It’s not surprising that most people only click through the top five results from the first Google search engine result page (SERP). Your website is less likely to get clicks if it’s ranked lower.
With this exciting finding, many brands are wondering how to boost their SEO and land the #1 position on the search results. The answer is pillar page content!
Pillar posts are a widely used digital marketing strategy to improve a website’s SEO ranking and web presence.
But before we get into the benefits of creating this type of content, let us first cover everything you need to know about pillar pages or pillar posts.
Pillar Page for Beginners
A pillar post, or a pillar page, is a long-form article that covers a broad scope of a particular topic or concept. The goal is to touch on various subtopics related to the main topic in an educational format.
Pillar pages are specifically structured to deconstruct broad topics in a singular piece of content, which is why pillar posts are usually very long compared to the average blog.
But aside from that, pillar posts also serve as an essential part of an SEO strategy. They can help boost search engine rankings, increase traffic and engagement, and help build your online presence.
One way pillar posts achieve this is by including hyperlinks inside the pillar content that bring readers to related blog posts that help discuss a subtopic in a more detailed manner.
The posts that these links connect to are called cluster posts. By connecting readers to other cluster posts, they understand the topic further, and they engage with the content more naturally and effectively.
As they explore other related blog posts through the links in the pillar content, the content and the website’s engagement improve, CTR increases, and people stay on the website longer.
However, it is essential to remember that creating pillar pages is a double-edged sword. While this is incredibly valuable to improve your search rankings, it may also damage your SEO.
In that sense, a strong content strategy is necessary to implement this successfully.
Why Are They Called Pillar Posts?
You may be wondering, “why are they called pillar posts?”
Pillar content serves as excellent support. In the same way that literal pillars, or columns, hold up a structure or a building, pillar content also serve as the foundation of an effective content strategy.
But besides its likeness to literal pillars, pillar posts are like tree trunks.
Because they’re typically dense, pillar pages are like thick tree trunks that branch out in several smaller branches. In this analogy, the smaller branches represent the topic clusters.
Think of it as a backbone that is the foundation of a website. Like the backbone found in our bodies, a content pillar acts as a core or foundation of pillar posts forming topic clusters and interlinked subtopics.
What Are Topic Clusters?
Topic clusters are an integral part of pillar pages. If pillar pages discuss the main topic, topic clusters are the different pieces of content – under the main topic – that break down the subtopics with more precision.
For example, you’re creating pillar content about digital advertising; since digital advertising is a vast topic with different subtopics, you should create a series of articles that discuss these subtopics in greater depth.
These articles can touch on digital advertising subtopics, among others, like:
- How to use Facebooks Ads
- Create TikTok Ads in ‘X’ Steps
- How to Maximize Instagram Ads
These articles that help deconstruct the many subtopics under your pillar post about ‘Digital Advertising’ are now your topic clusters for the said main topic.
Topic clusters can take many forms as long as they achieve the goal of deconstructing a main topic’s (pillar post) subtopic. You can make them as how-to articles, listicles, comparison articles, and more.
By creating topic clusters, you can ensure that the pillar post comprehensively covers a particular concept or idea.
This allows readers to explore any aspect of the topic further by clicking on related pages, articles, or blog posts within your pillar post.
5 Ways Pillar Posts Improve Your SEO Results
You’re already familiar with the basics of SEO. For example, you know that keyword research is essential and that backlinks are forever a factor. But what you need to learn is that pillar pages can have a significant impact on your SEO results.
A pillar page is a comprehensive, authoritative page on a specific topic. It’s the foundation of your content marketing strategy, and it’s designed to rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Pillar posts target multiple keywords in one content
- You can attract more backlinks with a pillar post
- Pillar posts promote better user experience
- Crawlers understand your pages better through pillar posts
- Pillar posts can embody E-E-A-T
1. Pillar posts target multiple keywords in one content
Pillar blog posts have many prominent features. Aside from its length, one remarkable characteristic is its ability to target multiple keywords in a singular piece of content. How does that work?
