In 2017, HubSpot published a popular article explaining the magic of pillar pages. Since then, brands have been clamoring to fit this content type into their strategies — even if they don’t always understand what they are or how they work.
After all, in a time when algorithms change by the nanosecond and search engines are more saturated than ever, any chance to stand out and earn more traffic seems like a worthwhile endeavor.
But why are pillar pages so effective? And how can you make sure your pillar content yields the results you want (instead of putting time and effort into a bunch of resources that go nowhere)?
To help, here’s a quick breakdown of the concept, how to drive success and three pillar page examples to get you inspired.
While the term “pillar page” has only surfaced within the past couple of years, the concept is nothing new. (In fact, in 2007, Copyblogger published an article about what founder Brian Clark called “cornerstone content” — which is basically the same thing.)
Essentially, a pillar page is an in-depth piece of ungated content that covers all aspects of a given topic — a topical linchpin that unites your “cluster content,” or blog posts and articles that deep dive into elements of that topic.
For example, let’s say you run content marketing for an organization that provides cybersecurity software for small to mid-size businesses.
You know you want to rank for the term “small business cybersecurity,” so you create a pillar page titled, “The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Cybersecurity.” This meaty piece of content covers everything from the sorts of threats small businesses face to common mistakes companies make and proactive measures that reduce risk.
Within your pillar page, you can link to relevant articles that dive deeper into more specific concepts. For example, you might link to posts like, “9 Malware Attacks that Target SMBs” or “How to Protect Your Connected Devices From Hackers.” Each time you publish a new relevant piece, you should link back to that pillar page.
In other words, like the pillar of a building, your pillar page serves as foundational support for a key topic about which your brand has significant expertise.
The No. 1 reason to create pillar pages is that they help your audience browse your site and quickly locate and consume the information they need.
The second purpose, and likely the reason you’re here, is that this content type offers tremendous SEO benefits.
As you already know, there’s a ton of content online. Much of it is mediocre or poor quality, but search engines want to serve the highest quality and most relevant results to their users. And the simpler you make it for search engines (and human beings) to crawl your site, the better you’ll be rewarded.
Pillar pages help you organize your content into logical flows with sensical hyperlinks and a clear hierarchy. Furthermore, a combination of lengthy, well-written and comprehensive pieces linked to shorter, more narrowly focused articles shows search engines you’re a subject matter expert.
So what sets a great pillar page apart from an unsuccessful one?
Here are the five elements you need to include:
Here are three examples of pillar pages that exemplify the elements above:
While pillar pages may seem like a simple concept, they pack a powerful punch — simultaneously improving your SEO results as well as your site’s content experience. By using the above tips and examples to guide your strategy, you can create effective pillar pages that satisfy search engines and keep your audience engaged.