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Considering a Topic Cluster Content Strategy? 5 Tips for Your Writers

Posted by Doug Kirk  Jan 3, 2019 12:27:52 PM

topic cluster content strategyThe more information you can provide freelance writers about the goal of your content, the more successful it will be. 

This is especially true when creating topic clusters.

The Topic Cluster Method focuses less on traditional keyword and SEO strategies and more on creating a unified series of content around a single topic, all built around a single piece of pillar content. This is a much more organized approach to SEO and content creation than most companies take.

Luckily, the use of freelance writers is perfectly suited for filling your topic clusters with a variety of engaging, detailed content ideas.

If you want to see success with topic clusters, follow these tips for educating your freelance writers about your goals for topic clusters and providing them guidelines for how each individual piece should fit into the strategy.

Educate Freelancers on what Topic Clusters Are

Ideally, the freelance writers you work with should be familiar with the latest content marketing and SEO strategies so they can apply these concepts to all the content they write for you. It doesn’t always work out this way.

Whether your writers are familiar with topic clusters or not, it is important to get on the same page about the strategy so they understand exactly how you’re approaching it. Here are the main terms you’ll want to make sure they’re familiar with:

  • Topic Clusters: Topic clusters are made up of a pillar page and subtopics all focused around a single core topic. The focus is on a topic rather than keywords to make sure your content ranks well and shows up in SERPs no matter what search terms are used.

  • Pillar Page: The pillar page provides a comprehensive resource that covers the main topic in full and provides SEO friendly links to additional content that explores each of the sub-topics. The goal of this page should be to convert visitors to leads or customers.

  • Subtopics: Each topic cluster should also include a number of shorter pieces of content that explore specific aspects of the main topic in greater detail. HubSpot recommends each topic cluster includes at least 6-8 subtopics. These content pieces are where freelancers can provide the most value.

Develop and Share Pillar Content

Every piece of content created in the topic cluster model should link back to your pillar page. This helps move visitors through your lead funnel and provides the best SEO.

If pillar content is so important to the overall strategy, your freelancers should be very familiar with this piece of content.

HubSpot’s pillar page for “Topic Clusters SEO” includes contributions from five different writers. While one writer should be in charge of your pillar page to make sure the flow and tone are consistent, input from other writers can help flesh out all of the subtopics.

Share early outlines for your pillar page with writers so they can identify any areas where you are missing. This will make sure your core topic is as comprehensive as possible before expanding on it with your subtopics.

Even for writers who will only be involved in writing subtopics, share early drafts of the pillar page so they know the main topic your cluster is covering. This allows them to expand on the topic when they are pitching ideas for subtopics. Once your subtopic content is created, constantly go back and update your pillar page with any new information.

Share As Much Information As Possible

In addition to sharing pillar content, your freelance writers will always benefit from as much information as possible about your business and your audience. Here are a few things to consider sharing with them:

  • Buyer Personas: Give your writers as much information about your target audience with detailed buyer personas and insights into where this content will fall in the buyer journey. While your pillar page might be broad, your individual subtopics may want to target specific personas or industries. This information allows your freelancers to target these different segments.

  • Subject Matter Expert Interviews: The Topic Cluster Model is ideal for establishing your company as an expert in a specific topic or even creating a new category of your own. This will require a deep knowledge of your product and benefits. Provide any necessary information from SMEs through interview transcripts or recordings. You could even have your freelancers join a conference call with your experts to allow them to ask more specific questions.

  • Content Feeds: If you use the nDash Content Feeds feature, make sure your feed is full of content sources that related to your topic clusters to give your freelancers more information and resources to draw from.

  • Subtopic Suggestions: While the information above should give your writers a good starting point for coming up with engaging content pitches that fit in your topic cluster, a little more guidance never hurts. Share any keyword research or subtopic ideas you’ve generated. If you’re using HubSpot, their Content Strategy Tool automatically provides suggestions for subtopics that expand on your topic cluster.

Explain What Value Your Freelance Writers Can Provide

When working with freelancers, you never want them to consider themselves simply “words-for-hire.” This results in unimaginative, cookie-cutter content that won’t do your brand or your topic clusters any good.

Make it clear from the beginning that you are working with them because of their expertise, creativity and difference of perspective. 

The goal of topic clusters is to approach the main topic from many different angles so you can attract visitors to your content no matter what searches they run. This makes it extremely important that your subtopics provide a wide variety of content. Explain to your freelancers the value they are able to provide so their pitches and content will reflect that:

  • Identifying Content Gaps: Freelancers can make sure your content is unique by offering different points of view, perspectives, dissenting arguments and by filling knowledge gaps.

  • Encouraging Deep Dives: Choose freelance writers that are subject matter experts in their own right and encourage them to approach the main topic with their expertise in mind. This allows your subtopics to dive deep into areas that will attract a more technical audience.

  • Supporting Creativity: Encourage your writers to think outside the box with their content pitches to ensure your topic clusters are filled with a variety of approaches to attract every segment of your audience.

Provide Feedback to Freelancers

Your relationship with freelance writers should always be collaborative and long-term. Instead of working with anonymous writers for a single assignment, strive to develop your freelance writers over time.

This requires you to provide feedback to freelancers on how well their pitches and content fit into your overall content strategy. Make this feedback as detailed as possible. For content pitches, especially if you aren’t accepting the pitch, let them know if the reason was the topic, length, price, or some other factor.

For finished content, provide as much input as possible about tone, format and how well their content fits the topic cluster. 

Freelance writers can be the best asset your topic cluster strategy has, but only if they’re given the tools they need to succeed. Educate your freelancers on your new content strategy, provide them the information needed and continue to provide feedback and your topic clusters will become much more successful.

Interested in finding someone to help write your topic cluster content? Try out nDash.  

Get $100 credit from nDash

Topics: Topic Cluster, content marketing, seo