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What are pillar pages, and how do they boost search engine rankings?

Do you need a pillar page? If you want to support your website visitors and boost your Google rankings, pillar pages are definitely something to consider. Pillar pages are a way of organizing content on your website to (1) make it easy for visitors to find high-value information on a specific topic, and (2) improve your search engine rankings. 

Let’s look at how pillar pages support each of these audiences and objectives

For website visitors – pillar pages serve as a central hub of information on a specific topic. For a solar panel manufacturer, for example, a pillar page could focus the benefits of solar power, the technology itself, and relevant local government subsidy programs. Or an IT company could offer a pillar page on the benefits and process of switching a business to the cloud. By pulling all related information together, the pillar page acts as an easy one-stop shop for people interested in learning more about the specific topic.

If you’d like to see this in action, check out our pillar page on marketing for healthcare. We created this comprehensive guide for healthcare marketers, covering key issues and marketing strategies. The page features seven articles, and users can view the complete content on a single long-form page (ungated), or download it as a (gated) PDF ebook.

For search engines – Google’s algorithms recognize the clustering of information on a certain topic, and will rank the pillar page higher. The algorithms also recognize the number and structure of hyperlinks in the pillar page and linked content (we’ll cover the importance of these hyperlinks in more detail below.)

Types of pillar pages

There are two main types of pillar pages: a resource page, and a 10x content page. (The term ‘10x content,’ created by SEO expert and tech entrepreneur Rand Fishkin, means content that performs 10 times better than the content that it ranks above.)

A resource page is simply a list of content sources and links, including both your owned content and external sites, that you provide as a helpful resource. (While this is nice to do for your website visitors, it doesn’t help to position your organization as an expert source, or improve your search engine rankings.)

In this blogpost, we focus on the 10X content type of pillar page, which features your owned content and links, and which will give your rankings a significant boost.

How to create a pillar page

First, choose your core topic. What topic do you want to rank for? With our healthcare marketing pillar page, for example, we wanted to rank for ‘healthcare marketing.’

Choose your subtopics. These should be standalone topics that support the core topic. From a content perspective, a pillar page should include six or more articles that relate to your selected topic. For example, our pillar page on marketing for the energy sector offers articles on these six subtopics:

  • Content marketing for companies in the energy sector
  • Customer reference marketing
  • How to shift to a more agile marketing approach
  • Use lead scoring to evaluate your leads
  • How to avoid greenwashing
  • What to do if public opinion turns against you

These all work as standalone topics, but when they’re combined they offer more value to readers (and demonstrate our expertise to Google).

How to design your pillar page

Pillar pages typically follow a specific format, with all content on a single long page, with lots of ‘Back to Top’ buttons throughout:


1. Brief intro
2. Form to fill out for the PDF version (usually called a ‘Guide’ or ‘Ebook’)
3. Table of contents
4. Articles, on a single long scrolling page


The page itself should be ungated, but the idea is that your visitors will find the information of enough value that they’ll want to take a PDF copy with them, and will give you their email address in exchange. According to research by HubSpot, 90% of visitors prefer to view the content as a PDF, once they have determined that it provides them with sufficient value.

Hyperlinks

Google looks for relevant links to help determine the value (and ranking) of your content. Use external links to support claims and data points, and include a list (with links) of your sources. Link your subtopic articles to your pillar page. Make sure to link to your pillar page from other pages on your website, i.e. ‘If you’re looking for more info on this topic, check out our guide to [title/link to your pillar page].’ Promote your pillar page via social media, and make it easy to find on your homepage too.

At Living Stone, we’ve created pillar pages for our customers on a wide range of topics. We can help you choose the core topic that will resonate with your audiences, and develop your subtopics, re-purposing content that you already have, or creating brand new content to support your pillar page. If you’d like to get started with a pillar page for your organization, contact us at +32 55 591 007 (or email at anne-mie.vansteelant@livingstone.eu) to set up a meeting or a phone call..

Anne-Mie Vansteelant
Anne-Mie Vansteelant
COO | Managing Partner at Living Stone

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