How to Boost SEO With Content Pillars Step by Step
Pillar pages and topic clusters boost the effectiveness of SEO content writing. They facilitate the implementation of high-volume keywords and, consequently, make it possible to reach many potential customers. To create content pillars, it is not enough to merely write everything you know about a topic. A systematic approach and well-defined objectives are required for effective content pillars. The following step-by-step guide can help you implement content pillars to boost your SEO.
In this post, we'll cover:
What are content pillars?
A pillar is a supporting element on which a structure rests. A content pillar is thus the fundamental core of a content strategy. It must be a solid, high-level informative piece that serves as a foundation for the content strategy.
In this sense, content pillars provide comprehensive information on a topic and link to detailed articles. In creating a content pillar, it is important to pay attention to the organization and interdependence of the contents. But be careful! The pillar page should be valuable in itself and provide a general but useful overview. It can often be the main landing page, where the most important content topic is presented.
Why are content pillars important?
Content pillars serve to generate authority and relevance for search engines. They also add context and, with the addition of links, act as a resonance chamber, improving the positioning of the page. The predictable result is an increase in traffic, which translates into greater efficiency, a higher likelihood of conversions and a satisfactory user experience. But let’s take a closer look at what this is all about.
Why do pillars drive SEO content writing?
Search engines perform a global scan of websites. This means that, rather than analyzing each page individually, they consider them as a whole. In this way, the algorithm assesses both the content of the piece and its relationships to other pages. The presence of linked publications is one of the criteria that influences the recognition of domain authority.
On the other hand, because the pillar page helps organize the content and hierarchize it, it improves the overall structure of the site. As a result, it is easier for Google to determine the relevance of a page to a particular search. This enables you to achieve a higher ranking in the SERP.
There is also a third element of the content pillars that needs to be considered. The pillar strategy involves a substantial change in the use of keywords as an SEO technique. This is a result of the importance Google places on the “intent” of the search. When a user needs a general description of a topic, they generally use broad terms. These tend to be high volume keywords which are generally very competitive because they generate a significant amount of organic traffic. If the content of your site is complete and of high quality, the search engine will give you preference.
In addition, since the detail pages use long tail search terms for less competition, you will be able to rank with a large number of keywords related to the main topic.
The virtuous circle of SEO
The pillar strategy is adapted to the users’ searches. Once they find the general information, they are likely to narrow down their query. As the pillar page is linked to other articles, this will also improve your ranking. It is a process that provides returns and benefits the entire cluster or group of issues. Your audience will stay on your site, and your bounce rate will be lower.
For this reason, content pillars allow you to guide your audience through the entire sales funnel. No matter what stage they are at, they will always find timely and valuable information tailored to their needs on your website.
How does the content pillar strategy work?
The pillar page is the focal point of content marketing. Its effectiveness depends on its own value and the group pages that complement it. You could say that the pillar is the point that connects all the content. Because it deals broadly with one subject, its individual points overlap with each of the pages in the group and can link them together. Together, they form a group of topics or content clusters.
What are topic groups?
Topic groups are blocks of related content, organized around a pillar page. If we equate the content pillar with the axle of a wheel, the group pages would be the spokes. When we talk about a cluster or groups of topics, we must recognize the role links also play in the equation.
Every SEO topic group needs a backbone to support it and the related content pages and internal links. The pillar is linked to the supplementary pages and vice versa. Sometimes you can even link group pages to each other. Strategic internal linking is the key to developing suitable content pillars with effective SEO content writing.
How to create content pillars to boost SEO step by step
In a pillar strategy, planning is the most important step. While you will obviously need to put considerable effort into SEO content writing, you must first define the guidelines that will guide the process. The first steps of the implementation are as follows:
Step 1: Choose the theme of the content pillar
This can be a difficult decision. The topic should be broad enough to be broken down into several detailed parts. Still, at the same time, it should be concise enough to be developed on a pillar page. The focus here should not be specific keywords.
Start by thinking about your business and niche market. What is your offer? What needs of your audience can you fulfil? How would you do this? How are you different from your competitors? What new trends are there in your industry?
