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How to Design & Structure A Pillar Page Template.
Pillar pages are more than just a fad – they can completely transform your digital marketing strategy. Creating a single, well-crafted piece of content can improve your search engine ranking, engage your audience, establish your authority, and create a seamless user experience. And, whilst you can jump straight to writing and publishing pillar pages on your blog, it is advisable to consider the Pillar Page Design, structure and functionality before creating your first pillar page.
In this guide, we’ll break down the structure of a pillar page template and discuss how to design the template so that it becomes a viable tool for content creators.
Topics covered include:
What is a Pillar Page Template?
A pillar page template is a pre-defined layout and structure used as a framework for creating pillar pages.
A pillar page template is a pre-defined layout and structure used as a framework for creating pillar pages. Pillar page templates provide a structured foundation for creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content that benefits both readers and search engines. They promote consistency across a website’s pillar page offerings and streamline the content creation process, making it easier for content creators to produce valuable resources on various topics.
Why Do I Need a Pillar Page Template?
A pillar page template streamlines the content creation process, enhances user experience, strengthens your brand identity, and contributes to better SEO. It’s a valuable asset for content marketers looking to produce high-quality, consistent, and effective pillar pages.
A template ensures all your pillar pages have a consistent layout, design, and structure. Consistency is crucial for brand recognition and providing a uniform user experience across your content.
With a template, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel for each pillar page. You can save time by reusing the same design elements and layout, allowing you to focus more on content creation and less on formatting.
A well-designed template enhances the user experience. It makes your content more readable and accessible, improving user satisfaction and reducing bounce rates.
Templates can include SEO best practices, such as header tags, schema markup, and optimised image sizes; this helps search engines understand and rank your content more effectively.
Templates can incorporate your brand colours, fonts, and logo, reinforcing your brand identity. Consistent branding across your content builds trust and recognition among your audience.
As your content library grows, a template makes scaling your pillar page production easier. You can replicate the template for new topics, ensuring a standardised approach.
Templates often include sections for table of contents, related content links, and internal and external links. These features help organise your content and guide readers to other relevant resources.
Modern web page templates must be mobile-responsive, adapting to various screen sizes and devices; this is crucial in the mobile-first era, as Google prioritises mobile-friendly content in search rankings.
Templates can include space for tracking codes and analytics tools, making it easier to gather data and measure the performance of your pillar pages.
Templates typically have user-friendly interfaces, making it easy for content creators to add and edit content without requiring advanced coding skills. Templates can include sections for dynamic content updates and refreshes, ensuring your pillar page remains relevant and up-to-date.
What Should A Pillar Page Template Include?
At Lighthouse, we prefer to build the hero area directly into the pillar page template to ensure brand consistency. Building options into the template makes it easy for content creators to fill in, whilst ensuring they adhere to current best practices and brand guidelines. So, let’s look at the typical elements a pillar page hero area would include:
The pillar page title
Ok, obvious, I admit. But, it is essential. It must be correctly formatted for SEO, user experience, and accessibility. From a writer’s perspective, the title should be descriptive, keyword-rich (without keyword overload) and unique. From a design perspective, the title must be properly formatted with an H1 tag to maximise effectiveness.
A quick summary provides an overview of what to expect from the pillar page and helps readers understand its purpose and relevance to their needs. A quick summary should be short and easy to read at a cursory glance. Give it a paragraph tag to maintain the HTML hierarchy, but make it stand out more than a normal paragraph. Consider restricting the number of words available to fit the design.
Ok, a slightly contentious one! Do you include a published date or not? this depends on the nature of the content and your audience’s expectations. If your content is evergreen and regularly updated, it’s often better to omit the publish date to emphasise the timelessness of the information. However, if your pillar page contains news or time-sensitive information, a publish date can be essential to indicate the currency of the content.
In short, editors should have the option to include or exclude a published date when creating a pillar page. This needs to be factored into the design. You do not want to end up with a gap where the published date should be.
For SEO purposes, having a “last updated” date can signal to search engines that the content is regularly refreshed and encourage them to re-index the page more frequently. In addition, some users appreciate transparency and knowing when content was last updated. In such cases, you can include both the original publish date and the last update date.
Again, this needs to be factored into the design. For maximum flexibility include the option to show or hide both the published date and the updated date as well as either option individually.
Selecting the right featured image is crucial as it can grab the reader’s attention, leave a good first impression, and improve the overall visual appeal of a pillar page. However, it is essential to carefully consider it to prevent overcrowding and ensure the page’s performance is unaffected.
The table of contents aims to make it convenient for users to navigate your pillar page and find the information they’re looking for. Key considerations when designing pillar page chapter navigation includes:
- Choose a Clear Format: Common formats include a bulleted list, numbered list, or a combination of both.
- Hierarchy and Indentation: Typically, chapter titles are more prominent than subchapter titles. Use indentation to represent this hierarchy visually.
- Hyperlinking: Make each item in the table of contents a clickable hyperlink that directs users to the corresponding section on the page.
- Consider Placement: Decide where you want to place the table of contents. For example, the beginning of the pillar page, in a sidebar, or as a floating element that remains visible as users scroll down the page.
