I was traveling to Gurgaon once to have a family brunch. It was a sun-kissed Sunday of a winter morning and we decided to ditch the regular places and instead go for some different restaurant or try a different ambiance for a change!
My siblings, cousins and I quickly started searching for local restaurants in Gurgaon to see if there is a new opening nearby or café with great ambiance.
While we were busy doing a text search, my mother did a quick voice search on Google saying” best vegetarian restaurants in the cyber hub with good ambiance. (Yes, my mother types faster than me on a laptop and is tech junkie)
She looked at all of us and asked if we can select from one of the top 3 options (as she didn’t know, which one was better?). It amazed all of us.
Firstly, she was quicker than any of us.
Secondly, she knew what all things were required in the search i.e. exact location, a place that serves lunch, a delightful ambiance for good family time and the vegetarian option, which was mandatory (yes, we are pure vegetarians).
Lastly, I was checking her search intent. It was a clear, precise and long or rather conversational form of a search query. (The Internet marketer inside me got pretty excited.)
I’m sure, a lot of you can relate to this incident. We all have different ways of searching (called search intent). We always search or look for something based on our priority or requirement and mostly type a query, pretty long either in the form of a phrase or sometimes even a short sentence since we want the search to be as filtered as possible.
Now let’s find out what any of this has to do with blogging? We bloggers work on several keywords. And just when we gain that confidence that we completely understand the search intent of our audience, Google says, “You are not there yet, keep learning!” (Just kidding.)
What I’m saying is that we have to keep going with the process of understanding search intent and how Google is optimizing the search results. This is where pillar content and pillar pages come into the picture.
The search engine is getting better and better in providing exactly what a user is looking for. Or let’s say Google is focused on being more accurate.
What is Pillar content?
Pillar content is like a massive content gold mine where you create a descriptive, meaningful and long-form content on an individual topic.
The word “ Pillar Content” may sound new or unfamiliar to you but you must have come across pillar content so many times while doing research or even while reading. These are usually books/eBooks, guides or sometimes a report.
Pillar content is like a complete information center on a given topic. Creating pillar content is not easy but is extremely useful for a high ranking on Google.
How to develop Pillar Content?
By now we know that pillar content is an informative piece of article that contains in-depth information on a given subject. But to create such a big piece of content, you need to understand the whole process of building it.
Yes, there is a simple yet important process that you need to follow to develop pillar content. Let me state out the whole process in the simplest way:
Step 1: Searching for Main Topic
Find the main topic you wish to build the content on. This is not a random pick and has to be defined by the search volume.
For this blog post, I will choose “Coffee Machine” as my main topic. It has a monthly search of “40,500” (In India). The main topic should be a broad term with around two words and must umbrella at least 20-40 subtopics.
Step 2: Listing Core Topics Relevant To the Main Topic
Now, we need to find the core topics that are related to the main topic and are relevant. Also, these core topics can be three to five words long. (It will start making the article denser)
Again the search volume matters here, so select the core topics that have search volume lower than the main topic.
Let’s list the core topics:
If my main keyword is “coffee machine” then an apt core topic can be:
Coffee machine price (6600 search volume)
Commercial coffee machine (720 search volume)
There can be 5-7 core topics in pillar content.
Step 3: Finding The Topic Clusters
Topic clusters (also called sub-topics sometimes) are small topics surrounding the main and core topics. Select the topic cluster relevant to the main topic and core topic. It will further add depth to your pillar content.
The important thing to consider is that these sub-topics or topic clusters are supporting the main topic and can be in the form of a question or a small aspect of the main topic or a subset of the core topic. The search volume can be between 10-400.
Let’s find the sub-topics here:
Types of coffee machine (110)
coffee machine price in Delhi (110)
best coffee machine for office (30).
Topic clusters can be 20 to 30 and can go up to 100 because it will make the pillar content more specific. The topic cluster can be linked to the main & core topic with internal links. This will give way to a pillar page.
