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How does pillar-based marketing help SEO?

The way the world searches for information online has changed drastically over the years, and competition is increasingly fierce.

According to recent estimates, a staggering 7.5 million blog posts are published every single day in 2023 –– that’s over 5,200 new blogs hitting the content stratosphere every minute. With such an overwhelming volume, it’s no wonder everyone is fighting tooth and nail to capture audiences’ attention.

But, there’s another spanner in the works: Google algorithms. These all-important mechanisms are constantly evolving, managing the massive influx of new content produced every day to sort the wheat from the chaff and help users find what they’re really looking for.

So how can marketers, creators, and content leads pierce through the noise? Well, pillar marketing is a good place to start.

As a powerful content marketing strategy, pillar marketing helps you create engaging content and attempt to crack the Google code. Not only that, but it leads users back to your domain, enables you to establish your content as the authority, and boosts your chances of getting to the top of the SERP.

Without further ado, let’s dive in and explore the power of pillar marketing. We’ll also discuss how to create pillar and cluster content, how to become a primary resource, and how to attract and retain your target customers.

TL;DR

  • Pillar marketing is a content marketing strategy that involves creating interlinking pillar pages, sub-pillar pages, and blog posts around a certain topic.
  • Many refer to pillar marketing as “the hub and spoke method”, or “content clusters”. These ideas are essentially the same, providing a structure to organize content and boost visibility.
  • Pillar based marketing is easy to do and brings a breadth of benefits, including search engine optimization, streamlined content creation processes, and audience trust.
  • Anyone building a content marketing strategy should read Google’s EEAT guidelines and ensure their content ticks as many boxes as possible.
  • Overall, pillar marketing is currently hailed to be one of the best ways to get your content to stand out on search engines, attract and retain target audiences, and drive business success.

What is pillar based marketing?

Pillar based marketing, or pillar marketing, is a relatively new term on the scene but here’s what it means:

Pillar marketing defined

Pillar marketing, or pillar based marketing, is an advanced content marketing strategy that covers a broad topic through several pieces of content to optimize visibility on search engines. 

As such, you might visualize pillar marketing as an architectural exercise: constructing a building (a broad topic) by producing and assembling a sturdy structure of pillars (content). As with any building, you would need different shapes and sizes to meet different needs: from laying the foundations to constructing the framework to carving out individual rooms. More on those varying pillar types later.

Other common content marketing terms

There are several more expressions flying around the concept of pillar marketing. Let’s cover them:

StrategyConcept Description
Pillar Based Marketing
Also known as “the hub & spoke method” and “content clusters”
A network of comprehensive content and resources that vary in size: large pillar pages on broad topics; medium sub-pillar pages on specific topics; and blog posts on niches.
10x Content10x Content is content that is at least ten times better than anything else online for the same topic, created to place higher in search engine results.
Skyscraper ContentContent that is more comprehensive and useful than anything else that is currently available online for a particular keyword or niche.

Pillar pages and clusters: how to break down your content

Of all of the terms explained above, let’s examine pillar marketing’s closest blood relation: hub and spoke, or content clusters. All of these methods are trying to create networks of pages that interlink, branch off into various topics, and place higher on search engines to boost engagement.

Here’s a breakdown of what each of those pages looks like and what purpose they serve:

  • Pillar pages: The most comprehensive page in the strategy, pillar pages provide high-level information on a particular topic and seek to become a primary resource for their target audience.
  • Sub-pillar pages: These are medium-sized pages that branch off from the main pillar page on a related topic. The information on these pages may be more about a sub-section or category within the primary pillar.
  • Blog posts: Easy to read and practical, these pages dive into specific questions that usually answer a long-tail keyword query.

But remember, each one of your pillar pages must be reinforced with links leading to and fro, allowing your readers to explore all areas of your content cluster.

Examples

“So,” you might be thinking, “pillar marketing and content clusters are basically the same thing?” 

Wizeo‘s answer: pretty much. In our view, a pillar page is much the same as a “hub” in “hub and spoke”. It serves as the foundation of a content cluster, with multiple pages linked together to provide a thorough exploration of a given topic.

