I’ve been writing quite a few posts on content marketing recently, and I discovered a strategy I wanted to try myself, as well as share with other clients. I learnt that you can improve your search rankings, quickly and easily, simply by re-organising your content into pillar pages and topic clusters.
Pillar pages and topic clusters are hardly a new concept, and you may already be in the know about them. But just in case you aren’t, here’s a quick look at why they may be even more relevant than ever, and how you can use them to elevate the impact of your content.
Why are pillar pages and topic clusters so important?
Two main things: To provide users with fast answers to their queries – and to help search engines find and rank your pages.
Due to the rise in voice search, amongst other things, people are submitting longer and more conversational search queries than ever before. They’re looking for information that meets their exact requirements closely. By creating pillar pages and topic clusters you can give them everything they need to know in one place.
From a search engine’s point of view, they have to sift through a lot of clutter on the internet, so it’s hard for them to determine which pages contain the most useful, timely content. By presenting your content via pillar pages and topic clusters, it’s easier for web bots to crawl and index your pages, making this a good way to boost organic traffic, at no extra cost.
What are pillar pages and topic clusters?
Put simply, pillar pages are long web pages that give readers an overview of a topic. Topic clusters are subtopic pages that link outwards from, as well as link towards, larger “pillar” pages. Topic cluster pages also interlink with the other related subtopic pages too. So there’s a lot of linking going on.
Rather than posting a series of disjointed blog posts on various subjects (as is the traditional way), pillar pages create a foundation that links all your resources on a particular subject area together.
When they’re interconnected in this way, it’s easier for website visitors to access all the information they need, quickly and easily, and without leaving your site.
This content set-up offers more value to your readers, and establishes you as an authority on a certain topic in the eyes of Google. So much so that search engines are able to crawl your content better, and give you higher rankings on SERPs.
Pillar pages and topic clusters allow you to:
- Cover an entire topic in detail, establishing you as the expert
- Offer users a better experience, and help to keep visitors on-site for longer
- Answer all your users’ questions in one place
- Help to improve the flow of your site using internal linking
- Boost SEO: Pages that are grouped systematically and are well-organised allow Google to quickly identify what they’re about and rank them accordingly
Maybe one of your clients sells home gym equipment. By creating a pillar page for them on the subject “home gym equipment” you can offer readers a high view of the many different topics related to this subject. For example: What type of equipment is available for the home gym enthusiast? What are the different price points? Ideas for smaller spaces, and so on.
Your pillar page should contain a series of links to posts that can give readers more in-depth coverage of each subtopic you mentioned. By clicking on the link “Ideas for smaller spaces” on the pillar page, readers can arrive at a post that goes into lots of detail about their options.
How do you create a pillar page?
You may not have to write tons of new content to create your pillar pages and topic clusters. If you already have an eBook, or guide, or whitepaper that covers a subject area with broad brushstrokes you can use this to create your pillar page. If you’ve already created a lot of content for your blog then a pillar page can help you go back and re-organise it.
If you’re writing pillar pages for a client, review their past content to identify possible topics that could be turned into pillar pages. Base your decision on past performance (i.e. which topics have received the most interest and engagement).
Writing great content and selecting the right keywords is, of course, crucial in order to attract organic traffic. However, unless you’re structuring your content correctly too, you could be missing a trick. Google wants to know you’re an authority on a topic, and the best way to establish this is to organise your content around pillar pages and topic clusters.
Google’s algorithm also looks favourably at internal links in any case. According to HubSpot, adding more internal links to your pages increases your SERP rankings. So the pillar page/content cluster strategy could be a win-win strategy.
First published on yourcreativecopywriter.co.uk