A Guide to Effective Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

Pillar pages and topic clusters are two powerful components of search engine optimization (SEO). Used together, they can help boost search engine rankings and generate more organic traffic for websites.

But to get the most out of these techniques, it’s important to understand how they work and how you can use them effectively.

In this article, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty details of pillar pages and topic clusters. We’ll be discussing the potential benefits they offer and some best practices for using them. Whether you’re a content marketer, SEO expert, or copywriter, you will find this guide helpful!

What Are Pillar Pages?

Pillar pages are long-form pieces of content that offer a broad explanation of a subject, allowing sub-topics, or topic clusters, to connect to it. You can think of it as your site’s central hub for related content pieces.

These pages are longer than typical blog articles because they cover all aspects of the topic you want to focus on. But they don’t go into as much detail. It is designed to quickly answer questions about a specific topic, allowing the reader to explore deeper by going to the linked articles.

What Are Topic Clusters?

Topic clusters are pages that dive deeper into the topics listed in pillar pages. Clusters are usually in the format of a blog or article. But it can also be an infographic, video, or podcast.

Each cluster should be organized around the main keyword. And more importantly, it should solve the user’s problem and provide them with the kind of content they’re looking for.

How Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters Can Boost SEO

Pillar pages and topic clusters are a powerful combination in helping streamline content, improve SEO performance, and provide better overall user experiences.

Users will see even more relevant content as they explore a website’s internal architecture. And this increases the likelihood of them engaging further with the website.

In essence, these two tactics form the bedrock of solid SEO practices. When used together, they can help businesses and their audiences tremendously. These benefits can include the following:

  • Improved Crawlability: Topic clusters and pillar pages provide search engines with a detailed overview of a website’s content. This allows them to access deeper levels more efficiently.
  • Enhanced User Experience: The structured organization of topic clusters and pillar pages provides users with a clear path through the site. And this helps them find the relevant information they are looking for more easily.
  • Increased link-building potential: Linking between pillar pages and their respective clusters helps build internal links within your website. This results in increased link popularity, improved domain authority, and organic traffic growth. 
  • Long-Term Authority Building: By creating evergreen content as part of the cluster structure, webmasters can increase their site’s authority in certain topics over time.
  • Increased Visibility on SERP: Well-crafted pillar pages and organized related content help websites rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
  • Greater scalability: When using topic clusters and pillar pages together, it’s easier to add fresh content. This is because you can further narrow topics into specific subcategories rather than tackling a large umbrella concept all at once.
A neat work table with a laptop, computer, a phone.
Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

Steps for Building a Topic Cluster and Pillar Page

Creating a topic cluster goes hand in hand with creating your pillar page. And you can accomplish this in several different ways. But the best way is to start with your audience in mind.

What do they want to know, and what kind of information do they need? Keep your content relevant and helpful to them. Here are some steps that will help you get started.

Define Your Topics

Create a list of topics that you want to be a thought leader in. This will serve as the focus of your pillar pages. Think about the big problems your target audience faces and the core issues your organization faces on a global scale. Your chosen topics should be striking, relevant, and trending in your niche.

It’s also important to think about your ideal audience when searching for your topic. Can your pillar page answer all user questions about a certain topic? And is it broad enough to inspire a lot of other sub-topics?

Brainstorm Your Subtopics

Subtopics are often overlooked, but they are pivot points in your strategy to communicate your pillar’s main topic. They provide a better understanding of the major issues and serve as a roadmap for exploring them in depth.

The best way to get started mapping is to take some time to brainstorm ideas and think about user paths. It also helps to create a visual diagram that outlines all your topics and their relationships.

For instance, if you have a pillar page about climate change, your subtopics can include sustainable development and environmental conservation.

Write Your Pillar Pages.

Once you have mapped out your content, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start writing! Before you write anything else, start with your pillar page. This will make it easier to link in your sub-topics.

A good pillar page should start by providing an overview of the topic. Include facts, figures, examples, and even statistics to illustrate your point. Be sure to provide enough detail to give your readers a complete understanding of the subject matter.

As you build up your content, create sections that provide deeper insight into each area covered. Make sure all of these sections link to the main pillar page so it’s easy for readers to navigate between them.

Write Subtopic Pages and Cluster Content.

Subtopics aren’t just themes. They are their own pages. These are similar to pillar pages but cover narrower topics.

Begin by creating an outline for each topic, including headings, subheadings, and key points. This will give you a blueprint for organizing information into digestible chunks.

When writing subtopics, don’t just repeat information from the main topic but instead add new details and insights. 

Start Linking!

Links are essential to success in this strategy. Each piece of content in the cluster must link to its subtopic page (naturally and relevantly). This hierarchy gives the pillar pages their authority on a subject.

Additionally, both pillar pages and subtopic pages will link inward. This invites users to explore the topic further and stay on your page- another way to rank high with Google.

Best Practices for Effective Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters

  • Start by auditing your page’s content and reorganizing it according to the subject. Make a post-it for each article or page you already have and see how you can rearrange them around a series of themes.
  • Keep in mind the goal of conversion when organizing your content. Makes it easy for them to navigate through your pages. Your pillar pages and clusters should make it easy for the user to land on the page and become a lead.
  • Make sure your pillar pages are longer than a regular blog post. The length of the page will depend on the type of pillar page you’re making. But generally, pillar pages should be at least 1500 words long. Be careful not to make it too long. You might end up scaring readers away!
  • Be mindful of the anchor text you’ll use for your links. Links from a cluster to pillar pages should normally include a specific keyword, while links back to a panel should be more general.
  • Include articles that make up the cluster in your index. You can put this on the sidebar or at the end of each article.
  • It is recommended that pillar pages and clusters include a straightforward, blog article-type text design. Do not use individual text blocks or dropdowns since Google cannot crawl the page and index it correctly.
  • Clusters should be clearly indicated and accessible within one click without records or forms.
  • Consider including “breadcrumbs” at the beginning of the articles, especially if you have main and secondary clusters. This will simplify navigation and keep users from getting lost.

Final Words

Pillar pages and topic clusters create an organized network of interlinking content and help optimize the user experience. This leads to better engagement and conversions while simultaneously helping search engines deliver more accurate results.

Ultimately, they bring together different strands of content into one cohesive whole. And this allows brands to demonstrate authority on any given subject and gain greater exposure online!

Co-Founder of INK, Alexander crafts magical tools for web marketing. SEO and AI expert. He is a smart creative, a builder of amazing things. He loves to study “how” and “why” humans and AI make decisions.

Quality Topic Cluster Strategy Guide (With Examples)

You may be doing all the SEO tactics correctly. Writing valuable content, top-notch technical SEO, great meta descriptions, etc. Unfortunately,…

January 31, 2023

A Guide to Effective Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

Pillar pages and topic clusters are two powerful components of search engine optimization (SEO). Used together, they can help boost search…

January 31, 2023

Clustering Ideas for Effective Writing: a Quick Guide

Writing is an art, but sometimes it can be a daunting task. Depending on the topic at hand, it can…

January 31, 2023

Exploring the Several Benefits of Topic Clusters

Are you looking for a new way to get the most out of your blog? Look no further than topic…

January 31, 2023

9 Best Keyword Clustering Tools: Basic Guide

A business needs to target specific audiences when it makes a product or service. Sometimes this means creating subcategories with…

January 31, 2023