The more internal linking is available on your website, the more will be the authority of your site. And we all know how good this can be for the SEO of your site.
How long should be Your Pillar Content?
There is no particular length defined for it. But since the normal blog post is expected to be around 1200-1500 words to attract crawlers then pillar pages shouldn’t be less than 2000 words.
As per the Overthink group, ”The average length of the pillar page should depend on topic and competition of course. It can be anywhere near 2000 to 5000”
If I’m to comment on the subject, it should be of great length. It will help you achieve more success in the long run. Try 4000 or 5000 words for a descriptive article. Writing information on core topics and main topics need a good word length.
Though, be cautious not to get lost in the process. Here are two things you must avoid while developing a long-form of content:
Firstly, avoid redundancy in the content. Do not repeat your topics just to cover the length. It will do no good.
Secondly, make sure you have a layout or wireframe ready for the pillar page. If not, there are chances your content structure will not offer convenience to your readers.
What is a Pillar Page?
Pillar Page is the foundation of the Main Topic along with the Core Topics. The subtopics or topic clusters are linked back to the pillar page. These links will branch out to other pages.
As per Neil Patel “ Pillar page is like a topical cornerstone for the humungous content present on your site”
Inside the Pillar page, core topics are covered in-depth and sub-topics linked throughout are very closely related to the core topic. This interlinking and depth of your pillar page send out a message to the crawlers and bots of Google that you understand the topic well. It will give your website more authority.
Why Do You Need Pillar Pages?
Once upon a time, content marketers use to find 10 keywords relevant to their niche and built content around it to rank their websites. With a combination of on-page and off-page websites were doing great.
Is that the case anymore? Certainly not.
Users have evolved and so have their search queries. This has brought changes in the Google algorithm too. As of today, approximately 200 factors determine page ranking. Its hard truth but marketers have to gulp that down their throat and work on changing their strategies to survive the cutthroat competition.
Since search intent and increase in online users increased tremendously and voice search became mainstream, Google became one-step ahead and promoted pages that had high authority with fresh & improvised content.
Now, this doesn’t mean keywords are not important. It is just that obsession over keywords has to go. If you are a content writer or strategist, you need to approach this situation with a whole new perspective.
Still wondering, what should be your next step then? Let me put it in simple words:
-Instead of keywords think about topics that fall under your business.
-Have a clean and organized content on your webpages.
-Focus on dense interlinking between your webpages. This is crucial.
-Build information in small clusters then links it back to the main topic. For instance, it’s like many small streams flow from different paths but eventually meet in a riverbank.
-Lastly, build content that is informative and not filled or rather stuffed with keywords.
If you follow these steps, you will be on a path to build pillar pages for great SEO. I hope now you understand why pillar pages are immensely preferred?
How To Develop Pillar Page From Start To Finish?
Before you create a Pillar Page, you must understand that you have to answer some questions:
a. Informative Aspect: Does your pillage page contain all the possible information that can be available on a given topic?
b. Providing Ultimate Solution: Have you covered the challenges and main points (core topics) surrounding the main topic?
c. Educational Aspect: Is your pillar content educating the audience about the topic?
d. Serving the Targeted Audience: Does your page cater to your specific audience?
Pillar Pages need a lot of strategy and organization. Also, it has to be well thought before you start developing the content for it. Especially, the main effort is needed in structuring the content of the pillar page and working on linking the sub-topics throughout.
To make you understand more, it’s like building a family tree! Hope you got my point.
So, let’s get started.
This is going to be a 6-step process:
a. Developing Strategy & Research
You must first work on the main topic, core topics, and topic cluster. This involves research. The whole process is explained above. Here are the following things, which you need to consider in this step:
- Doing industry-specific research (Relevant in finding the main topic)
- Making the bloggers journey educational. They must get answers under one roof. So find every question that needs an answer (relevant in finding core topics)
- Keeping the audience in mind while finding the topic clusters. Build a reader persona. Working on their demographics is crucial.
