Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters: Why are they Important?
Search behaviours have changed. Nowadays, to maximise the impact of your content marketing you need to not only write high-quality content – but consider how to organise it. Your blog architecture needs to provide visitors with an optimal user experience – and be arranged so that your content gets noticed by search engines.
Pillar pages and topic clusters address this need. It’s no longer enough to create individual blogs that rank for specific keywords. To boost engagement and rank highly in searches, you need to create targeted ‘clusters’ of in-depth, relevant content that connect to centralised hubs, or ‘pillar pages’.
Why are pillar pages and topic clusters so important?
According to HubSpot, people are submitting longer, more conversational search queries. Most searches are four words or more, with users wishing to access information that fits their exact requirements.
Content marketers are having to up their game to meet these exacting requirements by creating content that addresses all the information a searcher may need to find. The best way to do this – and ensure their content gets picked up by search engines – is to organise content according to main topics, with blog posts based on as many specific, conversational, long-tail keywords as possible.
What is a pillar page/topic cluster?
According to the Content Marketing Institute a pillar page is: “A web page that covers an overall topic in depth, and links to clusters of related content”.
A pillar page is the foundation upon which cluster pages are built. It provides readers with a comprehensive overview of a topic, leaving room for more in-depth coverage of that topic in the cluster pages. Cluster pages often focus on a certain aspect of a topic based around a specific keyword.
Pillar pages are generally longer than blog posts (2000 words plus) since they touch briefly on all aspects of a broader topic. An effective pillar page should become an authoritative one-stop source of content that attracts multiple external links.
The benefits of pillar and cluster pages
- Increased engagement: Well-organised content is user-friendly, boosting engagement. Pillar pages also help to build trust with visitors positioning a site as an authority on a subject.
- Longer site sessions: Since pillar and cluster pages are interlinked, visitors tend to stay on a site for longer – since there’s no need to visit different sites to access information – driving engagement and page views.
- Search-engine friendly: Pillar and cluster pages are grouped systematically and are well organised. This makes it easy for Google to identify the subject matter and rank these types of pages highly.
- Help to qualify leads: Pillar pages can be used to help sales reps educate leads, answer their questions and qualify them as prospects.
- Help to generate backlinks and social shares: Pillar pages often get shared throughout multiple platforms, helping to attract backlinks (as users share content and link back to your webpage).
Types of pillar pages
There are various types of pillar pages, but these are some of the most commonly used:
- Guide pillar
- Resources pillar page
- Product/service pillar page
1. “Guide” pillar page
The ‘guide’ pillar page is often used to raise awareness for both users and search engines. It’s there to establish brand authority on a certain topic, by providing a comprehensive overview for those with an interest in a particular subject. It links to cluster pages that expand on various aspects of that topic – often based on a related keyword.
For example, the guide page may focus on a broad topic like “digital marketing”, while a cluster page may focus on “social media marketing” with this more specific keyword attached to it.
Pillar pages can help to attract lots of attention, and boost traffic, as well as attract backlinks – all of which can turn viewers into subscribers or paying customers.
2. Resources pillar page
This type of pillar page contains references of valuable links which can be focused on external or internal links. These pillar pages offer useful introductions to information, insights, blogs and tools, followed by links to authoritative articles or sites.
3. Product/service pillar page
If your business offers multiple products or services, a pillar page that focuses on a specific product or service could provide users with useful information. For example, a pillar page that answers questions about a service could link out to pages that help users understand its benefits, the account setup process, pricing and more.
If you already have plenty of content on your website, and clear relationships between different questions and customer pain points, it shouldn’t be too difficult to fashion your own pillar page and topic clusters. Pillar pages and topic clusters don’t necessarily have to radically change the structure of your site. They simply provide an important ‘missing piece’ to co-ordinate and bring your content together, for better results in searches and improved user engagement.
In part 2 of this blog post, we’ll be discussing how to create and manage pillar pages and topic clusters.