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How to Use Keyword Clustering to Seamlessly Optimize Your SEO Content

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How to Use Keyword Clustering to Seamlessly Optimize Your SEO Content


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Keyword clustering is the SEO tactic if you want to seamlessly optimize your SEO content and streamline your workflow at the same time. The best part? Keyword clustering is fairly simple, and Google SERPs give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on exactly how to do it.

It’s a timely process, but trust me, it’s worthwhile. Done well, this tactic will pay dividends to your SEO and marketing strategy for years.

So, how do you do it and why is it important? Let’s find out!

Benefits of keyword clustering

Keyword clustering has as much commercial value as it does for SEO and marketing. Although its primary purpose is to assign keywords to content pieces and content types in a bid to secure organic ranks, what it also does is lay down the foundation for your marketing team’s efforts in the next six months (or more!).

Through keyword clustering, a business can expect to:

  • Write content that better serves the buyer through a deeper understanding of search/keyword intent through Google’s data.

  • Create a content architecture or plan that feeds into other marketing efforts through content repurposing. Done well, keyword clustering can support PR, PPC, social media, newsletters, marketing automation, and more.

  • Increase productivity within the business by aligning marketing teams. Expect SEO and writing teams to have a plan of action for over six months.

  • Reduce the risk of cannibalization — since you’ve already mapped your keywords, there won’t be any duplicates, and you’ll know what to link where and by what anchor text.

  • Createa clear plan of action for SEO content that provides long-term scalability, since you have keywords to target over time that can be scaled indefinitely.

  • Increase visibility in the SERPs through on-page optimizations.

  • Increase chances of earning featured snippets by analyzing SERPs and finding what other articles rank for, what they cover and, as a result, what you should include within your own content.

How to use keyword clustering to seamlessly optimize your SEO content

1) Cluster alongside SERP analysis

While conducting SERP analysis, the first thing to determine is the content vertical — what’s ranking for your desired keyword? Is it generally home pages, product pages, service pages, collection/category pages, or articles? Whatever it is, that’s the type of content you need to create. If Google SERPs present eight articles and two product pages, then it’s most likely that your site will rank with an article. If it’s ranking product pages and you’re not selling anything, then no matter how relevant it seems, this keyword is not for you.

Once you know what you need to create and you’ve determined that you can create that page on your site, dig a little deeper and find out what type of content is featured within the top pages of websites that are most similar to yours in terms of niche and domain authority. Think about topics covered, headings, images, videos, and GIFs.

This investigative work provides you with an opportunity to understand exactly what your audience wants so you can serve them in the most meaningful way. It also ensures that you always create content with search volume, which has the possibility of ranking.

Pictured: an example of Google SERP for keyword: “how to complete a Rubik’s Cube”.

2) Use keyword clustering to discover new content opportunities

Another tactic for discovering what content to create, as well as new content opportunities, is through the SERP features and the prioritization of them.

Check for features and formatting such as featured snippets, video, images, knowledge panels and “people also ask” (PAA). PAA is especially useful; it’s a trove of questions, many of which can be answered within your content. Other questions may need a new article or page altogether, so you can start building out your content architecture and forming your internal linking strategy.

Additionally, by integrating these features, you’ll be covering more on your chosen topics, thereby increasing keyword density and closing the gap on your competitors. Plus, your content will use the language of your audience as opposed to your assumed keywords.

Keyword clustering is powerful. The graph below shows one article’s journey in Google SERPs. It ranks for 50 clustered keywords and includes questions from PAA. This article quickly achieved a featured snippet, image rankings, 9.37k clicks, 68.9k impressions, 13.6% CTR and an average of six minutes spent on the page. Oh, and this was achieved before a single website back-linked directly to the article.

Snippet taken from Fortune and Frame’s Google Search Console showing an article’s journey in the SERPs from publication. This particular article is about messages to write in a book (see point #3 to understand what I did with this link here).

