How to Build Authority Online

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Our marketing consulting clients ask us a lot, “Now that I have a website, how to people find me?”

The answer can be many things, depending on your industry, budget, brand values, and comfort level. However, the one thing that I can universally advise is a simple, effective and powerful technique that will be off for years to come: Topic Clusters (sometimes called content clusters or hub and spokes).

Topic Clusters to Get You Found in Google
Topic Clusters to Get You Found in Google

What are Search Optimized Topic Clusters?

The tactic I consistently recommend to folks who are serious about people finding them and building trust online is to take the content cluster approach.

Here’s the basic notion of content clusters: You create a website content structure that looks like a wheel with spokes. 

Big, broad topics (pillar posts) you’re aiming to build authority on in the middle, with spokes coming off if that main central hub. The spokes are where your narrow keyword-rich, search-focused topics live. Each of these pieces is internally linked.

This is all contained in articles of your blog, which makes it’s simpler to interlink and often has some built-in SEO friendliness.

Why Content Clusters Help Search Engine Optimization—and Your Business

The reason I love this methodology is that it also forces you to think seriously about your business strategy and audience. It’s not just “trying to rank for keywords,” it’s creating that elusive authority, and then leveraging that authority to rank for keywords you’re targeting. It’s very focused and less random or scattered than other content strategies.

Topic or Content Clusters are something that people can implement no matter what phase their business is in. 

Newbie? Cool, start with a pillar post related to your core mission and build from there! An old hat? No problem! You can reverse engineer the existing content on your website, and backfill to create an awesome content cluster.

Plus, it just makes sense to real humans—it’s not just trying to game the Google system. 

People have an “ah ha!” moment when I explain this to them because this is how they research and understand information themselves. It feels natural and comfortable.

Sound cool? It is!

There are loads of places to read about this online and everyone has slightly different approaches to the same concept, but it’s a pretty simple three-part system that just, well, works. I like this Hubspot guide, though my methodology is somewhat different (and I think more approachable and less sales-y, if we’re being honest!).

Sarah Moon & Co’s Approach to Search-First Topic Clusters

Our team likes to focus our content clusters on reaching “problem-aware” searchers.

These tend to be folks early in their journey for a solution. What questions are they asking Siri while walking their dogs? What secret aspirations are they typing into Google when they wake up at night? This when we want to meet our audience—not when they’ve decided on a solution. Then, we craft a problem-aware series of content clusters that look something like this:

Content Cluster Visualization
Topic Cluster Visualization

Over time, Topic Clusters build authority for your website.

They do a ton of work showcasing your expertise and proving to that you are a subject matter expert and thought leader. The other outstanding feature of this methodology is that they live for a long, long time on the internet. You can simply keep the content updated as you get new information and your thinking changes. In the end, the initial work pays off in spades.

Want to get started with your very first content cluster? You can DIY it with one of our workshops, or learn about Spark Sessions, a content marketing consulting program with Sarah, to get started using this methodology to get found in Google!

Disclosure: Please note that some links on this website are affiliate links, which generates a small amount of revenue to support the free content we provide.

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