Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters: Part 2 – How to create and manage them

Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters

Written By Team Declaration

July 20, 2022

Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters: Part 2 – How to create and manage them

As we revealed in our previous post, pillar pages and topic clusters allow you to optimise your website and blog content architecture. Once your content is organised effectively site visitors can access all the information they need, quickly and easily, making it more likely they’ll stay onsite for longer. Pillar pages and topic clusters are also great at boosting your search optimisation efforts, by using strategic internal linking.

According to terakeet.com the pillar-cluster model is good for SEO because it:

“showcases your expertise and authority, while adding context and improving PageRank flow via internal links”

The benefits of pillar pages and topic clusters are clear. What may be less clear, however is how to go about creating them.

In this post we’ll examine how to create and manage effective pillar pages/topic clusters and offer up some best practices to help ensure your pages work successfully for you.

1. Choose a pillar page topic

Selecting a topic for your pillar page will require some time and effort, but it’s essential to get this right.

Base your pillar page on what your target audience is searching for. To help you do this:

  • Carry out keyword research
  • Develop a customer persona to help you pin own the right topics. HubSpot has some free buyer persona templates you can use to get started
  • Ideally opt for a topic with high search volume, and relatively low competition
  • Check what your competitors are writing about and research which keywords they rank for

Your pillar topic needs to be relatively broad, so that you can write an entire page on that subject. It also needs to contain subtopics that can link out to multiple topic clusters and allow you to demonstrate your in-depth expertise.

2. Writing your pillar page

Write your pillar page as though you are speaking directly to your readers, answering their questions, and guiding them through various aspects of the topic.

Write comprehensively (pillar pages are usually at least 2000 words) but leave out the details you want to cover in sub-topics. Use these best practices:

  • Start with a strong introduction, including a definition of the topic, so readers know exactly what to expect, and so that Google understands what the page is about
  • Use H tag headings, infographics, quotes, and images to add visual interest. Don’t tire your readers out with too much text, but include plenty of white spaces and bullets, too
  • Try not to use pillar pages to focus on the technical details of a product, but use them to inform readers of the benefits of your solutions
  • Make your pillar page easy to navigate, with menus at the top and bottom of the page, and offer a downloadable version so visitors can save the content to read later
  • A hyperlinked table of contents can help readers jump to the sections they’re most interested in – consider using a floating sidebar so the contents can be seen at all times
3. Link out to topic clusters

Once you’ve created your “epic” pillar page, and answered each subtopic quickly, go on to write a blog post on each subtopic.

Each cluster page should cover each of the subtopics at a deeper level. A content sub-topic page could be presented as a “how to” page, be structured around typical customer questions or queries, or contain compelling industry-specific news.

Each post needs to be linked back to the pillar page (simultaneously the pillar page needs to link out to each of the cluster pages). Cluster pages may also link to one another.

You may or may not have content that’s already written to link to. You don’t need to write every single piece of content on a subtopic before you set up a pillar page. You can link out to non-competitor websites in the meantime, as well as link in to any relevant content you’ve already written. In fact, high quality external links will also help Google to understand your content better.

4. Create a content calendar

Creating a strong pillar page takes the guesswork away from “what to write next?” since your content strategy simply involves “filling in the links” going forward.

A content calendar will help you stay on track. Make a list of topics, subtopics and content that can be linked to. Use each subtopic as a working blog post title and list the keywords you want to use in each post.

 

SEO has changed. Simply writing lots of blog posts is no longer enough to become relevant in Google’s eyes. Nowadays it’s the organisation of your content that matters most.

Developing an effective content strategy and building pillar pages topic clusters can seem a daunting prospect at first. But if you’ve been developing an inbound marketing strategy for a while there’s a good chance you’ll have content that can be optimised and structured to create pillar pages. Use the pointers in this guide and get started re-organising your web content right away to ensure it’s working harder for you.

 

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