Where a blog without a content strategy can look like a lovely pile of miscellaneous topics, a blog page with a pillar page strategy creates neat towers of content topics. This content strategy has proven beneficial for the SERPs that house them and the humans that read them.
Content giants all over the internet have adopted and built off of this strategy. With a little planning and content analysis, it’s completely realistic for any page to upgrade to this content strategy, whether you have a decades-old blog or starting from scratch.
While “pillar page” is the term coined by HubSpot, the similar strategies are called 10x content, cornerstone pieces, or simply long-form content. The key to this type of content, no matter what you call it, is to cover a topic so well and in such detail, that it’s the only piece of content you need to fully answer your questions. It’s a one-stop-shop of information on a subject, and what topics it doesn’t cover fully in the body, it has related posts links out to.
What sets pillar pages apart from other long-form content is the content and linking strategy that surrounds them. Pillar pages use ‘topic clusters’ to link out to relevant content, complement the pillar page information, and ultimately give readers opportunities to further peruse your posts.
You can usually spot a pillar page by its title; if a post title has the phrase “an ultimate guide to” or “Everything you need to know about” or “the definitive guide to”, it’s probably trying to be a pillar page. Pillar pages usually cover a basic understanding of a topic, similar to a crash course or a 101 class. They give a great and detailed introduction while offering opportunities (links to other blogs) to go into specifics.
Need an example? Check out this great pillar page by HubSpot on how to start a blog.
If you just right blog posts willy-nilly with no linking or content strategy, it’s a lot harder to build off of momentum and “boost” the power of blogs that cover key topics.
When you create pillar pages and topic clusters, they work synonymously to uplift each other. A strong pillar page will link out to related content, creating a new traffic channel to these posts. Strong topic clusters and linking strategies make these pillar pages more powerful. It’s a helpful symbiotic relationship that you can leverage in your content strategy.
Another benefit is that a well-made pillar page by design usually results in high-quality content. And since Google prioritizes what it considers to be quality content, pillar pages have high ranking value. Not to mention that humans appreciate the hyper-organization as well! Great pillar pages contain information that is long-form but easy to skim for those looking for quick answers.
Is there a topic that your customers expect you to be experts on? That is a great place to start for a pillar page.
For dog trainers, it may be “potty-training your dog.” For Hairstylists, it may be “Creating the perfect bun.” Personal trainers may write about planning the Ultimate Leg Day Workout.” There are no shortages of beneficial pillar pages for any industry – it may just take a bit of reflection and research to discover what you want to be known as an expert for, and what your customers are asking about.
Understanding what terms, phrases and words searchers use to find answers in your industry can help you identify the most productive and valuable titles, keywords, topics, and subtopics to include in your content. The more you directly respond to the language of your audience, the more likely Google is to show them your content.
Understanding what questions people want answers to also help you shape, organize, and research your pillage page content.
You can’t create ‘blah’ content and expect it to excel as a pillar page, especially when there is other better content out there on the same topic.
Before writing (or repurposing) content into a pillar page, take a look at what is already out there. Check out page one of Google on that topic to see what else is out there. If the first 10 pieces of content on that topic are better than yours, go back to the drawing board on how you can improve. Or if you see some of them are lacking, find, and cover the content holes in your posts to set your information apart.
Not everyone wants to read a novel to answer their questions (but some indeed do). Making your content easily skimmable as well as great for in-depth research instantly elevates the quality of your content.
This is achieved through organized topics, clear headers and subheaders, a “table of contents” at the beginning to easily skip to certain topics, and visual assets like graphs, infographics, and videos.
If you have an active blog, chances are you already have some helpful posts that could be a part of your pillar page’s topic cluster. If you’re starting from scratch, you most likely have these future blogs in your mind.
Creating a topic cluster is an important part of your pillar page strategy, and choosing the right posts is an art. Having a couple of “read more about this here” opportunities per section offers a great opportunity for people to continue to explore your content. Make sure that questions, topics, tangents, and tips from your pillar page are backed up by other more granular blog posts.
Your pillar page can’t do much help for people if they never see it! Promoting your best content on social, your website, third-party platforms, and more can not only get your content in front of the right face but grow your customer base by wowing new people with helpful content.
Pillar pages do require you to rethink and revamp your blog page, but adopting this strategy creates organized, well-linked content that owns a great flow and a natural pathway that can help readers convert to customers. If you need help mapping out areas for improvement in your digital content, reach out to our team!