What is a Cluster Model in Link Building? Definition, Benefits, and Tips

Cluster model in link building is an SEO strategy that focuses on creating clusters of content that satisfy the intent of a search topic, instead of pumping out tons of thin content to see what sticks. It involves creating fewer, longer-form blog posts and package information in a way that’s most helpful to users. The pages are organized into a series of groups and each individual topic has a pillar page, which summarizes a concept, and cluster pages, which give more information on specific topics. Links are used to connect the pages in a cluster to each other and to the pillar page, allowing users to navigate through the landing pages without any hassle. Through internal links, you can point helpful, supporting content to your pillar page to signal its authority to search engines. This strategy has been proven to be successful as it allows website owners to reap many of the benefits of inbound links without having to pay a hundred bloggers to link to their website.

1. Easier and faster content creation.

Using a cluster model for content creation can help to improve an organization’s SEO strategies and ultimately create better content in a shorter amount of time. Clustering content helps increase organic visibility and address search queries on a larger scale. Additionally, by defining linking relationships, it creates a crawler-friendly structure that is easier for search engines to understand. With this model, each page of content serves a specific search intent, resulting in less content and potential search engine confusion. Additionally, this model creates a better user experience for visitors, as related content is easier to find on the same topic. Lastly, using a topic cluster model saves time and energy for content creators by guiding their content strategy.

2. Improved search engine optimization.

Using a cluster model to improve search engine optimization can have multiple benefits. It allows for more streamlined content architecture and harmony among keywords on the same topic. This allows for more focused searches by users and increases the accessibility of your website. Furthermore, keyword clusters can help elevate your SEO content strategy, making your site more Google-friendly and your content more relevant. Search engine algorithms are now equipped with advanced algorithms that can determine content quality and the value it adds to users. As a result, expertise, authority, and trust are important ranking factors that can be achieved by using relevant content clusters. When done properly, using a cluster model can help boost the search performance of your website and content, while providing a better experience to your website users.

3. Increased website traffic.

Using a cluster model for web content increases website traffic by optimizing page load time, providing helpful and informative content, building relationships and authority in an industry, optimizing websites around topics instead of keywords, and creating a structure that is easier for search engines to interpret. These strategies help increase click-through rate and dwell time, build organic links and new traffic, and create a better user experience. This ultimately leads to higher SEO rankings, more organic traffic, and increased conversions.

4. Increased website ranking.

Using a cluster model for websites can greatly increase their search engine ranking. This model involves reorganizing content into topics or “pillar pages” and then creating blog posts related to those topics or pillars. The blog posts should target long-tail keyword phrases, subtopics, or questions related to the core keywords.

Through this strategy, websites can better showcase their expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, as well as optimize their content around topics, rather than around a limited amount of keywords. Additionally, the internal linking profile of this content plays a big role in which landing pages of the website rank in Google. With a relevant cluster of content, websites can better achieve a higher search engine ranking and drive more organic traffic to their websites.

5. Improved website authority.

Using a cluster model to improve website authority in link building can be extremely beneficial in terms of SEO. When content is organized into relevant clusters and topics, it creates a streamlined architecture and harmony amongst keywords on the same topic. This allows for more focused keyword searches and better optimization of the website.

Additionally, blog commenting and creating blog content that reinforces the primary keyword clusters can help to build relationships and authority in the industry. This will lead to more organic links and increase website traffic. Lastly, internal linking within the clusters can help to spread PageRank and allow Google to understand which pages of the website are the most important. Ultimately, creating a cluster model and utilizing link building helps to improve website authority and increase rankings in search engine results.

6. Improved customer engagement.

Using a cluster model to improve customer engagement in link building can be a great way to boost visibility and traffic to your website. By creating groups of related topics, or ‘clusters’, you are able to reach a larger and more specific audience. By understanding the intent of a user’s search query and mapping it to the right content, you can provide the answers they are looking for. This allows you to stay ahead of the competition and build trust with your audience.

Moreover, using topic clusters allows you to predictively build content around a core topic that answers multiple pain points for several different buyer personas at various stages of the funnel. As a result, you will be able to anticipate your users’ follow up questions and provide the right content at the right time, keeping your customers engaged with your content.

Finally, by creating content that both appeals to search engine algorithms and resonates with your target customers, you can ensure that your content shows up in the right search results. This will help to improve visibility and organic traffic to your site and boost your overall customer engagement.

