For many years, inbound marketing and SEO techniques have been centred on certain keywords. However, user behaviour and the way search engines operate are continuously evolving. As a result, we must reconsider how we structure our content. Individual pages arranged around a single keyword will no longer suffice in this “new era”; instead, focus on pillar sites and topic clusters with links between them. What is important now is correctly structuring the content according to topic areas rather than one specific term.
Keyword-based techniques often employ one- or two-word search keywords. However, according to HubSpot, 64% of searches now contain four or more terms. Searches are becoming longer and more conversational, aiming to obtain extremely detailed information. This is attributable, in part, to the rise of voice searches. Today, due to Siri and Google Assistant, voice searches account for 20% of all Google smartphone searches. However, that is not the only reason.
Another thing to bear in mind is that people currently have access to a lot of content, and quantity usually trumps quality. As a result, people do more extensive searches to better filter the results and obtain the information they require faster.
Google’s algorithms are continually developing to offer the most relevant results to user searches. For example, Google can now evaluate a search based on its general meaning rather than individual phrases, and it uses artificial learning algorithms to comprehend specific terms better. As a result, Google gives the most accurate information available in response to a search, even if the keyword does not exactly correlate to what the user has searched for. This means that inbound marketers must generate content centred on needs rather than keywords. That is why the new strategy is built on developing articles on long tail keywords that are connected and revolve around a single hub, allowing us to cover as many searches as possible around a particular topic.
The idea is to employ a topic cluster model to help people discover the information they are looking for on our website and to help search engines index us appropriately. Choose the themes you want to rank then generate content based on keywords linked to the topics and connect them. This structure comprises three major components: pillar pages, clusters, and links.
A pillar page is a long-form piece of content that provides a comprehensive overview of a specific topic, allowing additional sub-topics or topic clusters to link back to it. Pillar pages summarise all the important points of the topic on a single page. You can write more in-depth blog entries or articles on specific topics and link them to the pillar page. Pillar pages discuss a topic in general, whereas cluster material delves further into related themes. For instance, you could create a pillar page on content marketing and a cluster of blog material. You may even go further and establish supplementary clusters, such as a guest blogging article or another about choosing the best images for your blog.
Pillar pages are lengthier than regular blog entries because they contain all parts of the issue for which you wish to position yourself, but they are less detailed. The pillar page provides a short answer to a specific topic’s inquiries, allowing you to delve deeper into the connected article.
The pages that support your pillar page are known as Topic Clusters. They go into great detail about secondary keywords and long-tail keyword subtopics. Topic clusters are subtopics that are powerful enough to stand on their own (e.g., a blog post or a video) but share a common relationship with the pillar topic and can be clustered together with another subtopic content to help convey a story. Connecting these pages improves the user experience by making it easier for visitors to access similar-themed information— and what pleases people pleases Google! From a search engine standpoint, this is a highly valuable strategy. Search engine bots read the information in the same way that humans do, and they detect the links between all these similarly subject pages.
Pillar pages can look very different depending on the theme, and there is plenty of potential for creativity. But, to give you an idea, below are the three most regularly used pillar pages according to HubSpot.
- Page 10 of Pillar: This is the most complex and time-consuming pillar page. Most of the content on a pillar page 10x is self-created; it would be the equivalent of a downloadable Ebook. Because they are long pages, they usually include internal navigation menus.
- Resources on the pillar page: These pillar pages are simpler and focus on internal and external linkages. Each section should include some text, but the main goal is to present the reader with the most relevant links on a certain topic.
- Subtopic pillar page: This form of a pillar page is for those of us who want to position ourselves as experts but are not directly tied to the problem the organisation is tackling. It does not feature the site’s main navigation menu since we want the user to focus on reading without being distracted.
Topic clusters are pages that go deeper into the themes discussed on pillar pages. Clusters are typically written as blog posts, but they can also take the form of an infographic, a video, or even a podcast. Each cluster is typically grouped around the core term, but the most crucial aspect is that it truly answers the user’s problems and provides useful material.
Content marketing does not end when you hit the publish button. Its success is dependent on distribution. Distribute your pillar content pages via newsletters, social media, or any other means available.