Thought you understood SEO until you heard of pillar pages? Don’t panic. We’re here to tell you precisely what they are, why they matter to search engines and well why they should be part of your marketing game.
Much like when you’re building your house, your pillars are core elements used to support larger structures; a pillar page in regards to SEO is pretty much the same – they’re used for website architecture. Each pillar page stands as a core for a broad topic which then links to a series of pages that go further in depth of that particular topic. The deeper level pages are known as topic clusters.
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Until relatively recently, standard practice for websites has been to create blog content tailored to long tail keyword searches (4-6 word phrases). You’d write a bunch of blogs covering very similar keywords in hopes of getting your website to rank higher on Google. But this approach gets cluttered and very quickly makes it difficult for both users and Google to find other relevant content around similar topics. While our habits of searching for “Insurance brokers near me” instead of “Insurance” remains the same, we’ve found better ways to organise your pages to not only drive traffic to that one blog but also to all subtopics linked to your main pillar page. It is really quite brilliant.
Plus, HubSpot as a key tool provides you with guidance as to how to build your stellar pillar pages. As a HubSpot Platinum Solutions Partner we can do it all for you. No need to learn any of the technical stuff, let us take care of your marketing.
How do pillar pages and topic clusters impact SEO?
SEO is constantly changing and for good reason. We’ve gotten very good at gamifying the algorithm so Google has a huge team who’s whole purpose is to ensure we aren’t tricking the system. Back when “all” you needed to do to rank your site was to stuff keywords, well businesses did just that. You’d come across poorly written content that sometimes didn’t make much sense at all which in the end meant that the user had a deceiving experience.
Algorithms quickly grew smarter. Google now seeks to understand user intent rather than solely focussing on random keywords. This also made sense as with the emergence of smartphones and tablets, our requests to Google became say “more conversational”
While Google is one brilliant invention, remember that it is a bot. Google’s algorithm can better understand a clean website experience where the hyperlinks are labelled properly and therefore tells exactly what each piece of information is about. By interlinking relevant pages around a single subject (your pillar page), you’ll make it easier for search engines to find the related content. It also serves to show that you have in-depth knowledge on the topic you’re exploring and tells Google that your content will provide value to their users.
What you’ll want to do first is to have a look at the products and services you offer and consider what content you can create around those. To give you a brief overview, say for instance your pillar topic is Business Insurance. Your subtopics could be cybersecurity, management liability, professional indemnity to name a few. Once you’ve established what your topic clusters will be, the next step is to create your pillar page with internal links to these pages. Your topic cluster pages should also link back to your pillar page and other cluster pages where appropriate.
Don’t get us wrong, keywords are still important. What has changed is purely that search engines and people really are looking up in a more intuitive way than ever before. If your content doesn’t contain “any” keyword chances are it’s not going to be relevant to your searcher anyway. The difference with a pillar page is you’re not trying to optimise for any specific long tail keywords. That’s the purpose of your cluster pages. With cluster content focused on long-tail keywords, and hyperlinks in place, search engines will be able to understand the semantic relationship and authority your pillar page holds.
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about creating pillar pages and topic clusters to increase the relevance, search quality and ultimately ranking of your content/site.