Standing out amidst the sea of online content can be challenging these days. Most online searches display millions of results of high-quality content, blogs, videos, and more. For example, “How to make a pizza” returns over 1.5 Billion results! It can seem impossible for your company to get found by potential customers as you’re likely seeing millions of results for the keywords you want to rank for as well.
That’s where the power of a pillar page and content cluster strategy comes into play. By strategically organizing and interlinking your content, you can not only boost your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but also provide a valuable and cohesive user experience.
This important topic was recently discussed at a Boston HubSpot User Group (HUG) meeting with content marketing expert, George B. Thomas.
A quick shameless plug for the Boston HUG before we go further – these meetups are free educational events for area marketers and HubSpotters to network, connect, and learn together. You can learn more about the HUG and register for upcoming events here.
George really knows his stuff. In fact, you may recognize him as the host of the HubHeroes Podcast or from his highly-rated INBOUND 2022 session.
I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation about pillar pages and you can watch the full replay here:
Let’s dive into pillar pages and content clusters highlighting tips from George’s session along the way.
Start by Creating your Foundation
Creating a solid foundation for a pillar page requires careful planning and thoughtful execution. In the session, George asks, “Are you doing what you need to be doing to do the things you need to do?” Meaning – are you creating enough content? Are you creating the right content? Are you using rich media?
George’s Tip #1:
Stop and think about the amount of content you’re creating and the rate at which you’re creating it. Determine how your audience likes to learn. This will ensure you’re creating the right content for your audience. George suggests asking your audience how they like to learn by using a dropdown question on your website forms.
Here are the key steps to help you establish a strong base for your pillar page:
- Identify the core topic: Choose a broad, overarching topic that aligns with your website’s focus and addresses a common query or pain point of your target audience. This topic will serve as the central theme for your pillar page. George recommends picking 2-4 broad topics you want your business to be known for.
- Conduct comprehensive research: Dive deep into your chosen topic and gather a wealth of information from reliable sources. Explore different angles, subtopics, and relevant keywords that will shape the content of your pillar page. George recommends Answerthepublic.com and the top 8-10 search engine results for your chosen topic.
Strategy Is Important
I think George says it best, “You can’t do pillar pages willy-nilly, you need a strategy.”
Many organizations don’t strategize enough when it comes to pillar pages, but this can be a crucial mistake.
Now that you’ve conducted your pillar page research and established a foundation, organize your findings into a logical structure by creating an outline. Identify the main sections and subtopics that will make up your pillar page. This outline will serve as a strategic roadmap to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive flow of information.
George’s Tip #2:
Use a templated outline to organize everything. George has a fantastic pillar page tool available for download on his website.
Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience and their preferred learning styles is crucial when developing pillar pages because it allows you to create content that resonates and engages with them effectively. Knowing your audience enables you to tailor your messaging, tone, and delivery to match their needs and preferences.
By understanding how they like to learn, whether it’s through visual aids, step-by-step instructions, or in-depth explanations, you can choose the most appropriate format and presentation style for your pillar page. This ensures that your content is not only informative but also easily digestible and enjoyable for your audience. When you cater to their learning preferences, you enhance their overall experience, increase their engagement, and establish a stronger connection with them, ultimately leading to higher levels of trust, loyalty, and the desired outcomes you seek.
George’s Tip #3:
George recommends sending out an SOS when creating your content. This acronym stands for:
- Servant-based: Make your content about your audience and their aspirations. Always ensure that your content serves your people.
- Optimized: Optimize your content in multiple ways. Optimize it for search using best practices like meta descriptions, title tags, etc. Optimize for sales by ensuring that your content is answering the questions frequently asked by your audience.
- Strategic: Don’t go willy-nilly! Slow down to speed up by taking time when you start to develop and outline your content strategy.
Pilar Pages, Topic Clusters, and Strategy
- Start with your core topic: Choose a broad topic that aligns with your website’s focus and addresses a common query or pain point of your target audience. This topic will serve as the central theme for your pillar page.
- Support with sub-topics: Use tools like Answer the Public to search for your core topic and gather related questions or subtopics. These will provide valuable insights into the specific areas your audience is interested in.
- Conduct thorough research: Utilize data from reliable sources to gather information and statistics that will support your content. Visit Google and search for your core topic to assess the competition. Read the top 8-10 search results, take notes on their content coverage, and analyze the average word count. Ensure that your pillar page encompasses all the relevant conversations and goes above and beyond the competition.
- Apply the buyer’s journey: Consider your target audience’s perspective and structure your content to address their needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Answer questions like: What is it? What problem does it solve? Why is it important? Who is it for? What does it cost? How does it work? By providing comprehensive answers, you will guide your audience through the decision-making process.
- Explore product-related sub-topics: List out your products and address important aspects such as cost, pros and cons, best practices, common problems, reviews, and whether they should consider purchasing them. These sub-topics will add depth and value to your pillar page, catering to readers seeking specific information about your products.
- Discuss service-related sub-topics: Similarly, list out your services and provide details on cost, pros and cons, best practices, common problems, reviews, and whether potential customers should consider availing those services. This information will help your audience understand the benefits and value your services offer.
- Continually update and expand: A pillar page is not a one-time endeavor. Commit to regularly updating and expanding your content to keep it relevant and up-to-date. Stay informed about industry trends, changes, and new developments to ensure your pillar page remains a valuable resource for your audience.
By following these steps, you can create a pillar page that positions your website as a go-to destination for valuable information and insights.
Pillar Page Examples:
There are a lot of great examples of pillar pages, like these 9 examples from HubSpot. For even more inspiration, George highlighted these examples during the session:
George’s Tip #4:
By design, pillar pages are heavy on content and often contain thousands of words. To make these pages more usable and less intimidating to the reader, George recommends using colored blocks, small paragraphs, and easy-to-navigate links. A table of contents is also vitally important allowing visitors to click and jump to the section they need. Images, icons, quotes, etc. are all useful tools to help break up the pillar page text.
Developing a killer pillar page and content cluster strategy is essential for gaining visibility and engaging your target audience in today’s content-saturated digital landscape. By organizing and interlinking your content strategically, you can not only improve your website’s SEO but also deliver a cohesive user experience.
Understanding your audience and their preferred learning styles is key to creating resonant and engaging content. By catering to their preferences, you enhance their experience, increase engagement, and foster a stronger connection.
Additionally, follow George’s suggested tips, such as using templated outlines, optimizing content strategically, and ensuring ongoing updates. Remember, pillar pages require a thoughtful strategy to stand out and provide maximum value to your audience.
You too can create comprehensive and user-friendly pillar pages that capture attention, drive traffic, and establish your website as an authoritative resource. Start your pillar page journey today!