You already know “having a website” isn’t enough.
You need a website people actually find.
Once they find it, they need to stick around a while.
For most businesses, the introduction to your brand happens when someone types in a search query that’s a close match to your blog content. Word-for-word queries users type in search are known as keywords. They’re the backbone of discoverability.
Until recently, words and phrases on a page of your website needed to be a near-exact match to what a user typed if you wanted to rank in search. Search engine optimization is about determining what search keywords you can create exceptional content for, then competing to rank that content.
Although just about everything to do with digital marketing has changed over time, keywords have been persistent. As long as search engines strive to curate the best information, they’ll need ways of knowing what a page is about. Until AI can really “read” (not even close today) that means keywords.
Still, there’s a big way AI is already changing search engine optimization.
Look Closely and You Can See Google Gathering More Information on Search Intent
There’s always been some leeway when it comes to keywords – an exact phrase match refers to a keyword with all the given words in the same order, while a broad match can put words in any order. But now, machine learning means Google can recognize related topics and use entirely different words.
You see this in action if you use autocomplete suggestions on your own Google searches.
Type in words most searchers don’t, and Google offers a streamlined version of your query. The suggested search means the same thing – it’s just the wording more people chose. When you click one of these suggestions, you verify the relationship between what you were thinking and what others wrote.
Google is learning those relationships fast.
Another example is the related to recent searches suggestions. These come up after you’ve made a few searches related to one topic in a single session. When your cursor is resting on the search box, you can see suggestions alongside Google’s trending searches for that moment.
That’s another way Big G is building up a complex web of interrelated topics.
We call that web topic clusters – to use them for SEO, you need pillar pages.
What Is a Pillar Page?
A pillar page centralizes a wide range of content related to a theme, not just a single keyword.
A hobbyist website could have a pillar page about drones with links, videos, and articles on drone racing, drone photography, and drone repairs, three related themes. Up until recently, each one of these would be covered within a single article that would stand on its own and aim to rank for a single keyword.
The problem: Single-keyword blogs tend to be superficial, aren’t that useful to their intended audience, and they’re making it harder to find the information searchers want. Plus, they’re competing for a tiny fraction of search traffic instead of the whole pie. They’re traditional, but not great strategically.
A pillar page can cover many topics and be as big as a dozen blogs. With the right technical SEO, such a hefty volume still loads quickly. Helpful navigational aids keep things manageable. From a search engine optimization perspective, high word count equips pillar pages to rank higher.
What we’re describing is one way to implement a pillar page. There are plenty of marketing agencies experimenting with the best approach. Early signs are positive – not just for brands like yours, but for the people you serve. There are three reasons everyone is excited about pillar pages:
1. Pillar Pages Might Just Fix One of the Worst Things About the Internet
The need for keyword-focused content has created a cottage industry of freelance writers that, to put it mildly, could use improvement. In many cases, freelance writing online is a race to the bottom. It harms writers and the companies they work for. You just can’t get good content for two cents a word – period.
Sadly, that fact hasn’t stopped half the companies on Earth from trying. The result is crappy content that crowds search results with vague, repetitious nonsense. Add tools like ChatGPT to the mix and truly fact-free content is on the rise … and it’s about as useful and appealing as week-old Overnight Oats.
Pillar pages are an opportunity for a major reset. Brands wanting a real commitment to quality can make their mark without worrying they missed the chance because they haven’t spent years cranking out 400-word blog posts like so much Play-Doh through the mold. This is a new game and a fresh start.
2. A Well-Written Pillar Page Will Distinguish You from the Competition
With a pillar page, you’ll have the opportunity to show off the breadth and depth of your expertise. No two companies will tackle that challenge in exactly the same way, even if they look similar in a head-to-head matchup. This makes it easier than ever to tailor your content to your exact audience.
Pillar pages deliver opportunities for creativity and differentiation that individual blog posts can’t match. If a blog post is a single piece of the puzzle, a pillar page is closer to being a bird’s-eye view of the whole. Yet, each pillar page can be distinctive enough to capture interest from specific groups of users.
For instance, there’s not a lot of ingenuity involved in the keyword phrase “homes for sale in Houston TX.” Up until now, however, thousands of real estate agents and brokers have had to fight for it. With pillar pages, they can appeal to segments like first-time homeowners or ultra-luxury buyers while still maintaining the local focus that makes the “near me effect” so powerful.
3. Pillar Pages Have the Potential to Capture Huge Amounts of Search Traffic
Average blog posts duke it out for anywhere from about 100 to 3,000 searches per month. Keywords that offer more traffic than that are generally individual words – ranking for them may be a years-long process. Inherent in this is the idea that most people will look at multiple search results, not just one. They’re comparing you to others as if you don’t have anything unique or special to say.
Each pillar page, on the other hand, has the potential to rank for 5,000+ searches per month because it incorporates a wide variety of ideas, all of which correspond to a constellation of relevant topics. If you can rank for any of the keywords within this network of topics, you can bring people to your content. In doing so, you showcase truly unique, valuable materials unlike anything else others have available.
Pillar pages call for a new way of thinking, but it’s worth it. Professional blog writers, graphic designers, and search engine optimization experts help you make the most of it. Contact New York Ave to get the right team in your corner.