B2B tech marketers, you play a crucial role in the growth of your company. And, your task is a challenging one: Increase your company’s search engine rankings, educate buyers about your technical products or solutions in a way that is easy to understand yet adequately communicates the benefits of those solutions, while generating and converting leads.
That’s a tall order when you consider the cutthroat competition for top spots in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
There is a B2B content marketing strategy that helps technical marketers solve their biggest challenges, if done right – Pillar Pages.
Table of Contents
What is a Pillar Page?
A pillar page is a website page that serves as the hub of content on a particular topic. It covers the subject comprehensively, answering common questions, and educating readers so they can make an informed decision to engage further with your company.
Pillar pages are the foundation on which marketing content is organized on a website.
“A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.” – Sophia Bernazzani, HubSpot
Think of a pillar page as an ungated resource page, or guide, that is built for SEO, driving traffic, and building trust.
It’s helpful to visualize pillar pages and related blog posts as illustrated in the content cluster below. Each topic in the center is a content pillar, and blog posts that dive deeper into related topics are hyperlinked to the pillar page.
Why are Pillar Pages Important?
Pillar pages serve as the foundation of a solid topic-based SEO strategy. They help build topical authority, and therefore trust, with your buyers. After reading the pillar page, your buyer should come away with an understanding of “how does this solve my problem” and “what’s in it for me?”
“The goal of the pillar page isn’t just traffic. It’s to educate somebody and push them further down the buyer’s journey so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not to do business with your business.” – Ryan Shelley, Chief Growth Officer and Founder of SMA Marketing
As a consequence of building topical authority, a pillar page covers the topic in enough depth to help Google understand what the web page is about and how it answers search queries. The benefit for readers is that pillar pages help them find the information they are searching for on your site.
But, it’s not just the page content that’s important. A few things are going on behind the scenes that are essential to the success of a pillar page. Going back to the definition of a pillar page, note that blog posts on relevant topics hyperlink back to the pillar page. Internal links, and inbound links from external websites to your pillar page, give Google additional signals about the authority of the pillar page, which is a crucial ranking factor.
SEO Benefits of Pillar Pages
Pillar pages support your SEO strategy by giving structure and focus to your website, which helps build domain authority through the interlinking of content.
When pillar pages and their corresponding blog posts are organized using a link structure that ties them together, they create a web of content that helps B2B tech marketers achieve their SEO goals, including:
- An increase in search engine rankings
- Opportunity to appear in the SERP featured snippet
- A foundation for internal linking strategy
- High-quality backlinks
Increase in SERP Rankings
Pillar page/cluster topic organization helps Google understand what the page is about. Comprehensive pillar pages cover the topic broadly, but with enough detail to answer searchers’ high-level search queries. Content that Google deems best answers a searcher’s intent will be served up in search results.
SERP Featured Snippet
To help searchers find the information they are looking for quickly, Google often places answers, in the form of a Featured Snippet, at the top of the SERP. When Google determines that information on a web page answers a user’s specific question, it may use that part of the web page as the Featured Snippet.
So, when constructing your pillar pages, be sure you are answering users’ frequently asked questions in a format that Google favors. Moz has a great webinar and article about featured snippets that explain what they are and how to snag that coveted spot in the SERP.
Here’s an example. When you search for “What is Sales Proposal Software”, the featured snippet is G2’s answer from their Proposal Software page.
This spot on the SERP is where B2B tech marketers want their content to appear as it shows topical authority and helps users find the information they are searching for related to their products and solutions.
Internal Linking Strategy
The interlinking of your pillar page and blog articles pillar pages creates an intricate web which Google uses to determine how relevant your content is to the searcher’s query. The easier you make it for Google to understand your content, the better.
When your potential buyers land on your pillar page, you want them to quickly grasp that it serves their needs. The internal links, both from the pillar page to the blog articles, and vice versa, make it easier for your reader to navigate your site and find the information that will help them make a buying decision.