3) Choose the most appropriate keyword for the content (then use internal linking, naturally)

Keyword clustering presents you with opportunities you may have otherwise overlooked. If you pull together multiple keywords that all sit within one article or web page, you can determine the best angle to write in order to suit your focus keyword and your online presence.

You will have a selection of keywords and you can use their search volume, competition and your website’s domain authority to determine the best keyword for your site to focus on right now.

Additionally, it means that you can write meaningful anchor text as part of your internal linking strategy. Taking the example from the graph above (“This particular article is about messages to write in a book gift…”), the anchor text “messages to write in a book gift” is not the focus keyword. The focus keyword is: “what to write in a book for a gift”, which doesn’t sound natural at all in the context above.

Thanks to a selection of clustered keywords, an internal link using relevant keywords, was easily slotted into a grammatically correct sentence. Ultimately, you can fit your keywords into your content instead of writing your content around your keywords.

4) Say goodbye to cannibalization

You could argue that you can avoid keyword cannibalization without clustering keywords, but can you?

If you know which keywords you’ve used where, then you should, in theory, have no (ok, there might be a little bit) keyword cannibalization. You won’t fall for the mistake of assigning a focus keyword to two content pieces – or more subtly – creating two content pieces for keywords that should’ve been clustered and covered within one article.

By clustering keywords and analyzing SERPs, you might be surprised at what belongs within the same content piece.

Let’s take these two keywords: “Rubik’s Cube method” (260 searches/month) and “How to complete a Rubik’s Cube” (590 searches/month).

Without looking at the SERPs, one might be tempted to assign “Rubik’s Cube method” as a focus keyword for an article that shares different methods, whereas “‘how to complete a Rubik’s Cube” would be a step-by-step guide. Thankfully, Google SERPs is quite clear that these two keywords can be used—and should be used—on the same web page to avoid cannibalization and poor performing articles because they simply don’t cover the topics in full.

5) Keyword clustering streamlines the SEO content plan and improves productivity

There’s no shying away from keyword clustering. Whilst it does add a whole lot of time to the keyword research process, it saves a lot of time long-term. The more keyword research and clusters you can create early on, the more it pays back in Google ranks and seamless marketing strategy.

The main benefit is objective planning for content. If you use keyword clustering to create a clear plan of action for SEO content for every single page on your website and jot down suitable content ideas for the future, you’ll be left with long-term scalability, since you have keywords to target over time that can be scaled indefinitely.

Your team can work from one document detailing which keywords live where, which content needs to be created in order to achieve a rank, and also, how that content can be repurposed for use across the marketing landscape.

Keyword clustering is a crucial and preparatory step

You can think of keyword clustering as the preparatory work that takes place before you execute SEO. An analogy, shared with me by Adriana Stein, is that keyword clustering is like the shopping and preparation of ingredients before cooking. If you skip this crucial step you might find yourself a bit flustered later on with a dinner that wasn’t quite what it could have been.

Ultimately, what keyword clustering does is insist that you take a step closer to your marketing strategy. Through SERP analysis, you will understand your customer on another level—you’ll know the Google SERPs for your desired keywords inside and out and exactly what you need to work towards in order to secure that page one rank.

Then, you’ll be rewarded with a full, scalable content plan, an entire team working in pursuit of the same content goals, and most importantly, seamlessly optimized content!



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The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling

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The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling


Storytelling is an art.

Not a process, method, or technique. And — like art — it requires creativity, vision, skill, and practice. Storytelling isn’t something you can grasp in one sitting, after one course. It’s a trial-and-error process of mastery.

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How to Blog When You Have No Time

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How to Blog When You Have No Time


Finding the time to blog is a frequent challenge for many marketers. Marketers often wear many hats and it can be difficult to focus long enough to churn out quality articles when you’re pressed for time.

How to blog when you have no time? We spoke with author and marketing expert David Meerman Scotton how to avoid common time management mistakes by developing a routine.

