site, enhancing its grasp of your website's structure.

This, in turn, elevates your authority on those subjects, a factor gaining increased significance as Google emphasizes the E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) and helpful content standards in evaluating website content.

Incorporating these elements into your content strategy is essential for aligning with Google's evaluation criteria.

A guide to creating content clusters

Understanding the initial steps is crucial if you're contemplating the incorporation of content clusters into your website strategy.

Begin by identifying your pillar pages, essentially determining the core subjects you aim to cover.

What are the primary areas of knowledge you wish to share? In which domains does your expertise primarily reside?

Then, dedicate time to this foundational stage, as it significantly influences your site's overall structure.

Conduct keyword research

Identifying your primary topics begins with a thorough keyword research process, which we highly recommend.

The beauty of keyword research lies in its ability to pinpoint your main themes and provide ample inspiration for additional content within your clusters.

These pieces will be interconnected through links from your pillar page.

Once you've established your pillar pages, strategize around your long-tail keyphrases, integrating several into each pillar page to enrich its scope and connectivity.

Map out your web page

At this stage, it’s a good idea to consult with your UX designer once you have a preliminary vision for your pillar pages and their associated content, as there's a wide array of stylistic approaches to structuring your content clusters.

Consider whether your pillar pages will serve as comprehensive directories to other content or if they'll dive directly into the main topic themselves.

We advocate for incorporating substantive content on the pillar pages to enhance their searchability for your primary keywords.

However, the final decision rests with you, depending on your unique strategy.

It's crucial to prioritize design and user experience (UX) to ensure these pages are user-friendly, catering not only to Google's algorithms but, more importantly, to your site visitors' needs.

Get writing

Once you have a clear plan for your content clusters, the next phase is to embark on the writing journey.

This step is pivotal, so approach it with the seriousness it deserves.

Initiate this process with your cornerstone pillar pages and progressively expand to include additional content.

Determine which clusters require immediate attention and methodically work your way through them.

It's important to acknowledge that developing your content clusters is an ongoing process that requires frequent updates to ensure your content remains relevant and engaging.

However, there will come a time when you can pause to reflect on the body of work you've accumulated and take pride in the expertise it reflects, showcasing the depth of knowledge your business holds in its core areas.

Remember to incorporate internal linking

A pivotal element of this approach is the practice of internal linking. Internal linking involves connecting one page on your website to another, a critical process in establishing your content clusters and signaling the relationship between various pieces of content to Google.

Here are several guidelines to bear in mind:

  • Ensure each page within a cluster links back to its respective pillar page.

  • Utilize pillar pages as a hub, directing traffic to the most significant pages within the cluster.

  • Minimize links to other pillar pages or content outside the cluster to maintain focus.

  • Internal linking helps user navigation and search engines understand the relationships and hierarchy among your content.

Proper management of these links is essential for clarifying to Google which content holds the most value, thereby avoiding issues like keyword cannibalization and incorrect page rankings.

While it might seem daunting, much of successful internal linking relies on logical thinking. Consider the structure and hierarchy of your content when establishing links.

Pillar pages should command the top position within their clusters, a status that should be evident through your linking strategy.

While it's permitted for content within a cluster to interlink or even connect with content in different clusters, restraint is key.

Aim to use internal linking to fortify your clusters rather than creating a web of indiscriminate connections.

Is a content cluster strategy right for you?

And that wraps up our discussion for the time being!

I trust that this article has shed light on the concept of content clusters, also known as topic clusters, and has helped you determine their suitability for your website and the potential benefits they hold for your SEO efforts.

The key takeaway is to organize your content to benefit your site visitors, and adopting content clusters is a strategy designed to achieve just that.

Are you considering incorporating content clusters into your website's structure, or have you already taken this step?

About the Author

As the co-founder of Marketeery, Jon Rivers brings 20+ years of experience working with Microsoft, Oracle/JDE Edwards, MSPs, Technology Partners, and ISVs to drive business growth and revenues.

Jon has been recognized as a partner community pioneer for his proven marketing skills in social media, SEO, strategy, and design. His passion for analytics runs deep; he loves understanding how traffic gets to the client’s website and how it performs.

He loves to write engaging content and works closely with our graphic designers to ensure the design elements stand out.

Jon also authors the eBook The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags for the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem. Grab a free copy now.

His technical background and sales and marketing skills allow him to understand solutions out of the gate and help drive better marketing campaigns.

Jon is a frequent speaker at many Microsoft-focused (Inspire, Directions, Community Summit) and technology events and serves on multiple boards, including the Directions North America Board, supporting the Dynamics 365 Community.



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