Touted as the “next evolution of SEO,” there has been increasing buzz showing up online and across social media platforms around cluster content. The idea is simple: create online content that is focused around one central idea, whereby together, the hyperlinks create a cluster of related, interlinking information. You do this by crafting a series of interlinked web pages that are closely related to one pillar idea or broad topic and then have several smaller, but related sub-topics.
If it sounds complex, don’t worry, it is simpler than you think. And the simplicity and efficiency of it in allowing you to share content, while simultaneously bringing in more readers and traffic to your site, is exactly why you need to be implementing it into your content marketing strategy. But the first thing is coming up with ideas for your clusters.
While you could simply focus on coming up with cluster topics like you do blog post topics – writing list posts, offering tips, answer questions etc. – before you take that route, there is a more imperative area of your business that needs your attention that presents as the perfect place to find and create pillar content.
#1. Start with Your Purpose
Most people are building pillar pages and creating clusters to try to achieve a few different things:
- Help increase traffic to their blog or website
- Gain new followers or new email subscribers
- Gain new leads to try to sell their product or service
- Improve their community and target the right audience
The common thread amongst all of these is that the visitors want to know about your brand, product, service or basic purpose of your website. Why is the site there, what is it trying to do and why should I stay on it?
One of the first clusters you can create is based around answering this question and helping give insights to your readers into your business and what it offers. You can think of it as a glorified “about me,” or “get to know me” page, which is solely focused around the business.
If you are running a prepared meal delivery business, for example, addressing this purpose aspect via cluster content and pillar pages allows you to answer the basics of your services and make sure the viewer understands what you do. In addressing this, your main pillar content page may be titled “Prepared Meals: Why You Need Them and How They Will Change Your Life”. Your cluster topics or subtopics could be examples, such as the following:
- The Need-to-Know Details on Signing up for a Meal Delivery Service
- Why Prepared Meals Aren’t Just for the Working Parents
- How to Fit Prepared Meals into Any Budget
- 4 Ways Prepared Meals Can Help You Eat Healthier
In creating these clusters, you address what your products are, who you are aiming to service, and associated other details, such as cost and health benefits. Collectively, these are several of the typical areas you would try to address in a single, boring about me page on your website, but now you have improved your site’s content, allowed interlinking so that the reader will explore your product further, as well as encouraged them to stay on your site longer, which boosts your SEO.
In addition to giving them more about you, however, this is the area where you can also start to create the emotional connection with your audience that is crucial in driving your business. In a case study by Harvard Business Review, working with a major apparel retailer, driving emotional connection across the business allowed them to decrease their customer attrition rate from 37% to 33% and gain 15% more new customers.
When you use an emotional connection, try to write on topics that emphasize specifically why a particular person needs your product – personalize your words, be genuine and write as if you are actually talking to someone. This will give you better results with your content which generates better business and opens up another large selection of topic ideas. Continuing with Harvard’s example and using sales of apparel, you could use these cluster topic ideas:
- 4 Reasons Why we Focus on Building Your Capsule Wardrobe
- Why You Should Feel Better About Your Choice to Buy Our Organic Pieces of Cotton
These topics go back to allowing you to focus on the purpose of your business while creating an emotional connection and telling the consumer why they should be choosing you and your company.
#2. Add Value
And convincing consumers to choose your business is an important part of a successful website and another area of focus for your pillar pages and cluster content. When the purpose of your business and web page is to sell a product or service, you hit a big obstacle: why should the consumer choose your product and visit your site over somebody else’s. A great way to help the reader answer this is through pillar content and appropriate cluster topics.
Cluster topics in this area, focus on adding value for the reader and building trust and authority towards your brand. They are focused on convincing the reader that you know what you are talking about, you know what you are doing, and that you can be trusted as a credible source of information and products. This is your opportunity to geek out a bit and talk about what you love, but also to build up a foundation for the customer that perpetuates them on their buying journey from simply a website viewer, to a lead, to a new customer.
For example, let’s say that you are selling content marketing and trying to convince readers to purchase your services to help them generate the best content for their website. In adding value and building authority, your pillar and cluster content may look something like this:
While simultaneously offering information about your products and services, building trust and authority towards your brand and offering the opportunity for emotional connection with the reader, this is a very strategic use of cluster topics. It can go a long way in boosting your business and greatly help improve the SEO of your site.
#3. Keep Them Onboard
Once you have brought in the leads, built their trust and have slowly started to generate them into customers (all through pillar pages and content clusters of course), another important aspect of your business comes down to keeping them around and making sure they remain as a customer. This comes back to the emotional connection you crafted earlier, but also comes down to giving them a reason to stay – something to look forward to, something new, or an interesting aspect that piques their curiosity.
Part of this, of course, comes from new products or services you introduce or allude to introducing soon, but this is also the section where you need to get creative and use catchy headlines and titles that grab people’s attention. For example, keeping people on board as customers for your content marketing business could involve cluster topics such as these:
- The Top Content Marketing Tips of 2018
- The Secret Content Marketing Tactic You’ve Never Heard of
- Why Your Content is Turning Customers Away and How to Bring Them Back
Each of these evokes an emotional connection in the reader, but simultaneously has them wanting to know more, and potentially even thinking about how they could use your services to improve their own business – especially if you are going to be able to offer them secrets and top strategies.
While there are many different ways you could focus on coming up with cluster topics, using the approach above helps you accomplish several things:
- It allows you as the owner to get really clear on the specifics of your brand, business, and products so that you can ensure you stay within these appropriate confines.
- It helps you build up business by creating valuable content that sells your product, brings in more traffic and builds authority.
- It gives you several areas to expand on in the future, working out from each cluster over time, for example through blog posts or as you add new products.
Essentially this method gives you cluster topics but also gives you more business, and in the end, that is exactly what you want your pillar content and clusters to achieve.