Goodbye Keywords; Hello Pillar Pages

By September 11, 2018content marketing
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Search has changed, which means it’s time to rethink the way we create content.

Google has gotten a lot smarter about making associations

Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving to provide the best possible answers to searchers’ queries. If you search for “running shoes,” Google will now also serve up results for related words, such as “sneakers.” Google is now interpreting conversational queries as entire thoughts rather than individual keywords. An estimated 64% of searches are four words or more.

Organize websites according to main topics

As a result of Google’s evolution and our subsequent behavior, websites need to be organized according to main topics. In the current model, we create individual blog posts that rank according to specific keywords. The result is disorganized, difficult for users to find the exact information they need. It also results in our own URLs competing against one another in search-engine rankings because we produce multiple blog posts on similar topics.

A better solution: Creating pillar pages with links to more specific topic clusters

The first step in creating a pillar page is to stop thinking about your site in terms of just keywords. Start thinking about the topics you want to rank for first. Choose a topic that’s broad enough that it can generate more related blog posts that will serve as cluster content, but not so broad that you can’t cover the entire topic on a single pillar page.

  • Let’s say you write a pillar page about content marketing. It’s a very broad topic, so your cluster topics might be about blogging or social media.
  • Fundamental to the pillar-page concept is a comprehensive linking strategy among the pillar page and its cluster topics.
  • A pillar page should answer questions about a particular topic but leave room for more detail in subsequent, related cluster topics.

Pillar pages and SEO: More inbound links = higher placement in search

Pillar pages help position your content so users can easily browse your website and consume your blog posts, videos and infographics. There’s a lot of clutter online, and it can confuse Google’s algorithms. Google loves a clean website experience with a thoughtful linking strategy that tells it exactly what each piece of content is about. Inbound marketing and sales expert HubSpot experienced an increase in their rankings when they used more internal links.

Use personas to help identify the interests and challenges of your audience

If you haven’t created personas, this is a great time to do it. Your personas will help identify the top interests and challenges of your audience, providing topics for pillar-page content.

I’m doing some reorganization of my own website to more closely follow the pillar-page concept, and I’m finding it helpful to create an organizational chart that maps out broad topics that are my pillar pages and the cluster topics that support them.

Your pillar page will gain Google authority through the quality inbound links from your subtopic content.

Need help rethinking your website content? Give me a call—let’s strategize about how we can make your content work for you.

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