Pillar pages are an essential part of today’s inbound digital marketing campaigns, and they form one half of a Pillar – Cluster SEO strategy. To explain the meaning, role, and importance of pillar pages, a definition of the term is necessary.
Pillar Page: Definition
The pillar page is a central page of umbrella content that has been created to provide an introductory and broad overview of the primary topic or theme (usually built around a popular umbrella keyword). It must also have several, embedded links leading to internal pages with more specific information about the anchor term or phrase (usually keywords and key phrases). Pillar pages provide a basic introduction, context, and relevance to both incoming traffic and search engine crawlers.
Topic Clusters: Definition
Each internal piece of content linked inside a pillar page is known as a cluster page. All cluster pages are also interlinked with each other and the pillar page itself. This interlinked system of clusters and a pillar page is collectively called a topic cluster. It is to be noted that topic clusters are supposed to be created strategically for maximizing the main site’s search engine optimization results. Therefore, the interlinking is not supposed to be random and there must be a well-defined strategy behind each step. For better understanding, we can take the following example.
Topic Cluster: Example
Facebook Marketing (Umbrella Topic, Main Keyword & the Pillar Page)
Examples of subtopics to be included in the pillar page:
- What is Facebook Marketing?
- A Brief History of Facebook Marketing
- Which are Some of the Best Platforms for Facebook Marketing?
- Why and How Should SMEs Invest in Facebook Marketing?
- Examples of Successful Social Media Marketing Strategies with Templates
- Which Companies are Some of the Best Facebook Marketers? (Complete with strategically placed CTA anchors)
- Data and Stats about Successful and Unsuccessful Facebook Marketing Campaigns
- Concurrent and Future Trends in Facebook Marketing
Each subtopic introduced on the pillar page should contain strategic anchor links to the relevant cluster pages for defining the anchor in detail. For example, the portion about best Facebook marketing platforms should contain links to cluster pages on keyword anchors such as Facebook Analytics, Facebook Algorithms, Facebook SEO, etc.
Each linked cluster page should have more detailed information than the pillar page, along with relevant internal links attached to relevant keyword anchors leading to other cluster pages, or specific sections of the pillar page. Call-To-Action (CTA) anchors are to be strategically placed throughout the topic cluster so that potential customers can find them easily and organically.
How to Create a Pillar Page
There will always be differences in the theme and topic, but there are a few established steps to creating a pillar page that are universally applicable.
Screen and Choose the Pillar Page Topic
To be able to successfully choose a pillar topic, go through the following steps.
- Determine your audience and then focus on them.
- Use SEO analytics data to determine what exactly they are searching for online.
- The topic chosen must be broad enough for a pillar page to be created naturally.
- The topic chosen should not be so broad as to overwhelm the site’s resources while creating the surrounding cluster content.
- Choose high search volume keywords to create the subheadings on the main page and the respective cluster topics later.
- Ensure that the chosen keywords are not too similar to each other so that the pillar page can cover a wider range of topics.
Start Writing with Strategy
See the example used earlier to get a visual idea of how pillar pages are written with topics and subtopics. After you have checked it out, the following tips should make even more sense.
- There should be an introduction, definition, and a bit of history in the beginning.
- Pillar pages are large content pieces, so make them more readable by adding bullet points, subheadings, and keeping the paragraphs small.
- All subheadings on the pillar page should be based on a chosen keyword.
- Each subtopic/subheading on the main page should be informative, but not comprehensively so.
- Each subheading on the pillar page should contain at least one internal link to a relevant page with more details that will complete the information cluster.
- Use content from previous posts already present on your site when it’s relevant to the pillar page.
- Update preexisting posts as needed, if any of them can be used as a cluster link for the pillar page.
Keep the Length in Mind
Since each pillar page is a piece of central content for the website, they have to be a lot longer than the cluster content, blog posts, or another type of web content in general. There isn’t exactly a defined, universal length for pillar pages since it varies in accordance with the theme and topic in question.
Nevertheless, somewhere around the 3,500 – 4,000 word mark lies the sweet spot. Of course, a pillar page’s length should not be decided based on length alone. Even if the word count crosses 10,000, it should not be a problem, as long as the central content is relevant, informative, well-structured, and non-repetitive.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what pillar pages, cluster pages, and topic clusters are, let’s take a closer look at how they improve site rankings.
How Does the Topic Cluster Strategy Improve Page Rankings?
Topic clusters are highly effective as an SEO strategy for several reasons, but these can be grouped as the following.
- The interlinked system of a pillar page and the surrounding cluster pages serve to convey a website’s authority in the domain.
- A topic cluster’s exhaustiveness establishes the website as a reliable and expert source of information for the relevant audience.
- A strategically created, well-organized interlinking system directly improves page ranking because search engine crawlers prefer complete sites.
To keep your topic clusters valid, both the pillar page and the cluster pages must be kept up to date. Wikipedia and other popular Wiki pages are some of the best examples of websites that manage to keep their pillar – cluster SEO strategy on point with timely updates.