Content Pillars, Topic Clusters, and how they affect SEO

Content Pillars and Topic Clusters

As a branding and advertising agency, we write on various topics that focus on branding, digital marketing, entrepreneurship, but needless to say, our site was quite disorganized with some topics standing at the top of SERPs and some rarely noticed. While going through this problem, I came across this term called Content Pillars and Topic Clusters and what impact they have on the SEO of your website. content pillars and topic clusters

There was a time when you searched for a particular restaurant. But, the case is different now. Users rather ask for ideas like ‘where should I go for dinner?’ to Google without mentioning its further details, with the intent that Google would give you perfect answers. Does that apply to your SEO strategy as well? Yes. Meet Topic Cluster Model, an SEO strategy that targets on Topics rather than Keywords. After the Humming Bird update, Google started focussing on topic authority – gearing towards a better understanding of user intent. 

Influential search engines like Google have changed their algorithm to favor topic-based content. As a result, SEOs are exploring a new way of linking related content under a “topic clusters” model. This report serves as a tactical primer for marketers responsible for SEO strategies.

What are Content Pillars and Topic Clusters?

Let’s say you’ve written a bunch of articles on entrepreneurship that are in between, interrupted by articles on branding, digital marketing, etc. On the whole, your blog page is completely disorganized. A content pillar page is where you can link all your articles on a particular topic to it. Your articles on entrepreneurs can be linked to one single content pillar page on Entrepreneurship. With this, your website’s SEO will be boosted on the whole and every article that you’ve written on a particular topic would garner some views. 

Content Pillars and Topic Clusters

Here, the various articles you’ve written on entrepreneurship is named as the cluster content. The content pillar which you’ve created acts as a homepage to all the service-like articles here and hence called the pillar content.

A content pillar page broadly covers key aspects of a topic relevant to your company, while topic clusters are subcategories that cover keywords related to that topic in-depth.

How do Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages boost SEO

In a disorganized webpage set up, the blog pages increase and the structure becomes spread out and complex as the content increases, with no uniform linking structure in place. This setup makes it harder for search engines to crawl through all the pages quickly. Further, many similar businesses that invest in content, find themselves with dozens of web pages that cover similar topic areas. All these pages end up competing with each other to get found by search engines, and ultimately, the searcher. 

A more orderly, thoughtful arrangement is needed — one that tells search engines what page should be prioritized and displayed for the main topic and then organizes all the pages related to that topic in one interlinked cluster. The more content information you have content pillars and topic custers, the more internal links you’ll be able to create on your site, which helps improve UX and navigation and adds a significant boost to your SEO.

How to Create Pillar Pages

To create content pillars and topic clusters, you need not reinvent the wheel; you can use the content that is already present on the website and reorganize it for better usability with internal links of the same topic-related articles. It helps boost search rankings for these topics. After switching to pillar pages and topic clusters, you can see that your content will become more organized and better linked together throughout your site.

Types of Pillar Pages

Let’s break down into the most common types of Pillar Pages 

10x Pillar Page

A 10x Pillar Page involves taking a piece of content that is already present on your website and making it a pillar page where users can go for key information on a topic without having entered the contact information. A common tactic is to include a pop-up form on a 10x pillar page that says “Want to take this resource with you?” By filling out just a couple of fields on this pop-up form, visitors can obtain a PDF version of the content. 

WHY??? HubSpot research discovered 90% of website visitors prefer to read their lengthy content in a PDF as opposed to a website page.
Resource Pillar Page 

A Resource Pillar Page is a win-win category where it includes both a mix of internal and external links whose sole objective is to educate people as well as generate reciprocal inbound links from the websites you’re linking to. 

Tips to get started with Topic Clusters

Choosing a topic to focus on and building out cluster content plans can be daunting, and auditing historical content can be downright painful, especially if your company has an extensive archive. We have a few suggestions to organize and create topic clusters today.

  • Map out five to ten core problems that your buyer persona has. Use surveys, run interviews, and do some secondary research within online communities as needed to gather the data.
  • Group each of the problems into broad topic areas.
  • Build out each of the core topics with subtopics using keyword research.
  • Map out content ideas that align with each of the core topics and corresponding subtopics.
  • Validate each idea with industry and competitive research.
  • Create content, measure the impact, and refine.

To keep track of content and links within a topic cluster, teams can set up a sheet like the one below. Depending on the complexity of the topic and the number of pages you’re linking to, some of the categories may not be necessary.

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I'm a writer and I do not simply pen down my thoughts. Rather, I'm someone who puts down the entire conversation between my inner mind and me. I make sure that my mind is jaded and tired but happy when I'm done for the day.

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