- Find the biggest challenges and pain points by visiting sites like Quora or join a Facebook, LinkedIn or Telegram Group. Try to answer those questions through topic clusters.
- Do thorough competitor research to see what main and sub-topics have they worked on. You can refer to sites like similar web to know all about your competitors.
Remember, while strategizing the content you must not work on ranking your article based on a keyword but focus on building the content that is evergreen.
A highly effective pillar page is one where the main topic is broad enough to accumulate 20-30 topics under its umbrella.
b. Build Pillar Content
Once you have research in place. It’s time to build Pillar content. Pillar content is quite long when compared to a normal blog post. I usually wrap my posts within 1500-2500 words.
For instance, I have built a pillar page on “start a blog”.
It has an extensive description from start to finish. I have written more than 5000 words to build a guide for beginners. It answers and states out how one can follow a step-by-step process to start a blog site. It has almost 43 supporting images to support the content and make the information easier to understand. The page is well structured and is covering a great number of core topics that one needs to know about while building a blog.
Now, every day I work consistently to build topic clusters around the core topics. It will take me quite some time to accomplish that task because producing quality content is time taking and I usually prefer working on articles myself. Still, I have achieved micro success.
c. Structuring The Pillar Page
The structure of any normal blog with a word length of 1500-2500 is crucial so that the audience is not lost amidst huge content. Now imagine what structuring will you need when it comes to pillar pages.
Here are certain elements that you need to construct an effective pillar page with clarity:
1.Build A Table Of Content
Having a table of content is important. A reader would get a fair idea of what all is covered inside your pillar page. Also, if they wish to jump on a particular section, they can do without reading the whole content in one go. This will not let the reader quit the site because scrolling too much is boring & monotonous.
Another thing to promote easy navigation within the page is adding a “back to top” button. This will again prevent users from scrolling through the humungous content. Install at the main topic and every sub-topic.
Here’s what a table of content looks like. Visit this blog to see how it creates a difference for a reader visiting your page.
2. Define The Main Topic
You can experiment with your introduction but don’t forget to define the main topic. It is the very foundation of your page. Let people know in a broad sense then slowly narrow it down.
For instance, if you are making a Pillar page on “Digital Marketing” Then define it first and eventually move on to other core topics like:
-Digital marketing tools
-Importance of digital marketing
-Digital marketing strategies
-Digital Marketing Applications
3. Sort Your Headers (H1, H2, H3)
As we know that H1 is the first and most important header that crawlers read then second comes H2, which is usually for core topics. Crawlers last prefer H3. Now that we know the significance of headers and their role in SEO, we must plan out which topics would fall under H2 & H3. It goes without saying that the main topic would always be H1.
4. Linking Your Page
Links involve both internal links & external links. Internal linking would be about the topic clusters or sub-topics that you have listed in relevance to main or core topics. This is important to provide depth to your pillar page.
You can also add external links to your pillar page that are high-performing in terms of SEO and of course, are apt concerning the main topic. It also adds credibility to your pillar content.
Here’s a Hubspot finding, “The more the internal links, the more are the chances of higher placement in SERP.”
5. Add Images & Multimedia To Your Pillar Page
Too much text without images is hard to read. Thus, convert your pillar page into a visual treat for your readers. Grab their attention and keep them focused by inserting images, screenshots (using Ever Note) and different multimedia like GIF, video, podcasts, etc. that supports your content and make it even stronger.
6. Add “Call-To-Action” Button
You must now think hard why did you build a pillar page and did all the hard work? The result must always be rewarding. Thus, try to get your readers in action after reading value-packed information. These are some of the Call-to-action buttons you can insert from place to place within the pillar page:
-Asking them to get a consultation from you.
-Recommending one of your problem-solving products for purchase.
-Sharing their contact information in exchange for a free resource.
