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12 Tips for Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

Updated: 23/03/2024

Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages has emerged as a strategic approach to enhance online visibility and engage target audiences effectively. This innovative content strategy moves beyond traditional keyword-centric SEO practices to align content creation with user intent and deliver valuable information to web users.

Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages can be highly effective. Still, there are common pitfalls and mistakes that marketers often make. Here are some tips and tricks to stop you falling into the same trap:

1: Decide on the Goal Before you Start

Before embarking on the creation of a topic cluster, it’s paramount to establish a clear and specific goal for this cornerstone content. Whether your aim is to generate leads, provide valuable education to your audience, or enhance your brand’s authority in a particular niche, defining your purpose sets the foundation for a successful content strategy. Having a well-defined goal not only guides the content creation process but also ensures that the resulting pillar page aligns seamlessly with your overarching business objectives. By deciding on your goal from the outset, you can tailor your content, structure, and calls-to-action to effectively achieve the desired outcome, ultimately maximising the impact and value of your pillar page and topic cluster.

2: Perform Keyword Research Based on User Intent

Conducting keyword research based on their behaviour is essential to create content for your target audience. When researching keywords for cluster content, remember that it differs from traditional SEO keyword research. The same applies to keyword research for a pillar page, as it requires a unique approach. Align your keyword usage with your user’s search intent, and prioritise head terms for your pillar pages and long-tail terms for your cluster content.

3: Don’t Include Too Many Subtopics in One Pillar Page

Maintain a thoughtful and coherent structure by providing an appropriate level of detail within the pillar page’s scope. If a subtopic demands a more in-depth exploration, creating a separate, dedicated content piece that comprehensively delves into the subject is advisable. In short, keep your pillar page focused and user-friendly.

4: Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Marketers often make the error of using too many keywords in their content. This is called “keyword stuffing,” where irrelevant and out-of-context keywords, subheadings, meta descriptions, and other areas are added to the page. Ensuring that your keywords are naturally integrated into the piece is vital. Keyword stuffing can negatively affect your ranking and decrease the value of your content to your audience. Long-tail keywords can help reduce the impact of keyword stuffing and maintain the flow of your article.

5: Include Clear Calls-To-Action (CTAs)

CTAs assist users in navigating the network of your site’s content. A strategically placed CTA motivates users to explore your brand’s website more, ultimately increasing the likelihood of finding satisfying content. Additionally, including a clear CTA that directs users back to the pillar page after reading each piece of cluster content helps keep them engaged and informed.

6: Connect Pillars and Subtopics With Hyperlinks

Many studies have demonstrated that interlinking content leads to better performance in search results. To improve your results, make sure to link all of your topic clusters and pillar pages to each subtopic that is covered directly beneath them.

7: Promote Your Pillar Pages and Posts

Prioritise the promotion of your pillar page as the foundation of the topic. This page should receive most of your promotion efforts and be the focus of your link-building strategy. A successful pillar page will naturally attract external backlinks as it gains authority and ranks higher in search results. However, it can also be helpful to actively promote it on other sites. The more traffic and authority your pillar page has, the more successful your site will be across all top-level topics.

Read more about this: How to promote pillar pages.

8: Ensure Content is Strong Enough to Stand Alone in Search

Your subtopics and cluster content pages must be high quality to achieve a high ranking. You can generate organic clicks by delivering quality content. Quality content is the only way to achieve a high ranking. Therefore, consider each piece as a standalone post. When you connect these with other elements under the same topic, they will support each other.

9: Optimise or Remove Underperforming Pages

When creating topic clusters and pillar pages, the focus should be quality rather than quantity. If your website has a lot of content that could be improved, developing a content optimisation strategy is crucial. Pages are not performing well, but sharing keywords with your new, clustered content can decrease the search volume of successful content. To improve older content, use a framework to update and enhance it, and consider removing any outdated content that is no longer relevant to your brand.

10: Update Existing Content

Organising your pages into topic clusters and pillar pages is essential. Especially if you plan to structure all new content using topic clusters. Don’t leave existing pages in a conventional structure. Where possible, convert your existing content into topic clusters and pillar pages.

If your site is well established, there is a good chance that you already have enough content to form multiple clusters or even a pillar page. Look through your existing site, create clusters, establish central pillars, and start linking them internally.

11: Don’t Neglect User Experience 

Using a cluttered design, small font sizes, or poor readability on your pillar page is a sure way to see it fail to perform. Prioritise a clean, mobile-responsive design with legible fonts and ample white space. Make use of visuals and formatting to enhance readability.

Read more about this: How to design and structure a pillar page template.

12: Monitor Performance and Make Data-Driven Decisions 

From the beginning, set up analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track traffic, user behaviour, and keyword rankings. The aim is to understand which content resonates with your audience, pinpoint the keywords that drive the most traffic and adapt to shifts in user behaviour. Use the data collected to refine your strategy and continuously enhance the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.

Chief Tea Boy and Marketeer

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