Because a pillar page is designed to be comprehensive and to cover all aspects of a topic, this creates an opportunity to cater to more than just one or two (or three) keywords.
When you target multiple keywords with a single piece of content, you’re more likely to rank for those keywords. This means more traffic for your website and a better chance of achieving your marketing goals.
Just like this article below.
This 5936-word pillar post about SEO basics is an example of how pillar pages can target multiple keywords in one content.
Aside from the keyword ‘SEO Basics,’ the article also targets other keywords like:
- Google search console
- search engine optimization
- organic search results
- google’s search results
- search engine algorithms
- keyword research
- other search engines
2. You can attract more backlinks with a pillar post
Compared to the average blog post that falls within the 1500-2500 word count, pillar blog posts can attract more backlinks because of how widely they can cover a topic in length.
A pillar post can talk about multiple topics in one format, giving readers more value and information regarding a subject. Because of this, other websites like to cite pillar pages more than shorter pieces of content, which can boost the pillar post’s search ranking.
Backlinks are still a major ranking factor for Google, and a well-written pillar page can support your goal of ultimately increasing your site’s authoritativeness and expertise in the eyes of search engine crawlers.
Here are some common tactics to implement into your pillar post to make it backlink-worthy:
- Add engaging visuals to your post: Adding visuals like images, videos, or numerical data makes pillar posts more interesting to read, especially since pillar posts are so wordy. If it’s all texts, it will be painful for your reader to read everything.
- Include your own studies or research: Having your own studies and simplifying them in your pillar post helps give more value to your audience and helps build up your expertise in the topic.
- Insert free tools for your readers to use: Who hates free things? Your readers will find your pillar post more valuable if it offers free tools. Just make sure that your offer is relevant to the topic and to the goal your readers are trying to achieve.
- Publish your original takes or first-hand experience on a topic: Facts are important when discussing whatever topic, especially topics that help people improve. But personal experiences offer a different kind of value. If you had a different experience on a subject, share this with your readers. You never know. Some readers out there may probably be experiencing the same thing.
- Interview experts and quote them in your post: It’s one thing to know that you have something of value to share, but it adds to the value of a topic when multiple expert POVs are thrown into a discussion. Doing so kills bias and empowers your readers by learning from different expert ideas.
- Include statistics: Statistics help readers gain insight into a certain topic’s significance in real-life applications. If you tell them they need to use product A, do so by showing how many people are still having negative experiences by not using product A. This way, they get the bigger picture.
3. Pillar posts promote better user experience
Pillar pages help to create a better user experience, which is an essential factor in SEO. When you provide comprehensive, valuable content on a specific topic, readers are more likely to find what they’re looking for on your website.
When users deem your content adequate in giving them answers, that makes them stay longer on your site, which leads to a lower bounce rate and higher average time on the page, both of which are positive signals to Google.
So, how can you structure your pillar pages to give the best user experience?
4. Crawlers understand your pages better through pillar posts
Pillar pages can provide valuable context for your other content marketing assets, which search engine crawlers use in reviewing if your content matches a particular search query.
For example, if you have a pillar post, include its other topic clusters in the post as hyperlinks to show readers and search engine crawlers alike that the pillar post and its hyperlinks are all connected.
This helps Google understand the relationship between your content assets and can lead to better SERP rankings.
In addition to what was mentioned in the previous point above about links contributing to user experience, links don’t just have to look good; they also have to be done right.
1. Plan the kind of topic clusters that you want to link to in your pillar post ahead.
2. Choose the right texts to use for your hyperlinks. The text or phrase you’ll use should adequately reflect the topic inside the link. For example, when we linked a post to another post about on-page SEO, we chose the text that said “on-page SEO.”
The chosen text is simple and direct, and it readily informs the reader – or crawler – that the hyperlink leads to a different content about on-page SEO.
