How to Use Content Clusters and Link Building to Increase Sales

Most days, when I’m staring at my computer, I’m asking myself one of two questions about the content I’m writing, organizing, strategizing, etc.

1- Does the content help the reader?
2- Does the content help Google understand (and rank) my authority?

Because for me, it’s all about strategy.

The writing…
The graphics…
The branding…
The offer…

Everything serves the strategy.

And since my background is direct response copywriting, my ultimate question is always, “Is this moving the sale forward?”

Which brings me to today’s topic…

How to Create a Clear Connection Between Content Clusters and Links

Let’s start with some obvious truths.

The internet is a messy place.

We (the collective group of creators) produce a shocking amount of digital assets and slap them up online kinda every-which-a-way.

It’s no wonder readers and Google get confused.

In an attempt to get organized, blogs used to be organized by date of publication, which worked okay if you could trust your reader to faithfully follow your blog and get caught up on all past posts.
(Ahh, 1994, you were the best!)

But that’s not a realistic expectation anymore (and maybe it never was).

So the next idea was, “Okay, what if we organize by categories and tags? People can search however they want!”

Again, better but not awesome because it presumes someone is studying your topic. (When was the last time anyone deeply studied much of anything? Attention spans are too short for that now.)

Next idea, “What if we take the best stuff and organize it in a cluster?”

Perfect. Love it.

But it brings up a question…

How is someone going to navigate stream-of-consciousness-style through your stuff in such a way that they…

… stay engaged…

… and ultimately buy something…

… ideally from your business (and not someone else’s)?

Why Link Building Is a Big Deal

Links create connections. Without connections, you don’t have a cluster. (I know, sorry for the absolute simplicity but this is a point that often gets overlooked.)

Links are useful because they add depth to pillar content without increasing the length of the pillar content (and potentially losing the reader’s attention).

So that’s what’s really at stake.

In the rest of this article, I’m going to give you some quick tips for link building. But keep in mind, this isn’t just about links.

It’s about the bigger picture of being the invisible hand that guides the reader toward the sale, while also giving them the choose-your-own-adventure experience they crave.

7 Specific Ways to Increase Quality Link-Building on Your Website

Here are the 7 most important things to do to build a high-quality linking strategy:

  1. Link from your content cluster to supporting pages to add depth, increase interest for the reader, and show Google you’re an authority.
  2. Link from supporting pages to your content cluster to show Google you have a central hub of all things on your topic. Also, linking to the pillar page helps your reader get oriented and find new things to explore.
  3. Think about your links as a neural network, or a living spider web. As soon as you link one piece of content to the next, you’re creating a pathway that will inspire your reader. But remember to keep track of how and why you created the links. It’s entirely possible that you’re the only one who understands how exactly your living cluster of ideas really works. If you lose the thread of the “hows” and “whys,” it’s challenging to recreate it.
  4. Make a solemn vow that you’ll always link each article back to its pillar page. If you don’t have at least one link, the article will be nearly invisible to the reader. It will be as though it was never written, which is a huge waste of time and talent.
  5. Put the links in the body of your content. Remember, we’re creating a fun engagement path for the reader and proof of authority for Google. Site-wide links (ie: headers, footers, sidebars, or menus) are important for the website but they don’t create the authority+engagement effect we’re after.
  6. If you have older content, go back and link what you can. Occasionally, do an audit to see what you have, what can be added, and make sure all your links are working. This is one of those tasks that you don’t want to let get away from you, so keep up with it monthly.
  7. When you’re doing your monthly audit, you’re going to find gaps in the content. It happens all the time. Maybe the industry has shifted, you’ve done some new SEO research, or you were certain an article was there… but it has gone MIA. The trick is to look at your content with fresh eyes and ask yourself what topics could be added to the pillar pages, and what new articles need to be written to support the updated pillar page.

As you can see, content clusters require a special kind of thinking. You need to be able to dig in the weeds and then quickly pull back to see the whole picture.

The secret to success lies in your ability to toggle back and forth from strategy to planning.

Ask yourself, “When I look at this content, what am I actually seeing? Is a picture emerging? If not, can I clarify it or create one?”

How to Create Link-Worthy Content That Inspires Readers and Gets Ranked on Google

The bare bones steps are:

  1. Choose your theme or keyword.
  2. Create a pillar page that introduces the core ideas of your theme.
  3. Create supporting content around the theme.
  4. Link from the supporting content to the pillar page and back again.
  5. Be insanely clear for Google’s benefit and engaging for your reader’s benefit.
  6. Make sure every strategy decision you make supports your business’ primary goal. If that goal changes, look at your content and linking strategy to make sure everything is going the right direction.
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