Secret SEO Weapon: The Cluster Method

Jonathan Holmes
Secret SEO Weapon: The Cluster Method

What if I told you that everything you’ve read about keyword stuffing is wrong?

Ok, well it probably isn’t because if you don’t know what you’re doing then keyword stuffing is still a bad idea.

I thought this was always the case until I tried something weird and against the grain and it paid off big time.

My blog’s organic traffic. Day I discovered the Cluster Method highlighted in yellow.

My rankings shot up overnight and I was getting traffic that I never would have got had I continued to listen to those who condemn keyword stuffing.

First of all let’s review what keyword stuffing is in general and why most SEO professionals advise against it.

What is keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is the practice of adding too many popular search keywords to your content in an effort to manipulate search engine rankings.

If it’s done obviously and unnaturally it will lead to your site receiving lower rankings on search engines.

Google’s definition gives the following text as a typical example of keyword stuffing:

We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at custom.cigar.humidors@example.com.

It also lists two other practices that constitute keyword stuffing:

  • Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
  • Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for

So basically keyword stuffing is filling your content with text that’s only purpose is to improve search engine rankings.

This is bad, don’t do this. I’m not encouraging you to start padding out your content with useless filler. Write for the human and not the robot if you want to be successful with SEO.

Google’s 2011 Panda and 2013 Hummingbird updates cracked down hard on keyword stuffing and it’s highly inadvisable to attempt it in the traditional manner.

Even the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress encourages keyword stuffing to a certain degree.

This is why we can’t rely solely upon tool and plugins for guidance in SEO, we need to use our brains too.

Now I’m paranoid because I’ve used the word ‘keyword stuffing’ way too many times already in this post but it’s probably fine because I’m only using the phrase whenever necessary.

What is the Cluster Method?

The Cluster Method involves using a high-density of unique keywords to boost traffic without fear of a penalty.

Instead of optimising a post for a couple of keywords, you add every single keyword you can find related to that post and include them all at least once.

Even though you are densely packing your content with relevant search terms, this method won’t trigger a Google penalty because you stuff unique keywords rather than stuffing a single one repetitively.

Let’s walk through the steps of successfully implementing the Cluster Method to skyrocket your organic traffic overnight like I did.

1. Use Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to find all keywords relating to your topic. Type in your most important keyword and then click ‘show all’.

2. Tick the select all box or select the keywords you want to export and then click export to CSV.

3. Open the CSV in Google Sheets, highlight columns A to F, click Data, Sort Range, tick Data has Header Row, select sort by Search Difficulty and click sort.

4. Now you should have a list, or your ‘cluster’ of secondary keywords related to your primary keyword. The purpose of sorting them by search difficulty is just to prioritise which you should focus on adding if you have an enormous list and can’t include them all. You should, of course, also pay attention to search volume because we don’t want to spend all our time and effort adding keywords that no one is searching for. Look for a balance of search difficulty and search volume.

5. Finally we need to weave these new keywords into our post as naturally as possible. I stress naturally because the last thing you want to do is put the reader off and make them bounce by writing content that appears to be spun or written for robots.

Now your content will be far denser on relevant keywords and you’ll undoubtedly get much more traffic than you ever would be following conventional SEO advice.

You can see an example of one of my own posts using the cluster method here. It ranks on the first page of Google for many different keywords related to numerology marriage compatibility.

Check out how keyword-dense the sample text from my numerology site is below:

I don’t believe in numerology, astrology, ghosts, Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.

Eight keywords packed into nine sentences–that’s something most SEO professionals will explicitly tell you not to do.

But we can get away with it because we’re using the Cluster Method which is about unique keyword stuffing, rather than just stuffing the same keywords everywhere.

The complete article is over 3,500 words and I’ve packed it just as densely. If I didn’t do it then it wouldn’t generate even half the traffic it does. Think of it as squeezing the most value per word out of your writing.

Note how I’ve tried my best to ensure that the keywords fit with the natural flow of the text and don’t stick out as if they’re deliberately inserted (which they are, of course).

Some keywords are naturally difficult to insert naturally into the flow of a post because they’re grammatically incorrect or the syntax is in the wrong order.

An example of this is ‘marriage prediction calculator free’ or nearly anything with ‘free’ on the end.

One method of circumventing this is to get extra creative with your writing–a sentence like “you can always use our marriage prediction calculator free of charge” tackles this tricky keyword.

If a keyword is impossible to insert without ruining the natural flow of the text then it’s fine to drop extra words inside the keyword to make it flow, like “and”, “or” or “the”, etc.

The last thing I want you to do is write in lengthy strings of keywords that contain little substance or educational value to the reader.

Be sensible!

How to take the Cluster Method to the next level

Cluster Method + header tags + emojis = profit.

Check this out:

Each of my header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) contains a keyword and they all rank well.

This is what the searcher sees on Google when they search one of my header terms:

The emoji at the end of the header tag shows up on the Google search results page, which increases the click-through rate and ranking of the article.

Emojipedia is the best place to copy and paste your emojis from.

The icing on the cake is to insert a table of contents that groups all of your header tags at the top of the article. Google likes well-organised content with clear headers and tables a lot.

I use the Easy Table of Contents plugin for WordPress to automatically generate mine.

TL;DR

Keyword stuffing is bad, don’t repeat the same keyword too many times. Densely pack in as many unique keywords as you can, preferably into headers with emojis and you’ll see a spike in traffic.