What Is a Pillar Page, and Why Is It Crucial to Your Content Strategy?

Pillar pages help increase your visibility online and demonstrate your expertise on particular topics. But what is a pillar page, and why is it important to your content strategy?

If you’re new to this concept, don’t worry. We’ve got all the info covered so you can leverage the advantages of creating great pillar pages and soaring up those search engine rankings.

Key Takeaways

  • Pillar pages are long-form pieces of content that act as the hub for related topics and provide an overview of a particular subject.
  • Pillar pages are typically 3,000–5,000 words in length.
  • Topic clusters consist of individual pages that link back to the pillar page and dive deep into specific topics related to the larger theme.
  • Benefits include better topic organization and navigation, increased topical authority for higher rankings, and improved reader experience and SEO optimization.
  • Steps for creating a pillar page include choosing your topic, using keyword research tools, auditing existing content, creating an outline, coming up with an internal linking strategy, and writing optimized content to improve your rankings and get organic traffic.
what is a pillar page

What Does a Pillar Page Mean?

A pillar page is a long-form piece of content on your website that serves as a hub for related topics. It provides an overview of a particular subject or focus area, which can then be connected to other pieces of content called topic clusters. This is done by including internal links to related blog posts, articles, infographics, or other content pieces from within the pillar page itself.

Pillar pages introduce a broad topic, while cluster content dives deep into specific ideas related to the larger theme. For example, let’s say you want your site to rank for ‘technical SEO.’ In this instance, a pillar page would dive into what it is and provide an overview of strategies associated with it at a high level so readers can grasp the subject matter in one go. In contrast, cluster content takes these concepts further by exploring individual topics in-depth.

This dual approach allows visitors access to quick answers to big questions (pillar pages), plus the opportunity for deeper exploration if they desire more detail (topic clusters).

How Long Should Pillar Pages Be?

While the right length will depend on your topic, aim for 3,000 to 5,000 words for your pillar page. The main purpose of a pillar page is not only to provide an overview or introduction on a given broad topic but also to establish yourself as an expert in that area. This can help build trust with potential customers and leads while boosting your SEO rankings.

What Does a Topic Cluster Mean?

A topic cluster is a group of individual web pages that all link back to a single pillar page on the same topic. These cluster pages can contain anything from blog posts and product reviews to videos or podcasts — all focusing on related topics within the same main theme as the pillar page itself. This model is useful when blogging is a component of your inbound marketing strategy.

The idea behind this approach is that each topic cluster page would link back to its associated pillar page, thus creating connections between each piece of content while also providing additional information for visitors who may have stumbled across it through search engine queries or social media shares.

By linking all these related pieces together in one cohesive package, you create something called topical authority, which essentially means Google sees you as an authoritative source for whatever subject matter you’re discussing. This ultimately helps boost your SERP rankings since Google will recognize that you’ve provided valuable information about the topic in question (and linked it all together).

3 Benefits of Pillar Pages

Pillar pages can be incredibly beneficial for website owners as they can help drive organic traffic to your website and boost your rankings. Implementing a pillar page as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is critical because it helps improve the organization of your content. So if you want to create pillar pages, here are three prominent benefits of including them, along with topic clusters, in your content marketing and SEO strategy. 

1. Better Topic Organization and Navigation

Organizing your website content using pillar pages and content clusters is still a relatively new strategy. However, the concept is quickly gaining popularity. Many businesses are active in content marketing, which means they have lots of content on their sites. 

Pillar pages make it simpler for people visiting your website to find information related to one particular subject in one place rather than having to hunt through multiple pieces of content spread across different parts of your site or blog posts. This provides a better user experience overall as visitors don’t have to spend time trying to find relevant information — they can just go directly to the source.

Website visitors can use a pillar page to become familiar with a topic. Next, they can quickly move through the content cluster to a subtopic that solves their specific pain point. The result is a logical and clear site structure that is easy for search engines and humans to navigate. As mentioned, the pillar cluster model is also beneficial to search bots. The bots rely on links to understand what the content on your page is about. The pillar page and topic cluster strategy make it easier for these bots to figure out what your content means. 

