Pillar Page: The Ultimate Guide to Top Rankings in 2020

The pillar page, since the end of 2018 as the panacea in the SEO scene on everyone’s lips, focuses on topic clusters and turns its back on the once hyped holistic landing pages. Supposedly. What this concept is all about, when such a strategy really makes sense and why it is still only about one thing – namely holistic content – I’ll show you here.

What is a pillar page?

In short: a pillar page is a page on your website that deals extensively with a specific topic.

The term “pillar” comes from English and can be translated as “pillar” or “pillar”. This means in a figurative sense: A pillar page supports your advanced content cluster and represents a solid basis on which you can build a comprehensive topic in the long term.

That is why one often speaks of a “main page” on which other relevant sub-topics (content cluster) are teased. These additional pages are closely linked with each other and with the pillar via hyperlinks, which makes the matter particularly interesting for SEO.

Pillar Page vs holistic landing page

In order to better understand the sense and nonsense of a pillar page, we should first make relevant delimitations and terminology. After all, every concept has its right to exist with a view to the user intent:

pillar page always consists of the main page (main topic) and various thematically relevant subpages (sub-topics) on separate URLs. All content clusters are teased on the pillar and linked to one another via text-based hyperlinks. The user should be guided from the pillar page to the deeper pieces and from there, back to the pillar.

holistic landing page displays the entire content of a topic holistically on just one URL. The magic words here are “focus” and “keyword selection”, because just because you want to illuminate a topic comprehensively, your text does not have to degenerate into insane lengths. It goes without saying that, despite the holistic approach, your keywords have to be consistent and not as fragmented as with a pillar.

Pillar Page vs Content hub

Now you already know what the difference is between a pillar page and a holistic landing page. But which category does a content hub fall into?

content hub is considered to be the home of your content and represents the basis of your entire content marketing strategy. Here you focus on multimedia content (text, sound, moving images, etc.) that is not just – like the pillar page – on are aimed at a specific topic, but rather show your entire marketing activities on the Internet and make them available to the user.

This is how you set up your first pillar page in 7 steps.

In order to turn your back on dry theory as quickly as possible and switch to medias res, I will now show you an example of how you can open your first content-driven pillar page in seven steps.

Because you should know this much in advance: The pillar page concept is currently mainly used in relation to services or product pages. However, I am of the opinion that comprehensive editorial topics, in particular, can benefit from such a preparation – of course, always assuming a corresponding user intention.

1. View existing content

Basically, you should first look through your existing content and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there suitable topics and subtopics on your website that are worth structuring?
  • Are there any suitable topics on your website that are worth expanding?

Tip: If you start from scratch, you can jump straight to the second step below!

2. Define the core topic

In the beginning, it is important to define a so-called core or main topic. When finding a topic, you should basically orient yourself towards the interests and problems of your target group and include your buyer personas.

So that you don’t just have to let yourself be sprinkled with dreary blah blah, I will drill through all of the following steps using the example of “backpacking” in order to better illustrate how you can proceed.

So assuming you have specialized in the production of travel guides like the big player Lonely Planet, you could create a category “Tips & Tricks for Globetrotters” on your website and a pillar page on the subject of “Backpacking” with corresponding content Hang up pieces.

But take it easy with the young horses; after all, we were just about to find a topic. So once you have decided on a core topic, you should definitely carry out keyword research with the Google Keyword Planner or Searchmetrics.

However, since the Google Keyword Planner subordinates the term [backpacking] to the keyword [backpack], caution is required, or there is a need for clarification. Why?

The Searchmetrics tool differentiates between [backpack] and [backpacking] and still haunts me a decent search volume of 4,566 on this topic. I am also provided with additional keyword ideas and combinations that – to anticipate – are relevant for my content cluster in step three. 

By the way: If I check the search results for my keyword backpacking, it becomes clear that I am on the right track. The SERPs are exclusively informational and – what a miracle – the big player Lonely Planet, who has taken on the topic similarly, but still very spartan, holds position 1.

3. Define subtopics

In the next step on your way to the pillar page, you should define additional sub-topics (content clusters) for your main topic. If your magazine or guide already has relevant content, you can always include it and add it if necessary.

