As you know, SEO is ever-changing and no one can really claim that they have mastered it.
However, despite frequent updates in search engine algorithms and the dynamic user search behavior, content and link building remain the lifelines of SEO.
Given the scenario, if you can use the two to your advantage without violating search engine guidelines, you can boost web traffic to multiple landing pages of your website, which, in turn, impacts your search engine ranking positively.
So, how does it work?
Simple. Pillar cluster content strategy is the key.
In this article, let me walk you through the ins and out of the pillar cluster model and how it can help you reach your SEO milestones.
What is a Pillar Page?
Let’s start with breaking down what a Pillar page is.
A pillar page is a repository of individual landing pages or hub pages that cover a particular topic. It is both vast and to-the-point in such a way that it establishes authority on the central subject matter.
While building authority in terms of concept, a pillar page provides space to build rich supporting sources, including blogs, guides, and more that aim at educating the readers.
These dots in the pillar page are connected to various landing pages within your site and link building is what brings them together.
Types of Pillar Pages
Pillar pages are of three types; pillar page 10X, pillar page of resources, and pillar page of subtopics. Let’s take each one under the microscope.
Pillar page 10x
This is a singular webpage that decodes everything about a given topic and is ten times more resourceful than other pages. It is more like a downloadable ebook that includes internal navigation menus and so much more.
Pillar page of resources
A resource pillar page is where you find a collection of both internal and external links. In fact, the chief aim of this page is to provide the visitors with a complete list of links related to a particular topic.
Pillar page of subtopics
A pillar page of subtopics focuses on the problems your product or service solves. If you want to position yourself as an industry expert, creating a pillar page of subtopics can do wonders for you.
How Long Should A Pillar Page Be?
Truth be told, there is no fixed length a pillar page should run-up to. Yes, it is more about how comprehensive and resourceful a pillar page is than how long it is.
If you still want a number, pillar pages usually consist of at least 2000 words.
While pillar pages don’t work individually, especially for SEO, they rely heavily on their cluster pages.
What is Cluster Content?
As said, cluster pages are what strengthens a pillar page while being a major deciding factor of the final results.
So, it’s time to delve deep into what cluster pages are. Cluster content is the first step.
Cluster content denotes the pieces of content you build around your pillar page. Strong content clusters allow you to build an even robust interlinking framework.
This way, you will be able to convince both your visitors and search engines to count on you as a trusted source of relevant information, which, in turn, can boost your search engine rankings.
How to identify Topic Clusters?
You cannot pick the topics for your content clusters randomly. This part of the process needs your undivided attention, especially if all you want is to achieve improved search engine results.
Here is a look at the steps to identify the right clusters for a given topic.
Your target audience is your top priority. Yes, you do all of this to attract their attention in order to drive web traffic to your site.
So, to know what topics you need for your website’s pillar content strategy, you need to understand your audience.
One good way to do this is to analyze buyer personas. You need to understand if your audience is the end customer or a 3PL or someone on the higher chain of command, like a CEO or a manager in the B2B sector.
Once you decode this, you will be able to decide on what kind of content your target audience is after.
Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is an inevitable part of any SEO practice and topic clusters are no exception.
Identifying the keywords widely used in relevant user searches will help you come up with an outline of things you need to cover in order to build a complete guide your readers would find useful.
Tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner come in handy for channelized keyword research.
Perform Content Audit
It isn’t always about creating new content. Sometimes, you have to improvise on what is already there.
A content audit is one of the underrated practices in SEO. It can help you analyze the content gap in your website, prompting you to curate existing content or create relevant content to bridge the gap for a better user experience.
So, if your website already has extensive content, a content audit is mandatory to finalize your topic clusters.
How Topic Clusters Complement SEO
Now that you know how important topic clusters are in the pillar cluster model, let’s explore the ways in which these clusters impact SEO.
Topic clusters are multiple nodes meeting at a singular point of relevancy. They help search engine bots comprehend the context, relationships, and hierarchy of every page within a particular content frame.
Expertise, Authority, Trust (E.A.T)
Equipped with advanced algorithms, search engines can very well determine the content quality and the value it adds to users. That said, expertise, authority, and trust are some of the major factors when it comes to ranking websites.
With relevant clusters of content, you will be able to achieve and showcase all three parameters simultaneously and get your SEO efforts rewarded with a higher search engine ranking.
Increased User Engagement
Pillar clusters are primarily created to attract more visitors and prompt them to spend more time on your website while visiting relevant web pages.
The more information you have to offer your visitors, the higher the click-through rate and dwell time.
Improved UX and More Conversions
Topic clusters allow you to create engaging content around the given topic. As you analyze buyer personas before finalizing your topic clusters, you will be able to draft your content in such a way that it addresses industry-specific pain points and try to arrive at a solution.
