Written by Caroline Cox on Apr 7, 2022

Pillar pages keep your content organized while boosting your SEO.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What pillar pages and topic clusters are
  • How these pages improve SEO & PPC
  • Ways they enhance existing content
  • Tips for creating your own pillar pages

Here’s a springy simile for you: Think of your content like branches on a tree. Each sturdy limb is a helpful, high-quality piece of content, and keywords are like the leaves.

In this scenario, pillar pages are the trunk. They’re the essential part of the content tree from which all the limbs grow.

In digital marketing, pillar pages allow you to organize content while making your website more appealing to search engines. If you ask us, these pages are an essential part of content creation.

Let’s dig deeper into the importance of pillar pages for SEO and your overall marketing plan.

view from the ground of a tree with pink flowers on a sunny day

You can think of a pillar page as a high-level table of contents for a certain topic. (Image: Unsplash)

What are pillar pages?  

A pillar page is the main part of a content cluster. These pages contain general information about a certain topic and links to supporting “cluster” pages. 

The cluster pages explore parts of the general topic in-depth. (This is also sometimes referred to as “hub and spoke” content.)

Pillar pages revolve around a keyword and provide valuable insight. However, they leave room for more detailed content that a user can find on other pages.

Here’s an example from our own blog: This is HawkSEM’s SEO pillar page. The piece includes links to more specific content we have under the SEO umbrella, such as explainers on technical SEO, Core Web Vitals, and search engine algorithms.

You can think of a pillar page as a high-level table of contents for a certain topic. While you provide answers to important questions and using high-volume keywords, you can also guide readers to in-depth content on your website.

Pillar pages & SEO

Both pillar and cluster pages create a strong, thorough website structure. They show the search engines that your content is relevant to specific search queries and can be trusted as a credible source. 

Long gone are the days when search engines just looked for keywords to determine a webpage’s rankings. These days, they can also recognize synonyms, relevant phrases, subtopics, and answers to frequent questions that users have when researching your industry.

Authority

When your content is properly structured into clusters, Google and other search engines can see that your website contains in-depth content on specific subjects.

The easy-to-browse content structure also makes your website look more trustworthy to the users, bringing it closer to the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

Relevance

Often, searchers are looking for general information about a certain industry topic. If they stumble on your pillar page, they can get high-level info about a subject, as well as links to other relevant offshoot topics.

As a result, this structure can improve user experience, increase engagement, and reduce bounce rates.

Structure

Reports show Google prefers well-structured websites with strong internal linking practices. One efficient way to achieve this is to use pillar and cluster pages.

HubSpot launched their own experimental feature to demonstrate the benefits of the topic cluster strategy. They found that the more high-quality internal linking they did, the higher the website climbed on the SERPs.

Search Engine Journal recommends sticking to three key objectives when linking internally: 

  • To support and provide authority to the domain for key search terms
  • Provide relevancy for top- and middle-of-funnel search terms
  • Act as further education resources for users, empowering the need for your solution
view from the ground looking up at the corner of a column building structure

Pillar pages generally focus on broad, top-of-funnel content that attracts a wide audience. (Image: Unsplash)

Pillar pages & PPC

Along with getting your content more visibility on the SERPs, pillar pages can also be beneficial for paid search marketing. That’s because a well-organized content structure can help raise your Quality Score.

Once you’ve created a thorough pillar page, you can launch a paid search campaign. Ideally, this will get the page more traffic, build your brand awareness, and inspire visitors to click around on your site to learn more.

How to incorporate pillar pages into your content marketing strategy

Pillar pages generally focus on broad, top-of-funnel content that attracts a wide audience. As a result, the search volume for pillar page keywords is usually high. 

Pillar page keywords are short-tail keywords that people use at the beginning of their search.

The topic cluster approach is based on topics, not keywords. At a high level, here’s how to create one:

  • Choose a topic that revolves around your ideal client persona’s pain points.
  • Conduct keyword research and group various key phrases into topics.
  • Write a pillar page and optimize it with metadata and links.
  • Create cluster pages and add relevant links to the pillar page.

Some content marketers find it easier to create cluster pages before they write a pillar page. Both approaches work.

Pro tip: Experts suggest pillar pages should be around 3,000 words

Leverage existing content for your pillar pages

If you already have a decent amount of quality content on your site, then a bulk of the work is already done.

See which posts you can cluster together and combine via links on a pillar page. From there, you can review the content and create a pillar page that highlights all of the existing content, with links to those pages if readers want to know more. 

When you identify possibilities for revamping existing content during your next content audit, you can also check which pages can become a part of a topic cluster. 

You may also find an article or a blog post that only needs slight revamping to become a pillar page.

Creating a pillar page can do wonders for reviving your old content. You can rekindle the interest in older posts and articles by adding them to a content cluster. Just don’t forget to review these posts and make the necessary updates as needed when things become outdated or less relevant.

The takeaway

If you aren’t taking the topic cluster approach to content creation, now is an excellent time to start, especially if it’s what your competitors are doing.

After all, pillar pages are an integral part of content marketing — they boost SEO, keep your content organized, and show that your brand is an industry thought leader.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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