Pillar pages can be a great way to boost search performance for the key terms related to the core services you offer.
As a quick explanation, a pillar page provides in-depth coverage of a core topic, and is supported by clusters of content. Each piece of content in the cluster links back to the pillar page helping build your authority for the topic with search engines - in fact, it's recommended that you publish 8-22 pieces of content on your core topic.
Initial reaction from many marketing teams to this is: "that's a lot of content". And it is, especially if you're building it from scratch.
An easier way is to build a pillar page from content you already have, and there are a couple of ways to do this - In this post, I'll walk you through both.
Option 1: Turn an Existing Content Offer into a Pillar Page
A pillar page is generally made up of the following:
- A web page that comprehensively covers a topic
- A content offer such as an eBook that contains the same information - people can download this to read and distribute offline
- 8-22 pieces of content created from the topics and subtopics covered on the pillar page
So if you already have a content offer the covers a topic in depth - such as an eBook, whitepaper, or strategy guide - use that content to create a pillar page.
Option 2: Audit Your Content to Find Topic Clusters and Topics
If you don't have a content offer to leverage, you can still find content to use your pillar page.
Audit your existing content for topics, keywords, and performance data - you can choose to review all of your content or a subset depending on your intent:
- Review all of your content to collect all possible content topics that might be turned into pillar pages
- Review only a subset of content based on campaigns the content was created for if you’re creating a pillar page around the subject of that campaign
- Review content created to promote a specific content offer if you’re turning that content offer into a pillar page
- Review only specific pieces of content that you think may be related to a new pillar page that you’re essentially creating from scratch
What to Look for in a Content Audit
Your content audit should look at the content published on your website pages, your blog, and your social media channels. Your goal is to identify the topics covered by your content to see how your audience liked each piece, and to determine how each is helping meet your business goals.
For building Topic Clusters, this audit should focus on the following:
- Topics titles - This is your overall content topic list. Some content will roll-forward as is into Topic Clusters, some may need to be revised, and some may be discarded
- Keywords and hashtags - Used in the content, or in the promotion of the content. These are the keywords you’ve been using, and they'll inform the keywords used for your Topic Cluster
- Social metrics - Such as engagement, mentions, likes, and shares
- Conversion metrics - Such as traffic, leads, and customers generated
Gather Performance Data to Inform Your Decision
As part of this process, gather general information about all the content topics you’ve covered, and the keywords used in the content.
You’re also looking at performance data to find which content has performed the best from a brand and product awareness standpoint by seeing which content has the best engagement metrics in these categories:
- Other types of engagement
Tip: Fanpage Karma is one of the tools we recommend for building pillar pages - it can help determine which content has performed the best, as well as rolling up data such as keywords and hashtags. It can also tell you the same information about your competitors, which provides additional insight into what topics your pillar page should focus on.
Also, review content performance from a business results standpoint by analyzing metrics such as:
- Page views for blog posts and page views for landing pages linked from blog posts
- Call-to-action (CTA) clicks from content. CTAs might be URLs, buttons, or image CTAs.
- Conversion rate (the number of call-to-action or link clicks from content that resulted in a conversion)
- Landing page visits from content and social shares
- Customers acquired
- Income attributed to the content. Based on your defined attribution model
You may not have all of this data, but you should do your best to discover as much of it as you can.
You can use Google Analytics to track website engagement, see which websites you get the most traffic from and identify pages that generate the most conversions.
Social media management and automation tools like Hubspot and others can also help you track engagement on your website and social channels, as well as contacts and customers created.
First, start by finding your best performing content.
You can then drill-down in to see more data for each post.
Use a spreadsheet to track essential information about the content you're auditing and keep tabs on your results.
Group Content into Topic Clusters
Once you’ve completed your audit, group your content into clusters by topic.
For each group, come up with a core topic that encompasses the content within that group. Look at topic titles and keywords to help identify patterns - remember, you need a group of at least 8 topics, and ideally, 15 or more all using similar keywords.
In a perfect world, you could copy and paste to make your pillar page and content offer, but odds are, things won’t be that clean. Your audit may identify multiple groups of 3-6 topics that are close or distantly related - if that’s the case, examine these smaller groups of topics that are most distantly related and see if you think of a core topic which encompasses all of them.
If you can find enough small content clusters that fit under a broader core topic, you'll have your core topic, and your subtopics too.
You're On Your Way with a Little More Work To Do
If you've got your topics, subtopics, and content to leverage, you're off to a great start.
From this point, your next steps are:
- Restructure the content to work as a pillar page.
- Create any new content to fill in any gaps necessary to cover your core topic.
- Format the content for easy consumption.
- Optimize the pillar page for lead generation.
- Publish and promote the pillar page and content.
Take a look at the content and content offers you've already created to see what you can leverage to create a pillar page today.