7. Improved website conversion rates.

Using a cluster model helps to improve website conversion rates by providing potential customers with a more organized and efficient user experience. With the use of pillar clusters, businesses can create content around a core topic that resolves multiple pain points for different buyer personas at various stages of the funnel. This allows users to access the right content at the right time and will keep them engaged with a website rather than turning back to Google for answers. Additionally, a cluster model can help optimize page speed, making it easier and faster for users to access the website and its content. All of these factors help to create a more positive user experience, leading to higher click-through rates and dwell time, which can all contribute to higher conversion rates.

8. Improved brand authority.

Using a cluster model to improve brand authority in link building can be a powerful tool for boosting organic rankings. By creating content that covers the full scope of a topic, search engines can better understand the expertise, authoritativeness and trust (E-A-T) of the website. By providing quality content on a specific topic, you can also benefit from increased internal links, as HubSpot reported rising SERP impressions after implementing strategies to boost internal links.

Additionally, the topic cluster model allows search engines to understand the meaning behind words and how various concepts relate, allowing them to provide more accurate search results. All of this helps to improve organic rankings and build brand authority.

Step 1: Decide on your core topic.

Deciding on a core topic for your cluster is an essential step in creating successful content. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to choose a core topic that will form the basis of your topic cluster:

  1. Decide on a core topic that is related to your business. It should showcase the value that your business can provide to potential clients.
  2. Brainstorm related topic ideas using a sheet of paper, whiteboard, or other tools you have at hand. Draw lines from the main topics and create supporting subtopics.
  3. Compile content that you find helpful. Look at what other businesses in your industry have posted and use websites like Pinterest or Google Sheets to store your ideas.
  4. Consider how the topics you brainstormed can be used to develop quality content. Ask yourself questions such as what does your audience want to know, can you build from it, and will you need to explain one key topic before moving to the next?
  5. Start with one or two of the most critical topics to your business. Make sure your topic isn’t too narrow or you’ll quickly run out of subtopic ideas.
  6. Research your topics to find the variation with the highest or most attainable search volume. Use a tool like HubSpot’s content strategy tool to help provide you with a list of topics and subtopics based on your existing content.

For example, if your business provides student loans, your core topic could be the need for student loans and other options for paying for higher education. Your cluster pages should then break down into the fine details of student loan options that your business can provide.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your topics reflect your team’s goals and that you are creating content that your target audience wants to find.

Example cluster model for a website about cars.

Step 2: Perform a thorough content audit

A thorough content audit can be used for creating and using clusters for link building by first analyzing a client’s business goals and conducting keyword research with those goals in mind. Once the topics for the clusters have been identified, the content pieces related to those topics can be grouped together and linked to each other to create a topic cluster. This organization helps visitors find related content more easily, as it encourages them to keep reading and return to the website more frequently. Additionally, running a content audit can help identify and address any duplicate content, which would otherwise hurt search rankings. Finally, thin content that is outdated or does not fit the content structure can be removed for better optimization.

Step 3: Outline pillar and topic cluster structure for core topic.

Creating a topic cluster structure for your core topic can be a daunting task. However, with the right approach, you can easily create a well-structured, effective cluster structure that will help you attract more visitors and boost your search rankings. Here are the steps you should take to outline the pillar and topic cluster structure for your core topic:

  1. Identify Your Core Topic – Choose a topic that is general enough to be broken down into different subtopics. This topic should be the primary focus of your topic cluster.
  2. Create Your Pillar Article – Your pillar article should be an in-depth and comprehensive discussion of your chosen topic. Use sub-headings and links to pages that relate to the topic to keep your article organized.
  3. Develop Content Clusters – Content clusters should discuss particular subsections of the pillar article in more detail. These clusters should always link back to the pillar article.
  4. Include Hyperlinks – Hyperlinks are essential in topic clusters because they connect the pillar article to the content clusters and vice versa, making it easy for visitors to navigate your website. This helps encourage your visitors to explore your site further.

As an example, let’s look at my pillar article, “Email Marketing Made Easy: The Complete Guide + Examples.” My content clusters include “20 Quick and Easy Email Marketing Segmentation Strategies,” “Best Email Marketing Service Providers for Founders,” and “How to Build an Email List from Scratch [Tips + Strategies].” I’ve also included a number of relevant hyperlinks on both the pillar page and the content clusters.

By following these steps, you can easily outline the pillar and topic cluster structure for your core topic. This will help you create a comprehensive and well-structured cluster structure that will help you attract more visitors and boost your search rankings.