3. After choosing the correct texts, set your hyperlink.
4. Make sure you’re using the correct link in your hyperlink. You wouldn’t want a faulty link leading to an error page or the wrong article.
5. Before setting your hyperlink, choose the “open in new tab” option. Choosing this helps ensure that your reader get to keep the original page they opened.
6. Then finish.
5. Pillar posts can embody E-E-A-T
Pillar pages can be highly effective in helping websites highlight expertise, first-hand experience on things, authority, and trustworthiness.
In light of Google’s update on the quality raters guideline, we all know these things are critically important in ranking on SERPs.
By providing comprehensive and valuable content on a specific topic, experts can make the job easier for quality raters to judge the expertise behind a pillar post.
Because of the sheer length of pillar pages, authors also have the great opportunity of sharing their first-hand experience on things to support their claims.
We mentioned this earlier in the post, but backlinks don’t just help increase your ranking on SERPs. They also help you appear more as an authority in your niche as more websites cite you and link back to you.
You can also champion a trustworthy image by using only accurate information in your pillar pages, enabling readers to leave comments, and ensuring that you’re consistent in the types of topics that you tackle.
How can you display your E-E-A-T in a pillar post? Here are some tips:
- Expertise: Focus more on topics in your area of knowledge and refrain from mixing different fields of topics. On your page or website, highlight the qualifications and credentials that make you an expert in a particular field related to the topic.
- Experience: Aside from adding value to your content, including first-hand experiences in your pillar post can also help show quality raters that you have experience on the topic that can help your readers.
- Authoritativeness: Use your pillar post when link-building or broken link-building to increase your authority over the post’s subject matter.
- Trustworthiness: When discussing a claim, a fact, or a finding in your post, make sure to cite your sources. Doing so helps show that the information you’re sharing in the post is accurate, proven, and up-to-date.
To learn more about Google’s full guidelines on E-E-A-T and how its evaluated, read more from Google’s December 2022 updated general guidelines.
How Does the Pillar Page Strategy Work?
It is important to note that this strategy doesn’t work on its own, and that is where topic clusters come in handy, which is considered the strength of a pillar page.
A topic cluster is a group of related content pieces that all revolve around a central, keyword-focused topic. Typically, a topic cluster will include a pillar post and several supporting articles.
The goal of a topic cluster is to build an authoritative resource on a given subject, with the pillar post serving as the centerpiece.
High-quality, keyword-rich content can signal to search engines that your site is relevant and trustworthy, leading to improved organic search visibility.
In addition, topic clusters can help improve your click-through rate and time on site, as readers can explore multiple pieces of content on a given topic.
Word Count in a Pillar Blog Post
With the word comprehensive in mind, how long should a pillar post be? As mentioned, this is more than an average blog post.
While there is no exact word count to follow in this type of content, the general rule is that each pillar page topic must be between 2,000 and 5,000 words.
However, it is worth remembering that a more extended post doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better or will help you drive more website traffic – it can bore the target audience when the content structure and strategy are not well-planned.
How to Create a Pillar Post in 4 Steps
If you want to create an effective, well-structured pillar post that addresses your audience’s needs, helps spark your content strategy, and boosts your ranking on search results, then creating pillar posts is a great way to do just that.
But how and where do you start? Don’t worry. Here are five ways to create an effective pillar post.
1. Research Your Topic
Before beginning your pillar post, conducting comprehensive research on the topic is essential. Researching the topic will help you better understand the subject and the keywords to include in the post.
To research the right topic for your pillar post, use the following steps as your guide:
- First, ask yourself, “what kind of topic will my target audience find valuable?”
- Then, assess what type of goal your topic is trying to achieve for your readers.
- Simplify your topic’s goal by categorizing it. To help with that, ask these questions, will the topic help my audience:
- Develop a skill?
- Learn how to use something?
- Flip a common idea over?
- Overcome a stubborn obstacle?
- Shift their mindset?
