To no one’s surprise, change continues to be the only constant with SEO. As human search behaviors evolve, search engines continue to adapt too. And so past content marketing strategies — such as writing website content to rank for long-tail keywords — must now be replaced with new approach that includes “content pillars.”
The continuing development of the Internet of Things and rise in voice technologies — such as Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Echo — have made search queries longer and more conversational. Additionally, the excessive amount of content being produced today is creating a quality over quantity issue, and people are submitting longer and more detailed searches in order to get what they’re looking for faster. People are also becoming master skimmers, and relying on headers of blog posts to get answers to their questions.
As a result, Google changed its algorithm, yet again, to better deliver information based on how people search. These changes include:
As a result, you now must optimize your content strategy to address the gaps that could prevent Google from delivering your information in searches. Below, we’ve outlined a method of reorganizing your website to deliver content pages on overarching topics, with subsequent blog posts written about specific keywords that address as many queries about that specific subject as possible.
Content pillars fall under a new SEO technique called the topic cluster model. Up until this point, we have worked to create blog posts that rank for specific keywords. Content pillars, on the other hand, cover the overarching themes behind many of the articles, videos, infographics, etc., that exist on a blog.
A content pillar leads with one strong, in-depth piece of content on a topic that you want to rank for in search. Then you must create many smaller pieces of content that link back to each other and the original long-form article. This method helps search engines link together relevant pieces of content, while allowing visitors to your site to find information more easily.
Picture your content pillar being the trunk of a tree, with many relevant blog posts and conversations branching out. You can fill your site with as many trees as you’d like in your content marketing strategy, as long as each tree (content pillar) is relevant to your brand and addresses the needs of your consumer.
Pillar pages cover broad topics that allow for all of the content underneath to address specific keywords related to the overall topic. The pillar page should consist of an introduction and broad overview of that topic on a single page, linking out to blog posts that cover these topics more specifically. Pillar pages are long, but not detailed. Your pillar page should answer general questions about the particular topic, leaving room for more detailed explanations to be given in subsequent blog posts.
For example, you could create a pillar page titled, “Social Media Marketing 101.” Then, one of your pieces of cluster content could be specifically about starting an Instagram account for your business, which is a more specific subject within social media.
To create pillar pages, start thinking about the overarching topics you want to rank for, instead of keywords. Then, use keywords to brainstorm a long list of all of the specific ideas you could cover in blog posts under the overarching topic. Think of pillar pages as an FAQ for that particular subject matter. They should answer the general questions someone may have about your topic, then provide links out to more specific pieces of blog content.
As a result of following the content pillar model, search engines will label your page as an authority on these particular topics. For example, check out HubSpot’s Global Head of Growth and SEO Matthew Barby. His content pillar page on customer acquisition strategies gives a nicely designed overview of the broader topic, while using CTAs to link to specific tools and topics throughout the page.
If you’re confused, don’t worry. Continue following along as we develop content pillars and cluster content for the Keyhole Marketing site over the next few months.