To keep your marketing strategy as effective as possible, you need to evolve it to complement industry developments. You can't simply pack long-tailed keywords into your blog posts and landing page copy to have them perform better in Google's SERPs.
As search engines try to adapt their algorithms to better understand the browsing behaviors of internet users, it becomes more complicated to ensure your strategy is achieving the necessary standards.
Pillar posts are an important element of your SEO strategy. But what are they? Why should you care and how do they fit into your marketing efforts?
What are pillar posts?
Pillar posts or pillar content are essentially blog posts that cover one key topic and help to solidify your authority, and therefore also the reliability of the blogs you produce. Pillar posts focus on solving a legitimate problem that your consumers have. It needs to be well-thought-out and researched content that boosts engagement and will be repeatedly used by visitors.
These pillar posts are the foundation for topic clusters for the rest of your blog content and should cover all the aspects of a topic on a single page. Your cluster articles will then address these separate topics in more detail that will link back to the original pillar post.
For example, you might write a pillar page on marketing for businesses, which you would then link to cluster blogs on email marketing, design trends, consumer engagement, etc. In short, your pillar page should answer questions about a specific topic but leave visitors wanting more, leading them to the cluster pages.
Creating a pillar page
The best way to start your pillar pages is to look at the topics where your brand wants to rank highly. Next, you'll want to identify any challenges or obstacles that consumers may face when approaching that topic. You can then identify pillar pages to address these areas and then create more specific blog titles to go into further detail and guide your website traffic through your site.
Pillar pages should answer any question or query a searcher might have about a topic - which will make them want to click on your pillar page when they enter a Google search term that your page ranks for. Then, they'll click into your pillar page to get the answers to their questions, which will link out to more specific pieces of cluster content hyperlinked on the pillar page.
Why are pillar posts important?
With the rise of voice-controlled devices and general behavioral changes, longer, more conversational-style search terms are much more commonly used than structured and restrictive short-tailed keywords. As uptake of Amazon Echo and Google Home continue, it's likely that search engines will continue to favor content that answers more complex search terms.
Google is almost constantly changing to adapt to these changes in user behavior and sift through the irrelevant links to find the most appropriate response to their query. To make this as straightforward as possible, you need to ensure your website is broken down into broad topics relating to your business - pillar pages - that link to your cluster articles with well-placed keywords.
This allows you to target as many users as possible. For example, if someone searches for 'ways to improve email marketing', your pillar page on marketing for businesses that features a keyword 'email marketing' will feature, as will your cluster blogs on more detailed aspects of the topic. It's been found that if you rank top for a specific keyword, you're likely to perform well for thousands of others.
In this way, your website gets a much more structured site architecture that complements Google's algorithms and the way in which consumers are searching for content. Creating pillar pages on broad topics that you want to rank for, then producing content focusing on specific keywords mentioned on the pillar page, helps to build a broader search engine authority.
How does it fit into your SEO strategy?
Pillar pages should be the foundation of your SEO strategy, helping you to understand the key queries and pain points consumers have when they arrive on your website. By establishing the topics and subtopics that are most closely linked to your brand, you can build an SEO strategy that focuses on these areas.
In addition, the keywords you use on pillar posts and cluster articles should also be used throughout your other SEO practices to ensure consumers see cohesive marketing. This relies on your understanding of your personas and buyer cycle to effectively address their queries.