Just when you thought you had all your website SEO done, along comes pillar pages. The idea of them has been around a couple years. But, with recent SEO algorithm changes, they make a great deal more sense than they may have in the past.
What’s a pillar page?
Think of pillar pages like a file cabinet drawer that holds information about a topic. Within that drawer are folders related to that topic. Those folders are considered topic clusters (see below). For example, if the drawer’s label was “accounting tips for new business owners,” inside the drawer would be folders about funding options, business structure/format, taxes, employee classification, sales tax, deductions, expenses, and more.
According to HubSpot, “A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting, in more detailed cluster posts, that hyperlink back to the pillar page.”
In form, a pillar page is a single page that promotes the topic at a high level and links to the supporting content from that page. The pillar page highlights the most important elements and is designed to be a long, scrolling page.
Also, a pillar page is a strong enough topic that you can create more, in-depth topic clusters that support it. For example, a pillar page about financial planning tips is too broad. But, a page about financial planning tips for new parents could host an array of subtopics, such as how to establish a collage-planning strategy; how to create an emergency fund; planning to-do lists; checklists; and more.
Below is an example of how pillar pages work, with topic clusters that support them.
What is a topic cluster?
Currently, you may be developing blogs based on a keyword phrase. Each blog post would have a keyword-phrase focus; or, if you’re thinking about content development strategically, it would be based on a weekly or monthly theme.
Topic clusters are similar, but much more powerful. Rather than using a single content item to support a keyword phrase, content clusters are a variety of content pieces supporting the same keyword phrase or theme.
For example, if you owned an accounting firm with an agri-business industry vertical, you would create a variety of content pieces that support the answer to a question. See the diagram below for details on how the content would be developed across media to support the cluster topic.
To create a better search engine authority, each of the content elements should link to one another. That reinforces your “topic voice,” and demonstrates your authority in the space. Additionally, it helps content to rank higher because there are multiple pieces about the same topic, versus a static piece trying to rank on its own; or competing pieces within your site vying for the same search rankings, e.g., blogs using the same keywords or phrases for ranking purposes.
How do pillar pages improve your SEO?
- It consolidates rather than competes. Because pillar pages are the hub and the content are the spokes, the content is more directly related via link building within the site, keyword theme development, and site structure, all of which positively influence search rankings.
- The pages are written to answer a topical question, which aligns more directly with voice-command-related searches people are using on their phone and in home (i.e., Alexa and Siri).
- Search request are getting longer and more conversational. Pillar pages help you to more effectively respond to new search query formats because they offer several content cluster links on one page. Then, they link to supportive content to improve the searchers ability to find what he/she is looking or in one place. This impacts SEO by providing a positive search experience, which, in turn, improves your overall ranking.
- Having a single-focused content page that is well visited increases that page’s rank, which impacts the site’s overall page ranking. The benefit of increased page rankings is decreased PPC/CPC costs for Google and Bing AdWords campaigns.
- By organizing existing content to support pillar pages, you can see the low-hanging fruit more easily, as well as effective content to update. Search engines reward fresher content. So, if you have older, evergreen content, refresh them, re-publish them, and tie them to a pillar page to help increase ranking.
Restructuring your website content to create pillar pages might seem daunting, or nearly impossible if you have thousands of blog pages and other supporting content. Consider using tools to help you organize what you already have into categories. Tools like SEMRush and AccuRanker can save you a ton of time and help you organize content, detect evergreen content, and identify content you should just archive.
This task requires a thoughtful process, dedicated planning time, and website support. If you have all those pieces inhouse, great. If not, consider working with an SEO or content consultant (like us) to help you build the structure and process.
Pillar pages are the organizational path of the future. There’s no better time than the present to begin implementing them. What’s your plan?
- How Topic Clusters Get Your Content On Page One of Google Searches
- Implementing Your New Pillar Strategy with Topic Clusters
- SEO Content Strategy 2018 | Pillar Content & Examples
- How to Conduct an Effective Content Audit for Pillar Page Strategy
- How to Create Pillar Content Google Will Love (our favorite reference)