CJ Design & Consulting Pillar Posts,Topic Clusters What Are Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters?

What Are Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters?

Why Pillar Page & Topic Clusters are the Answer to Thin Content & Keyword-Based SEO

What do pillar pages & topic clusters have to do with website content & SEO? Well, Google has once again fundamentally changed SEO as we know it. While you still need to have great content and choose the right keywords, with so much content available online, Google now wants to know that you are an authority on your topic. The best way to demonstrate this authority is to structure your content into pillar pages and topic clusters.

What are Pillar Page & Topic Clusters?

A pillar page is a website page that provides a comprehensive overview of a topic. A topic cluster is a collection of interlinked articles and website pages centered around the umbrella topic. The pillar page links to topic cluster content and the topic cluster content links to the pillar page. The result is an interconnected content experience that delivers tremendous value to the reader and firmly establishes to Google that YOU are an authority on the topic.

In the past, keywords were king is SEO, but today, searches have become more specific and contextual. The majority of searchers today type in long search phrases. In fact, according the Ahrefs, 64% of search queries contain 4 or more words. Google thinks that if searchers are using such detailed terms, the content it serves up in the search engine results page (SERPs) should also be detailed as well. 

In addition, many searchers don’t even use a keyword in their search. Much of this is due to the popularity of voice search devices, however, Google has updated its algorithm over the past few years and search engines today are smart enough to know the intent behind your search. So taking these 2 factors together it becomes clear thin content and keyword-focused SEO strategies aren’t up to the task of meeting the needs of searchers today.

This is an example of how pillar pages and topic clusters work.
This is how pillar pages and topic clusters work.

Distinguishing Pillar Pages From Topic Clusters: A 4 Step Process

Step 1: Research Your Buyer Personas & Identify Their Key Problems. SEO is driven by people. A good SEO strategy begins with examining user behavior. Think about it. Keyword research is just about understanding what terms people are searching for. Whenever Google makes an algorithm change, it’s a reaction to new trends in user behavior. Topic clusters are no different. To understand what topics your website’s content strategy should center around, you need to look at your audience. The best way to understand your audience is by using buyer personas.

Step 2: Map Out Topic Clusters with Keyword Research. Now that you have a list of your buyers core problems, it’s time to turn them into a topic cluster. To build this map you will need to do some keyword research. You will use this research to do 2 things; refine your topic phrase and map out your cluster content.

Step 3: Categorizing Your Existing Content. I’ll be honest. Auditing website content isn’t what I call a fun time, especially if the company has been blogging for a while. However, before writing new content, you need to know what content you already have and what you’re missing and that means a content audit. Sorry, there’s no way around doing that..

Step 4. Identify Cluster Content Opportunities. Once you’ve completed your content audit, compare your spreadsheet to the topic map you created in Step 2. There might be an imbalance as it’s possible you covered one niche of your topic very in-depth and completely missed another longer keyword phrase. Don’t ignore these gaps. You can turn them into new cluster content later as part of your ongoing maintenance on your pillar page.