- Help them earn money?
- When you’ve chosen a potential topic, conduct keyword research to see if that kind of topic is generating enough buzz online (more of that on the next step).
When choosing a topic to create a pillar post around, don’t choose topics that are too broad and too narrow and specific. Instead, go for the middle ground.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is one of the most critical steps in creating an effective pillar post. Before beginning, it is crucial to identify relevant, high-ranking keywords related to your chosen topic or industry. You can do this by using keyword research tools.
With a quick search on Google, you’ll see plenty of free keyword research tools on the market. Here are seven of them for you to try:
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator
- MOZ Keyword Explorer
- Google Trends
- SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
- Keyword Surfer
When you’re already in the middle of conducting keyword research, make sure to study the keyword based on these factors:
- Volume: When conducting keyword research, it is important to consider the volume of searches for a particular keyword or phrase. This will help you determine its relevance and potential impact on search engine rankings. Higher keyword volumes usually indicate greater user interest, which can lead to increased traffic and engagement with your content. Additionally, keywords with higher volumes may have higher competition levels, meaning that you’ll need to be more creative in your SEO strategy to ensure you stand out from the crowd.
- Authority: When conducting keyword research, it is important to consider the authority of the sources that rank for each keyword or phrase. The authority of a website or piece of content indicates its trustworthiness and reliability. Additionally, higher authority can give more credibility to your content and help attract more engaged viewers looking for authoritative answers.
- Relevance: When conducting keyword research, you must ensure that your chosen keywords are relevant to your business or organization. This means considering words and phrases related to your content’s topic and those that people may use when searching for similar topics. Relevant keywords can help increase your website’s targeted traffic, increase engagement and conversions, and optimize your search engine rankings.
When choosing your keywords, go for the ones with high volume and work toward sprinkling these keywords into your headings. Remember, your keywords should still be related to your pillar post’s main topic.
After conducting keyword research and finalizing the keywords you want to rank for, search for the search intent behind the keywords.
3. Outline Your Post
Next, create an outline for your post. An outline helps ensure that all the essential elements are included and provides a roadmap for writing the content. Developing the outline for your post is also the perfect time for you to identify your topic clusters.
After outlining the subtopics to include in your pillar post, identify the subtopics that you can discuss in greater detail next in a different article. These articles will become your topic clusters.
If you already have published articles on the subtopics you’re considering as topic clusters for your pillar page, make sure to link these articles back to your pillar post through hyperlinks.
4. Write to end the search journey
Once you begin to write your pillar post, keep in mind the need to end the search journey for the user. Therefore, the content should address the intent behind a search and provide users with all the information they need to gain from the topic.
The goal is to ensure that readers are satisfied with their search experience enough to avoid feeling the need to go to other websites.
Here’s one way to help your pillar post end the search journey:
- Keep the search intent behind your keyword in mind.
- List down all the questions users probably have regarding the topic (the more questions, the better).
- Using your formulated questions, pick out which ones you think are the most important in helping users understand the topic of your pillar post.
- Compare these questions to your outline. Ask yourself, “does the outline answer these questions?” If yes, proceed. If you still need to, improve your outline and ensure it answers your formulated questions.
- Use images, videos, infographics, charts, statistics, and other elements when necessary to give users a fuller experience of learning the topic.
- Finish the pillar post and check if it answers the top questions that the search intent raises. If not, optimize the content.
Study the posts that Google’s top results have on the same topic. Understand their outline and use it as a reference to develop your outline. If their outline needs to include something, improve this in your pillar post. If, after studying their outline, you’ve found that your outline needs to include some important points, use their outline as a model to develop yours.
Finally, as a last step to ensure the success of your post, make sure to review the post for accuracy and relevance with the target audience in mind.
By following these four steps, you can create an effective pillar blog post that will help to boost your website’s SEO rankings, attract more backlinks and drive website traffic.
