What Are Pillar Pages (and Why Are They Vital for SEO)?

Close up of white concrete pillars with blue sky

Searching for ways to leap ahead in the SERPs, increase user engagement and boost organic traffic? Look no further than the supreme pillar page. Executed correctly, this type of content can help you establish your authority, match user intent and have search engines rewarding you with higher rankings.

In this article, we’ll explain what pillar pages are and why they’re so vital for SEO. We’ll also delve into how you can go about creating them. Let’s get started!

Table of contents

What is a pillar page?

A pillar page is a valuable piece of content that provides a thorough overview of a single topic and offers visitors further information through links to related blog posts, also known as cluster pages or cluster content.

These pages are designed to be comprehensive, usually reaching a minimum of 2,000 words. They should answer all the questions a visitor might have about a topic but still leave room for more to be explored in the related cluster pages.

The structure of pillar pages and cluster pages

It might be easier to imagine pillar pages as a table of contents or an A-Z guide. At the top, you have your general topic, and just below, you have sections focusing on related subtopics that link to your cluster pages.

Let’s say we want to create a pillar page that delves into the topic of Copywriting and Consumer Psychology. On this page, we could include a variety of subtopics that link to relevant cluster pages that contain even more information, such as:

The pillar page provides visitors with a comprehensive overview of copywriting and consumer psychology. If they’d like to know even more, they can click through to the cluster pages we’ve linked to in each section.

Whilst the pillar page will likely target competitive short-tail keywords, your cluster content will focus on long-tail keywords that match exact user intent.

Why are pillar pages vital for SEO and your business?

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1. Authority

Pillar pages are one of the best ways to build up your website’s E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness).

By offering detailed, quality content in a well-structured manner, you’re able to deliver what search engines are looking for: accurate information that matches user intent.

You get two huge rewards for this. First, search engines will start to give your content higher rankings. Second, the more your content starts to dominate the SERPs, the more people will begin to view you as an authoritative and trustworthy source of information—leading to even better rankings.

2. Competitive keywords

If you’ve been struggling to rank for high-volume, competitive keywords, then integrating a pillar page system into your content strategy might be the best course of action.

Pillar pages are likely to obtain high rankings for competitive keywords because they provide so much information on a topic. Search engines look at all of this information and conclude that it satisfies the search intent of people who key in general, short-tail keywords.

Moreover, the cluster pages you link to will start to rank well for long-tail keywords that match more specific search queries from those who are more familiar about a topic. It’s a win-win situation!

3. Site structure

Organising your blog content into tidy topic clusters and pillar pages allows you to create a clear and logical site structure.

This is beneficial in three main ways:

  • It makes it easier to generate new keywords or topics and identify any gaps in your current content strategy
  • It enables search engines to crawl your website and determine what your content is about
  • It allows visitors to quickly navigate through your pillar page to find the cluster pages they’re most interested in

With the right link building strategy, you can build up your brand awareness, domain authority and engagement. There are various ways to obtain quality backlinks, including, you guessed it, creating pillar pages.

If you’ve done your job correctly, your pillar page will be a valuable resource that other websites will want to link to. The more backlinks you gain, the more authority you build up, and the better your pages will rank. In turn, more websites will start to view you as an authority figure and, as a result, begin to trust your content and link to it.

5. Engagement

When people look up a general search term and land on your pillar page, they will likely become interested in the subtopics you’ve highlighted. If they want to dive deeper into these subtopics, they’ll need to click through to the blog posts you’ve linked to.

This can lead to visitors:

  • Clicking through to each cluster page because they want to explore your content further
  • Coming back to your website in the future when they want more information about a related topic
  • Spending longer on your website because they’re interested in your content (leading to lower bounce rates)
  • Becoming qualified leads, either through buying a product/service or subscribing to one of your marketing lists

6. Content strategy

Creating pillar pages and accompanying cluster pages requires a lot of thorough research and planning. You’ve got to:

  • Conduct audience and keyword research
  • Find gaps in your content (and that of your competitors)
  • Create quality content that will match search intent

Sounds exhausting, right? It can be, but it does have a huge payoff! It pushes you to focus your content strategy around topics that will actually interest your target audience, rather than making it up as you go along.

The research you compile along the way will also give you further insight into your audience and additional ideas for blog posts that aren’t related to your pillar content.

How do you create a pillar page?

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👉 Choose a topic

First things first, you need to find the topic for your pillar page. It needs to be broad enough that you can break it down into multiple subtopics but not so broad that you can’t provide detailed information.

For example, the topic content is far too broad for a pillar page. If you picked a beginner’s guide to content marketing, however, you’d be able to delve into a wide range of relevant subtopics that can link to cluster pages.

To find these topics, you’ll want to look to your audience. Use buyer personas and psychographics to find out what they want to know more about, and you’ll be well on your way to writing your pillar pages.

