A step-by-step guide to creating your first pillar page

Published Jan 03, 2018 | Written by Jeremy Knight

how-to-create-pillar-page.jpgIf this is the first time you’ve heard of pillar pages, might I suggest reading our previous posts: What are pillar pages and why do you need them and What a pillar page means for your SEO.

But, if you're chomping at the bit to get started with creating your own, this one might be for you. 

So, creating your first pillar page - where do you start?

Well, it’s not as daunting as you might think.

Yes, it takes extensive planning and naturally, an investment of time. But in essence, pillar pages are quite self-explanatory. You choose your pillar topic, and with diligent research and planning, define all of the supporting topics, links and resources that bolster this content and ultimately, your site's architecture.

And the chances are if you choose the right subject - one that is integral to your industry, organisation and customers - you'll already be in possession of a wealth of resources that will underpin your pillar topic.

This brings me to step number one.

1) Select your topic

This will be the backbone of everything you do with regards to your pillar page. Your pillar topic.

What critical subjects are relevant to your industry and associated with your prospects' most pressing questions? 

In what area do you consider yourself an authority? 

Perhaps you've previously written an ebook that has performed exceptionally well above others.

Is there a subject of which you already have a wealth of content, articles, blogs, and if so, what is the broader term that encompasses all of these? 

These are all important considerations when choosing your topic, but the simpler this topic, the better. This should be a broader term that will act as the umbrella to a large proportion of what you already know, giving room for you to link and create content around this. 

2) Research this topic (even more than you already have)

Research, research, research. Research everything you need to know about this topic. You want to position yourself as a thought leader, an authority, and the only way to achieve this is to know it inside out.

Could you interview a subject matter expert in this field to gain some supplementary insight? Are there external resources and sites which offer similar content?

At this point, it might be best to steer clear of short-lived trends. A pillar page must achieve longevity and be sustainable if it is to become a go-to resource for this topic.

Take the highest ranking subjects and research them exhaustively. Find authoritative, valuable, external resources that you can link back to your pillar page in an attempt to boost your authority.

You might also want to perform in-depth keyword research so you are well-informed of search terms and changes in search behaviour. Online searchers are notoriously capricious, so take your time when selecting your search terms and sub-topics to ensure you're addressing the most relevant and high volume search terms. 

Your pillar page needs to be evergreen, so bear this in mind when conducting your research. It’s easy to trail off, (I speak from experience) when researching for content. But consider the longevity and sustainability, volume search and relevance of every topic to keep yourself on track.

3) Run a content audit

What have you already written about this subject? It’s likely that if this is a subject you view yourself as an authority in, you should already have a wealth of content to prove this.

At this point, you should be confident that you already know your pillar topic inside out. By looking back over historic content, you'll quickly identify opportunities for repurposing, republishing, or even, reformatting.

Old blog posts could become visual elements such as infographics. Posts that garnered interest on your social accounts could become sub-topics.

All of this information will help you lay out the structure of your pillar page.

What's more, when performing your content audit, you’ll likely come across gaps in your content circle that can be filled in with additional blog material.

Build a spreadsheet ready for braindumps and storing any useful links, then think about how you can weave these into the content. It’s a good idea to have another tab open ready for working blog titles to get you fleshing out that content as much as possible. From there, select 4-10  (or more) topics to support your pillar content, and use these to form your synopsis.

4) Write up your synopsis

Think of this as your table of contents. What will your chapters be?

A pillar page is complementary to your site’s internal architecture, so structure is everything.

Consider what opportunities come from each chapter to branch of into other relevant, supporting content. This might be content that already exists or content you now need to create. But your content audit will help you when building this outline. 

Once you have identified each section, you’ll need to start thinking about how you will structure all of that existing content and research, and where all of this should be placed, and how you will weave in the relevant links.

5) Build your pillar page

Admittedly, I changed the verb here from 'write' to 'build'. If you've seen the length of some pillar pages, you'd have fallen off your chair at the prospect of writing everything from scratch!

But don’t get overwhelmed at this stage.

Your synopsis serves the purpose of making this as easy as possible. And following your content audit, you've already done half of the work. This stage is simply a case of building on what you already have.

Sure, you may have to write a few sections from scratch, or re-write previous material for consistency, but nothing worth having comes easy. And this is an investment of time that will keep on delivering.

Just take it one step at a time. Don't overcomplicate it, avoid superfluous language, and be mindful of keywords. If you treat each section as its own blog or web page, it won't seem quite so daunting. Always focus on completing one section before moving onto the next - remember, quality is above everything if you want to score highly on SERPs.

6) Add visual elements

A good pillar page is peppered with supporting imagery, infographics, graphs, charts and video content. Anything that helps deliver the content in an easily digestible format, and since you are aiming to become the go-to resource for this subject, it’s important to consider a broader spectrum, as traffic could start to arrive from different countries and cultures - one reason you might want to consider translation.

Of course, don’t waste time here if it’s not necessary. Using analytic tools will help you uncover details such as the demographic splits and your best performing historic content. By deciphering your audiences' preferences for a particular format, you can tailor the bulk of your pillar page content to suit. 

To fully reap the rewards of your pillar page, the following suggestions will make all of the difference to your end result:

  • Consolidate your pillar page into a downloadable format such as a gated ebook
  • Use clear sections headers and sub-headers throughout
  • Include a jump function to each chapter
  • Include a 'back to top' button
  • Use relevant and helpful inline CTAs
  • Have a link to your pillar page within your homepage navigation
  • Maintain, update, and promote your pillar page to keep it relevant and valuable

So there you go, your step-by-step guide on how to create a pillar page. Choose your central topic, research it to death and collate any existing, related content to build your SEO hub for that subject. Consider search behaviour, pain points and questions, and address these throughout, using them to structure your content, links and visual elements. With diligent and consistent maintenance, monitoring and updating, there's no reason you can't become the go-to resource for your pillar topic.

Just be patient, provide good quality content, and the readers will come. good luck!New call-to-action

Published by Jeremy Knight January 3, 2018
Jeremy Knight