This way, you will be able to give your visitors a pleasant experience that translates into profitable conversions for your business.
Importance of Interlinks in Pillar Cluster Model
While content is one major component of the pillar cluster model, links are equally important. It is with these links that the users go to one or more cluster pages. Again, it is these links that allow search engines to crawl, index and rank other landing pages in your website while checking for relevance.
So, if something goes wrong with the linking part, your efforts will go in vain. No website owner wants that to happen.
So, for this pillar cluster structure to make sense for users and search engines, it is crucial that it is linked correctly. These links pass authority from one page to the other while allowing users to navigate through landing pages without any hassle.
Interlinking Cluster Pages: Practices to Follow
Now that it is obvious how important links are for the pillar cluster content strategy, here are some of the best practices to keep in mind when it comes to interlinking cluster pages with the pillar page.
Avoid Linking to Images
When linking anchor text, make sure it’s clear why you used it in a particular phase or a sentence. Otherwise, the links would look unnatural.
Avoid creating links to images because it may not fetch you desired SEO outcomes.
Prefer Deep Linking
Users tend to look for additional resources on something that isn’t explained in detail on a particular page. Given the scenario, linking to a text that is easily visible elsewhere in your website is not of much use.
Instead, prioritize linking to some content not easily found on navigational menus so that you can kindle the users’ curiosity, thereby encouraging them to read an additional article or guide.
Limit the Number of Links
While you can have more links on the pillar page than the other pages, it isn’t always about the number of links.
Surplus links will only make your page less presentable for the users. A poor user experience certainly has a negative impact on your search engine rankings.
Build Healthy Internal Links
As links act as pathways to the cluster pages, it is important to make sure you build relevant links, fix the broken ones and make way for a smooth user experience across your website.
Dos and Don’ts of Creating Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters
Channelized Keyword Research:
Placing keywords with high search volume naturally in your content is important. To do so, you should pay special focus to the keyword research phase.
Use Relevant Interlinks
Placing irrelevant links in your pillar page content can ruin your SEO efforts. Make sure that the links are relevant to the keywords in which they are placed.
Add CTA Buttons
Including relevant call-to-action buttons in your pillar page or cluster pages can improve your sales conversion rate considerably.
Use Simple Language
A complex writing style can affect the readability of your content. Keep it simple and to the point so that your visitors can quickly comprehend what you want to infer.
Avoid Keyword stuffing
Keyword placement is important but stuffing them in your content is a black hat SEO practice. The search engine takes it as an attempt to trick it and demotes your website in the SERPs.
No Broken or irrelevant links
As said earlier, link quality is more important than quality, especially when it comes to the pillar cluster model. Broken, irrelevant links drive anywhere from minimum to no web traffic to your site.
Don’t confuse your readers
As this concept demands you to deal with a multitude of topics and handle vast content, there is a greater chance for fragmentation. Fragmented content will only end up confusing your readers instead of giving them more clarity on the given topic.
Steps to Create an Effective Pillar Cluster Content Strategy
When it comes to determining the topic for your pillar page, make sure that it is relevant to your niche and is capable of kindling the interests of your target audience.
Also, ensure that the topic of your choice is broad enough to break them into multiple standalone clusters.
Choose a Pillar Page Type
Pick one of the three pillar page types. Depending on the type of your business or the product or service you sell, this can be a resource page, a long-form content page or a detailed product or service page.
Breakdown the Topic into Chunks
It’s true that the content clusters come together to form a pillar page. However, each one of the clusters should be able to stand alone.
This is crucial to appeal to the audience visiting a particular cluster page without landing on the pillar page in the first place, but should also be linked to the pillar page with zero hassle and relate to the other cluster pages easily.
This is precisely why you need to break the topic into comprehensive chunks of information.
Build In-Depth Clusters
Providing your visitors with in-depth information on each topic cluster is the essence of this strategy.
Take the opportunity to delve into details about a particular cluster and answer all the questions that readers might have about the topic.
What ultimately matters is that the clusters are meaningful both when being alone and coming together.
Summarize and Link
Once you have finished creating the clusters, you can summarize the gist of each of them, thereby creating the pillar page.
Finally, every cluster has to be linked to the relevant segment of the pillar, which makes it easy for your visitors to navigate through each topic and gain the information they need.
While SEO is a dynamic space, the search engine algorithm updates advocating a super-smooth user experience are always weaved around user-engaging content production and healthy link building.
So, it’s a wise move to leverage the pillar cluster content model to boost web traffic rate to your website, increase conversions and pull up your website ranking in SERPs.
When formulating your pillar cluster content strategy and producing content, ensure that each cluster can stand alone while being a complete guide on the given topic when coming together as a pillar page.