In this article, you will learn:
- What is a pillar page?
- What are the benefits of a pillar page?
- How should a pillar page be structured?
- Key examples of high-performing pillar pages
Pillar pages should be part of your B2B content marketing strategy, and they’re a best practice for content structure and SEO optimization. They will help you rank higher on SERP and convert a well-defined audience. While they may seem innocuous at first glance, the purpose that a pillar page provides, both for a business and the customer, is worthwhile and essential. Pillar pages should relate to each stage of the audience journey, and they can also boost your brand as a thought-leader and educational resource. In this article, we discuss what pillar pages are, the steps to create one, a page’s defining elements, and examples of high-performing pillar pages.
What are pillar pages?
A pillar page is a website page that covers a subject that is a core topic related to your product or service. A pillar page, sometimes called a cornerstone content piece, can host a large collection of links to various articles (or website pages) within your website structure that relate to the assigned overarching topic. Under the umbrella of your pillar post, you can then group multiple topics related to the core pillar topic into topic clusters.
So, pillar pages can be used to organize and connect content from across your site. They’re called pillar pages because, like an actual pillar, they’re the main building block of your content strategy and the topic supports your internal content structure.
What is the main purpose of a pillar page? The purpose of a pillar page is to provide visitors with a thorough answer to a core topic. This content can be either an introduction or deeper insight for your readers, but its main goal is to become a valuable resource and reference for them. Pillar page content includes information about a topic but also includes comprehensive answers to a reader’s question. So, the goal is to have readers return to make use of the information and to hopefully link to your pillar page as a key resource.
How does a pillar page fit into a content strategy? Pillar pages are a key part of your content strategy because they structure your content both for your audience and for search engines. In a content strategy, a pillar page corresponds with the core topics associated with your brand’s services. An example of a pillar page on our agency’s blog is the article on “B2B Content Strategy” and the topic clusters that support the pillar page include smaller form blog posts like “Establishing a Buyer Persona”, “What is an Audience Journey?”, or “What is a Content Calendar”. B2B content strategy is a core service for our agency, and we’ve written a pillar post to show our knowledge on the topic and our expertise to help you with this project.
Benefits of a pillar page
The core benefits of a pillar page are to increase reader engagement, build authority on a specific topic, interconnect your internal content structure, encourage longer page view sessions, and be a well-optimized content piece for SERP (search engine rankings).
What are the benefits in terms of your SEO ranking success?
Your pillar piece content is more likely to be placed in the top result positions on search engines. Because a pillar post follows industry best practices, and it fulfills many search engine requirements to rank content—for example, increased content engagement and comprehensive information about topics. A pillar page can connect to different parts of your website with backlinks, allowing readers to easily go deeper into topics. The higher you can rank on search, the easier it is for people to find and read your content.
How to structure a pillar page
You’ve chosen a topic and now ready to write the pillar page. What are your questions before getting started?
How does a pillar page’s format work? The pillar page format is meant to be comprehensive on a subject and act as an introduction to other articles. Your content structure should flow naturally from one topic to the next, giving occasional calls to action, and question-answer type content.
What level of content comprehensiveness should a pillar page have? Pillar pages in their very nature are detailed and comprehensive because they’re supposed to completely cover a specific topic. They act as a content foundation for readers to branch into other related topics and it acts as a core SEO content piece. This calls for some thorough investigation into every portion of your pillar page’s content from the SEO optimization, to the content structure, to its appearance, and to the call-to-actions. The content should encourage your reader to stay on the blog and interact with your brand by writing content that is worth their time.
How long should a pillar page be?
Pillar pages tend to be on the longer side, between 1,800 and 2,500 words of written content. A word count is just a general number because you’re goal is to aim to write comprehensive content. Remember that comprehensive and thorough content will encourage readers to stay on your page longer and allow for more backlinks.
Key components of a stellar pillar page
From the topic to the pillar page type and standard writing best practices, these are the key components to writing a high-performing pillar page:
- Finding the right topic
- Choosing the pillar page type for your topic
- Writing an introduction
- Structuring with a table of contents
- Taking note of user experience and design
- Including your lead generation piece
- Concluding your thoughts
Find a topic. Your topic should address your audience’s key problems and/or challenges. Optimizing for a specific keyword is mandatory, but avoid keyword-stuffing—a practice that Google is downgrading in search result rankings. When coming up with a topic for your pillar page, having in-depth knowledge about who your buyer personas are is vital.