7 Tips for an Effective Pillar Post Blog Strategy
Are you looking for ways to maximize your pillar post blog’s potential? There are plenty of pointers out there that you can use to make sure you start right and finish right with your pillar post. But in this section, we’ll discuss seven of the most effective ones.
Here are seven tips on how to create an effective pillar post:
1. Figure out what pillar blog posts are right for your business.
As a small business owner, you may wonder what kind of pillar blog post is suitable for your company. After all, with so many topics to choose from, it can take time to figure out where to start.
However, one helpful way to narrow down your options is to think about the different “pillars” of content that can benefit your business.
For example, if you sell products, you may want to write “how-to” posts that show customers how to use your products in new and exciting ways. Or, if you offer services, write thought-leadership pieces that share your expert insights on industry trends.
By identifying the pillar blog post topics most relevant to your business, you can ensure that your content is interesting and valuable for your target audience.
2. Identify the searcher’s intent behind the topics you want to target
When conducting keyword research, you must consider the searcher’s intent behind your target topics. What are they looking to accomplish? What questions are they trying to answer?
Identifying the searcher’s intent can help you create content that more effectively meets their needs, resulting in more qualified traffic and better conversion rates.
There are several types of searcher intent: informational, transactional, and navigational.
- Informational intent indicates that the searcher seeks information on a particular topic.
- Transactional Intent indicates that the searcher is looking to make a purchase.
- Navigational intent indicates that the searcher is looking for a specific website or web page.
Once you’ve identified the searcher’s intent, you can create content that more effectively targets their needs. For example, if you’re targeting informational keywords, you can create blog posts or articles that provide information on those topics.
If you’re targeting transactional keywords, you can create product pages or landing pages designed to convert visitors into customers. And if you’re targeting navigational keywords, you can ensure that your website is easy to navigate and includes the relevant information users need.
By understanding searcher intent, you can create content that better meets the needs of your target audience, resulting in more qualified traffic and better conversion rates.
3. Make a list of all the questions your target audience is searching online
It’s essential to understand what your target audience is searching for if you want to succeed in digital marketing.
But it can be challenging though. Even the most sophisticated search engines can only do so much to help you narrow down your options. However, you can use a few tips and tricks to uncover the hidden gems in your search results.
First, try using different search engines – each has its algorithms and may yield different results.
Second, use quotation marks to search for specific phrases – this can help you understand what your target audience is searching online.
Finally, remember to search social media and forums. These platforms can be a goldmine of information about what people are looking for online.
By following these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to uncovering the hidden search queries that will help you reach your target audience.
4. Organize your questions into an outline
Like most people, you head to Google when you have a question.
And while there’s a lot of information out there, it can take a lot of work to wade through everything and find the answer that you need. That’s where pillar pages come in. A pillar page is a long-form piece of content that covers a specific topic in depth.
It’s designed to be a comprehensive resource on that topic, answering all questions someone might have. Pillar pages are organized into an outline, each section addressing a different question.
This makes them easy to navigate and ensures that every question is answered thoroughly. As a result, pillar pages are an invaluable resource for anyone looking for detailed information on a particular topic.
5. Write your pillar blog post
Now that you have a list of questions and an outline, it’s time to start writing your pillar page.
Remember, the goal is to create a comprehensive resource that covers all aspects of your topic. This means including a mix of text, images, and videos.
It also means being as detailed as possible. The more information you can provide, the better. The goal is to create a resource that people can turn to again and again when they have questions about your topic.
By following these simple tips, you can create a pillar page that will help improve your SEO results and ensure your target audience can find the information they need.
6. Optimize your pillar blog post for SEO
You’ve written your pillar page to be the most useful to your readers. Now what?
It’s time to optimize it for SEO.
Remember to include your target keyword throughout the page, as well as in the title and in the meta description. Using tools like Surfer SEO turns content optimization into a breeze.
Including internal and external links can also help to improve your SEO results. For example, internal links help to keep people on your website longer, while external links show that you’re an authority on your topic.
