But with people now searching using longer, more complex terms, search engines now favour topic-based content. And this means that professional services firms need to take a smarter approach to their content marketing strategy.
What is a pillar page?
A pillar page is a comprehensive, long-form resource page that explores a central topic in depth and links to other high-quality content related to that topic. Its primary purpose is to act as the leading, trusted authority on a chosen topic.
A pillar page acts as the central hub of content for a key topic. It is built around cluster content - a collection of subtopics that support and expand upon the central topic. The idea is to then link the pillar page to multiple content pages on your site (e.g. blog posts) that are related to that central topic. Those pages then also link back to the pillar page and each other.
To demonstrate, HubSpot's Instagram Marketing pillar page is a good example. The central topic is Instagram Marketing. Subtopics include Getting Started, Types of Posts, Marketing Your Brand, Growing Your Following, Hacks & Tips, and Measuring Success. Cluster content includes blog posts such as, The Anatomy of a Perfect Instagram Profile.
You may want to look at some further pillar page examples here.
Why do you need a pillar page?
Structuring your blog as individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords makes it difficult for people to find the exact information they need. And, it’s more than likely that you are actually competing with yourself in the search rankings for those keywords.
Although a pillar page is based on a broad topic, it links to narrower topic content that supports the overall content - in other words, more opportunities to satisfy the searcher’s query.
Pillar pages organise extensive content into one central place, creating strong link chains to supporting content within your own site (or valuable external content). They allow you to group together related content, and this makes it easier for search engines to ascertain which content on your site is related. The more related content you have, the better chance you have that the search engine will view your site as an authoritative source and pull your pillar page to the top of the search list.
SEO aside, pillar pages provide an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. Imagine a potential buyer visits your website looking for information on a topic related to your business. Now imagine the hallelujah moment when they realise you’ve helpfully explained everything they need to know all on one page, with links to further content should they want to delve further into certain areas. In this sense, pillar pages are the definition of helpful content.
How do you create a pillar page?
First, you need to choose your central topic. What’s core to your business? In what areas can you demonstrate true authority? The topic needs to be broad enough to link all the relevant cluster content to, but specific enough to produce an in-depth pillar page about it.
Next, you want to identify the subtopics that will form the different sections of your pillar page. Think about your buyer personas; what are their most frequently asked questions? How can you use your subtopics to answer those questions?
When defining your topic and subtopics, keyword research is invaluable. Every pillar page you create needs to have target keywords associated with it. Tools like Moz and SEMRush can help you identify high volume keywords that could present a good opportunity to rank for. Keyword research also helps ensure you cover all the important subject areas and helps stimulate new content ideas.
Once you’ve identified your topic, subtopics, and keywords, it’s time to start writing. It may be that you have lots of existing content in the form of eBooks, blog posts, website content, and other internal or external material, that could form the basis of your pillar page. You may even be able to easily convert an existing eBook more or less straight into a pillar page.
Crucially, your pillar page needs to link to your supporting subtopic content, i.e. your blog posts around this area. You may already have some blog posts that support your pillar page topic, but you’ll need to continue blogging regularly, ensuring you cover all the subtopic keywords.
The final step is linking your subtopic content back to the pillar page. This helps search engines understand how your content ties together and determine your central pillar page as an authoritative source.
For a complete step-by-step guide to creating a pillar page, take a look at this blog post.
A pillar page offers many benefits for professional services firms. It allows search engines to deem you an authoritative voice on your chosen topic and put you at the top of the search list. It is also a great way to demonstrate your expertise - which is critical to building trust with your audience. And you don't need to stop at one. If you find success from your first pillar page and have more topics appropriate to cover, there's no limit to how many pillar pages you can create for your website.
Pillar pages can be time-consuming and offer no guarantees, but get it right, and you could see your content marketing efforts flourish. If you want advice on whether a pillar page is the right approach for your business, get in touch.