Step 4: Write content.

Creating content for a link building cluster can be a daunting task. Fortunately, following a few simple steps can help you achieve better results.

Step 1: Identify Your Topic Clusters

Before you start creating content, you need to identify the topic clusters that make up your link building cluster. Start by researching what topics are related to your business and audience. Use tools like Google Search Console and SEMrush to identify potential topics.

Step 2: Evaluate Your Topic Ideas

Once you’ve identified potential topics, you need to evaluate them to determine which ones will drive the most qualified traffic. Consider factors such as importance, relevance, and search volume potential to prioritize your topic ideas.

Step 3: Produce Quality Content

The next step is to produce quality content that meets the needs of your target audience. Evaluate content from top-ranking competitors to understand what they are doing well and where they are falling short. Strive to create in-depth, context-rich and well-organized content that best addresses the search intent.

Step 4: Optimize Your Content

When producing content, make sure to avoid keyword stuffing, use related keywords, add alt attributes to images, and check readability. Use tools like the SEO Writing Assistant to quickly and easily optimize your content.

Step 5: Share Your Content

Once you’re done creating content, share it with your audience by publishing it on your website, blog, or social media channels. You can also share it with other marketers via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

By following these steps, you can effectively create content for a link building cluster and reach more qualified traffic.

Step 5: Implement internal linking.

Creating and using topic clusters to build links can be a powerful tool for improving your website’s SEO. To do it, you need to properly implement internal linking between pages in the cluster. Here are the steps to make it happen:

  1. Outline Your Clusters: Start by mapping out the content pieces in each cluster. This should include the pillar page and the related content that links back to the pillar page.
  2. Link Your Pillar Page: Next, head to each topic cluster and link to the pillar page in relevant spots. Make sure these links are prominently placed, as they will help search engines understand the context of the cluster.
  3. Connect Clusters: Then, link back from the pillar page to each piece of content in the cluster. This will ensure that all of the pieces are connected and Google spiders will be able to find, crawl, and index your topic clusters.
  4. Monitor Your Links: After your clusters are in place, make sure to regularly add new content and update your pillar page to link back to recent articles. This will help your website stay fresh and relevant in Google’s index.

By following these steps, you can create and use topic clusters for link building. Internal linking between pages in the cluster will help search engines understand the context of your content and share PageRank among pages. As a result, your website will be more likely to rank higher in search engines and attract more organic traffic.

Adding links between pillars and clusters is an important part of link building. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you set up your links correctly:

  1. Create your clusters and pillar pages. Make sure that the content you create is relevant to each other and that the topic clusters are arranged in a way that they can easily be navigated.
  2. Link each piece of content within the topic clusters to the relevant segment of the pillar page. This will help Google’s algorithm to assess the authority and quality of the page’s content.
  3. Link the pillar page to all of the pieces in the clusters. This will ensure that Google spiders can find and index your topic clusters.
  4. Ensure that your pillars and clusters are regularly updated with fresh content. This will keep your pillar page fresh and relevant to your site visitors.
  5. Add external links to your cluster content. This will make your content more valuable and trustworthy, and may create the opportunity to generate inbound links from the sources mentioned on the page.

Following these steps will help you to create a well-structured architecture of your site and bring you the SEO benefits of topic cluster content.

Step 7: Optimize and improve!

Link building is an essential part of any SEO strategy. To maximize the effectiveness of your links, optimizing and improving the use of clusters is key. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Step 1: Analyze your content. Use tools like Blueprint SEO to crawl your pages and categorize them into topics. Document the goals and purpose of each piece of content, and identify potential overlapping content.

Step 2: Prioritize your content optimizations and new content creation ideas by evaluating the importance and relevance of the topic to your business and audience, as well as the search volume potential.

Step 3: Produce in-depth, context-rich, and well-organized content that best addresses the search intent. Evaluate top-ranking competitors to see where they fall short and strive to produce better content.

Step 4: Implement your link building strategy. Identify potential link partners and create relationships with authoritative websites that are related to your industry.

Step 5: Monitor the performance of your links and make adjustments as needed. Use analytics tools to track key metrics and understand the impact of your link building efforts.

With these steps, you’ll have a firm grasp on how to create an effective link building strategy that maximizes the power of clusters. Good luck!