No matter what you’ve got on your marketing plate, it won’t get done without proper time management. Learning how to make the most of your time will greatly affect your productivity and overall success as a blogger.

Why is blogging time management important?

When it comes to creating content, maintaining consistency is key. This is why blogging time management is so important. You may not always feel motivated to create on a regular basis, but establishing a schedule will help you to stay consistent with your blog output.

For example, you may find that you’re better at writing in the mornings. So you can set aside 2 to 3 hours each morning to work on writing based on how many articles you’d like to produce each week.

Create a content calendar to help you plan your content in advance and set reasonable deadlines. Make note of holidays or seasonal events that may impact your content schedule.

Getting organized will help you set and achieve goals for your blog. If you’re starting from scratch, check out our guide to starting a blog.

How to Blog When You Have No Time

1. Use blog templates.

An easy way to jump-startyour creative process is to start with a template. Why suffer through writer’s block staring at a blank document if you don’t have to? HubSpot’s free blog post templatescan help you format your article and get started writing faster than starting from scratch.

[Include screenshot]

Templates function as an easy to follow outline where you can organize your thoughts and start to flesh out your content. HubSpot’s offer includes six templates ranging from how-to posts to pillar pages and infographics.

2. Develop a blogging routine.

In many ways blogging reminds David of exercising. In order to be successful at it, you will need to develop a routine. “It is programmed in,” David says. “It is about building it into your life and making it a second nature, like running in the mornings or doing yoga after work.”

Dedicate time each day to writing or allocate one to two designated writing days per week. Block time off on your calendar and turn off messaging apps to avoid interruptions while you write.

Once you’ve gotten organized and created a routine, you may find you had more time to write than previously thought.

3. Keep a list of ideas.

One way to save time coming up with content is to make sure you always have a running list of fresh ideas to work with. That way you’re not scrambling at the last minute for worthy topics.

Creating topic clusterscan help you flesh out your blog content strategy. A topic clusteris multiplearticles grouped by a shared topic or related topic. For example, you may have one pillar page that gives a broad overview of a topic. From there, you can create more in-depth, specific articles on related subtopics.

This will not only help you plan content but organize your site architecture as well.

4. Perform research prior to writing.

It’s much easier to write when you have all the pertinent information you want to include in one place. Research your chosen topic before sitting down to write and organize the information in a quick outline.

Include any keyword researchin this process so you can ensure your content aligns with what readers are searching for online. This way when you sit down to write, your only job is to write — not look up new facts.

5. Don’t edit while writing.

When writing it’s very tempting to want to stop and make corrections. Don’t do this. It breaks your writing flow.

Instead, write a rough draft withjust pops into your mind first. Follow your train of thought without stopping to fix typos or edit. The goal is to just get your thoughts on the page. Once your initial draft is written, you can always go back and make changes.

6. Perform article updates.

Another strategy is to build upon existing content by performing an article update. Giving your older content a refresh is not only good for SEO and your readers, but it can be a quick win for adding new content in a time crunch.

With older content, you may need to include additional research and update it for accuracy, but it generally takes less time than writing a new article from scratch. Review your existing content. Are there articles you can do a deeper dive on? Have there been industry advancements you can include? Is there a new angle to explore?

7. Find content ideas wherever you go.

By making blogging a life routine, you will come across creative content ideas much more frequently. Keep an open mind, observe new things that interest you personally and find ways to turn them into fodder for a blog post. By noticing world dynamics that get you excited and relating them to your audience, the process of blogging becomes a lot more natural and fun.

Accumulate content ideas from different situations in life and find ways to apply them to your industry.

8. Hire a freelancer.

Sometimes your workload is just too heavy and your efforts can be better used elsewhere. If you have the resources and budget to do it, hiring outside help may also be a great option.

Sites like Upwork, Contenta, and MediaBistro make it easy to find writing professionals. If looking to generate content on a larger scale, consider working with a content agency.