You can also develop ideas by talking to your collaborators and clients. For example, your sales or support team can help you identify the top customer questions. Ask your main customers. Ask why they chose you or continue to work with you.
It is not surprising that many pillar pages are “Guides” or “How to” pages. These formats coincide with user searches and can easily be elaborated on in complementary articles. It is a good idea to validate the potential of the topic by listing the possible groups of pages that could be derived from it. Creating this map will also help you structure your content pillar strategy in advance.
Step 2: Identify keywords related to the topic
Conduct thorough keyword research. Although the content pillar strategy does not focus on keywords, this does not mean that they are not important. There are free as well as paid tools that will help you in this task, for example:
Even Google search auto-completion suggestions can be useful for identifying keywords. Finding out what users are searching for can help you discover new content ideas.
Next, you will need to analyze the SERP competition for each of the selected keywords. Discard terms that have a very low search volume or that do not align with your business objectives.
Step 3: Create a map of topic groups and keywords
Review your list of topics again and assign the keywords to each group. This will create a kind of mind map with the first level of content. Structure the pieces or publications that delve deeper into the topic around these and expand.
Display the connections to the different groups. This is a complex task, as you will have to avoid making the group pages too vague or, on the contrary, too specific. Make sure the pages are not so similar that they compete with each other. Any of these scenarios may work against your SERP ranking.
Also, remember that it is important that the pillar page links to several supporting publications. There is no consensus on the ideal number of supplementary pages. It is generally accepted that the pillar page should contain between 8 and 22 pieces of related content. The average number of support pages, and what is generally recommended as a minimum, is about 15 publications.
Step 4: Write the content for the main pillar
You have already determined the main pillar topic. You have validated the keywords, and you have defined the additional content pieces. It’s time to get to work! This is a job that will require time and dedication, so you might consider outsourcing content writing services.
Whether you do it yourself or delegate it to others, it is recommended that you include previous content on group pages. Make sure you update it and link it correctly. In this case, you will need to perform a content audit and reclassify it into the different groups. Identify gaps in those pieces that can be addressed in the main pillar. Map out where you can link them and start writing new content.
If you are starting from scratch, make a preliminary outline of the article structure. Anticipate the length and amount of details for each of the aspects to be covered and keep them simple. This allows you to delve into them on the group pages without being redundant. However, remember to provide enough information to make the piece valuable to your audience.
Some recommendations for writing content pillars
Keep your audience in mind when writing and respond to their concerns. In the past, SEO content writing consisted of repeating the keyword many times. Now Google penalizes this practice when it does not add value to the article. The old rules about the number of words are also no longer relevant. Some say that a pillar page should be about 4,000 to 5,000 words. However, others claim that 2,500 to 3,000 words are sufficient. Our recommendation is that you focus more on providing complete and relevant information.
As for links, it is preferable to use keywords as anchor text. While it is still common to find phrases such as “click here” or “more information,” it is best to use meaningful terms for SEO purposes. Search engines will find it easier to decipher the link if you avoid generic linking phrases.
Step 5: Update and create extended content pages
If you are reusing content on group pages, make sure to update it accordingly. You should adapt these articles to the objectives of your pillar page and check the SEO. If necessary, change the title and metadata to match the pillar. Aligns the call to action as well so that it is consistent across the cluster.
You should also check the related data and statistics. If there is more recent information available, you should modify it.
Step 6: Promote your content
The content pillar strategy is very effective, but you should not leave all the work to Google either. Promote your pillar page using some of these techniques:
• Establish strategic partnerships with other websites and link the content
• Guest post on third-party authority sites and share links
• Apply off-page SEO techniques and list backlinks from relevant sites
• Consider working with influencers (or micro-influencers) who could boost traffic on your page
Professional tip: Publish multiple articles with the intent of promoting your content pillar. This way you can take advantage of content binging. That is, you will give your audience the opportunity to surf between your pages, consuming as much content as they want. This similar to the common practice of binging a favorite TV series.
You can make a basic promotional effort for each of the support pages. In the following weeks, intensify it by promoting the individual contents.