Topic research & W-question analysis

In order to find targeted subtopics for your pillar page, you can first start in the classic way with brainstorming or other creativity techniques. I also recommend a specific W question analysis with the following tools:

From the W-question analysis, you can usually already draw relevant key points for further sub-topics and the subsequent keyword research, as here for an example:

  • How does backpacking work in general?
  • Where can you go backpacking cheaply / best?
  • Where do you sleep while backpacking?
  • Backpacking by seasons/months

If you now also use Google Suggest, you will get further ideas for your content pieces:

piller topic

Users seem to be increasingly in favour of

  • Backpacking for beginners,
  • Backpacking in Europe,
  • a packing list and
  • the right backpack

To be interested if that is not the primary content that you can grapple with when working out!

Note: After a pillar page can be continuously expanded, you should always start with the topics that are most important for your users.

Keyword research

For your defined content clusters, which you want to work out first, you should, in any case, carry out targeted keyword research to determine exactly what you want to optimize your subpages for.

In my opinion, it is not necessarily a question of an outstandingly high search volume, but rather of thematic relevance. This means that you should focus on user intention in your content pieces. And sometimes these are topics that have less search volume or even consist of long-tail keywords.

4. Think through the page structure

Next, you should think about the page structure of your pill before working out the individual topics. Because don’t forget: all small content clusters must be listed, teased and linked here. You should fundamentally ask yourself these questions:

  • In which order would you like to arrange or prioritize the topics?
  • How should your clickable table of contents look like (classic jump labels vs navigation scrollable in the header area)?
  • Would you like to work with accordions (fold-out text elements) for the sake of clarity and brevity?

5. Write content

Now you can start writing your content or working out your content cluster. Experience has shown that I advise you to tackle the most important pieces for your pillar page first. Because this way you already have all the relevant information together and do not have to research twice.

The cluster content (for example an article on the topic of “Backpacking for Beginners” and / or “Backpacking: X things that should definitely not be missing on your packing list”) can then simply be shortened on the main page, the essential points and hyperlinks to the Set subpages.

When creating the text, you should of course not just write straight away, but read yourself into the topic, create a structured concept, ask interview partners if necessary and design the article step by step. It is also worthwhile if in line with the user intent, you think about what your users expect from the text and whether you can provide them with additional content such as infographics or PDFs (in our example a packing list to download and tick off).

Tip: Do not forget to prepare your text optimally for search engines and to create an appealing, click-strong snippet.

6. Set internal links

So that your pillar page can also represent a solid pillar, the internal link to the corresponding content cluster and from there back to the pillar must be given.

It is best to stick to text-based hyperlinks and use your main keyword as the link text, such as:

“We have put together for you what should definitely not be missing on your backpacking packing list .”

7. Update the main page

Since good content is always up to date, one thing applies after your pillar page project has been published: update. Always stay up to date on your topic, continuously add content that is essential for the user to your main page and regularly compare your information.

If in our backpacking example, certain entry requirements or tolls for a recommended route had changed, your users should not find any outdated information from the previous year on your pillar and the associated content clusters.

Why is a pillar page important for SEO?

A pillar page is interesting for SEO for several reasons. In my opinion, the six most important are:

  1. With content clusters, you can serve specific and detailed search queries (also long-tail keywords).
  2. The contents of a pill can usually be quickly recorded and indexed by Google.
  3. A comprehensive internal link strengthens the page structure and refers to the semantic relationship between the individual contents.
  4. Holistic content you attain in the eyes of Google expert status, and your content will be more relevant for your target group classified, which ultimately gradually have a positive effect on your rankings.
  5. In-depth content pieces cover the user intent for compact information and ensure that users click further into the page structure and stay on your website.
  6. The chance that you can tap high-quality backlinks for your pillar content is increased due to the thematic relevance of the pages. This means: With this concept, you are picking up users who want to find all relevant information on a specific topic (pillar page) in one place. On the other hand, with your small content pieces, you can also serve a targeted search intention of your users for more in-depth content. In short: you kill two birds with one stone!

The pillar page – something of 2020!

From my point of view, a pillar page is definitely a worthwhile content project and “something of 2020” that you should think about it and sound out whether you can successfully serve the search intent of your users in relation to a specific topic.

But: A content-driven pillar is not a panacea for your rankings and may not always be the right recipe to be at the top of Google. After all, this includes far more factors and also a certain amount of know-how for individual solutions.

If the pillar page concept has piqued your interest, but you don’t know exactly which topics are suitable and how to proceed, we will be happy to support you in setting up the pill and developing your content pieces. Contact us at any time without obligation!

If you want to add something more to this, please comment!!

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