Your Guide To Pillar Content And Topic Clusters

Search engine algorithms are in a constant state of evolution and are becoming more ‘human’ in the way they understand and respond. 

This is largely due to the way humans are now using search.

We are getting more specific and conversational in our search queries, especially with the increased use of voice search. 

Learn more about topic clusters and pillar content by reading on. 

So, What’s This Really All About?

We aren’t simply querying “shoes”? But, “White shoes with pink stripes” would be more likely, and we demand that search engines understand our long-tail keyword searches (4 or more words in a search).

Not only do search engines now understand long-tail searches, but they’re also more proficient at bringing up results specifically relating to the user’s inquiry. 

What does all of that information mean to copywriters, content marketers, SEO teams, and the like? 

It’s our mission to make sure the content we provide our users takes into account every possible angle they would 

a) Use in a search 

b) Have questions they want answered

Our user’s search is becoming more specific, and it’s our job to keep up with it in order to provide the most meaningful content.

We do this by creating pillar content around topic clusters. 

Read: How To Write A Blog Post Built To Convert

What Topic Clusters and Pillar Content Pages Mean

Topic clusters are all types of narrower topics relating to a larger-or primary- topic–your pillar content. 

Each subtopic (topic cluster) is covered in great detail. For example, your broad topic is “cameras”. Each topic cluster would be related to anything about cameras. Your content calendar would have ideas to keep you busy for days with subjects around camera lenses, focus, posing, lighting, etc. 

The goal is to have posts relating to every single topic your target audience would care about as it relates to your pillar content, “cameras”.

Each of those blog posts would link to each other, and also link to the pillar content topic page. 

Your pillar pages are going to be extremely in-depth and detailed. It will link to all the topic cluster articles, which you’ll link to and from this very long-form article.  

Long story short, your pillar page is the wheel, and the topic clusters are the spokes. And they work together to increase traffic to your site through SEO. 

The Benefits Of Pillar Content

Once upon a time, pillar content had a different name. It was called cornerstone content. But somewhere along the way, the term changed. That’s fine, they’re one and the same, with the same type of benefits. 

Pillar content helps with: 

  • Longer page dwell time
  • Shorter website bounce rate
  • Social shares and backlinks
  • Evergreen content
  • Search engines like pillar content
  • Increasing website traffic
  • Higher quality content establishes thought leadership
  • Did we mention, it’s great SEO?!

How To Create Those Pieces Of Pillar Content

Whatever niche or industry you’re in, chances are you have, at the very least, a general idea of your target customer persona. But, you have no idea how to create this the content we’re talking about. 

Here is an outline look at how it all works: 

  • Figure out the topic you want to rank for
  • Determine the keywords you’ll focus on
  • Create your pillar content page
  • Write your outline–your H2s are super important here
  • Find gaps in your topic and write about those
  • The content can be as long as 16,000+ words
  • Each H2 section should be as long as it takes to fully cover that particular topic
  • Edit for flow, grammar, spelling, and layout
  • Have your web designer come up with a stellar template

Read: Organic Content Is Your Kingdom

What To Do With It When It’s Done

When it comes down to it, the main purpose of pillar content is how it can be used. Think about it. You have created this huge document that fully covers a topic. Once it’s completed, there are so many different ways to generate more content from that once piece that it’s ridiculous. 

If you follow Gary V, you know he’s a huge believer in pillar content. He shared a deck listing all the different ways to use that one article. 

Here are some examples of ways to use your pillar content:

  • Pull out different sentences or paragraphs and share them on your social channel. Always link to the full article. 
  • Create images with a quote from the article
  • Make a downloadable ebook
  • Link future and past blogs to applicable areas 
  • Create newsletters
  • Make a slide deck
  • Design an infographic
  • Write a video script
  • Remarketing ads
  • Answer questions on sites like Quora and link back to the main article
  • Try influencer marketing, reach out to your connections to ask them to share across their social platforms

This Article Is Not Pillar Content

At all. We noticed all these super detailed, in-depth breakdown articles about pillar content. So, we decided to break the mold and explain the topic in shorter terms. 

Hopefully, this simplifies the process and helps you with your pillar content strategy.