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Important News and the Latest Best Practices for Winning Online

Pillar Pages and Cluster Content for SEO Content Writing Success

Posted by Christine Penchuk on February 2, 2018
Christine Penchuk

In the ever-changing landscape of SEO, it's important for marketers and others to stay abreast of Pillar Pages for SEOalgorithmic changes in order to get the best results for their own websites or those that they manage.  

One way to do that is to listen when Google shares information. Sometimes Oftentimes, this information can be very cryptic. BUT, every once in a while, Google opens up to let us in on important information to follow....and the information that I'll share in this post is some of that "every once in a while" information.

It stands apart.

It's a drastic departure, or sea change, from the way that SEO content writing has been done for the past several years.   

What Has Changed?

As most know, rank tracking captures just one of many variations of a given SERP (Search Engine Result Pages), as well as of an overall marketing campaign, and should only really be used as a benchmark -- as opposed to a primary KPI for a business.

Here's what's new: on the SEO side of things, an approach that's based solely on keywords and content creation is out-of-date and is now to be focused on the way that the site is structured. Long-tail keywords will still be part of the equation, but to rank with the big dogs on Pg. 1, marketers need to adhere to the site structure guidelines that Google has shared.

As a result, it's necessary for businesses to change their site structure.

Why the Change?

2 Reasons for the Change: 

  1. With the influx of content on the Internet, the algorithm had to evolve. Today, Google's search is largely driven by A.I. and looks at user intent, information architecture, and topics to evaluate a search result.
  2. Humans are better at searching than they were even five years ago. Their searches have gotten more detailed. Instead of typing in "hotels", people are more likely to type in "3 star hotels near me". The way that they search by adding more words to their queries they'll get exactly what they want. And, Google has responded in-kind with a sophisticated algorithm that can detect what they want.

NOW - Proper Website Organization = Higher Rankings

Marketers who put content out there need to be organized about it and make sure that they include topics that cover any gaps that could prevent a searcher from getting the information they need from a website. To successfully come up in search engine results, your site should be organized according to different bucket or umbrella topics that represent the main products or services that your business has to offer. These pages are formally referred to as "pillar pages". 

Each of these pillar pages should broadly discuss, in long-form content, what your company has to offer. Then, each should be associated with multiple blog posts about related topics that are then hyperlinked to them.

Here's what this architecture looks like on a website -- using HubSpot.com as an example: 

Pillar Content Site Architecture

Using the illustration above, if you're a company that sells workout equipment, and one of the main topics / pillar pages on your site is "hand weights", you'll also want to make sure that you write cluster content in the form of blog posts on all of the associated long-tail keywords associated with "hand weights", such as: 

  • "adjustable hand weights"
  • "hand weights for walking"
  • "hand weight sets"
  • "5 lb hand weights"
Doing this will enable your website to come up in all associated online searches to increase the likelihood that your company gets found in searches related to this topic.

And, the cluster content posts that focus on long-tail keywords should hyperlink back to the pillar pages that you've chosen to create for your site.

3 Steps to The Website Architecture That's Needed to Successfully Rank in Search Engines + [VIDEO]

Here are 3 steps to a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google -- and to help searchers find information on your site more easily.

The architecture consists of three components -- pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:

  1. Pillar Pages - These pages can be likened to tree trunks. They're the main structure and support of all of the branches and the leaves. These pages should BROADLY cover all aspects of a particular topic.
  2. Cluster Content - This type of content can be likened to the tree's branches. This content should go into some depth about one facet of what a pillar page covers. For example, if your pillar page is about working out -- a broad topic -- one of your cluster content pages, such as a blog post, could be about a particular type of workout, like Pilates.
  3. Hyperlinks - Hyperlinks can be likened to a tree's root system. They connect throughout the website's architecture. Each time a piece of cluster content is written, such as a blog post, it should be hyperlinked back to the broader pillar page that it relates to. In the example above, the Pilates cluster content page should hyperlink back to the pillar page that focuses on working out.

Here's a video from HubSpot that explains this concept:

The Only Constant is Change

There you have it - the latest from Google. If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to reach out. As with all things SEO, there's no time like the present to implement these changes for your business. The sooner you do it, the sooner you'll start to see some positive increases in your rankings.  

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