Whether you’re trying to generate leads or develop a sense of authority with your audience, you need search engines to analyze your website and determine: “That’s good!”
Pillar pages are the essential tool that can achieve that goal, while providing a framework that can guide your entire web content strategy.
What are pillar pages?
Pillar pages offer up a broad, comprehensive view of a single topic and serve as a hub that aims to inspire your audience to dig in deeper on subtopics linked throughout.
Like its distant cousin, the landing page, the pillar page is a useful tool for increasing web traffic, but there’s one big difference. The landing page is meant to deliver a knockout punch – one quick shot and you convert the customer. But a pillar page is designed to keep your reader engaged for a full 12 rounds by giving them an authoritative overview of a topic.
Not every pillar page looks the same. They’re often built as guides intended to educate:
- "How to Build a WordPress Website"
- "The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Web Design"
- "Affiliate Marketing: The Complete Startup Guide"
Sometimes pillar pages take the form of lists:
- "100 Ways to Improve Your SEO Strategy"
- "10 Can’t-Miss Graphic Design Templates"
- "Your Complete Video Production Checklist"
The consistent premise is that your pillar page serves as a broad, informative, central location for aggregating articles, posts, videos and whitepapers related to a specific topic or topic cluster.
Writing your pillar page
Modern web design and SEO best practices demand novelty. Your pillar page can’t just point to great resources elsewhere on the web. Instead, your pillar content needs to be original, well-structured and of high quality. It should create internal links to other related resources on your website, and create a "sticky" experience for users landing on the page.
Your pillar page should be clearly structured to demonstrate your authority on a topic, for both search engines and humans. To build out this structure, the first step is to consider: “What is the most pressing question my audience is asking?” and answer that question in depth.
A digital marketing agency, for example, knows their potential clients are likely to ask: “How can I increase sales?” This is a great seed topic for a pillar page that introduces readers to the marketing funnel.
Once your broad topic is chosen, it’s time to determine what subsections will fill out the pillar page.
Imagine a set of related words all exploding out from one central topic—this is how you can build out depth on your pillar page, to create a truly comprehensive reading experience while also reinforcing your keywords for Google's crawl bots.
Taking the example of a pillar page on the marketing funnel, each stage of the funnel could be its own unit in the keyword cluster; each of those units could also be expanded outward into their own mini-clusters to create more opportunities for audience engagement and keyword-optimized content.
When designing a new pillar page, keyword clusters become your guide to designing a table of contents with jump links and tiered headers. This can make your page skimmable for both web crawlers and human readers. A well-structured pillar page serves as the top-level folder, and all other related destinations on your site then become nestled within, using internal links to point them to deeper dives, which in turn link back to the pillar page.
Pillar pages and content strategy
Organizing your site around pillar pages doesn’t just benefit your audience—it’s also a powerful tool for streamlining your content marketing strategy. Once you’ve identified a pillar, this will give you a chance to inventory all of your existing content.
Do you have low-traffic pages that don’t provide useful information to your core reader? Do you have redundant pages that are answering the same question and could be combined into one? Do your keyword clusters identify subtopics that you haven’t addressed yet, or only in a shallow manner?
Remember: Web crawlers reward novelty and punish clutter that’s going unnoticed. The days when companies climbed search rankings through consistently publishing rehashed versions of the same concept are gone. Your pillar page is now there to eliminate the fluff so you can focus on the essentials.
3 great pillar page examples
- Check out Typeform’s page on Customer Success. It’s an incredibly comprehensive explainer on a broad topic—an estimated 62-minute read! The design is striking and they smartly use pullout quotes, fast-loading pictures, and infographics to break up a huge trove of text.
- Buzzsprout’s guide on How to Start a Podcast provides an easy-to-understand structure with a clear table of contents. And most sections are broken out with skimmable “Pro Tips.” These features, along with the heavy emphasis on research make sure the pillar page passes the tests on usefulness and originality.
- Wine Folly’s What Is Wine Exactly? is a pillar page built around a question-and-answer format. They are acutely attuned to the questions their audience asks, and their keyword clusters are organized around direct and concise answers to those questions.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and figure out how your products and services are the solution they’ve been looking for. If you can answer that question, then you’re on the road to building a pillar page that can bring you traffic, leads, and success.
If you need help getting started, the content experts at Informatics can work with you to develop a full content strategy. Reach out!
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