If we can be sure of one thing in the world of digital marketing, it is that it is constantly changing. And while this means there are always new opportunities on the horizon, it also puts a lot of pressure on business owners, marketers, bloggers, and anyone in the industry to keep up.
One skill that every digital professional needs to stay on the cutting edge is the ability to create and use pillar pages. In this short guide, I’ll share with you more information about what a pillar page is and give you some creative tips to help you create an effective page.
What is a Pillar Page?
A pillar page is a single page dedicated to an entire topic. Sites are made up of different themes, usually connected in some way, but it can be difficult for a site visitor to navigate a site and access all of this information.
We can try to make things easier by using hyperlinks and intuitive navigation to help guide the user, but most of the time, they are alone. However, with a pillar page, all the information on a topic is aggregated in one place.
Users can always go back to the main page and continue the process as they wish. To put that in context, let’s take a look at Typeform’s pillars page to learn about the brand.
This is a great example of a high-quality pillar page. We can identify some important aspects of how these pages are created:
- They are extremely long, almost like a one-page website.
- They are built exclusively around a group of themes, in this case, “brand awareness.”
- The layout is simple and clear, yet packed with long-form content.
- They are full of internal links to other blog posts and pages.
But a pillar page doesn’t just aid user navigation. Your benefits are deeply tied to your SEO efforts, believe it or not! Let’s take a closer look at how this type of page is compatible with a website.
Why Does Your Website Need a Pillar Page?
Creating a pillar page takes a lot of time and effort. As you can imagine, it’s not easy to produce this kind of rich and detailed content, so it’s perfectly fine if you’re wondering if all this hard work is worth it.
These are some of the advantages that a pillar page can bring to your website.
It Brings Better SEO Results
Google and other search engines love content, but what they like the most is high-quality content that can match the user’s intent. By design, pillar pages encourage the creation of high-quality content, where you can leverage essential keywords for SEO purposes.
But in addition to keywords, there are other ranking factors that include top pages:
- They improve the user experience (UX).
- They contain many hyperlinks that aid navigation.
- They correspond to the intention of the user.
- They are well structured, with titles and subtitles that indicate the hierarchy of the content.
It’s a Dynamic Content Roadmap
Having these pages not only benefits the user. When you start creating a 101 page on a topic and brush up on the basics, you can easily identify any gaps or opportunities that are missing in your content and address them. This is very useful in a content marketing strategy!
It Keeps Users Engaged
Pillar pages are opportunities to keep users on your site longer and engage them, especially if you are using videos or animations in addition to text. Just look at The Atlantic’s pillar page on population health.
It’s packed with data and information, but it doesn’t feel like you’re reading a book as you read it. The page relies heavily on visual aids to keep the reader interested, and the links are kept out of the main content to keep the text as simple as possible. This causes people to spend more time on the site for the sole purpose of consuming the content of the pillar page.
It Matches Conversational Search Queries
The way people search for things has changed significantly over the years.
Think about how you research a topic. Are you typing a vague keyword or are you more likely to type an exact question? It’s the last one, right? That’s because we want accurate results for our searches and we know that adding more information to our queries will give us that.
And Google wants to make sure that people find what they are looking for. The pillar pages, because they are so packed with content, make it easier to match conversational queries, which helps Google and other search engines to give this page a better position in the ranking.
How to Create an Effective Pillar Page
As I said before, creating a pillar page is not easy and takes much more time than a normal blog post. However, considering all the benefits it can bring, it is worth it.
But before you search for your site’s topic group, I’d like to share some tips on how to create a good pillar page. Use this list as a guide to help you on your journey and make sure your page delivers the results you want.
Step 1: Choose a Topic
The first step, and probably the most important, is choosing the theme that your home page will revolve around. Many people tend to do this by choosing the keywords they want to rank for better on search engine results pages (SERPs), but a pillar page should be based on a broad theme that can allow you to link multiple pages on your website.
Of course, you also want to make sure that the pillar page is relevant to your audience, so I advise you to create a buyer persona and see what kind of information your target audience is looking for. The buyer persona can help you with other marketing efforts as well, so it’s a good idea to create one.
Step 2: Find Subtopics Through Keyword Research
So you chose a topic, like “email marketing“, and decided to create a pillar page around it. The next thing you’ll want to do is find the subtopics that will be included in the content, and the best way to do that is through keyword research.
Keyword research provides more information on what people are searching for regarding your pillar page topic. Although you have the freedom to structure your content however you see fit (your subject matter expertise is extremely relevant as well), it’s a good idea to check with tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and Mangools to help you deal with what people want to learn directly.
These keywords will also be included in the content itself, which will help a lot in your SEO efforts. Remember to also search for long-tail keywords to answer more specific queries.
Step 3: Write or Assign an Existing Page
The next step is also the one that will require the most time and effort: writing and creating the page. In some cases, you can take an existing page and make it a pillar page, but that’s really up to you.
For this step, I have some additional tips that I think will be helpful:
Have a clear and concise definition of your topic. It’s important to set the stage for your pillar page and make sure users are in the right place. The easiest way to do this is to simply offer a short definition at the top of the page and then move on to the rest of the content.
Add an index for easier navigation. Some users may not need to read all sections of your pillar page, or even go back to other sections to refresh their memory. Whatever the reason, a pillar page needs an index to allow easy navigation.
Choose topics related to your keywords. As you write your content, try to get each subtitle to have a keyword related to the topic that you discovered through your keyword research.
Write content that provides an overview. It’s easy to get lost in the details and want to add as much as possible, but remember, this is not the point of the pillar page. Your users don’t need to know everything about it after reaching the end, just an overview.
Create a link to the other pages of your blog. For those looking for more information, add hyperlinks to other blog posts where you cover the topic in more depth.
Pay attention to the design. Design aspects can make or break a column page. There’s a lot of content, and keeping people engaged isn’t just about writing compellingly. Things like a nice font, nice colors, and an attractive design are equally important. Create a page that encourages people to scroll through it.
I see pillar pages as incredible opportunities for brands to grow, because, in essence, they are ways for you to show your audience your expertise on a certain topic, as well as being very effective SEO tactics.
Remember that you are always creating content for the reader, not for the search engine. Keep this in mind when designing and writing your brilliant pillar page.