We've been helping clients move to pillar pages to boost SEO rank for the core services they offer and problems they solve. Better SEO is one of the biggest reasons people are interested in pillar pages, but as we've helped more clients do this, we've seen many other benefits of planning and executing this strategy.
In this post, I'll explain the benefits of implementing a pillar page content strategy, regarding SEO and other benefits to your content marketing efforts.
As noted, the main reason to adopt a topic cluster and pillar page strategy is to improve your search presence for the things your brand does.
Here are some examples of pillar page implementations that have yielded strong results:
The brand Bob Phibbs the Retail Doctor'' created a retail sales training pillar page. A Google search for ‘retail sales training’ shows their results:
Text from their pillar page is the featured snippet, and links to their pillar page make up the top four organic search results.
There are other examples, including:
- Typeform’s customer success guide - Typeform offers interactive online forms for customer feedback
- GoodUI evidence - Which shares information about which User Interface (UI) implementations get more conversions
- Helpscout’s customer acquisition - This addresses entrepreneurs early stage questions about how to win customers
More examples are being written about every day - run a search for ‘pillar page examples’ and you can review several for inspiration.
Improved Content Quality
But the pillar page approach has benefits beyond SEO.
Pillar pages tend to improve the quality of content because of the thorough planning that goes into creating them. To cover a topic thoroughly you have to perform gap analysis, then create any content needed to fill the gaps. This gives you a more comprehensive battery of content, while it also makes it easier to make sure your core messages are aligned throughout the content.
Since it's a campaign, and since so much content is being created at once, it's easier to get internal subject matter experts to review content, and make sure quality controls, such as copy editing, take place. While this should always be the case, some organizations struggle with these content development issues - for some organizations, doing all the content at once in a focused effort helps make those critical quality control steps happen.
Provides a Content Roadmap for your Team
Beyond the core content covered on the pillar page, you'll likely come up with a series of related topics that dive more deeply into specific subtopics or related topics. This provides a roadmap for your content team. Content for these topics can be created later and linked to the pillar page or even added to the page and content offer if so desired.
This content roadmap can help you keep your pillar page topics top of mind for your audience longer.
Faster Content Creation
While mileage may vary, we've seen faster content creation results when working on topic clusters and pillar pages from scratch.
The singular focus and shared research that goes into writing comprehensively on a single topic make it easy to break that topic out into several pieces - we’ve been able to produce a content offer, pillar page, and 15-20 high-quality posts in four to six weeks. That content can then be promoted over eight to 12-18 weeks.
Allows 'Content Binging'
By publishing a comprehensive amount of content all at once, you’re also allowing members of your online community to binge your content.
This is similar to binge-watching a Netflix series - when someone is interested in a topic, they tend to consume as much as possible on the subject because they want all of their questions answered.
By creating a comprehensive pillar page, you’re allowing them to do that with your content, and on your site.
Easier Communication and Reporting
We’ve found pillar pages make content campaigns, their goals, and objectives easier to explain to everyone.
From the perspective of an agency, we find it easier to explain it to clients. Marketing managers find it easier to explain to their executive management.
The conversation goes something like this:
“We’re going to create a comprehensive page that explains this core topic. This topic maps to a key issue in the (awareness or decision stage) for buyer persona X. We’re going to leverage the pillar page content to create 15-20 individual pieces of content which will link back to the pillar page. This will give us a strong and persistent SEO boost, provide many points of entry for people to find our pillar page while allowing visitors to binge consume the content we’ve created.
We’re also going to offer the pillar page content as a download, which about 50% or more on average will opt-in for so they can read it and distribute it internally. We’re going to include other content offers as appropriate on the pillar page which should drive more conversions.”
From this point, the discussion tends to become more about the 'nuts and bolts' of the project. How much existing content we can leverage with minor changes? How much existing content can be leveraged with significant rewrites? How much content must be created from scratch and the time frame for completion?
It’s a common sense approach that’s easy to understand.
Consider Moving Content Campaigns to the Same Process
We've told many of our clients that run multiple content campaigns a year to start thinking about those campaigns in terms of pillar pages, both to see if creating a pillar page is a good fit for business and campaign goals and to apply the pillar page process to creating campaign content to realize these additional benefits.
This approach is something your brand should consider as well.