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Content Clusters: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to content creation, many marketing agencies and businesses adopt a “spontaneous” creation approach.

In other words, they create random, often unrelated content pieces based on what they believe best suits their target audiences. It’s an easy method of inbound marketing that doesn’t require much planning or forethought, and it occasionally brings in a lead or two.

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But it’s not without its flaws. This technique is disjointed and can potentially create confusion for your customers. It also handicaps your website’s SEO potential. An easy way to maximize your content creation is through content clusters, the newest trend in inbound marketing. Here’s a quick breakdown of what they are, how they help with lead generation and how to get started.

What Are Content Clusters?

Content or topic clusters are a method of aligning all your webpages so your internal links are connected and cohesive. They are hyper-focused collections of content where one overarching keyword is the hub for countless specific topic pieces. These clusters usually contain a mix of content, all aligned with one broad, overarching keyword.

Take a look at this content cluster chart.


Here, the central keyword is “recipes.” Every piece of content in the cluster will then relate to recipes in some way or another. From there, the cluster branches off into specific subtopics like “30-minute recipes” and “vegan recipes.”

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Think of content clusters like a tree. The center topic is the trunk. It’s the most crucial part of the tree because it holds everything together in one place. All the subtopics are branches, which stretch into hyper-specific, relevant content leaves.

If you wanted to create content for this cluster, you’d look at each subtopic first and create inbound material connected to that. Like creating a Paleo vs. Candida Diet video that ties in with low-carb recipes or writing up a no-bake cookie recipe blog post connected to no-bake recipes.

Later on, you can bunch these content pieces together to make a more general subtopic piece tailored toward conversion. For example, you might make an ebook with an assortment of low-fat recipes, which relates to the low-fat recipe subtopic.

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So Why Should You Use Content Clusters?

Well, for one thing, it makes creating content a whole lot easier. Going back to the chart and tree metaphor above, when we create leaf content (like a steaming vs. grilling fact infographic), we focus on getting traffic.

We can include plenty of inbound links, promote the content on social media and provide CTAs for the Awareness Stage of the Buyer’s Journey.

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When we create branch content (like an ebook full of low-fat breakfast ideas), we focus on converting leads into customers. At this point, we know they’re past the Awareness Stage, so we can spend more time answering their questions and leading them down the buyer’s sales funnel.

Another big benefit to content clusters: SEO.

Search engines have grown smarter over the years. They now analyze how you use links and penalize sites for excessive, irrelevant linking. Having your interior links organized with relevant content improves your site authority. Higher authority → higher ranking. In this way, content clusters can improve the individual ranking of your website.

Additionally, connecting all your sites through clusters will ensure every post benefits when one does. In other words, leaf content drives traffic to branch content, which sends positive “link signals” to search engines. All of this increases the organic search visibility and lead generation of the overall topic cluster. It’s a much more sophisticated and efficient process than traditional disjointed content creation.

How To Create Content Clusters

Content clusters may sound complicated (especially when drawn out in long metaphors), but the process is relatively simple. To create a content cluster, you need to:

  1. Analyze Buyer Personas: Start by analyzing your Buyer Personas. Figure out what your customers’ biggest problems and strongest interests are. Then, use these to create your core “trunk” topics. HubSpot recommends creating 5-10.

  2. Research Keywords: Once you have your core topics, use keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner to find related long-tail keywords that people are searching for. These can then be drafted into subtopic branches.

  3. Brainstorm Content: Brainstorm content ideas that align with the core topic and a subtopic. Doing this for each branch will ensure you have plenty of ideas for your leaf content.

  4. Add More Content: Once you’ve created a variety of materials for leaf content, you can create additional pieces for subtopic branches. An easy way to do this would be to bundle several of your pieces together into an ebook, infographic, white page or other easy downloadable offer. These should be geared toward converting leads rather than generating them.

  5. Measure: Finally, it’s time to measure your efforts. Determine how well your work is performing by analyzing the entire cluster. Look at metrics like ranking, lead generation, backlinks and engagement. After doing this, you’ll be able to determine which topic clusters are the most beneficial to your business and which ones you might need to cut.

Ready to start creating content clusters? Before you start plugging topics into a keyword tool, be sure you have a thorough understanding of your buyer personas.

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