Wondering exactly how content clusters affect your SEO? We’re sharing everything you need to know about content clusters and how they can benefit your overall SEO strategy.
What Is A Content Cluster?
A content cluster is a group of articles that all relate back to one core topic. Diving deep into the focus topic, the cluster builds a network of related content that supports the overall topic modeling strategy. We like to see content clusters consist of anywhere from four to fifty articles that all approach different angles to that specific topic. The goal of content clusters is to build up a site’s authority on a topic by leveraging topic-modeling techniques, internal linking, and external link building.
As you can see in the above diagram content cluster surround your main category pages, building a network of content that is tied together through internal linking.
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How do Content Clusters work?
When you build out content clusters you want to build them around your core product and transactional pages. Why? Because this is how you will reap the benefits of building out a such large amount of content. Content clusters leverage a topic modeling strategy that appeals to Google’s most recent algorithm updates that prioritize topical relevance over keywords.
By internally linking your articles together you signal to Google that these articles are related and essentially cluster them together. This helps build up your site’s authority within Google’s eyes and signals the depth of the content you have on one key topic. Linking is a major part of seeing success with your content clusters which makes having a strong internal linking strategy extremely important. You should look to link your content together through strategic anchor text that uses your main target/topic as this is the most effective way to pass link equity from one page to another. While you should be wary of having a large number of external links the more internal links you have the better. There is no limit to the number of times you should internally link within one article. In fact, the more you link the better. As you add more and more articles into your cluster it’s important to make sure they are getting linked and clustered in with the rest of the content.
What Is Topic Modeling And Why Does It Matter?
While you still want to target and track your specific keyword targets Google has evolved beyond the days of keyword stuffing. Instead, its machine learning technology leverages artificial intelligence to learn how to essentially “read” content online using latent semantic analysis.
Through this technology, they are able to determine the topic relevance of your content. Instead of basing your content around specific keywords, you should look at it from a more holistic topic modeling perspective. This means considering all related topics and expanding your content to take a more well-rounded approach. It essentially pushes you beyond the basics and encourages you to write content that is statistically deemed more relevant and valuable.
Content clusters allow you to create a network of content that is extremely powerful in the age of Google prioritizing topic modeling and topical relevance. The more content you have on a topic the more likely Google is to rank your content and view your site as an authority.
Understanding Keyword Types
Content clusters help build up your SEO authority by establishing your site as topically relevant. In addition to building up the number of informational keywords, you rank for you can also support rankings for your transactional keywords as well. Before we dive into how this work it’s important to understand the key difference between informational vs. transactional keywords and how they both work together within your SEO strategy.
Informational keywords are keywords in which users are looking for more information. They often address a question and provide useful tips and tricks. These are not typically keywords that indicate someone is looking to purchase a good or service which separates them from transactional. Informational keywords are typically more top of the funnel as opposed to the bottom of the funnel because there is less purchasing intent behind them. These types of keywords are most often targeted on your blog or specific pages that you build out to support them. The more relevant they are to your core product or service offering the more content you should build around them.
Transactional keywords, on the other hand, are typically more bottom of the funnel as there is greater intent to purchase. Users searching these types of keywords have likely already done their research, decided on what they feel is the best solution for them, and are ready to purchase. These are the keywords you would want to target on the core pages of your website as they have the potential to drive the largest amount of revenue. You should be keeping a close eye on these and looking to increase or maintain rankings as a drop here can mean a large loss in revenue.
It’s important to rank for both informational and transactional keywords as you always want to have a good balance of both top-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel traffic. While you of course want users to come straight to your site and convert not everyone is in that stage of the buying cycle. Having informational content also allows you to bring in more top-of-funnel traffic and new users to your site at a lower cost. Plus, these users are qualified as they are searching for something that relates back down to your core product offering.
The Relationship Between Content Clusters And SEO
Content clusters achieve three goals: driving new users to your site, building up your site’s overall authority, and supporting transactional pages and keywords. Ranking for more information keywords can help increase the topical relevance of your site in the eyes of Google. This means that informational keyword growth can lead to and help support transactional keyword growth. Therefore, you should always view your SEO strategy from the lens of an integrated ecosystem that works together to help you get the results you desire.
Through their topic modeling and internal linking strategy, you are able to craft a cluster around those transactional pages. In doing so, you help support rankings for those core pages of yours that drive the highest revenue. Through the use of content clusters, your content marketing strategy is highly integrated with your overall SEO strategy as it works in tandem to support the work you do to maintain and grow your keyword rankings each month. Thus, the relationship between content clusters and SEO is quite simple. Content clusters work to support your overall SEO strategy by increasing both informational and transactional keyword rankings.
How To Select Topics For Your Content Cluster
One of the great things about content clusters is that they help give extremely clear direction to your blogging strategy. Instead of selecting individual topics, you can instead select a group of topics that are all related. The best place to start building content clusters is around your highest revenue-driving transactional pages or pages that need additional support. You can typically start by working through the pages listed in your main navigation.
From there, you can dive into building out topics that relate to that one transactional page. You should conduct SEO research but also realize that when you produce a large amount of content surrounding one topic you can often rank keywords that may have seemed outreach in the past. You can use a number of tools, from AdWords Keyword Planner to KeyWordTool.io to identify a good amount of keywords you can build out articles around.
As discussed above, the types of keywords/topics you select should be informational keywords that are relevant to that core transactional page. One good thing about focusing on informational keywords is they are often less competitive than transactional keywords. When it comes to prioritizing topics you should look to cover the ones that present the highest upside in terms of organic traffic growth and are relevant to your business. Once you’ve covered those you can reach a little further out to topics that are not as closely related to your product or service offering as the initial topics you went after.
It’s important to remember that while it can sometimes feel like the articles in your cluster are redundant each article does stand on its own as a traffic driver. Consider the intent of the user who is searching and think about the information you would want to receive in that individual article. The same goes for feeling like you are answering extremely basic questions. The reality is that users are searching around these terms and the topical relevance it will bring to your site is extremely beneficial.
How Much Content Do You Need?
One of the most common questions surrounding content clusters is how much content you truly need to see success. This varies from brand to brand but the more content you have the better results you will see. Our clients that have had the most success with this strategy have been the ones that are willing to invest in producing a large volume of content each month. While this can seem overwhelming at first, start where you can and look to ramp things up a little each month.
Once you have a large amount of content built out you can continue to build upon each cluster adding new content each month. When you look at it this way it’s hard to imagine running out of topics or new content ideas. As discussed above, you can start with the topics that present the quickest wins and then expand from there. The long-short of this is that we have clients that do anywhere from one to sixty articles a month. It’s all about balancing your resources to get the results you want!
How To Measure Cluster’s Impact On SEO
So, how do you go about measuring the direct impact your content cluster is having on your overall SEO? First you can start by tracking all of the keywords you are targeting (both informational and transactional) so that you can keep an eye on any trends you are seeing. Be sure to track when you are implementing clusters so that you can look for the corresponding growth in both the informational keywords you are targeting as well as the rankings for the main transactional page you are targeting.
Second, you can create segments in Google Analytics that break out each cluster into its own view so you can measure the overall organic traffic growth over time. When looking at these results it’s important to take a look at key metrics such as the percent of new users, the time on site, the bounce rate, and the number of conversions coming from these articles. The number of conversions you will see will depend on the industry you are in and how likely users are to complete a goal when they first visit your site. However, you should definitely be looking to optimize and improve the time on site and bounce rate of these pages.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you are just getting started with blogging or looking to tighten up your overall strategy content clusters are a great way to build up your site’s authority. Start with your the transactional pages on your site that can benefit the most and then keep building your content up over time.