Take Wizeo’s content about thought leadership, for example. The main page, our Complete Guide to Thought Leadership, is the broadest and most comprehensive source of information:

Screenshot of Wizeo's pillar page on thought leadership

Meanwhile, it links out to other pages that cover more niche topics, such as Thought Leadership Dos and Don’ts and Examples of Thought Leadership:

Screenshot of Wizeo's article on setting up a thought leadership strategy
Screenshot of Wizeo's blog post about thought leadership content examples

The bottom line

While some experts are adamant that pillar marketing and content clusters are two entirely different concepts, what’s important is what you seek to achieve. 

The structure of a content cluster on thought leadership content on Wizeo's website with The Complete Guide to Thought Leadership Content as the pillar page

No matter what you choose to call your strategy, prioritize covering the topic in a way that is organized and accessible to readers. Rather than trying to cram all of your information onto a single page, a content cluster approach allows you to break down your topic into smaller, more manageable sections.

By connecting these pages with internal links, you can signal to search engines that they’re all part of a cohesive whole and that each page should be taken into account when evaluating the relevance of your content. The outcome? Google will see a highly-structured network of your website pages, which ultimately boosts your topical and domain authority.

Why did pillar based marketing become so popular?

The short answer: because modern problems require modern solutions. As content competition increases and search engine algorithms become increasingly complex, businesses need an effective strategy to get themselves heard.

And the long answer is …

It helps establish authority

With thousands of words on one specific topic under your belt and the SEO keywords woven in, content pillars tell search engines that you are an expert in that subject matter. But remember: there is more to this than just word count!

It attracts backlinks

With comprehensive and authoritative content like yours, other websites will likely cite you as a source in their content, including hyperlinks that send readers over to your website. This helps boost your domain authority, improve your search engine rankings, and increase your visibility.

It streamlines content creation

Having a strategy is always a good thing, particularly for businesses or individuals with limited resources or time. By focusing on a single topic and creating branches of related subtopics, a pillar content marketing strategy can be much easier to plan and execute than creating multiple individual pieces of content at random.

It offers real value

Keeping highly detailed information in one place encourages users to stay on your site for longer or keep coming back to refer to it. In turn, this fosters trust among your audience, increased engagement, and loyalty.

Pillar content and EEAT – what’s the connection? 

Everybody knows that to get your page seen, it’s crucial to place well in Google search results. It’s the largest and most popular search engine in the world, with 80% market share.

The good news is that Google was kind enough to share some guidelines on how to get in their good books: EEAT, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT). If done right, your pillar page and content clusters should satisfy these requirements.

Screenshot of Google's EEAT guidelines from "Search Quality Rater Guidelines: An Overview

Therefore, creating a comprehensive content cluster that covers all aspects of a topic and attracts backlinks can help improve the page’s EEAT and increase its chances of ranking well on Google.

In a nutshell

The internet can be an intimidating place for content creators, managers, and marketers, as it gets more saturated by the day. Staying ahead of the game is crucial, and the solution lies in understanding Google’s algorithms and creating comprehensive content that sets you apart.

Pillar marketing is a powerful strategy for achieving just that. Whether you call it pillar marketing or content clusters, the key is to cut through the noise and reach readers with well-organized and accessible information. Create pillar pages and clusters that interlink, and you’ll establish your content as the industry authority, funnel traffic to your website, and drive awareness and success.

FAQs

  1. What is a content pillar?

    A content pillar is a brief topic that you focus your content around. Just like pillars hold up a building, content pillars hold up a wider content marketing strategy of several pages that link together.
  2. How do you create pillar and cluster content?

    As with any marketing strategy, you should start by identifying your target audience’s needs. What problems are they trying to solve, and how might you help them with your expertise?

    Choose a couple of broad topics, known as pillars, and turn them into comprehensive pillar pages featuring everything-you-need-to-know type content. From there, you can branch off into subtopics with cluster content that links back to the pillar page and optimizes your performance in search engines.

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