Content Pillar Strategy for SEO

Content marketing has changed over the past few years as search engine algorithms get more intelligent about understanding content and serving it for relevant search terms. Companies used to be able to just create large amounts of content and see large results, but as search engines get smarter and smarter, site architecture and content strategy is playing a much larger role.

The goal of SEO-optimized content strategy is to optimize the content on a website by shifting to a topic cluster model, where a single “pillar” page acts as the main hub of content for an overarching topic. Multiple content pages that are related to that same topic then link back to the pillar page and to each other. 

The topic cluster model is a way of organizing a site’s content pages using a cleaner and more deliberate site architecture with a web of core topics and sub topics. This will improve SEO rankings over time as the sub topics support the core topics and improve domain authority.

Step 1: Identify Core Topics

Core topics are the main services or products that a company wants to be known for and show up in search results for. These topics are high level and substantial enough to build content around. 

Step 2: Define Sub Topics

The goal of the sub topics is to support the core topics with related information that potential customers may be interested in. All of the sub topics fall under the umbrella of the core topic, but are still unique, and can have separate content written on the subject. 

Step 3: Implement ‘Web’ of Keywords for Consistent Impact

Organize keyword topics into all SEO efforts, including:

  • Website
    • Develop or augment pages around each core topic. Reformat each core topic page to make sure it fills these requirements:
      • Core topic referenced in page title, meta description, and meta keyword
      • Core topic referenced in URL
      • Core topic referenced in H1 tag
      • Fully define the core topic on the page
      • Conversion-focused landing page elements (CTAs & forms)
    • Identify current listings of sub topics on website and add inbound links to core topic pages, as appropriate (blogs, resources, etc.)
      • All sub topics should have internal links back to the core topic so that search engines can now understand that there is a semantic relationship between the pages’ content
    • If a sub topic is not already mentioned, build copy around it by either creating new blog posts or adding information about the sub topic on an informational resource pages
    • Add a link to a high-quality external resource when applicable on each core topic and sub topic page
  • Blogging and content creation
    • Link past blogs to the corresponding sub topic or core topics page 
    • Update blogging topic guidelines to include at least 6 posts per month that speak to the sub topics or core topics
      • Blog posts with a sub topic or core topic must include link back to the corresponding page
      • Core topic and sub topics should be included verbatim in blog post meta data as applicable
  • Social media and email
    • Continue to post blogs on social media, because they are useful in creating external inbound links
    • Add 2 additional posts per month about a sub topic on Facebook and Twitter and link to the sub topic page
    • Choose blog posts that are about core topics to include in the monthly newsletter with links back to the appropriate page

Finally, make sure to track the page authority of all core pages over time. Free tools like Databox  can be used to measure the impact of a content cluster strategy in real-time by measuring the rankings, traffic, and clicks from sub topics to core topic pages.