Pillar pages are an evolving practice in SEO circles, and can be a great way to boost your ranking for the keywords you target.
Pillar pages cover a single topic in-depth through subtopics which make up topic clusters - that means a pillar page is perhaps the ultimate in long-form content. The pillar page should be easy to find on your site, and it should be easy for your visitors to find subtopics within. You should also put controls in place to make sure people don't get lost on such a long page.
In this post, I'm going to give you eight tips for creating great pillar pages which are structured to optimize active engagement.
1. Put Your Pillar Page in the Right Place
With your pillar page content created, you now have to decide where to put the content on your site.
Your pillar page is a landing page, and it’s also very long. We recommend that you make it so visitors are able to find your pillar pages both from a call to action and from the main menu on your site.
Here are some options for how to do that:
- As a separate menu item off of your services page - Create a teaser paragraph to put on the page which lists your services, and link to the pillar page from a 'Learn more' link.
- On the industry or vertical menu - If your pillar page is specific to an industry or vertical, have it reside on the 'Industries' menu item.
- As a call-to-action on the 'Free Stuff' page - Place a call-to-action linking to the pillar page on the same page where you list all of your free offers.
Wherever you choose to place your pillar page, it should make sense within the broader context of your other web content.
2. Reformat the Content for Web Consumption
Your content offer and site might follow the same style guide, but that's not always the case. We recommend that you reformat your content offer to look like other pages on your site.
You may also want to change some graphic treatments used in the PDF version of the content offer - for example, in the PDF version of the content, we call out tips using text in a blue text box.
3. Leave Navigation Turned On
While it’s a common best practice to remove navigation menus from landing pages, we feel that pillar pages are a bit different than a full landing page.
We’ve looked at a number of pillar pages, and we see around 50% with navigation and about 50% without. We prefer to allow navigation to make it easier for anyone visiting our site to find.
4. Use TIC-TOC Organization
Lead off your pillar page with a TIC-TOC structure:
- Title, Introduction, Content Offer, Table of Contents (TIC-TOC)
Your pillar page should start with a title, and a one-paragraph introduction which explains the core topic you’re covering. Be sure to explain the value of the content from the perspective of the visitor - speak to customer pain points by clearly explaining the problems addressed by the pillar page content, and the potential benefits gained from consuming it.
But you should also keep it short and to the point - three or four sentences is what you should be aiming for.
Follow the introduction with the content offer. Since you’re providing so much content, you want to let visitors know right from the start that they can download this content at any time and take it with them to read later.
We prefer something like this:
This offer portion of the page summarizes the benefits of the offer, shows a compelling graphic, and offers an easy opt-in form.
Tip: Consider offering a bonus with the download version of the offer to sweeten the pot. Extra templates, formatted step-by-step checklists, and other simple bonus features are a great way to entice visitors to download your offer.
Some pillar pages use a website banner, such as a Snip.ly banner, to allow visitors to opt-in. While this can make it more difficult to show the full value of the offer, many of them remain visible even as users scroll through the content.
Follow the content offer with a Table of Contents (TOC) which links to the header text for the major sections of the pillar page content. Not every section of the pillar page will be of interest to all visitors, so you want to give people the ability to quickly find subtopics that interest them.
5. Provide a "Back to TOP" Link or Button
With so much content on your pillar page, it can be easy to get lost. Don’t make your visitors to scroll endlessly to get back to the table of contents - provide a 'Back to Top' link or button at the bottom left or bottom right of each section of content.
We put a "back to top" link at the bottom right at the end of each major subtopic.
6. Open External Links in a New Window
You pillar content will likely contain links to external websites or your own deeper content in blog posts. Have these links open in a new window so that readers don’t have to close your pillar page.
7. Include Calls-to-Action for your Conversion Path Offers
Include URL, button, or image calls to action throughout your pillar page content to link to relevant offers based on the conversion paths you’ve defined for your pillar page.
You should always place calls-to-action near the most relevant text to ensure it makes the most sense in the context of the writing.
8. End with Your Content Offer and Additional Offers
Finish your pillar page with the same offer to download the pillar content. We also find that the end of the pillar page is a great place to offer any specific services related to the subject. If you do, we recommend stacking calls-to-action.
We like to use a button for the pillar page content offer, and a full image call-to-action for service-specific offers.
Invest Time to Make Your Content Structure Engaging
You'll need to put a lot of time and effort into finding the best topics, differentiating yourself, and creating the content for your pillar page. Given this, you should also ensure that you invest the time to optimize your pillar page for engagement to maximize your efforts.
The best pillar page content isn't any good if your target audience can't find what they're looking for, or get lost down the rabbit hole - use these tips to get more out of your work and improve your site performance.