When you think of content clustering—what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?
Yeah… we didn’t think about internal links and pillar posts either . Clustering sounds like it’s better left to chocolate and nuts, but it’s actually a content marketing strategy that can garner better rankings and conversions.
Content clustering uses pillar posts to drive conversions. We learned the ins-and-outs of content clustering from Aja Frost, the Senior Content Strategist on HubSpot’s SEO team. Thanks to Aja, we’ve been able to use content clustering to boost our own conversions, making us confident that this is a strategy you should know about.
For each pillar post in your cluster strategy, you’ll create several cluster posts that link to it. This creates a cluster of content on a specific topic and all links to the bigger, pillar post. The pillar post holds the weight of the team and is designed to be so awe-strikingly amazing that it boosts your conversions. The cluster posts are there to get more views on that pillar post and drive up its ranking in Google.
Let’s look at an example we can all get behind—puppies. An animal rescue could create a pillar post on “Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Dog.” Then, they could create cluster posts on, “What to Buy When Adopting a Dog,” “Where to Adopt a Dog,” “How to Adopt a Dog,” and “What Kind of Dog to Adopt.” (For this example, we’re going to assume these are all high-ranking keywords.)
Each of those cluster posts are going to link to the larger pillar post of “Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Dog.” That pillar post is going to have calls to action, like showing images of dogs that the shelter has for adoption—because who can resist puppies?!
That’s how you create a content cluster that drives conversions through your pillar post.
If this sounds like a good idea for your marketing strategy, here are the 5 steps to starting your own content cluster.
#1: Choose your pillar post topics
Your content cluster strategy starts with pillar posts that you’ll create content around. For example, a pillar post could be about content marketing, and then you’ll publish content that supports that pillar post. (For example, an article on content clusters .)
To figure out what your pillar topics should be, you want to look at the keywords that work best for your business. You want terms that are searched often and directly correlate to your products.
For example, if you’re an interior design decorator you’d consider keywords like “interior design for kitchens”, “decor for bathrooms, and “designing outdoor spaces”. These keywords would be your pillar posts and then you’d create your cluster content around it.
#2: Figure out your cluster post topics
Once you know what your pillar post topics are, you’re going to figure out what content can cluster around each post. For example, our interior designer can create content clusters like “decor for small kitchens” and “marble accented kitchens” around their pillar post for the keywords “interior design for kitchens”. Each of these clusters can point to the pillar post as a comprehensive post on everything someone needs to know about interior design for kitchens.
For each of your pillar posts you want to create at least 3 related articles that point back to it.
#3: Write your pillar post
Now comes the fun part! Put pen to paper (or outsource) writing your pillar post. Since your content clusters are going to point to this post through internal linking, you want to make sure that it’s seriously valuable content and a great representation of what your business has to offer through their products.
For example, we want our “Everything You Need to Know About Content Marketing” post to be exactly that—everything you need to know. We don’t want to sell you short by not coming through on the promise of our headline or by writing a subpar article. Your pillar post is going to drive the conversions, so you want to make it one of your best posts.
Since pillar posts tend to be longer than your cluster posts, make sure that you’re structuring them so they’re easy to read.
Use headers (H1, H2, H3, and H4), bold and italics, bullet points, images, emojis, and anything else that will help break up all of the text into something that’s easier to read. Feel free to reference our content marketing pillar post for an idea of how to do this.
#4: Write the cluster posts that surround it
With your first pillar post done, you can start writing the posts that will cluster around it. These don’t have to be as long as the pillar post and are generally more niched. You can still use the same structuring strategies (headers, bold, italics bullet points, etc.) to make sure these posts are interesting and engaging to read.
You’ll want at least three cluster posts and you need to make sure they all have internal links to your pillar post for that topic. For example, for our “Everything You Need to Know About Content Marketing” post, we want to hyperlink the word “content” or “content marketing” 1–3 times in our cluster posts.
You can still hyperlink to other posts (and even cluster posts for other topics) in your cluster post, but you want to make sure the link to the pillar post is there—that’s kind of the whole point .
And just like that, you have your very own content cluster.
We can’t take credit for this strategy and have to thank Aja Frost at HubSpot for showing us the content marketing strategy that gets rankings and conversions these days.