Content marketing has changed a lot over the past few years and will forever evolve, making keeping up with the current trends quite difficult. There are always new and improved algorithms changing the way everyone uses search engines, so is it time to update your content strategy? Are you following the current trend of pillar pages usage?
Don’t worry if you’re not, everyone has to start somewhere. So where do you start? Is the question you’re asking yourself, ‘what even are pillar pages?’. The simple answer is that pillar pages are very very VERY long website pages, containing every single piece of content you have around a particular topic. This includes landing pages, blog posts, videos, and even external URL links.
What are pillar pages?
Imagine a tree. There are two main sections, the trunk and the branches of the tree. Now imagine the trunk of the tree is your pillar page and the branches as all of your content surrounding that one particular topic.
For example, if you had a pillar page around Inbound Marketing, a core topic, this sits as the trunk of the tree. You’d then add all your landing pages promoting multiple assets around inbound marketing, such as your blogs and even videos acting like branches of the tree. The idea behind pillar pages is to educate and answer all of your website visitors questions.
If you’re not answering your website visitors questions, you’ll see a high bounce rate, low engagement, and little traffic directed from that page.
Why are they so important?
Why should anyone invest their design, development, and copy efforts into creating these pages? They sound great and more of a ‘nice to have’ thing, but do you actually need them? Will they improve your SEO and your website traffic?
The easy answer is YES! Pillar pages are great for SEO and will boost your website traffic quite dramatically. That’s if you invest time in them of course. You won’t see results overnight, so this is more of a long term strategy that will need careful planning rather than being a quick win; even though we all love quick wins.
Going back to my point from earlier, there are always new and improved algorithms with search engines. Google has decided that the old strategy of adding as many keywords into your website pages doesn’t actually determine whether or not you’re actually answering website visitors' questions. Why? Because a user may easily find your website through a search term used in Google, but then bounce straight off your site. This may not be what the user is looking for, therefore Google has not done its job.
We all know Google’s aim is to provide the most relevant and up-to-date information for their users. So how do you determine whether a user has had their question answered? Google has decided to look at bounce rates and connected relevant content. This means that if a user clicks onto your website page and bounces straight off, they clearly didn’t find what they are looking for. Google will now punish you for this by ranking you lower in the Google search results.
How do pillar pages help?
The purpose of pillar pages is to provide keyword-rich pages for people to find that won’t just answer their questions but will provide them with even more resources to continue their journey on your site.
Adding keywords to your content is equally as important, but pillar pages help you create a hub for all of your content on one page so that you can answer visitor questions and add as much value as possible. This can ultimately be the difference between being at the top of Google’s first page or being on the tenth, somewhere no one wants to be.
How do I create a pillar page?
HubSpot makes pillar pages easy to create and maintain. The first thing to do is to create a topic cluster using the SEO tool. For every primary topic your content covers, you should create a separate topic cluster. HubSpot will recommend the title based on search volume and difficulty.
From there, here are the steps you should take:
- Create subtopics based on related (usually long-tail) keywords.
- Create a pillar page template (or get one designed for you) – this will need to have a table of contents section that links down to headers within the page. You’ll need one pillar page per main SEO topic.
- Plug in your existing content, making sure that every piece of content links back to the pillar page, and the pillar page links back to the piece of content.
- Once you have your pillar pages set up, plug the URLs into the SEO tool.
- As you grow and create new content, you can add more subtopics (or even more primary topics over time!).
For some examples of pillar pages to get you started, here’s an article from HubSpot with 9 great examples. And if you’d like to learn more about how pillar pages can help transform your SEO strategy and your website’s user journey, click here to book a meeting with a member of our team.