In this practical, informative white paper, you'll learn:

  • The Topic Cluster
  • Formatting your pillar page
  • Intertwining SEO and your pillar page
  • Putting your Pillar Page into Play

Digital and content marketing are continuously changing. It’s hard for business owners (and marketers and content strategists!) to keep up with the rapid-fire trends. And just like the attendees of Fashion Week, it’s essential for businesses to determine what fads are worth your time and money, and what trends are just a little too outlandish to adopt.

Being on the forefront of something worthwhile can help you gain notice, and one content marketing trend gathering steam is the pillar page. If you haven’t explored the concept yet, read on. (And if you like fashion, nothing says 2018 like an 80s revival outfit.)

Defining the Pillar Page

So, you ask, what is a pillar page? What does it do? What is its purpose? And most importantly, why do you need it?

PillarThink of a pillar page as a brainstorm, or outline, or mind map. You have one central theme and a bunch of offshoots. You can also visualize a pillar page as a content umbrella—it has one overarching topic, with several more specific subtopics under it.

A pillar page is an intensive SEO strategy as well. It serves multiple purposes, such as addressing a topic fully within one web page. This is very helpful for your target audience, who is looking for answers. It serves as an excellent way to infuse keywords and phrases into your website as well. It gives you a helpful structure to link to other website pages. Most succinctly, it is a way to address the changing needs of SEO.

You see, today’s consumer wants to chat. They want to ask questions or get real specific about what they’re looking for (it helps them wade through all that content noise out there)—and this makes queries and searches longer than ever before. You can call it the SIRI-effect…“Siri, what is a pillar page?” The effect is very real, especially with more people using voice searches and search questions as technology continues to advance.

In fact, according to Ahrefs, around 64% of searches are 4 words or longer, which makes pillar pages a dynamite SEO strategy; much more powerful than a blog post. But why is a pillar page such a great SEO strategy?

The quick answer is that search engines have gotten savvier. They are getting better at displaying content that a user wants.

Blogs are often written on a singular topic, but you aren’t necessarily able to put in all the SEO-rich keywords and phrases and subtopics within it. Pillar pages act as a topic cluster. You have a broad main topic, and since the pillar pages are longer, they allow you to bring in several more specific related topics and keywords into the page as well.

Bottom line—you need and want pillar pages to enhance your SEO strategy. You’re able to use the model to link URLs on your website more efficiently, help searchers find information more easily, and hopefully gets more pages on your site ranked by Google.

Here is where information could be written about the technicalities, algorithms, and thought process behind the topic cluster strategy—but you’ll need to be awake, so you can learn how to create pillar pages.

The First Key to a Pillar Page: The Topic Cluster

Topic ClusterHubSpot says it best: “Topic clusters help more pages rank to give searchers better answers.” You see, at the core, while content is a way to rank and be found, its ultimate goal should be providing answers and solutions to your target audience. Everything should be written with that audience in mind—including your pillar pages.

A topic cluster is choosing your main topic, which should be one that can be broken down into several subtopics easily. Think of it as a way to explore a topic in-depth.

For example, let’s take Content Marketing (which the audience here is obviously interested in). Within that very broad topic you can form a cluster of topics—or subtopics—like:

  • Types of content marketing
  • Creating your content marketing strategy
  • Target audiences
  • Buyer personas
  • Creating content
  • SEO
  • Content’s role in inbound marketing.

Even more, you can use subheadings and formatting to answer questions, so that readers who are skimming still get the information they need.

Finding your topic clusters is more straightforward than you think. You have endless tools and data at your disposal. Inspiration is already there. Following are some strategies you can use:

  • Look to your blog – What posts are successful and tie in together? Which posts have you said, I’d really like to go more in-depth on that topic?
  • Answer FAQs – If you have your FAQs broken down into categories, using those categories may be a great way to create a pillar page. Another way to think of it is as your customer’s pain points. Your pillar page should address each of those main points thoroughly.
  • Can you link it? – A pillar page works ideally when you can link to cluster content. If you are doing a pillar page on content marketing, you’ll want to be able to link it to your well-written, in-depth post about buyer personas.
  • Can it act as a guide, or topic 101? – Pillar pages serve well as a topic 101. They are comprehensive pieces of content that also give a general overview of content on your website. While you’ll touch on a cluster of topics in one place, you’ll also provide ways for your audience to go as deep into a subject as they want (via hyperlink).

Deciding what to put on your pillar page should be about organizing content in a way that makes it easier to navigate. Approach it with the intent to filter out vague search results. In essence, you are answering your audiences long-tail search queries. In fact, use questions and long-tail keywords as subtitles. For example, how do I create a content strategy?

Another approach is to determine the topics you want to rank for as a business. For example, if your business’s specialty niche is helping businesses harness the power of their accounting software, create a pillar page about the hows, whys, and benefits of using a software consulting firm that teaches your staff how to fully use their QuickBooks. Address the pain points, like how long it can take to navigate software you aren’t familiar with, and how that time can transition into a loss of profit for the company.

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3 More Keys to Creating a Pillar Page

KeysOnce you have your topic cluster ready to go, it’s time to determine some logistics for your pillar page. Like any piece of content, a pillar page will need to be individualized to your business. While there are some general rules of thumb, your audience will be more specific in their needs.

Here are some loose rules and keys that will help get you started in creating a pillar page:

Length of a pillar page

A pillar page tends to run between 2,000 and 3,000 words. However, you’ll want to take into account your audience, your topic, and how in-depth you want to go—which can make the length for your pillar pages widely varying. Do some research to determine what will work best for you, or simply go with your gut.

Formatting your pillar page

Although people have approached pillar pages differently, many have similar components:

  • Introduction or overview – It’s helpful to start your pillar page with an introduction to what the audience will encounter on the pillar page.
  • Visuals – A big block of text is a thing of the past. People are far more engaged when text is intertwined with photos, graphics, charts, graphs, etc. Depending on your business, you’ll want to incorporate things that break up the text, but don’t overcrowd or overstimulate. Balance the entire format so things are clean, appealing, and easy to read and skim.
  • Support – Support text and formatting will also enhance your pillar page. Add quotes and citations. Find highlight text. Add links and subtitles. There are excellent ways to create a polished and engaging pillar page.

HubSpot put together a list of pillar page examples that represent clearly what you can do.

Intertwining SEO and your pillar page

SEO Long-tail keywords, keywords, and topic cluster are how you’ll intertwine SEO and your pillar page. The easiest way to begin listing your keywords and key phrases is by brainstorming.

Some people approach it as a question. What are my consumers looking for? Maybe they are looking at “how to create a pillar page.” Look at your topic clusters and pull in keywords and key phrases from coordinating blog posts.

Use Google analytics, or even Google search. You can find what people are looking for simply by typing in the main question, key phrase, or keyword. For example:

If you type in “how to create a pillar page,” not only do you get the results, but a box toward the end of the page stating, “searches related to how to create a pillar page,” with the following results:

  • Best pillar page examples
  • Pillar page template
  • How to create content pillars

Google Search Box There are more results, but you get the point. You can also use the “people also ask,” or as you’re typing it your query into the Google search box, see what other phrases start highlighting below.

Searches RelatedPeople Also Ask

Putting your Pillar Page into Play

Where does your pillar page go? It goes on your website, of course. How you present it is up to you and your strategy. Some websites file it as a guide within their blog, but you could potentially even create a tab for it. Look at how others have done it and decide what works best for your business, or get innovative and create a new trend.

How many pillar pages you create is up to you, and should be determined by the number of topics you have and how you want to organize them. Don’t just approach it loosely though, have a solid plan and put some thought into it. Look at the topic architecture for your website, and then begin to cluster the topics to group into pillar pages. Think of these pages at the cornerstones of your content.

There really is no downside to pillar pages. Not only to they add organization to your website, but they also support your SEO strategy and allow your readers a place to explore a topic more easily and comprehensively.

Final Thoughts

Your business should have the goal of staying on the forefront of content marketing and SEO. It’s crucial to stay present in an online world that can be difficult for consumers to navigate, especially because of the information overload. Use pillar pages to make it easier for your audience to find valid content that’s well organized, and to stay ranked as the ever-changing marketing landscape continues to evolve into new strategies and trends.