If you are looking for a content marketing strategy that can also help boost your SEO rankings, then maybe you should consider using pillar pages and topic clusters. This is because studies have shown that people need to engage with a brand around seven times before becoming a paying customer. So, it’s important that the right content can get in front of them as much as possible.
While most companies have the content part of the strategy down, a website that is filled with SEO-optimised content may still not end up getting a lot of traffic. The reason may be that the website’s internal linking strategy might not be as effective as it should be.
Fortunately, pillar pages and topic clusters can be a solution to this problem. If handled correctly, they can help to drive more traffic to your website, thus potentially boosting your bottom line. If your internal digital marketing team does not know how to implement this, then luckily, you can outsource this workload to an international marketing agency.
Below, we explain what a pillar page and a topic cluster are, and how exactly they can help improve your website’s SEO.
What is a pillar page?
So, what exactly is a pillar page? It is a central piece of content, that serves as the base from which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page will cover all the elements of a topic on a single page, in a broad overview. They tend to be longer than the average blog article, around 2,000 words. The pillar page will also links out to in-depth articles about specific subtopics and all relate to the main topic. You can also think of a pillar page similar to a table of contents, and the cluster pages like individual chapters that are more comprehensive about a single subject.
The main idea with using pillar pages and a topic cluster strategy is to utilise internal linking to help group together content that is related on your site. Then, you have a main page that acts as a directory for all the links in that particular cluster. As such, this strategy is also known as the hub and spoke method.
It is also common to find pillar pages that are treated like an ultimate guide or a ‘how to do x’ page. This is because these types of searches generally indicate that a user is looking to find a solution to their problems.
What is a topic cluster?
Topic clusters are groups of related content that tend to be organised around a core topic. Each cluster will contain a central pillar page, which is surrounded by cluster pages. As such, you should choose the broad topics that you are looking to rank for, then create content based on those specific keywords related to that topic – which should all link to each other.
For example, say that you want to create a pillar page around the topic of email marketing. Under this main topic, you can also cover related subtopics, such as email marketing templates, growing an email list, performance tracking, and more.
Each cluster page would then cover one of those related subtopics on a much deeper level. Then, in each article, you would then link back to the pillar page. In the pillar page itself, you would also link to all the individual cluster pages. Sometimes, the cluster pages may link to each other, provided they are relevant.
How do they help improve SEO?
Surprisingly, pillar pages aren’t only about making your website more organised for viewers. They can also help to boost your SEO rankings and increase traffic to your site. Here are a few advantages that the hub and spoke method can bring you:
Improve user experience
A topic cluster can help to make the website more navigable for users who are looking for specific information on a particular topic or subject area. As such, when you have a lot of related pages easily found under one umbrella term, it makes a lot of sense to group them together. That way, when someone decides to search ‘how to do x’, they can find all the relevant information in one place. This improved experience also helps to keep people on your site for longer without them jumping away, which in turn gives Google’s algorithm more data to showcase that your website deserves to be ranked higher.
Improve site structure
Topic clusters can also help to improve your site structure. This is by optimising it for technical SEO, which makes your website more easily crawlable by Google and other search engines. After all, the easier your site is to crawl, the more easier search engines can find, index, and rank your website in their search results.
In an ideal website structure, any page on your site should be accessible in three clicks or less from the homepage. In fact, the most important pages should be the most closest to your homepage. Fortunately, pillar pages help to support this model because they are often accessible from a site’s homepage, or one tier below.
Rank for competitive keywords
Since pillar pages are meant to be a hub for the main topic, they are also meant to target broad keywords. Unfortunately, most broad keywords are super competitive on search engines. In order to rank well for broad keywords, you generally need some kind of long-form content that can comprehensively cover the keyword. It should also link out to pages that can comprehensively cover its child keywords – meaning pillar pages work best for this.
When a pillar page manages to rank, over time the page can accumulate backlinks, traffic, and SEO power. Even better, they can then pass on ‘link juice’ to the cluster page that they are linking to, helping to improve their rankings as well.
You must remember that the goal of most search engines is to provide the best possible answer or solution to whatever the searcher types into it. This is because giving bad results would not only give a bad experience to users but also diminish the faith they have in the search engine – which is the last thing they want.
To circumvent this, Google has three foundational concepts behind how it ranks websites. You may have heard of it before – EAT. This means:
Expertise: This showcases how much expertise and knowledge you have on a particular topic or field. It is evaluated primarily at a content level, not at the website or organisational level.
Authority: This is about reputation, particularly among influencers or experts in the industry. When people see a particular website as a go-to source on a particular topic, that means it has high authority.
Trustworthy: This is about the transparency, legitimacy, and accuracy of the website and any of its content.
So, when you create a topic cluster around a pillar page, you showcase that you know the topic inside and out. After all, most experts tend to talk about things they know more than once, right? Plus, when search engines like Google trust your content enough to rank your website high in its search results, users are likely to trust you more too.