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Pillar Pages: Supporting Your Website’s Search Rankings

The way people search for topics online has changed. According to HubSpot, the algorithm search engines use is constantly evolving to include things like penalties for too many irrelevant internal links, utilizing machine learning to provide more accurate interpretations of specific items, and recognizing conversational searches as entire thoughts instead of individual keywords. So, what does this have to do with pillar pages?

Search engines algorithms are constantly updating to display the most relevant pages in search rankings. A pillar page is a web page with approximately 3,000 words that broadly covers a topic and provides numerous opportunities for specific keyword usage that increases your SEO presence. Search engines will rank your page higher when you utilize proven SEO strategies and, in turn, will draw in more engaged traffic to the rest of your site.

The Different Types of Pillar Pages

According to Semrush, there are three specific types of pillar pages. Each type has a specific purpose, and you can mix and match portions of each to fit your own needs. While the titles are pretty self explanatory, let’s take a quick look at each.

The “Guide” Pillar Page

This type of pillar page provides a comprehensive overview of a specific topic, allowing you to be the go-to resource on the topic for your audience. You can use this space to provide links to company-created content, including guides, sell sheets, technical papers, and related pages with additional resources.

The “What-Is” Pillar Page

When users search for “what is” along with your topic, these pillar pages are generally the types of responses that show in search engine results. This type is very similar to the guide page, but more driven towards that initial search request. This, and any type of pillar page, should have a clear structure with section headers, bullet points, high-quality images, relevant links, and CTAs.

The “How-To” Pillar Page

“How-to” pillar pages help your readers solve problems, often with step-by-step tutorials. This information can be provided in various forms such as lists, videos, or picture instructions. Whichever method you use, make sure that the information is easy to understand, engages the reader or viewer and also offers internal links and backlinks for additional help.

Changing Search Terms

64% of searches are four words or more

– HubSpot

The way users are utilizing search engines has evolved. HubSpot has identified two distinct changes:

Searches are longer and more conversational

When looking for lunch spots, some users will search for “lunch” while others will search “good places to eat lunch”. A recent HubSpot study states that 64% of searches are now four words or more. This is due in part to the growing popularity of voice searches, but also due to the influx of available content. The more detailed your search, the faster search engines can sort through responses you don’t need.

There are also readers that only skim search results. They rely on only headers or featured information to decide what to read and typically don’t search beyond the first page of results.

Search engines are providing more exact results

As mentioned above, search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. Search results may change over time as search algorithms utilize real-time data to determine what information (or page) users find most relevant. For example, searching for “running shoes” will also provide “sneakers” in search results. This means that you need to be conscious of your SEO keyword strategy when creating content to boost your marketing efforts.

Why Use a Pillar Page?

There are many benefits to creating a pillar page for your site. First, having a topic-specific pillar page that includes information from subject matter experts will help display your industry knowledge. Search engines will also see you as the authority on the topic and rank your page higher. Some other pillar page benefits include:

  • Improved organization of your content
  • Massive SEO benefits
  • Improved chance to rank for high-volume keywords
  • Boosted expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT)
  • Increased customer engagement
  • Enhanced internal link building

You may be asking, “Why do pillar pages help your rankings?” Forbes Top 10 Marketer Neil Patel breaks it down for us in his blog:

One reason is due to the amount of content currently available. As discussed, search engine algorithms are constantly evolving and finding easier ways to present more relevant results. When all of your information on one topic is easily accessible and has high SEO rankings, then search engines will be more likely to pull your page to the top of searches.

The second reason is along the same lines as the first. A properly laid out pillar page should be easy for search engines to scroll. Clean sections with great SEO and active hyperlinks that direct back to the same topic make it easier for said search engines to decipher the content and relay it back to users.

How Do I Make A Pillar Page?

Pillar pages should be broad enough to support 8 to 20 additional pieces of content.

– Linkedin

Semrush describes the steps to create your own pillar page in a blog post. Here is a quick rundown of their findings:

Structure Your Cluster

After you decide on your topic, take all of your relevant content and put it in one file that you can refer back to when building your pillar page. Use these pieces of content to build your internal linking on the new pillar page. These also help you identify keywords you should use.

Create Your Content

There are no set rules for the copy within your pillar page besides keeping it very broad so you can link back to other pages on your site. However, there are some tips:

  • Make sure you refer to SEO guidelines to help better rank your page
  • Keep your content evergreen
  • Since it will be copy heavy, make it easy to read and navigate
  • Include different types of content like videos or infographics to break up the copy if you feel it is too much block text
  • Always include internal links
  • Lastly, ensure your CTAs are relevant and compelling

Upload and Add Internal Links

The final step is to upload it to your site and add those internal links you set aside in step one.

Pillar pages have many benefits that can help your company not only rank higher in searches, but also can help bolster customer engagement. Are you interested in building your own pillar page? Contact AAC today and our team will be happy to help you create and design your new pillar page.