61% of marketers say growing their SEO presence is their top priority for inbound marketing projects (Source: Hubspot). Google’s algorithms are regularly updated every year, so nothing ever seems to be taken for granted in SEO, and marketers understand that their efforts must be continuous to maintain a good level of performance.
There are indeed multiple techniques, more or less simple to implement, to optimize your web pages for natural backlinking or choosing right seo keywords. You will find many tips to boost your SEO in “quick wins” mode, but are there strategies that can allow you to consolidate your SEO in a more comprehensive and sustainable way? This is precisely the subject that brings us here, it is time for you to discover the content pillar or pillar strategy.
Table of Contents
- Pillar content, topic cluster, pillar page: what is it?
- What can a pillar content strategy bring to you?
- The foundations of a successful pillar strategy
Pillar content, topic cluster, pillar page: what is it?
But before talking concretely about the strategy and its potential benefits for your SEO, we suggest you take a quick vocabulary point.
A strategy based on writing relevant content for a target audience . The latter aims to answer the main questions that Internet users ask themselves on a topic in particular on search engines. The goal is to reference your pages on a set of keywords, semantically close to each other, in order to maximize your visibility with Internet users and attract more qualified traffic to your website.
Topic cluster or thematic group
It is a grouping of several semantically similar contents. These revolve around a main content dealing with the theme on which you want to position yourself as a reference on search engines .
The centerpiece of any pillar content strategy , it is at the center of the topic cluster and has two main objectives: to be well referenced on the main theme of the topic cluster and to offer different conversion paths that are aimed at all levels of maturity (visitors , prospects, qualified prospects).
What can a pillar content strategy bring to you?
A site that has a well-organized internal mesh and structured URLs is more likely to see its pages well indexed and positioned in search engines. This is the whole point of the pillar content strategy, which aims to reorganize your content into topic clusters rather than a multitude of content that is not clearly interconnected.
As Sylvain Peronnet, algorithmic researcher at ix-labs underlines:
“The best internal networking strategy is very simple: give your writers clear instructions. Typically tell everyone that each article should contain a few internal links: one link to a higher level page, another to a lower level page, and a few more to related pages. ”
In the case of pillar content, the pillar page is the top-level page to which each associated article in the cluster topic must point .
75% of search engine users click no further than the first page (Source: imForza). We can therefore consider that after this first page, your content will be almost invisible to Internet users, more particularly beyond the third page of the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
This is why the pillar strategy is used to respond to the Internet user’s requests on a particular subject by covering the additional questions that they may also ask themselves. In this way, you maximize the visibility of your pages on search engines and your chances of attracting qualified traffic .
Your SEO strategy also serves your business goals. Thanks to a well-designed pillar strategy and the implementation of structured and conversion-oriented pillar pages, you will increase your chances of transforming this quality traffic into leads or new customers.
The foundations of a successful pillar strategy
If you want to get started with the deployment of a pillar content strategy, here are the main steps to follow:
Identify the best SEO opportunities
The first step is to conduct a thorough audit of your SEO opportunities . It is about analyzing your website and identifying the keywords and themes on which you are already positioned. You will then have to confront them with the competitive environment (business and editorial), as well as with the demand of Internet users on search engines. Once this audit has been carried out, you can start grouping the keywords by topic and segment them into topic clusters.
Building topic clusters
Once you have a list of keywords classified by topic , you can analyze the overall level of competition (a key indicator provided by some tools like SemRush, for example) of each topic, as well as the potential traffic you could attract. for each of them (monthly search volume).
This analysis will allow you to identify the topic clusters that present the best opportunities to quickly gain positions on Google and reach your audience. Start by working on the cluster with the lowest concurrency level (below 60) and whose monthly search volume is high enough (minimum 2000 monthly queries).
Develop the pillar page
The most important thing in your pillar page is that it deals with your main subject in a general way while integrating a maximum of keywords from the semantic field close to the targeted theme . Content should have an average length of 1,500-2,000 words and a keyword density of 3-5%. As proof, the first page of results on Google contains 1890 words on average (Source: Backlinko).
Attracting qualified traffic to your pillar page is not its only goal. For this page to also serve your business objectives , it must include conversion elements that are aimed at all levels of maturity : Guide, white paper, customer cases, commercial offer, etc. Be sure to vary your arguments to assert your expertise and generate trust in visitors.
Define the editorial schedule
To do this, we recommend that you start from the content produced for the pillar page and segment it into sub-topics corresponding to the keywords of the cluster topic. You can then develop an editorial schedule made up of several articles (between 6 and 8 recommended) which will deal with related subjects and give more weight in terms of SEO to your pillar page.
Once your editorial schedule is clearly defined, you can move on to the production phase of blog posts. It is essential that your content is of quality and well optimized for natural backlinking. In addition, you will need to provide an internal link in the article that refers to your pillar page, ideally on a key expression consistent with the subject treated by the latter.
In this way, you will send multiple signals to the crawlers telling them the importance of this page. This will have the effect of making it gradually rise in search engine results to reach the first page, then the first results.
Olivier Duffez, creator of WebRankinfo confirms that:
“It is undeniable that Google is working hard to assess the quality of sites. This quality analysis can be broken down into at least two families: first, the evaluation of the quality of the site itself, its pages and their content; then the evaluation of the satisfaction of the Internet user who visits the site (particularly the Internet user that Google sends from the SERPs, natural results) ”
Measure the results
You will then have to observe the performance of your topic clusters over time to measure their impact on your SEO, as well as your generation of traffic, leads and new customers. This will allow you to identify which content performs best and which requires optimization, in order to continuously improve your performance. There are tools, like the SEO functionality of Hubspot, which make it easier to analyze the performance of topic clusters.
It is not always easy to measure the effectiveness of SEO efforts because the results are usually not visible after a few months. Nonetheless, marketers are very confident and consider SEO to be becoming more effective, with 82% saying effectiveness is on the rise and 42% of this group saying it is increasing significantly (Source: MarketDive).
To ensure you seize the best opportunities and maximize your return on your SEO investment, you can call on specialists who can guide you. Your content marketing team will thus have the technical support it needs and will be able to focus its efforts on producing quality content, an element which is just as essential to good SEO.