2. Increased Topical Authority for Higher Rankings

Google’s E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) should be a critical part of your content strategy. This score determines how well pages perform in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Your pillar posts are a way of telling Google that your blog posts meet E-E-A-T criteria:

  • Expertise: This is Google’s newest ranking factor, and it evaluates whether the author has firsthand experience with the topic.
  • Expertise: Google prioritizes content coming from experts because the chances are high that the information is accurate. Delivering extensive information on a topic shows you are a specialist. 
  • Authoritativeness: Well-written pillar pages help boost your website authority. Such sites attract more traffic and encourage engagement. Developing a topic thoroughly shows you are an authority in that field. 
  • Trustworthiness: Building your authority and delivering quality content shows you are trustworthy. Further, people spending more time on your pages signals Google that the content is reliable. The best pillar pages and topic clusters help contribute to the entire trustworthy picture. 

Presenting your knowledge in an easy-to-navigate and well-structured way helps build your credibility in a niche and industry. The result is higher rankings, which leads to more mentions, positive word-of-mouth, social media shares, and more organic traffic. All these factors help contribute to increasing your online visibility and reputation. 

3. Improved Reader Experience

Most online users search using general terms to become familiar with a product or topic. Once they land on your pillar page content, the visitor will likely also be interested in one or all of your subtopics. These visitors can then follow the internal links to in-depth blog posts on each topic.

The pillar page enables a better user experience by including a strategic internal link. You give visitors valuable content, which creates a better user flow. Your website becomes more user-friendly, which helps increase conversion rates. High engagement metrics tell search engine bots your page is valuable, boosting your rankings. 

3 Common Pillar Pages Types

pillar pages

A pillar page can take many forms. But there are three that work in any industry. These pillar pages are simple to implement when you understand the reason behind the visitor’s search. 

1. The “What Is” Pillar Page

Many online search questions start with the statement, “what is…?” Someone hears about an interesting, relevant, or controversial service or product and wants to learn more. An excellent way to attract that person is by creating a definitive guide about the product or topic. Your content may revolve around explaining what it is, how to make maximum use of it, or at least why it is important. Then, you will include internal links to blog posts on related topics (aka topic cluster pages).

Use a pillar page to satisfy the desire to find out more about the product and go into more detail on the topic. Your page is an independent, useful resource that leads to cluster pages with more information. Developing a page that answers relevant “what is” queries increases your chances of winning organic traffic for your site. You can then move the traffic into a sales funnel and gain a constant stream of interested clients. 

2. The “How To” Pillar Page

The “how to” pillar page contains details or step-by-step instructions on how to complete a specific task. This page should help your visitors solve issues or improve a process that is critical to their lives. 

These pillar pages are also excellent platforms to market your products or services. Such content usually uses well-illustrated step-by-step tutorials. The web pages make it easy to offer some top-of-the-funnel education while putting a good word for your brand. Further, you get to market yourself as an industry thought leader. 

3. The “Guide” Pillar Page

A “guide” pillar page is about establishing yourself as the ultimate subject authority. The pages can be anything from a beginner’s guide to something more involved in your niche. Using “ultimate guide” content can build your brand and help win the trust of your target audience

“Guide” pillar pages provide comprehensive overviews of specific topics, becoming critical contact points for anyone invested in the subject. The content links to cluster pages related to the topic, offering deeper knowledge of related subtopics. The best guideline pillar page will attract attention while increasing web traffic and backlinks. Use the pages to maintain a relationship with the audience you want to convert into paying clients or subscribers. 

3 Downsides of Pillar Pages

Pursuing a pillar content strategy also comes with a set of unique struggles. It is not a magic bullet that comes with guaranteed success. Before diving into creating pillar pages, you’ll want to consider the struggles you might face.

1. Requires Keyword Research and Content Clustering

Your pillar page is more than an extra-long blog post. You must invest in topic identification, content auditing, keyword research, and cleaning up internal links. 

Here are some tips for researching keywords:

  • Avoid topic phrases with a high search volume that will be impossible to rank for in your industry.
  • A phrase with a too-low search volume will not generate enough interest to justify your effort either.
  • The right search volume for search phrases for your pillar and cluster pages should have a decent amount of search volume with as low competition as possible.

2. Potential Cannibalization With Supporting Pages

As you produce content for the pillar page, it might compete with the supporting pages. The result is keyword cannibalization, where different pages on your website rank for the same keyword cluster and have the same search intent. The keywords essentially “eat each other,” preventing the pillar page, supporting pages, and your website from delivering the expected search results.

Keyword cannibalism makes it harder for Google to tell which pages to index. Conducting in-depth keyword research, strategically dividing your audience, and creating SEO content can ensure each page ranks for its unique foundation keyword set.

Some web owners have their pillar pages contain brief information because there is supporting content. On the other end are those who stuff the pillar page with as much information as possible, leaving little room for sub-pillars. The middle ground is your sweet spot. Create the highest possible standard content, focusing on depth and relevance.

