Search engines and user habits are both evolving. Your content strategy needs to evolve with them. Adopting a pillar strategy will get you where the search engines (and your customers) want you to be.
Over the past few years, search engines have changed the way pages are ranked. Gone are the days when you could overload a post with the same keywords over and over again to get a higher ranking in search results. Nowadays, search engine optimization focuses on the quality and relevance of a page’s content, and “punishes” those looking to game the system.
This is great news for marketers and small businesses alike. Reason being that search engines will reward you for doing the things you should have been doing all along – providing valuable content to your customers.
But, as with many other things in life, it's not just 'what' you do that's important, but 'how' you do it. In this case, the 'what' is your content. The 'how' is the way you organize and present it on your site. What way is that? Pillar content.
What is Pillar Content?
It's a way to re-organize your content to perform better with new Search Engine algorithms and user behavior.
You take your related content, and establish links with a central 'pillar' page. Think of your pillar pages like the support beams for your house. They’re what your website is built around.
When search engines crawl your site, they see all your other pages linking to (and from) the pillar page, in this case “Home Remodeling”. This gives your pillar page authority. And the search engine responds to it as such.
Instead of each post or page on your site standing alone, they now link to each other, reinforcing value for both pages in the eyes of the search engine.
Without a clustering strategy, each page on your site competes with every other page on your site for ranking. When you adopt a clustering strategy, the pages all work together, reinforcing the ranking of your central pillar page.
Some posts take a back seat, while others step forward into the spotlight. Those spotlighted pages? Those are your pillars.
This approach is also known as topic clustering – because you're clustering your related content together.
A pillar strategy works just as well with users as it does with search engines.
With a pillar content strategy, not only will you perform better with search engines, but you'll be providing your readers a better user experience. All the relevant content they're interested in is now conveniently linked together.
It helps you cast a wider net, to catch more of your target customers.
So what steps do you take to develop pillar content?
What makes good pillar content? How can you deliver content that will keep your customers coming back again and again?
Follow these steps:
- Identify your audience with Personas
- Know their needs
- Create content to address those needs
Who are your customers? Look at what you know about them, and create your pillar content around their needs and wants. What problems do they need solved? How can you solve them?
Your pillar content is what most of your users are going to see most of the time. You'll be sharing it regularly on social media channels, and linking to it as often as you can. Think of it as the central hub of your topic cluster. It's also your best content.
The pillar page is a main conversion point. Your pillar pages are where you're going to go 'all out'. You want people to bookmark your pillar pages, to visit over and over again.
Your other posts will support the pillar content, but this doesn't mean you can let the quality slide. It's more an issue of scope. Your pillar pages will be all-encompassing, and provide as complete an overview of a particular topic as they can.
The supporting pages are where you'll narrow in on more focused topics.
If your pillar page is something like 'email marketing' then things like 'how to build your email list' and 'increase your email opt-ins' will be support pages.
Linking your relevant content together into clusters gives both your users, and the search engines, exactly what they want. And that's good for you.
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