We asked 133 marketers to share the tools and processes they use to conduct an SEO content audit, then compiled the responses into this 10-point checklist.
Content Marketing | Feb 19
Elise Dopson on November 17, 2020 • 18 minute read
Most marketers know that all links are important for SEO.
(Maybe that’s why almost half of SEO experts spend equal time creating internal and external links.)
But you might be questioning whether there’s a simple way to organize your internal links in order to have a clean link structure and make it easier for Google to crawl your website.
The short answer: Yes.
Pillar and cluster pages help to organize your site’s content and make it easier for Google to crawl.
In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what a pillar page is (and how it works), along with 24 pillar page examples you can draw inspiration from when creating your own.
Before we dive in, let’s be clear on what a pillar page is.
A pillar page works as an index of a specific topic cluster. The role of a pillar page is to cover all aspects of a topic, linking out to smaller blog posts that explain each aspect in more depth. These pages, in turn, link back to the main page, creating a “link network” that helps search engines categorize a site’s content logically.
Here’s a graphic created by HubSpot to explain the relationship between a pillar page and cluster content:
Growth Hackers‘ Jonathan Aufray adds: “Many other pages and blog posts from your website will link to these pillar pages and you should work on link building as well.”
“The pillar pages also link to many of your blog posts because it’s kind of a summary of many of your articles. The content of these pillar pages should be (very) closely related to what your website is about so when visitors visit these pages, they will understand more about what you do, your services/products, value proposition, etc.”
But with pillar pages being the best resource available on a specific topic, how many do you need to see SEO success?
The majority of content marketers we polled said they had fewer than five, with 20% saying they had between 11 and 20:
For a fact, pillar pages are valuable for SEO and for helping to keep your content organized. So to get you set for the journey of creating your pillar-page, here are 3 types of pillar pages you should know about:
This type of pillar page allows you to dive deeper into a certain topic as an authority on the subject. As the name implies, this type of content is written with the aim of being 10 times better than the best performing article for specific keywords.
So if you opt for this pillar page type, you want to ensure that the content is centered around one of the problems your business solves. For example, having a pillar page for project management if you have a project management software will help you stand out and attract your ideal audience.
As a general rule, x10 content has to be:
This type of pillar page is very similar to the X10 content pillar page in terms of how comprehensive and useful the content is. The only difference is that X10 pillar pages are usually based around one of the key solutions that your business tackles while the sub-topic pillar page might not necessarily be on a topic that’s on par with what your business does.
A sub-topic pillar page should be:
This type of pillar page neatly organizes your internal and external links into sections with a short overview included, such that it becomes easy for your website visitors to find/reference them and for search engines to understand.
And unlike the traditional resource page, a resource pillar page is big on User Experience design and delivering compelling content that will make your users stick around your site longer, hence impacting page views and engagement.
Are you ready to create your first pillar page and start building strong internal links around your website?
You might not be sure where to start–which is why we asked our experts to share 21 pillar page examples you can draw inspiration from.
Take a look at their content, visuals, and titles–then pick which elements you can use when creating your own:
Leisa Godden of Animal Emergency Service, the team behind the pillar page titled The Ultimate Guide to Tick Analysis, explains: “We launched our first pillar page on tick paralysis last Friday.”
“This [topic] is particularly relevant to us as we are now in the peak of tick season and having many patients coming into us as well as inquiries about ticks in general.”
Godden continues: “We now have had just over 150 views and have started ranking in organic SEO, with an increase of organic to our site through the pillar page.”
“More so, I love this page for its results. It helped our client increase organic traffic by 53% in three weeks and increased traffic to the other blogs linked via the pillar.”
*Editor’s note: Track which keywords your pillar page is ranking for with our Improve Your Google Search Position dashboard. It has the most important SEO metrics you’ll need to determine whether your pillar page is a success:
“Not only has this helped us internally with new starters in the business, but it has also formed the basis for a lot of our pillar pages on our own website.”
Isn’t that the aim of any pillar page?
*Editor’s note: Looking for an easy way to track your SEO performance? SEMRush (Keywords and Audits) dashboard template gives you a full view of your SEO visibility as well as any errors that SERPS might face.
“Our post on Anchor Text Optimization weighs in at 11,192 words,” writes Matt Diggity explains.
That’s much longer than the average word count for a pillar page:
(This data proves a pillar page is significantly longer than the average blog post length, which weighs in at 1,000 to 1,500 words.)
Diggity continues: “It’s attracted a whopping 670 backlinks and, equally important, it’s an exhaustive display of our internal research. With this type of industry authority, we attract customers that have led to our hypergrowth.”
Anna Grimes says that The Essential Guide to B2B Tech Inbound Marketing “Is designed to educate our clients and to demonstrate that we know what we’re talking about.”
The best part? Grimes adds: “Since it launched in March 2019, it’s generated 1000 views, and has given us a big SEO boost for the keyword “B2B inbound marketing” and its variations.”
