Have You Thought About Pillar Pages? 4 Steps to Rebuilding Your SEO
Last update: 14 July 2023 at 10:05 am
Is your blog post traffic slowing down? Are your old SEO tricks no longer working for your business? It’s probably because Google is constantly changing the SEO game, and it’s hard to stay on top of it. But don’t discourage just yet. There is an easy fix to your problem and it only involves some re-organising.
Search queries have become longer and more specific over time but it is not only a matter of ranking for keywords anymore. With a growing amount of content available online, it’s become important for you to distinguish everything you have to offer.
The current structure of your blog may not give crawlers a clear picture of your content as a whole and only focuses on each page individually. But no stress, here is how you can take back control of your SEO with pillar pages.
What is a pillar page?
A pillar page does exactly what its name suggests: it’s a structure that stands as a support for something else. In the context of your website, it is a front page of a broad topic that has links to subtopics which in this case are called topic clusters, but we’ll come back to that.
By having pillar pages as your principal ideas of your website rather than each blog post standing on their own, it is a strategy that pools together as much relevant content onto a single page and thus increasing your rank on a wider range of associated search queries. If you are also wondering “how to increase my domain authority“, this is an easy way to fix it.
The topic clusters are all the posts that are relevant to each other under the same umbrella, in this case, the pillar page. They can all be linked to each other via the same theme but don’t overlap in information to avoid redundancy.
Here’s a simple example:
A company offers marketing tips for various e-commerces. One of their pillar pages will be for ‘Mobile-App Advertising’ where they will give a broad overview of the importance of this kind of advertising and give glimpses into the topic clusters. The topic clusters will resemble something along the lines of “Social Media Advertising”, “Mobile Layout for E-Commerces”, “Mobile-App User Behaviour vs Computer User Behaviour”…and the list goes on.
Why should I have a pillar page?
Google has changed its nature of ranking by selecting content that is organised by topics instead of keywords to adapt to the new style of long-tail keyword searches. As mentioned at the beginning, if you have noticed stagnation in your traffic, it’s best you try re-organising your website. By taking on the role of a designer to your blog posts, you may begin to notice redundancy of content that you should get rid of, and start to create a flow through all that you have to offer.
Pillar pages will force you to think of your content more specifically and create links between each other. Different topics will be interlinked and your content will appear on a wider variety of long-tail keyword searches. Furthermore, these links will create a friendly user experience with easy paths for your audience to follow and provide them with further information relative to a topic they are interested in but were not necessarily searching for. This will build a positive relationship between your business and the audience that will lead to conversions, something all business owners want!
By regrouping the content that you do have and eliminating content that may overlap, this leaves you with room to investigate topics or topic clusters that may be missing. For example, you may have focused heavily on two or three subjects and less on another two, but now that you know where the gaps are, you can start to fill them and have a good idea of how to move your business forward.
So what makes a good pillar page?
It’s important not to think of a pillar page as a simple content page that covers a vast topic. Your pillar pages are the building blocks of your entire blog, and everything you post should be in relation to these pages. The pillar page is not a stand-alone page that you polish and bid keywords on, it needs to bring everything together and fundamentally build your new SEO strategy.
Breadth over depth
A good pillar content does not focus on the specifics, but instead, on the general. If we take a look at our marketing for e-commerce website example, the ‘Mobile-App Advertising’ pillar page should include universal ideas of marketing on mobile-apps, and make reference to the topic clusters without going into too much depth. There would be no reason for your readers to continue on to the topic cluster pages if they’re simply going to read the same information twice and consequentially, they will probably leave your page…
Internal linking to the max
How do your readers get from the pillar page to the topic cluster? Hyperlinks. How do you get your readers to continue clicking through topic clusters? Hyperlinks. Every time there is a mention to a topic cluster on the pillar page, there must be a hyperlink. However, to keep the reader in a cycle, every topic cluster must also have a hyperlink to link back to the pillar page or another topic cluster. This way, you are creating a spider-web of links that connect all your information together and give a more global idea of what you have to offer. A silver platter of your content to Google.
What you don’t want happening with your website is your pillar pages competing with your individual posts for higher ranks. Research into specific keywords is necessary before launching this new structure. Make sure that there are no overlaps and that your content is broad and good enough to score well in search engine rankings and thus high on the search engine results pages.
How to create a pillar page in 4 easy steps
Now that you are convinced pillar pages are a must-have in your SEO strategy, here is everything you need to know in an easy four-step guide to start building your own set of pillar pages.
1. Decide your business brand and audience
It is very important for a company to have a clear idea of what they are selling to their audience and who their audience is/will be. Your website should be the best there is in its field with little room for ambiguity on what it is selling. You should also have a clear target audience and know the searchers’ intent.
2. Keyword research for topic clusters
Just because we have been focusing on re-organising your site throughout this article does not mean that keywords are no longer a big part of your search engine ranks. The best way to choose your topics is to have a look through your content in parallel with keyword research. Find a good balance between topic clusters that make sense together and can also show up with high ranking keywords. This may be a long process, but it is worth the time and effort.
3. Reorganise existing content and blog posts
This is when much of the moving happens. Reorganise all of your existing content into the topic clusters you identified in the previous step. This may require much cutting and pasting and maybe even some deleting. Remember to get rid of any redundancies you may encounter like overlapping information in similar blog posts.
Your cluster pages should each be unique and bring new information about a specific topic that audiences have not read somewhere else on your website. You should however mention other topic clusters under the same pillar page (or maybe even in another cluster under different pillar pages) so that you create internal linking via hyperlinks. Don’t forget the link to your pillar page!
4. Create pillar pages
It is more than likely that you will have more than one pillar page for your website and each types of pillar page should follow a similar model. There are varied opinions of how long your pillar page text should be. It ranges from 2,000 to 10,000 words. There is no correct amount, but longer content has shown to appear more often at the top of search results. With a long pillar page however also comes structure, headlines, table of contents, and not just one big paragraph of information.
If you want your content to appear on Google Featured Snippets, some Q&As related to the topic clusters could be a valuable idea! Don’t forget the internal links to your topic clusters!
Now that you have done these four steps, you can use SEO for these pillar pages and feature them as much as you can on your website.
Your website traffic may have stagnated over the past few months or even slowed down, but it does not necessarily mean the end of your company. A simple solution would be to reorganise your current website (which most probably does not look much like when you had just started) and help Google understand what it is you have to offer to target all your potential audiences.
Pillar pages are a great blueprint to help with the remodel of your content that will in turn change your approach to your SEO (making it more of a content strategy) and generate a new algorithm of traffic.
Go through all of your current content, regroup pages or blog posts into topics, and give each of them a nice introductory title page that will serve as your pillar page. Do not be afraid to erase certain pieces of blog content if you notice an overlap of information. If you want to rank, less may be more! But this will also give you the opportunity to create content in a more thoughtful way.