Both factors can help improve your ranking in search engines. Optimizing your pillar page for SEO can ensure that more people will see it and that it will positively impact your marketing efforts.
7. Promote your pillar blog post like crazy!
So you now have a well-optimized pillar page that provides value to your readers. You can now sit back, relax, and wait for the traffic to roll in.
Not even close! Even though you’ve written a great piece of content, people will still need to find it. You need to promote your pillar page if you want it to be successful.
There are many ways to do this. You can share it on social media, email it to your list, or even promote it with paid ads.
Another critical way to promote your stellar content is link building. By getting other websites to link to your pillar page, you’re boosting the search engine rankings.
Link building can be time-consuming, but it’s well worth the effort if you want your pillar page to succeed.
The important thing is to get the word out and make sure that as many people as possible see your pillar page.
By promoting your content, you can ensure that more people will find it and that it will positively impact your SEO results.
Common Misconceptions About Pillar Posts
Pillar posts are one of the most perplexing topics in blogging today. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding has resulted in an abundance of preconceived notions and misinformed opinions about pillar posts that can easily mislead even the savviest content creators.
But fear not! This section will dispel these misunderstandings and shed some light on this often misunderstood topic.
1. Pillar posts are just longer blogs
Contrary to what many believe, pillar posts are more than just longer blog posts. While they are typically more comprehensive and longer than a standard blog post, they differ in that they provide a deeper, more comprehensive look at a particular topic.
Unlike blog posts, which may only scratch the surface of a subject and provide minimal detail on each topic, pillar posts go into greater depth with their topic clusters, providing more comprehensive answers to questions about the subject.
2. Nobody is going to read something that long
It’s understandable when some say that long-form content gets less engagement and traffic than their shorter counterparts because of their length. But that’s not what statistics show us.
Yes, there are situations where shorter-form content makes more sense. Still, in general, most websites get most of their organic traffic from articles that run from 1000-1500 words, while some even see their most positive results from pieces of over 2000 words.
In one Brian Dean study in 2020, a test conducted on 11.8 million search results revealed that results on the first page of the SERP have 1,890 words on average.
3. Pillar posts may come off as keyword stuffing
Pillar posts can effectively improve SEO ranking, engagement, and brand recognition. Still, it’s essential to understand the difference between creating a pillar post for SEO and keyword stuffing.
While optimizing a pillar blog post for SEO is essential for getting the most out of it, keyword stuffing should be avoided at all costs.
By creating quality content that is both useful and interesting for the reader and then optimizing it to include the right keywords, you’ll be able to get your message across without compromising the integrity of your content.
In conclusion, if done correctly, pillar posts can improve SEO ranking, engagement, and brand recognition.
4. SEO is the only reason why people create pillar posts
The most famous misconception about pillar posts is that they are only useful for SEO and don’t offer other benefits.
However, creating a detailed and comprehensive resource on a particular topic can help build authority and trust with readers, increase engagement levels on your website, and improve brand recognition.
Aside from the abovementioned, pillar posts are also helpful in content marketing. Pillar posts are undeniably effective at supporting the proper implementation of a website’s content architecture.
Pillar posts can be an extremely effective way to attract new visitors and build trust with potential customers. In addition, by creating high-quality, informative content, businesses can position themselves as experts in their field and establish themselves as a go-to source for information on their industry.
Here are four of the most frequently asked questions about pillar posts.
Creating a pillar page is one of the best ways to improve your SEO results. Not only does it help you rank higher in search engines, but it also provides value to your readers. Following these simple tips, you can create a pillar page to help you achieve your marketing goals.
Brian Shelton is an entrepreneur, marketer, and life-long learner committed to helping businesses achieve impactful results. He founded Grow Predictably to provide tailored marketing strategies to generate predictable, profitable growth. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Brian has helped businesses, large and small. reach their goals and drive positive change in the world.