A cluster model in link building is a SEO strategy that helps to create a web of content and links to increase the authority of topics. It involves creating a pillar page – a page that summarizes a concept – and a group of cluster pages, which provide more information about specific topics related to the concept. By linking these pages together and to the pillar page with internal links, search engines can easily identify the relevance of the content and rank the page higher. These links also help users to navigate around the website easier. Additionally, by linking your own content to your own content, the topic cluster model capitalizes on links which are a primary way for search engines to recognize content in context. Experiments have also shown that the more internal links a page has, the higher its placement in search engine results pages.

The benefits of a cluster model in link building are numerous. Firstly, it allows for higher organic visibility as content clusters focus on topics rather than individual keywords. Secondly, it helps organize your website’s architecture and makes it easier for search engines to understand the core themes of your website. This also leads to a better user experience as visitors can easily find related content on the same topic. Additionally, the topic cluster model eliminates overlapping content, which saves time from writing unnecessary content. Finally, links become an important part of the pillar cluster model as it allows users to navigate between landing pages easily, while also helping search engine algorithms to identify relevance and rank pages accordingly.

How does a cluster model help with SEO?

How does a cluster model help with SEO? The cluster model helps improve SEO by providing a way to adapt a website’s content to be favored by search engines, improving the site’s architecture, covering more search queries, creating a better user experience, and eliminating overlapping content. By focusing on topics rather than individual keywords and defining linking relationships, it is easier for search engines to understand the website’s core themes and surface the content more easily. In addition, content clusters use topic modeling and internal linking to improve user experience and boost search performance. Ultimately, the topic cluster model helps websites build authority, which Google evaluates when surfacing results.

What is a pillar page?

A Pillar page is a web page that covers a central topic in depth and is used as a repository for individual landing pages and hub pages related to the same subject. Pillar pages are comprehensive in nature, comprehensive enough to establish authority on the subject and yet provide enough space to add rich supporting sources such as blogs, guides, and more. Pillar pages are connected to various landing pages within the website through link building and they also contain external links which can help generate inbound links from other sources. Pillar pages provide a broad overview of a particular topic which is usually in the form of a guide and serves as the cornerstone or hub of a cluster that connects all related content. An added benefit to this structure is that when one of these pages performs well, the other pages in the cluster also get more SEO authority.

What are keyword clusters?

Keyword clusters are groups of keywords that are related to one another and that represent searchers with similar purchase intent. For example, “linen curtains,” “linen window curtains,” and “white curtains linen” are all related terms that represent people looking to buy linen curtains.

Keyword clustering is a more advanced SEO strategy that can give you the edge you need to win in competitive verticals as it responds to Google’s two biggest strengths: natural language processing and indexing. When you execute keyword clustering with your landing pages, you show Google that your website is an authority in your industry and demonstrates strong breadth and depth of content. To build keyword clusters, you should take into account the keyword’s semantic relevance, search volume and CPC, and organic difficulty. This strategy requires more keyword research, content creation, and work from your SEO and marketing teams, but it is worth the effort as it can significantly increase the amount of traffic your web page receives.

How do I create a content hub?

Creating a content hub can help elevate your brand profile and drive organic traffic to your website. Here are the steps to follow to create one:

  1. Start small and focus on producing quality content. Take the time to audit your existing content to identify potential pillar pages and organize them accordingly.
  2. Choose a main topic that is both broad enough to give you several subtopics to talk about and narrow enough that you can comprehensively discuss all the critical points in your pillar article. Tools like HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool can help you identify relevant topics and subtopics.
  3. Brainstorm ideas for your content clusters with your team and identify topics and subtopics that are relevant to your business.
  4. Create a pillar page that explains the need for the topic and other relevant options.
  5. Create topic cluster pages that break down the fine details of the topic.
  6. Link your pillar page and topic cluster pages together to create a content hub.
  7. Use tools like MarketMuse to monitor and optimize your content hub.

Following these steps will help you create an organized, authoritative content hub that benefits both users and search engines.

What is keyword research and why is it important?

Keyword research is an integral part of any SEO practice, especially when it comes to creating topic clusters. It is the process of identifying the words or phrases that potential customers are using to search for products, services, or information online. This research helps define the topics and subtopics you’ll be covering, as well as the keywords you’ll be using to reach your target audience.

Furthermore, keyword research also helps in understanding search intent. By understanding the words and phrases used by potential customers, you can tailor your content to match their needs. Having a well-defined focus for your content will make it more likely to be found and clicked on by potential customers.