👉 Conduct keyword research

Once you have your topics, it’s time to start your keyword research. Your pillar pages must include relevant short-tail and long-tail keywords if you want to rank well and match search intent.

Not sure where to start? Use one of the best keyword research tools we’ve compiled and have a gander at what your audience is looking for: their questions, pain points and desires. This will help you determine what keywords you should target in your pillar pages and cluster pages.

You’ll also want to take a sneak peek at what types of keywords your competitors are ranking for. If their content is poor, you can jump ahead of them in the SERPs using the skyscraper technique. Alternatively, you might spot some gaps in their content strategy, which will allow you to draw more traffic to your website instead.

👉 Find your content clusters

Depending on how thorough you’ve been with the previous step, you might be looking at hundreds of keywords. To make it easier, import your data into a spreadsheet. You can then add labels to your keywords and group the similar or overlapping ones.

For example, if you’re focusing on the topic of content marketing for beginners, the following keywords could be grouped into a cluster page for creating a content marketing strategy:

  • “content marketing strategy”
  • “how to create a content marketing strategy”
  • “content marketing strategy examples”
  • “content marketing strategy framework”

If you’ve spotted a few keywords that don’t seem to fall into a certain group, consider using them to create one-off blog posts. Just because they’re not suitable for your pillar and cluster content doesn’t mean they’re entirely useless!

👉 Create your cluster pages

Though you could create your pillar page before writing your cluster pages, it’s much easier to do it the other way around. Pillar content requires you to succinctly summarise your cluster pages, which is difficult if you haven’t already written them.

As with any blog post, you’ll want to look at competitor pages and other high-ranking pages to see how you can make your cluster page stand out from the crowd. You might consider throwing different content types into the mix, such as PDFs, slideshows and infographics.

And don’t forget to integrate your grouped keywords into your headings and sections! This will allow your pages to rank well for multiple search terms.

👉 Write your pillar page

Now it’s time for the hard part of your journey: creating your comprehensive pillar page. Pillar pages are generally at least 2,000 words long, but can go all the way up to as much as 10,000 words! It sounds like a lot, but when it’s divided into each cluster section, it doesn’t amount to much at all.

Your main struggle will be maintaining the careful balance between:

  • Providing valuable information to your readers
  • Giving readers a reason to click through to your cluster pages

If you give too much away in your pillar page, your visitors won’t bother to read your cluster pages. However, if you don’t provide enough information, you’ll fail to match search intent and won’t rank well in the SERPs.

Make sure it’s optimised for user experience

To avoid high bounce rates on your pillar pages, always think about how you can improve your content for your visitors.

  • A table of contents will make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re most interested in without having to scroll
  • Different content types like videos, infographics and slideshows will make it more engaging and visually appealing than large blocks of text
  • Internal links to cluster pages under each relevant section will allow visitors to explore certain topics further

When you create these internal links, use descriptive anchor text instead of generic text like ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. You’ll also want to link back to the pillar page from these cluster pages.

👉 Promote it

There’s no point in creating valuable content if no one is going to read it. It will take some time for search engines to crawl through your content and decide how valuable it is for users, so in the meantime, take action yourself!

Start promoting your content on social media to drive traffic to your pillar page and accompanying cluster pages. If you’ve created resources for these pages, like infographics and slideshows, consider making them shareable so that other websites can link to them.

👉 Maintain it

Most content on your website can be reviewed every six months or so without much urgency. You can’t afford to be this hands-off with your pillar and cluster content, however. If you want to increase your rankings and engagement, you need to make sure they’re as close to perfect as possible.

You must comb through your pillar and cluster pages regularly to ensure that your content is still timely and relevant and that your links and resources work properly.

Furthermore, as you conduct keyword research for future projects, you might find additional content clusters to add to your existing pillar pages. This is a great way to solidify your authority on a topic and provide even more value to your target audience.

Can I create a pillar page using existing content?

Already got a blog chock full of valuable content? Good stuff! You can group your posts into topic clusters and pick out your broad, overarching pillar topic. For example, if you’ve got a swathe of posts about backlinks, you could create a pillar page that walks beginners through the ins and outs of building high-quality backlinks.

To ensure that your old content is valuable enough to be turned into cluster pages, however, you’ll need to update it so that it’s detailed, relevant and evergreen. The beauty of doing this is that it gives you a chance to breathe new life into blog posts you’ve probably forgotten about.

If you’re regularly conducting content audits, you can integrate this step into your process. Simply add two extra columns to your audit spreadsheet for content clusters and pillar topics.

Pillar pages are a vital part of any good content strategy and will allow you to create a solid foundation for your website and business. The more pillar content you create, the more authority you accumulate for your brand through the eyes of search engines and your target audience.

Though it will take time for your pillar pages to bear fruit, as with most things in content marketing, it is a worthy investment that will more than pay off in the future.

Need some help crafting your own pillar and cluster pages? Supersede Media is here to help. Get in touch with us today!