3. Takes Work to Execute Successfully

Writing a comprehensive guide, “what is” or “how to” article means anticipating and answering all visitor questions. However, this is not easy. Depending on the topic, the process requires a lot of research and hard work. Creating a single comprehensive pillar page can take anywhere from days to weeks. The duration may be longer if you are handling other tasks.

How to Create a Pillar Page

Now that you know more about pillar pages and how they work, it is time to create one. Here are the key steps to creating an effective one for your business  

Choose Your Topic

The first step is to focus on your topic, not the keywords. Determine who your target audience is and aim to cover the subject they need help with thoroughly — as long as it relates to your business. You might come across multiple topics you may want to rank for, and some websites succeed at having multiple pillar pages. However, focus on one for now until you get the hang of the process.

Use a Keyword Research Tool

The chosen subject should be expansive enough for your pillar page and have several keywords under the broader topic. Plug your topic into a keyword research tool. You will see the keywords with the most searches within a specified time frame and the competition. 

Your pillar website page should target high-volume, broad keywords on the topic with as low competition as possible. Long-tail keywords then fall under your main keyword, which you will use for the sections on your pillar page. These sections also point to the keywords you need to target for your cluster pages. 

Audit Your Current Content for Subtopics

Map out any existing content already published on your website that will be part of your cluster. Next, identify what blog posts and other content subtopics you might need to add in the future. Identifying what you have makes it easy to integrate the content into the pillar page. 

Create a Pillar Page Outline

Now that you have a topic and keywords, create an outline for the pillar page with everything you want from a high level. Your outlline will help you spot content gaps or inconsistencies. Create the outline while thinking of the resource, not your sales or marketing strategies. The page should be a true visitor resource, not another sales ploy. 

Write Your Content

Group your keywords into blog posts, then into topic clusters. However, start with your cluster pages first before moving onto the pillar page. Summarizing your content into the pillar is much easier when it already exists. Starting with the pillar increases the likelihood of adding too much information, making cluster pages redundant. 

Next, move on to your pillar page. Keep all your subtopics short, so you elaborate on them only in the cluster pages. Each subtopic should answer the visitor’s query without getting into the details. The strategy keeps your audience wanting more, so they visit the cluster pages. 

It is critical you internally link cluster articles to the pillar page (blog post). However, ensure the page does not link to an article that covers the same topic. Instead, the pillar page links should be to SEO-optimized posts with long-tail keywords related to the parent keyword on the pillar page. Doing this will help keep your topics clear and clean for search engines. You will also want to avoid adding external links to the same topic. Your site is the authority on this topic, so don’t link out to other competing pages.

Optimize the Pillar Page for Search Engines

Optimize your pillar page using multiple on-page SEO factors, including:

  • Adding the keyword to the page title and subheadings
  • A clickable and interesting meta description and tag 
  • Using a header for each subtopic 
  • Using the primary keyword in the first 100 words 
  • Optimizing images and adding appropriate alt text

Promote Your Pillar Page

The new pillar page is the best asset to advertise if you are considering investing in social media exposure or paid ads. Remember, the new page should be a destination. Promoting the page shows that it is an excellent resource for your target audience. They will want to read it and share it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should You Use Pillar Pages?

A well-written and comprehensive SEO pillar page should be a part of your content promotion strategy because it helps you fill in informational and keyword gaps that may prevent Google from serving your website to searchers for a specific question. It also makes it easier for search engines to crawl your website and makes it easily searchable, so people find what they want quickly. 

Is a Pillar Page the Same as a Landing Page?

No. An SEO pillar page helps build your brand’s authority on a specific topic. The page contains long-form content to help your site rank higher and better on search engines. A landing page is a standalone web page where you direct traffic for various campaigns. The visitor “lands” on the page after clicking an ad in your social media posts, email, and more. Landing pages are not generally included in the site navigation menu. 

How Many Pillar Pages Should You Have?

There are no explicit guidelines for how many pillar pages you should have on a website. You cannot have too many relevant and well-written pages if you have a valuable market perspective, solution, problem, or topic. Each primary pillar should have a series of at least three sub-pillars with three blogs. So, a pillar should have at least 16 pieces of shorter content supporting it. Again, it all depends on how broad your topic is.

Final Thoughts

Using pillar pages and topic clusters can improve your website’s SEO performance while establishing yourself as an expert in any field.

So if you’re looking for ways to increase visibility online and give yourself an advantage over competing websites, using pillar pages and topic clusters is a smart strategy.