Keeping users on your website longer by providing them the information they need, while engaging them further into your content, lowers your bounce rate and has a positive impact on your rankings.
High-quality content naturally garners backlinks. Blog authors want to link to authoritative content within their articles. It helps establish the authority of their own piece. Comprehensive content that ranks high in search and has a high page authority, is desirable for external linking.
Additionally, when performing link outreach, you will get a better response to requests for links if you suggest a website links to a high-quality piece of content such as your pillar page. Pillar content is typically informational and educational rather than promotional, so it’s perceived as helpful to the reader rather than self-serving. QuickSprout lists Guides (a version of pillar page) as one of the types of content that attract the most backlinks, as does Search Engine Journal.
How Pillar Pages Support Inbound Marketing and SEO
Pillar pages attract buyers to your website when they are in the awareness and consideration stages of their buyer’s journey. Being highly visible in the SERPs, they draw website visitors who are looking for answers related to your category of product or solution. Through your pillar page, you have an opportunity to lead them further into your content through blog posts, downloads, videos, and demos, which will help them during the decision stage.
How to Write Pillar Content
Write your pillar content to your reader as if you are speaking directly to them, answering their questions, and guiding them through the many facets of the topic. Write deeply and comprehensively about the subject, but leave out details you will cover in sub-topic blogs.
Start with a strong introduction that includes a definition of the topic so the reader instantly knows what they will be learning. This exercises good SEO best practice as well since it helps Google understand what the page is about.
Increase your chance of snagging the featured snippet by placing the definition at the beginning of the page and numbering the sections of your page.
Format the page in small content sections broken up by H tag headings, images, infographics, and quotes to add visual interest. Include plenty of white space so readers don’t grow fatigued reading large blocks of text. Use bullets to condense information into easy-to-read lists.
While there is no rule about the length of pillar pages, they are typically considered long-form content. Aim for at least 2000 words to cover the subject thoroughly.
For B2B tech marketers, it may be tempting to use a pillar page to focus on the technical features of a product, but the focus should be on the users’ needs and the benefits of the solution or product. Start by doing research, developing a buyer persona, and then creating a list of pillar page topics and cluster blog topics to stay focused and organized.
10 Best Practices for Pillar Pages
Pillar pages are often a starting point for your website visitors. Make it easy for them to engage with your content and lead them to take the next step by following these best practices:
- Know your target audience and what they are searching for. Use keyword research to determine each pillar page and cluster blog topics. And, match the pillar content to the search intent of the topic you are covering.
- Use on-page SEO best practices, including keyword-targeted title and URL, H tags, and image alt-text.
- Link keyword anchor text to cluster topic blog articles and, likewise, from relevant blog content to the pillar page.
- Include relevant, high-quality external links to help Google understand your content and increase search rankings.
- Make navigation to pillar pages easy for visitors by including them in menus at the top and bottom of the website.
- Offer a downloadable version at the top of the page so visitors can save the pillar content and read it later. Also, use an exit-intent pop up after they have scrolled or dwelled on the page, so they have the opportunity to download the page as a pdf before they leave your site.
- Use a hyperlinked table of contents so readers can jump to sections that interest them most. Make the table of contents sticky so it’s viewable at all times; using a floating sidebar works well.
- Use visuals to break up text, illustrate key information, and engage readers.
- Unlike a landing page, on a pillar page, you want to include main website navigation so readers can continue their journey on your website.
- Include CTAs throughout the page for readers who are scanning the content and want to engage by downloading a resource, viewing a demo video, or taking a quiz.
B2B tech marketing is not easy. You must communicate technical information that can be confusing and difficult for most readers. Pillar pages will help you meet this challenge by laying out your content in a way that helps readers (and Google) easily grasp your products and solutions while building trust and topical authority.
Developing an effective content strategy and building pillar pages for your site can be a daunting process. The content marketing strategists at SMA Marketing are here to help you rise to the challenge, using proven SEO and inbound marketing best practices that will help you reach your target audience. Contact us today for a consultation.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated.