Building a Pillar Page 101

We break down what a pillar page is, what it does and why every website needs one

Online queries are becoming more complex and specified than ever. Emphasis used to be on creating and arranging online content, such as blogs, around single keywords and simple phrases. But with the rise of voice search assistants like Siri, the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, over 60% of searches today are four or more words, according to HubSpot. That means there’s been a dramatic shift in the traditional way of thinking about how content is organized on your website, and, therefore, how your content will rank (or not) in search results.

What’s more, there is more online content than ever before, meaning quality—not quantity—is the name of the game when it comes to getting your blogs and other content to rank first. Think about which query would yield better results: a search for “Chicago hotels,” or “family-friendly places to stay near Chicago”? As internet users turn to more conversational ways of seeking information, companies must adapt.

That’s where a pillar page comes in. Read on to learn what it is, why you need it, how to use it effectively and common mistakes to avoid.

What is a Pillar Page?

A pillar page organizes online content into topic clusters, which are groups of content that focus on similar topics and subtopics. It serves as a one-stop shop for readers, so they’ll have more incentive to keep clicking through for more information. Pillar pages are typically longer than a traditional blog post and cover more ground, but they don’t go into as much detail. Instead, a pillar page is filled with snippets of topics and keywords, including links to more in-depth, specific blog posts.

For example, a hotel company’s pillar page would consist of one long landing page that provides a brief overview of each of the subtopics the related blogs will dig into. “Kid-friendly,” “design inspiration” and “vacation ideas” could be topic clusters, each with their own set of related blogs. A great pillar page example is HubSpot’s “Instagram Marketing” page—it covers all aspects of their Instagram marketing content in one location, with links to individual blog posts that go into more detail on each topic. Check out some more examples here.

How to Implement a Pillar Page

To bring a pillar page to life, you must first understand what your customers are searching for and how. Then, begin breaking down your content into those topic clusters so they align with your marketing goals. Your website is more than just a collection of keywords—it’s a collection of purposeful concepts and ideas meant to drive sales, provide information and increase brand awareness.

Consider all the different dimensions of each cluster topic: What are the possible questions your audience might have? What are their specific interests? The topic clusters should be broad enough that enough blogs could fall under each one, but not so broad that any blogs would compete against each other.

For example, a “kid-friendly” hotels topic cluster could contain blogs that cover thousands of different angles in terms of “kid-friendly” destinations—from food to activities, room styles and more. However, “kid-friendly destinations for children under 2” would likely be too limiting in creating continuous content, and just “hotels” is far too broad.

Pillar Pages and SEO

While the topic cluster model of a pillar page relies less on individual keywords, don’t worry—it still juices up your site’s SEO! In fact, by creating a pillar page, you are likely increasing your site’s SEO value because search engines like Google favor a cleaner, better-organized website experience, with topically-arranged content containing hyperlinks that actually make sense for the search.

Google wants to know exactly what your site or content is about—and if it does, it will rank you higher. Plus, having a page that touches on all the subtopics your content addresses means there are tons of keywords, optimized subheads and great internal links all in one place. This increases your chances of ranking among several different queries or topics.

Pillar Page ‘Don’ts’ Explained

Rearranging your website and content may sound daunting. But by sticking to a few rules, it can be super easy—and definitely worthwhile!

  • Don’t just pick a word. Instead, pick umbrella categories. More complex searches mean you need to start thinking more broadly about the topics you want to rank for. Then, develop a content strategy around that.
  • Don’t shove tons of links into a pillar page if they don’t belong there. Be strategic and smart about where internal links are placed—if Google can’t figure out what your content is about, it won’t trust you or rank you very high. Plus, your users will go elsewhere for the content or info they were looking for.
  • Don’t get too broad—or too specific—in your topic clusters. It’s all about finding the right balance—you want to rank for the specific info your customers are searching for, but you also want to leave the door open to continue finding new angles to explore those topics.

Need help building a pillar page? Contact us and we’ll get you started!

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