Blog Like A Pro

Creating content with a consistent cadence is an obstacle busy marketers frequently struggle with. Creating a schedule and mastering blogging time management will allow you to create even when you’re short on time.

This article was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How clean, organized and actionable is your data?

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90% of marketers say their CDP doesn't meet current business needs


A customer data platform (CDP) centralizes an organization’s customer data, providing a single 360-view of each consumer that engages with the company. Yet there are still data-related considerations that organizations have to make beyond what the CDP does.

“[CDPs] were designed to fill a need – to enable a marketer to easily get to the data they need to create their segmentation and then go on and mark it from that point,” said George Corugedo, CTO of data management company Redpoint Global, at The MarTech Conference. “But the issue is that CDPs really don’t take care of the quality aspects of the data.”

Maintaining data quality also impacts segmentation, campaigns and privacy compliance challenges for marketing teams that use this data.

Data quality

The data in a CDP depends on the quality of where it came from. Therefore, an organization using a CDP must also consider the quality of the data sources and reference files used to build out the CDP.

“The inevitable question is going to be, how good is this data?” said Corugedo. “How much can I trust it to make a bold decision?”

This is something that has to be on every organization’s radar. For instance, when identity resolution is used, the issue depends on the quality of the third-party reference files. If they are provided by a telecommunications company or credit bureau as the data partner, those files might only be updated quarterly.

“It’s just not an optimal solution, but every single CDP on the market uses some form of reference file,” Corugedo stated.

It’s up to the data scientists and other team members working within the organization to own the accuracy of these data sources.

Read next: What is a CDP?

Segmentation and other actions

The quality of the data using specific reference files and sources will vary and will impact the confidence that marketers have in creating segments and using them when deploying campaigns.

Marketers have to make this decision at a granular level, based on the trustworthiness of data from a particular lineage.

“If they have a campaign that is reliant on suspect data, they can actually delay that campaign and say maybe we wait until that data gets refreshed,” said Corugedo.

Otherwise, marketers are just “spraying and praying.”

Using rules instead of lists

The advantage of having a CDP is unification of all data. But the data is being updated all the time. Instead of deploying campaigns based on a fixed list of customers, the use of rules to define segments allows marketers to update who they engage in the campaign.

“A list, as soon as it’s detached from the database, starts to decay because it doesn’t get any updates anymore,” Corugedo, adding that using lists takes longer to execute a campaign.

Lower quality from data that isn’t updated can have serious implications for healthcare and other industries, where accuracy is essential. 

“Instead, rules are passed through the campaign just like they would be with a list, but those rules reevaluate every time there’s a decision point to make sure that only the qualified people get the particular content at that point,” Corugedo explained.


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Privacy and regulatory compliance

Maintaining data quality through a Redpoint Global dashboard, or a similar combination of tools and data personnel, will also help an organization manage privacy.

The crucial point is that people on the team know where the data came from and how it’s being used in campaigns. The stakes for sending out relevant messaging are high. Privacy and compliance issues raise the bar even higher.

If you’re using a CDP, you can save headaches and extra labor by using a tool that has compliance and privacy baked in, so to speak.

“What we’ve done is embrace some of this complexity and absorb it into the environment, so the marketer never even sees it,” said Corugedo. “What we do is with every implementation, we will implement a PII vault that keeps PII data super secure, and we can anonymize the marketing database.”

This way, personal information of individual customers (PII) is never violated.

“Marketers ultimately don’t necessarily need to have visibility to PII,” Corugedo explained “They like to see it for testing purposes and making sure that it looks right and everything, but the truth is we can do that in other ways without revealing PII.”

Having a handle on data quality adds to the confidence marketing teams have in creating segments and executing campaigns, and it can also help protect the customer’s privacy and guard against regulatory infringements.

Facts not fiction: Beyond the CDP from Third Door Media on Vimeo.


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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