Farasat Khan, part of the team behind this pillar page, says that How to Start a WordPress Blog (& Make Extra Income) in 2020 is “The basis for the topic cluster we try to cover for our users.”
“This pillar page talks about everything related to blogging, which is further covered in-depth in separate other content pieces. These pieces link back to the original pillar page. All these pages help us achieve our business goals.”
…But how many internal links should you add from your pillar page? The majority of our content marketing pros stick to fewer than 5:
Pete McPherson on How to Start a Blog: An Illustrative Guide (for 2020): “I spent over 2 years and 120 hours on this piece of content, and it has completely transformed my business!”
“It’s one of the more competitive keywords in the digital marketing niche, and I knew it would be a long, slow grind to rank on page one of Google, (and it’s only recently hit page one)–but I’ve used a highly competitive and OVERUSED topic to do something different.”
“I deliberately made this post different (not just better) than anything else I’d seen on the topic, and it continues to get shared around social, and even via word of mouth from several of my followers.”
McPherson summarizes: “Pillar content can’t just be long. It needs to stand out and be definitive of your brand!”
John Holloway works at NoExam.com, the team behind Best Life Insurance Companies Ranked and says: “This was the first pillar page we created, and it has paved the way to getting buy-in to create even more high-quality pillar pages.”
“We’ve conducted research which is published on this page, and we’ve spent a considerable amount of time designing it and creating original content for it that our visitors find interesting.”
“We have roughly 100 pages supporting this pillar page. We update it every few weeks with additional content and research and traffic to it continues to grow,” Holloway adds.
“In my experience, the most successful pillar pages are concise and use interlinking to guide readers to more in-depth pieces,” writes Izabelle Hundrev, the author of What Is Business Development? (+How It’s Different From Sales).
“Realistically, a reader doesn’t need 2k+ words to understand the full scope of the topic. If they’re on your pillar, they want an overview.”
“Each section of a pillar page should link to a separate article covering that topic more in-depth. If the reader is intrigued, they will click through to learn more.”
Hundrev adds: “The pillar should be a concise overview of the subject. In this example, we did that exactly that. It’s one of my highest trafficked pieces and keeps readers on our site consistently.”
Think a pillar page is only good for Google rankings?
How to Build a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy for Healthcare Software pillar page proves otherwise, as Spot On‘s Alison Brunson explains: “Each of our pillar pages has a niche focus which allows us to reach our target audience and generate qualified leads.”
“We give our visitors the option to download a PDF version of the pillar page by using a popup form; they are able to take the helpful piece of content on-the-go, and we are able to capture these leads!”
“One of the main repositories of pillar content on our site is our Optimization Glossary,” Takeshi Young explains. “Glossaries are great ways to target broad, head terms on informational topics and are a great way to drive SEO traffic and build backlinks.”
Young continues: “A/B testing is one of the key features of our product, so we set out to create the most comprehensive article on the topic that we could.”
“We looked at other content that existed within the space as well as related searches in Google to see what people were searching for, and what wasn’t being answered in articles. Then we worked to create a piece of content which is the most comprehensive page on the web on the topic.”
“That article alone brings our business over 10,000 visitors a month, every month, of free, targeted traffic,” Young summarizes.
*Editor’s note: Are you unsure of how much traffic your pillar pages are driving from organic search? Don’t get overwhelmed by your Google Analytics dashboard. Simply grab our Organic Blog Traffic template and view the most important metrics–all in one place.
Anthony Martin explains why his pillar page titled 12 Best Burial and Final Expense Insurance Companies In 2021 works so well: “For starters, the page ranks highly for a variety of keywords so it drives a lot of organic traffic. It’s also frequently visited by other users who landed on the site via other landing pages from organic search.”
“As most SEO’s know, for similar keywords Google favors one big post rather than multiple smaller posts. For this reason, Google shows this post a lot of love since it handles multiple similar keywords under one post.”
Martin continues: “Due to its in-depth content, users tend to love it because it addresses virtually every question they would have. I know this because it boasts a much higher time on page compared to other non-pillar posts. In addition, it has a lower bounce rate.”
“I’m able to build an incredible amount of trust and credibility with users due to how detailed and helpful it is to the user.”
“The bottom line is this post drives a ton of traffic and converts better and generates more revenue than any other post on our site,” Martin summarizes.
“The work we do for our clients almost always begins with branding, so it made sense for us to build a pillar page and content cluster on that topic,” writes Erik Norsted, who is one of the people behind creating The Definitive Guide to Branding.
“Not surprisingly, our primary objective was to increase organic search traffic to our site from branding-related keywords, and this traffic has been steadily increasing since we launched the page earlier this year.”
“The page is also meant to be a lead-generation asset, and we’ve seen a steady stream of PDF downloads from the form at the bottom of the page and from an exit-intent pop-up module.”
Norsted adds: “Our Definitive Guide to Branding pillar page also serves as an example we use to showcase modern content marketing strategy and execution to businesses considering this approach.”