Think about what you want them to learn or what will help them solve their challenge. However, keep in mind, your pillar page topic shouldn’t be shallow. Pick a topic that has the potential to easily be 2,000 words of content and that offers several sub-topics where you can go write additional content on specific subjects.
Pick a pillar page type. There are a couple of different pillar pages to choose from based on the layout and the purpose that the page has. A resource pillar page is based on organized anchor links within the text linking to various content within your website’s structure. A 10x pillar page is subtly different from a resource pillar page in that it contains more prominent headers, longer sections of text, and calls to action and/or options to share the content.
Include a table of contents. A great practice for user experience, this feature makes it easier for people to access the different information points in your post. And it gives the reader an idea of the page’s content. Put your table of contents/chapter section near the top of the page, under the introduction, for people to quickly locate it.
Write an introduction. An introduction is the first paragraph beneath the title. An introduction will tell the reader what to expect in the post. It signals the start of the article and promises what will be covered in that article.
Optimize for user experience. At its core, pillar pages are about providing readers with a satisfactory answer and comprehensive knowledge. But user experience is just as important! Helping your readers better navigate your page is a best practice because it allows the readers to find the information they need faster and easily.
Using hyperlinks, also called anchored links, that link back to your topic cluster blog posts (or product website pages) is a great way to give readers the option to efficiently transition to other content. Lastly, a back-to-top button can help readers quickly return to the top of the page. Because pillar pages can be lengthy, having these navigation options can help readers save time.
Provide anchor links (or hyperlinks) to other content. This is where having a backlog and audit of articles related to your pillar page’s main topic is handy. Considered topic clusters, these topics give readers the option to continue learning by taking them to your linked page or post. These topic clusters are great for your internal website structure as it brings multiple topics and content together.
It’s also a best practice that search engines recommend, and they have the opportunity to power up your SERP ranking. Provide links within the pillar page’s text when you quote from another article. You can also use the phrase “Read more about x here.” with a link to that specific topic.
Having these anchor links not only sends traffic to other articles on your site but helps build trust and authority. It shows your experience and knowledge on these topics and how you can bring them all together in an organized fashion.
Remember not to oversaturate your post with links.
Downloadable content. Having a downloadable content piece available on your pillar page is key for lead generation. Since a pillar post is a high traffic page, it can help you drive conversations to a downloadable content asset or newsletter. This downloadable content can be something related to the pillar page’s topic, such as an app or e-book, or even a PDF download of the pillar page itself. Downloadable content can be located either at the end of the content or at a related area within the page’s text.
Write a conclusion. This section of the page is where you wrap up and summarize what the reader just read. Conclusions signal the end of the article to the reader and include a call-to-action or feature the downloadable content. A call to action could include, “sign up for our newsletter” “check out this other blog post for more information” or even offer a place for the reader to learn more about your product or service.
Keep in mind that your last call-to-action should be representative of where the content topic is in the customer journey. Try not to pitch a case study too early or pitch a generic white paper when it should be a use case flyer. Get the point?
Again, this should be a gentle call, not a shout with flashing lights. A gentler call considers the reader’s stage in the audience journey and even if they’re a returning customer. This very human-centered approach to optimizing your content with the right call-to-actions.
Awesome pillar page examples
Looking for pillar page examples? Here are two examples of well-written pillar pages; one for B2B content marketing and the other for an environmental company.
In “Introduction to B2B Content Marketing Strategy” this pillar page describes what B2B content marketing is to forming a business strategy. It ticks the comprehensive requirement by describing what content marketing strategies are and then moving into why crafting such a strategy is a necessary step in being successful. It answers the reader’s questions, moving through the basics, such as the definition, to the more complex such as the steps to take to create a marketing strategy. Throughout, backlinks are provided to interconnect other content posts on the website and to provide additional knowledge in a subtopic.
“City Climate Action Plan: A Structured Guide for Climate Planning” delves into the topic of how a city can organize and create a city climate action plan. Again, the pillar page starts with a broad overview by defining what a climate change action plan is, then narrows the field down with more specific questions the reader might have. Especially prevalent are the outlined steps for creating such a climate plan, where the content backlinks to other subtopics on the blog.
What We Learned
Now that you’ve learned what a pillar page is and the different steps and elements to create one. Pillar pages are an integral part of a business’ content structure. We hope that this introduction showed you the purpose behind creating a pillar page and gave you the insights to create one of your own.