When it comes to growing your organic visibility and position, your company as an industry, or topic thought, quality content is a must. While blogging and page optimization is very beneficial, there is one popular strategy, when executed correctly, that can take your game to a whole new level. They are called “Pillar Pages.”
The idea of a pillar page, or what I’ve always called a core page, is to increase your topic authority by creating an in-depth piece of content that covers as many aspects of that specific topic as possible. Brian Dean has been using the strategy with great success for years. To see an example of one of his pages click here.
As you see on this page, there is a ton of content, broken into multiple sections (chapters). But the idea is to give as much information as you can around a topic to show your authority to your users and the search engines.
Pieces of content like this don’t just happen. They take a lot of time and careful planning and execution.
Over the last couple of years, or maybe a year and a half or so, HubSpot has been pushing something known as pillar page. HubSpot is an inbound marketing software used to get everything that you need to do to achieve high-level inbound marketing under one roof. Now, they’ve been pushing pillar pages for one main reason. Google is focused on topic authority. This is nothing new. This is something that we’ve known about for quite some time. They’ve been really gearing towards this in order to better understand user intent and to deliver the content that a user is expecting, that’s actually going to answer their questions.
What’s the difference between topics and keyword?
Topics you can think of as the meta-category. The top category. The big thought. We can have a topic like SEO. Let’s say we have this topic. Now, this is our big idea. This is something that we want to be known for, something that we want to do. Underneath this, we are going to have things like local SEO, or things like search marketing. We’re going to have things like Google. These are all keywords and terms that are now related to this meta topic, this main topic.
In Google, when they’re looking for authority figures on ideas, they want to know that you’re a topic expert. Yes, you want to be a niche expert as well and maybe this is going to be your focus over here. Then, there’s going to be subcategories under there. What they’re looking for, is do you know what you’re talking about. One of the ways that they do that, is they look at the content. They look to see whether or not that your keywords and the content that you’re writing about matches the topic authority of what you’re talking about.
Where does a pillar page fit into all of this?
Since Hummingbird was released and Google began to focus more on topics and more on relational search or search that’s more contextual, we have been focusing our SEO strategies on our services pages, on what we would call our core page, which is the exact same thing as a pillar page. These are pages that prove your topic authority and help the user better understand. A pillar page is not really a high-level piece of content. It’s more in that consideration, more in that middle of the buyer’s page. It’s going to add a lot more context. It’s also going to help that user take the next step into building that relationship with you.
What you want to do is have these pages on your site that display topic authority and then you want to build relationships between those pages and other related pieces of content. Again, let’s take a look at how this strategy works.
If you’ve got a website, you’ve got a number of pages. Right? You’ve got your home page, about, services, and content. Underneath your services pages, you’re going to have probably what you’re known for. I’m just going to use what we do as an example because it’s going to be easier for me and I hope it still makes sense to you. We’ve got SEO, we’ve got inbound, and we’ll also say analytics.
Now, we can treat either make our services pages as core pages, or we can build a separate pillar page. What a pillar page would be, would be something like you’ve probably seen like the Ultimate Guide to SEO. What this guide is going to be is a really in-depth piece of content that covers everything about SEO from on page, off page, maybe some backlinks, maybe we’ll talk about the technical side, maybe we’ll talk about schema, maybe we’ll talk about local, Google, ranking factors. We’re really going to just create this really comprehensive piece of content that’s going to be this guide that lets our users know everything that they need to know about SEO. In that, we’re going to have these different sections that really show our authority. Each under these sections is going to have very targeted terms in them, like on page SEO, link building, Google algorithm, Google analytics, local SEO, ranking factor. All these other terms that are related to SEO, which we’ll want this page to rank for, is terms related to what is SEO. How does SEO work? You know, a guide to SEO. Those are the things we want searchers to find us for. So, we start creating all this content.
It doesn’t just stop there. We don’t just create this one page. Now, we’ve got to take this page and build relationships between our site, because we’re going to be doing this with each one of our core pages here. Then, Google now wants to see relationship. Just because you have this big giant piece of content and some links in it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to rank. I think that’s a lot of disconnection sometimes. We assume that, hey, as long as I build a lot of content, people are going to naturally rank to it, put links to it, and they’re going to like it. If you don’t put the work behind your content, and you don’t build the right linking, internally linking structure as well as building backlinks, you’re not going to get the visibility you want, which is why a lot of people get frustrated with pillar page campaigns or any other link building and content marketing campaigns. It is because they haven’t taken the extra effort to make sure one; they’ve added the context within their website and two; they’ve gotten outside sites to link to them as well.
Let’s talk a little bit about how that all flows together. So, you’ve created this pillar page and you’ve created this really in-depth piece of content that you want to ultimately drive your users to. A pillar page’s goal isn’t to move people to a blog, it’s to move people deeper into that page and hopefully take some action. This can be your pillar page.
Now, what you want to do is start driving traffic or start to show relationships to it. Again, let’s say this one is about SEO again. Now, I might have a blog article that is an SEO how to. I want to add an internal link from this SEO how to into the pillar page. Maybe I’ve got one on local SEO. Again, I want to add an internal link to that. I also maybe have one on backlinks. I want to add an internal link back to that. What this is doing is starting to create a web. Go figure, right? Where Google is able to crawl our sites and begin to see the relationship. Not just the content on this page, but that we also have other authoritative pieces of content on our website. Now, what we also need to do is take these pages and, if appropriate, interlink them where it makes sense. Again, we’re showing that relationship. We also want to find high-quality third-party sites that we can build relationships with that can also build backlinks to these pages. That’s HQ for high-quality.
That is going to raise the visibility of these blog pages. The authority of these blog pages, which then is going to pass that authority to the pillar page as well. Alone, this pillar page should be attracting tons of links as well. If it is a really good piece of content and it’s being marketed well and distributed well, it’s going to increase in value which in return has the potential to increase the value of all your other content.
This really starts to work in a very cyclical way and it needs to all be integrated to each other. You can’t just put one page up and spend a lot of time creating this content and hope that people are going to find it and link to it. You may have people on social. Great. Push it out to social. Use it in your newsletter, but make sure you’re doing the other things. Make sure that the technical side of it is done right, that the content is well written, that it’s easy to read, that it’s digestible, that it’s contextual, and then make sure that you have the links in place.
This is a critical piece of this strategy to make it work. A lot of people don’t do it because it’s hard and it does take time. It takes a lot of organization and understanding what are these types of sites that you should be linking to. Not all links are created equal. You can spend a lot of time and a lot of money buying or going after bad links that are actually going to do the opposite of what you want the strategy to do for you. Make sure that you take the time to not just identify what you want to create that core pillar page about, but what are the other assets you have that you can interlink and begin to build this web. If you want us to help you, click here