“Finally, beyond its value as a digital marketing asset and content marketing example, the page has provided our agency with an invaluable thought leadership piece that highlights our branding philosophy and methodology to prospects and existing clients looking to learn more about how we think and work.”
“My favorite pillar page is the Enterprise SEO page on the Terakeet website,” writes Jonas Sickler.
“The reason it’s so effective is that it’s incredibly comprehensive, yet at the same time structures the page in a way that keeps the reader engaged throughout.”
“For example, we start with a list of key points at the top of the page, while adding case studies, data, charts, callouts, photos and CTAs throughout the body of the page. We’ve found engagement to be strong, with 50% of the readers staying on the page for more than ten minutes, and 5.2 click-throughs of the links on the page per reader.”
Sickler adds: “The page has helped our business in that it currently ranks on Google page one and two for 81 unique keywords. In addition, the page is acting as a funnel into our case studies and deeper-level content.”
“Overall, the page provides us the opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the competition while showcasing our client success stories.”
“At SuperOffice, we were lucky enough to jump ahead of the curve when it came to publishing content on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation,” says Steven Macdonald.
“Prior to our content being published, much of the GDPR content was written by legal teams. It was difficult to read and interpret. So, we created a plan to make privacy regulation easy to understand.”
“12 months before the May 25th, 2018 deadline, we created several pieces of content on GDPR to help educate readers on what it is and how it impacts a business. Once the content was live, we then created a pillar page to guide readers to each piece and used the pillar page as our “Go to resource” on all things GDPR related.”
“With 3-4 blog posts, 1 white paper and 1 checklist to link to from the pillar page, the GDPR pillar page became a huge success,” Macdonald adds.
“In total, our GDPR related content earned over 660,000 visits and over 10,000 business leads within a 12 month period. And even now, more than a year after the deadline, our GDPR content still earns over 15,000 visits per month. All thanks to the pillar page.”
“The pillar page titled Chatbot Scripts: A Step By Step Guide (With Examples & Templates) has helped increase our traffic this year by 30% and our top of the funnel leads by 50%,” says Steve James.
“It has helped our business because it allowed us to develop a great step-by-step process for chatbot script development. This has helped position our team and our writing services as leaders on the subject, and it has helped us develop great results for clients.”
According to Faizan Ali, one of the people behind the pillar page How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting in 2020 (Compared) says “WPBeginner relies heavily on our pillar pages. Our most successful pillar page has bought us backlinks from 827 domains.”
“Because of the links our pillar pages get, our domain authority has skyrocketed over the years,” Ali continues. “Now we are known as the best free WordPress resource in the world.”
Jason Thibault says to build this pillar page, “I wrote a 3500-word soup-to-nuts post on how to build your own free stock photo library.”
“It went into detail on how to passively build backlinks with nothing more than Flickr, Creative Commons licensing, Pixsy, and a smartphone. You could have this system up and running in less than an hour.”
“The post landed me on a top SEO podcast (Experts on the Wire), was cited in top-tier publications such as Search Engine Journal and helped put my site on the map,” Thibault continues.
“The How to Build Your Own Free Stock Photo Library post also performs double duty as an example of the kind of work I can create for clients. Pillar articles build your brand, demonstrate your expertise, and when marketed properly they become backlink magnets.”
“We published the pillar page 17 Best Confirmation Email Examples & How to Set Them Up at the end of April and now in September, it’s our most visited page,” writes Mor Mester.
“Shortly after publishing this article we also wrote articles on subtopics like subscription confirmation and registration confirmation emails. And later one on order confirmation emails.”
“After publishing the post of these subtopics we interlinked them with each other to provide resources for people who want to dig deeper into a specific subtopic or get the bigger picture by checking out the pillar page.”
Mester concludes: “By writing more articles on the topic we became an authority on the topic and Google rewarded us by giving us better rankings. Also, we got 29 quality trial users who at first landed on that article.”
“Our video marketing guide pillar page has assisted in 167 new contacts and 10 customers over the last year,” writes Dan Moyle.
“It’s also increased our website viewership with more than 5,000 views on this page alone. Plus, we’re on page 1 of Google with HubSpot and Vidyard for “video marketing guide.”
Kelly Wilhelme says the team at Weirdert Group “Launched the pillar page What is Inbound Marketing for Industrials? in early 2018 and it’s helped us grow our new contacts by 26%.”
“We had been publishing blogs for over 9 years, but taking a pillar page approach to related content helped us increase traffic and leads. This page has over a 10% conversion rate, which is about five times the normal for an ungated site page of ours.”
“The exit-intent lead flow has been key to this success, as many visitors want to “take the guide with them,” Wilhelme adds.
Granted, creating your first pillar page is hard work. You’ll need to make it the best piece of content available for your topic, and scan your existing content to find internal link opportunities.
But if you draw inspiration from these pillar page examples, you’ll know exactly what to do!
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