-Signing up for your newsletter in exchange for an email ID.
-Asking them to signup for your upcoming paid workshop or webinar.
It depends on what you are selling or wish to get off your readers. This is an important step.
d. Sharing & Promoting Your Pillar Page
To make the most of your efforts and days or even months of hard work (since it’s a long task), you must promote your content or let’s say your treasure.
Promote it directly as a page or repurpose it for different platforms to drive traffic back to the main page. For repurpose, go for Slide share, video, podcast, Infographic, etc. they all will drive the audience to your pillar page.
As per sharing, use your newsletters and social platforms. You can collaborate with influencers and ask them to promote it for you among their audience. Another way of getting the word out there is sharing it on forums and groups on Facebook, Linked, Whatsapp and Telegram.
How much time does it take to build a pillar page?
Building a pillar page that has a vast internal and external linking may take months. Because you have to build content for your pillar page which branches off to many more pages of information (topic cluster). So don’t be in a hurry and plan strategically.
It’s best to build a wireframe first then slowly reverse engineer the whole process. Try to build 20-30 topic clusters, which will join together on one pillar page.
All you need is to be a consistent writer and determination to work through the entire process. The results will be worth the hard work.
So, who is excited to build a pillar page? Hope, you are raised your hand!
What is the 10X Content Pillar Page?
A 10 X pillar page is just like any other pillar page but with 10x content. A 10X content is a content that is 10 times better than normal content.
Not many people, especially at a beginner level, can take an attempt in constructing a 10X pillar page. This 10X content pillar page can be a rock-solid foundation of your website that you can greatly rely on.
Now you might ask if developing a normal pillar page may take some month’s time from planning to execution then how much hard work will a 10X page will demand?
Well, it’s not about the amount of time & hard work but taking a different approach. Approach the topic in a way that the audience still doesn’t know how to tap. Cover topics relevant to the main topic using a different strategy.
A 10 X content pillar page should be like a Wikipedia covering every aspect of a given topic. It’s like visiting a supermarket and finding every basic and advanced need necessary for day-to-day life under one roof.
A word of advice: Do not try building a 10X pillar page until you have a habit of developing a long-form of content. You may end up confusing your readers and even worse the crawlers causing a negative impact on your website.
Top 5 examples of Pillar Pages
Here are a few inspirations for you to start with your first pillar page. Most of these pages have high page authority. So jump right in and see how these pillar page inspirations are structured by industry leaders.
A highly structured pillar page by HubSpot was carefully designed. With 229 external links & 59 as Page authority, this is a great example of a pillar page. This story-based pillar content has too much information to offer but with the easiest navigation.
This is a highly engaging and informative long-form of content by The Atlantic. With 32 as page authority and 13 external links, this content even with a typical subject is a good read.
This pillar page by Typeform has everything you need to know about brand awareness. The content is humungous but navigation, lay-outing, and colors make it even more appealing and easy to consume.
This pillar page follows all the best practices and has giant information inside. Easy navigation, good and explanatory images and a detailed table of content make this pillar page a great example to follow. It has around 49 external links and 38 as page authority.
The content is great and engaging with a mix of images, amazing visual design, and clean outlay. It also has easy navigation. With 160 external links and 48 as page authority, this is a great inspiration for beginners to develop their first pillar page.
Congratulations, you now know a great deal about pillar pages. If you are or planning to be a content strategist or a content writer, this piece of information on the pillar page is sufficient for you to understand how this thing works and what significance pillar content carries?
Also, if you are an SEO beginner, this article read is a must for you! Don’t think building pillar pages is a tedious process instead focus on doing it and see the results.
Again your understanding of a topic and research necessary to build content will play a significant role here. Thus, develop the skillset required to build such pillar pages and give your website the presence & authority it deserves.
So, Are you ready to build your first pillar page? If yes, share the topic in the comment below and I can help a few of you during the process!
Also Read: How to Structure A Blog?