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How Do Pillar Pages Work?

Pillar pages are coming, and they have the potential to transform the way you attract search traffic.

Traffic that reaches a website when someone clicks on a search result is called organic traffic. Strong organic traffic is useful to just about everyone. Unlike online advertising, you don’t need to continue investing thousands or even millions of dollars in it month after month to see results.

How well a given page ranks in search results depends on whether people find that content interesting or useful. Up until recently, that has been touted as the reason why good content is the great equalizer: Even if you don’t have a big advertising budget, you can still get plenty of eyes on amazing content.

But it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

Content rises or falls according to the number of backlinks, links from other websites to a given page. In effect, each link to a website is seen as an editorial vote. In ye olden days, there were thousands of folks all over the world with their own home pages, and the backlinks they created mattered.

As social media has taken over the function of old-fashioned home pages, there are fewer and fewer websites out there to cast those “editorial votes.” They are far more likely to be competitors of yours. And that’s only half the issue. The other half is this: Most online content kind of sucks.

To maximize their chances of getting backlinks, most websites have taken a keyword-focused approach using individual blog posts. They’ll learn what search query brings traffic in their industry, write blogs of about 300 words each, and hope some of them garner enough attention to rank.

Over time, this has clogged search results with junk. The average short blog is useless and boring.

And in most cases, they’re not even original.

Plenty of websites use amateur writers to copy whatever the results in the top positions say. When one of those sources is wrong, it gets amplified over and over until everyone cites it without thinking. Plus, it becomes nearly impossible to find accurate information from a fresh perspective.

Pillar pages are about to change all that forever.

Pillar Pages Are Set to Make the Internet Useful Again

A pillar page is the opposite of a short blog in every way.

As the name suggests, a pillar page is a main page that serves as a repository for all your best content on a particular topic. Rather than having a tight focus on singular keywords, a pillar page is the showcase of all your expert knowledge on a topic you know is important to your readers.

A pillar page also has huge relevance in the world of search engine optimization.

Research has repeatedly confirmed that the #1 result in any given search is most likely 1,400 words or more. Unfortunately, many would-be internet superstars have taken the wrong message from this. If you search for the value of pi today, you’re just as likely to get a 25-page dissertation on the history of mathematics going back to Archimedes. (But good luck sifting through it for the fact you wanted.)

The way to get around this trap – and keep from ticking off your visitors – is to mine a subject for the wealth of valuable insights only you can offer. That means going beyond strict keyword matches and looking for related subjects, a task that becomes easier when you know your audience inside and out.

With a pillar page, you can satisfy your audience and Google’s ever-evolving search algorithm.

Now, let’s answer the big question: How do pillar pages work?

The Anatomy of Pillar Pages for Amazing Search Engine Optimization

In the coming years, we’re sure to see a shift in website design. Instead of going straight to your blog to learn what you have to say on a potpourri of subjects, users will swing by your pillar page. Not every bit of content will be focused on a keyword, but reading one article will naturally lead to another.

What exactly makes a pillar page a pillar page? Let’s take a look:

1. A Large Volume of Helpful, Informative Content on One Page

A pillar page is big: 2,400 words is the gold standard. The content makes judicious use of one keyword – something pertinent to your audience that pulls a worthwhile amount of monthly search traffic. By making the pillar page big and meaty, you can ensure Google pays more attention to it, including when you add to or update it in the future. A pillar page is a work in progress that reflects your knowledge.

2. High-Quality Short Reads with Carefully Chosen Focus Keywords

Within your 2,400-word pillar page are many chances for a user to take a deep dive into a more specific aspect of the subject that’s most valuable to them at the moment. This is implemented in the form of a “topic cluster” that can cover other keywords aligned to specific kinds of users.

Every topic cluster includes five blog posts with up to 600 words each. Each of those blogs marks a distinct opportunity to not only captivate Google but help your reader make connections between diverse ideas. A page for drones, for example, might include topic clusters on drone racing and aerial photography.

3. An Industry-Leading Approach to Cross-Linking Content

Linking to one piece of content from another piece on the same website is called cross-linking and it can be the secret sauce for amplifying a page’s search position. All the content in the topic clusters will link to and from the pillar page. Clusters also link to one another as appropriate. Cross-linking works best when it takes into account the search engine optimization of each page, its keywords, and traffic.

No Matter Your Current Website Design, You Can Benefit from Pillar Pages

Pillar pages may seem like a big deal – and they are. But your current website design can use them.

True, your website design could benefit from a refresh if it’s five years old or older. But even if you can’t commit to tear-down and rebuild, hiring a marketing agency will help you make the most of pillar pages.

It’s crucial to ensure your website’s typography is clear and crisp, making it as easy as possible to read a substantial amount of text. Likewise, you should embrace a responsive design where images and menus re-orient so they’re easy to navigate on a smartphone, tablet, refrigerator, or whatever comes next.

You’ll also benefit from using other website design best practices like speeding up your load times with image compression and lazy loading. That said, the biggest challenge most brands are sure to have with pillar pages is real quality content. That’s where our expert blog writers and website designers come in.

New York Ave is pioneering the modern pillar page. Our method produces proven results – and your business can be among the first in your industry to benefit. Contact us to find out more or get started.

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