How to drive great SEO through a pillar page and topic cluster

pillar page

Our easy guide will explain how pillar pages and topic clusters better organise your content and help Google find you.

Contents

  • What are pillar pages and topic clusters?
  • How successful content structure improves your SEO
  • Easy guide to creating your own pillar pages and topic clusters

What are pillar pages and topic clusters?

If you haven’t heard of these before, no problem! We’ll explain how you can improve your content strategy with pillar pages and topic clusters.

Whether you’re incorporating a pillar page content structure into an existing content strategy or implementing a new strategy based on it, you’ll be organising your content in a way that makes Google very happy. And when Google is happy we all benefit…

Pillar pages are a form of architecture, just web architecture rather than actual buildings. Similar to the way classical pillars support and connect to the rest of a structure, on the web they form an important central core, linking and connecting your other content pages.

As you can see from this example, the central pillar page topic is broad, with the topic clusters splintering off into specific areas of interest that are all linked.

Source: ESM Inbound

Topic clusters

A topic cluster is a collection of web-page articles that are grouped together by their content theme (the pillar page). Each is connected to the pillar page by hyperlinks.

Enter stage left – a bunch of pleasingly categorised sub-topic pages that users can navigate swiftly to find what they are looking for. Happy users, happy Google, happy you.

How successful content structure improves your SEO

The way people search the internet has evolved. People now use longer, more conversational search terms, which demands a more human response.

As a result, SEO has changed. Google bots are becoming increasingly more able to mimic humans in their understanding of topic relevance. Helping users find what they are looking for is the absolute crux of Google’s business and its obsession.

To further enhance the user experience, Google is working intensely on AI, finding ways to refine its understanding of conversational nuances by measuring user activity, emulating user behaviour and carrying out evaluation. As well as creating thousands of patterns of algorithms and new AI powered hardware to run AI faster and more efficiently.

Using the pillar page and topic cluster model in your content strategy fits perfectly with Google’s human approach to SEO.

Rather than just focusing on keywords and hoping that will be enough to attract Google, the topic cluster model improves the search experience by organising and linking everything properly. This makes it easier for the bots to trawl information on the web, and as a result, helps them match users search terms to the most highly relevant content.

A bit like a well-ordered filing cabinet, a website with a pillar page and topic cluster provides a highly-accessible and pleasing search experience.

With this approach to your content, you’ll also be able to dominate keyword categories in organic searches and return more focused answers to your users’ search queries. As with all quality content, avoid stuffing too many keywords into it.

Using this type of content strategy can help you position yourself as an authority in your chosen area as it’s a great way to showcase your subject knowledge. It can also reduce bounce rates and increase engagement time on your site because the content is relevant for users, and easy to navigate.

Easy guide to creating your own pillar page and topic cluster

Key steps 

  • choose a topic
  • carry out keyword research
  • choose your topic title and the title for your topic cluster subpages based on keyword findings
  • plan and write your content – ensuring that the pillar content remains broad and the more detailed individual cluster topics each cover a specific area relating to the main topic.

Key features of a pillar page

  • long piece of quality content that forms the core of a topic cluster
  • approximately 2,000 to 3,000 words, but can be much longer
  • concentrate on keywords with high search volumes to attract users to your pages
  • broad topic, providing the content theme, broken down into subsections, with each briefly covering important aspects of the main topic – save the specific detail for your topic clusters
  • the pillar page acts as a complete guide and should answer many questions
  • break your content into easy-to-read sections for easier navigation by bots (crawling and indexing) and users reading it.

Key features of a topic cluster

  • branches of subtopic content, each containing more specific information relating to the broad content theme
  • often quite a few, between 5-12 is common, but there’s no hard and fast rule
  • contain longer keywords with smaller volumes, to enable you rank more highly in searches where you have less competition
  • if you want your business to be known for multiple topics, you can have topic clusters in different content areas.

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