Additionally, keyword research tools such as Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner provide insights into the search volumes of various words and phrases, as well as their competition levels. This can help you prioritize the keywords you choose to focus on, as well as determine which keywords are the most valuable.

Finally, keyword research is also beneficial in identifying negatives keywords, which can help you limit the range of your content. By eliminating some of the keywords that don’t match your buyer persona, you can ensure that you are only targeting the right kind of audience.

In conclusion, keyword research is an important step in creating successful topic clusters. It provides insights into the words and phrases used by potential customers, as well as their search intent and search volumes, allowing you to create content that is tailored to their needs. It also enables you to identify negative keywords, so you can limit the range of your content and make sure it’s seen by the right kind of audience.

How do I optimize my website using a cluster model?

Optimizing your website using a cluster model is an effective way to increase your website’s organic rankings and improve the user experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Cover More Search Queries: Start by focusing on topics instead of individual keywords to improve your chances of ranking in Google’s top results.
  2. Organize Your Site Architecture: Group related content into specific topic clusters to create a crawler-friendly structure that’s easier for search engine bots to interpret.
  3. Create a Better User Experience: Linking related content under specific topics makes it easier for site visitors to find the information they need.
  4. Eliminate Overlapping Content: Organizing your content into clusters helps to reduce the amount of content on your website and eliminates potential search engine confusion.
  5. Save Time: The cluster model helps to guide your content strategy, which saves you time from writing content that won’t generate results.
  6. Narrow Focus of Each Page: When creating cluster pages, be sure to narrow the focus of each page to a single topic.
  7. Make Changes Easily: The cluster model allows you to add, remove, or update information easily and quickly.

Following these steps will help you to optimize your website using a cluster model and achieve higher organic visibility.

What are the best SEO strategies for a cluster model?

What are the best SEO strategies for a cluster model?

  1. Leverage the pillar cluster content model: Pillar cluster content is a great way to boost web traffic rate to your website, increase conversions and improve your website’s ranking in SERPs.
  2. Use topic clusters to satisfy the intent behind search topic: Topic clusters help to create content with a purpose — to cover all the questions users would have about the subject. This helps to create fewer longer-form blog posts, which makes it easier to satisfy user intent.
  3. Utilize internal linking to signal content authority to search engines: Internal links help to point helpful, supporting content to your topic page, which helps to signal its authority to search engines.
  4. Create content with a purpose: Instead of aiming to rank for keywords, content should be created with a purpose — to cover all the questions users would have about the subject.
  5. Keep an eye on user experience: Make sure your content is user-friendly and provides a great user experience in order to attract and retain customers.
  6. Monitor search engine algorithm updates: Stay up-to-date with the latest search engine algorithm updates which affect ranking and visibility.
  7. Focus on quality over quantity: Quality content is key when it comes to SEO, so make sure you produce high-quality content that is helpful and engaging.
  8. Attend relevant conferences and events: Keep up with the latest industry trends by attending conferences and events that are relevant to your niche.

What are the best tools for keyword clustering?

When it comes to optimizing a website for organic search, keyword clustering is an essential strategy for achieving high rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). There are a variety of tools available to make keyword clustering easier. Here, we will compare and evaluate the best keyword clustering tools on the market.

Semrush is an all-in-one SEO and digital marketing tool with an extensive keyword research feature. It allows users to identify keyword variations, long-tail phrases, and related topics for any keyword. It also provides organic difficulty, search volume, and cost-per-click metrics for each keyword.

Ahrefs is another comprehensive SEO and digital marketing tool that offers a keyword explorer feature. It helps users find related keywords, autocompletes, subtopics, and questions that are being used by searchers. Ahrefs also offers competitive intelligence data and keyword difficulty scores.

Google Keyword Planner is a free keyword research tool that can be used to find keyword ideas and get estimates of search volume and relative competition. The tool is available as part of Google Ads and provides useful data, such as average monthly searches and estimated bid prices.

Moz Keyword Explorer is a paid keyword research tool that offers a variety of features for identifying relevant keywords. It helps users find long-tail keywords, search volume, and cost-per-click data. Additionally, Moz Keyword Explorer includes a keyword difficulty score, which is useful for ranking purposes.

The Bottom Line:

When it comes to keyword clustering, all of the tools mentioned here are useful for different purposes. Semrush and Ahrefs offer comprehensive keyword research features, while Google Keyword Planner and Moz Keyword Explorer provide detailed data on search volume and competition. Ultimately, the best tool for you will depend on your business needs and budget.