- Mobile-Friendly: Ensure that the table of contents is mobile-friendly. Consider using a collapsible or expandable table of contents on smaller screens to save space and maintain a clean layout.
- Visual Enhancements: Consider adding visual enhancements to the table of contents, such as icons or arrows, to indicate expandable sections or to make it more visually appealing.
You’ve grabbed the reader’s attention with your well-designed, carefully considered hero section, now it’s time to introduce the topic and get them engaged with it.
The introduction area of a pillar page is the opening section of the page that serves as an entry point for readers. It typically appears at the beginning of the page and sets the tone for the entire pillar page and helps readers decide whether they want to delve deeper into the content. It’s often the first impression readers have of your content, so it’s important to make it compelling and informative.
Depending upon the design of your pillar page, the introduction could simply be included as free text at the beginning of the main content. However, it should always be there, which is why we have included the intro it as a stand-alone area of the page. From a design perspective, common considerations include:
Word count or character limits
While there’s no fixed word count for the introduction, it should be long enough to engage the reader but not so long that it becomes overwhelming the area needs to provide some flexibility for content creators. Consider implementing a word count, to ensure an optimal length based on the overall page design.
Call to Action (CTA)
Depending on the page’s goals, editors may want to include a CTA in the introduction. This could encourage readers to explore related content, subscribe to a newsletter, or take another desired action. Provide pre-defined options for acceptable CTA usage within the introduction area.
Distinct visual style
Use a distinct visual element or formatting style to separate the introduction from the rest of the content, such as a different background colour, section heading or pre-defined font styles throughout the introduction. Make sure that the intro is easy to read, especially on smaller screens.
4. Main Content Area
Your reader is engaged! It’s time to help them learn about the topic. Use design, structure, and visual and interactive elements to persuade them to dig deeper.
The elements included in your pillar page content area will vary based on your website, content strategy, and user preferences. It’s essential to balance providing helpful information and avoiding clutter. The goal is to guide users toward additional resources, encourage engagement, and create a positive overall user experience. To facilitate this, editors should have access to the following:
Headings and subheadings
Editors need access to the normal range of formatting options, including headings, subheadings, bold and italic text, and more. Provide consistently styled, font sizes, colours and spacing for H1-H6 to allow them to structure the content effectively and make it visually appealing.
Bullet points and numbered lists
Utilise bulleted and numbered lists to present information concisely and in an easy-to-digest format. Lists help readers quickly scan for key points.
Call to action block(s)
CTAs are essential elements of Pillar Pages that guide user engagement, lead generation, content promotion, and conversion optimisation. When used effectively, they can enhance the user experience, generate leads, promote additional content, help with SEO and contribute to the success of your content marketing strategy.
Allow editors to insert images into the content quickly. Provide options for alignment, captions, alt text, and resizing.
Enable editors to embed videos from platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. Offer controls or set design restrictions for video dimensions, autoplay settings, and captions.
Create blocks specifically for infographics, where editors can upload or embed visually appealing data representations.
Chart and graph blocks
If your organisation regularly creates specific types of charts and statistical data, it’s worth considering the use of graphing engines (such as xxx) within your pillar page template. Otherwise, create a Google sheet or Canva Graph Maker template that can be embedded when displaying data-driven content.
For content that requires multiple images, provide gallery blocks that allow editors to create and display image galleries with captions or descriptions.
Quotes are available for providing social proof, establishing authority and sharable content. Make it easy to insert and format quotes from external sources or within the content. Include image, name, organisation, and links fields to be correctly attributed.
Provide access to a library of icons and the ability to customise their appearance for visual enhancement.
Divider and separator blocks
Offer options for dividers, lines, or decorative separators to break up content sections. Whilst is difficult to specify in code when and where dividers can be used, it’s worth providing guidance to avoid overuse.
Enable editors to embed content from external sources, such as social media posts, interactive maps, or third-party tools.
Accordion and toggle blocks
For content that benefits from collapsible sections, provide blocks that allow editors to create accordions or toggles. Whilst these could also be used for FAQs, we would recommend providing this as a specific feature of the Outro area so that the appropriate schema is always applied.
Document and PDF blocks
Interactive content can take a pillar page to another level regarding reader engagement. Make it possible to upload and display documents, PDF files or presentations within the content. Consider platforms like SlideShare, with its familiar interface, to make this type of embedding easier and less work to design and implement.
Pillar pages should be as multi-sensory as possible. Include blocks for embedding audio content, such as podcasts or interviews.
Tables are a must-have tool when creating pillar pages. Editors will need the option for creating and customising tables for data presentation. Ensure that tables are well formatted, include plenty of space within cells and above all are responsive.
Social media embeds
Allow editors to embed featured social media posts or feeds from social channels into the content easily. Focus on those channels your organisation is using so editors can promote them even if they are embedding content from other sources.
Content should be organised into easily manageable blocks or modules. This allows editors to reorder, add, or remove sections without disrupting the layout. For SEO purposes, editors may need content blocks designed explicitly for schema markup, which helps search engines understand the content better.
Featured snippets, also called “Google Answer Boxes,” are a type of SERP feature that may appear at the top of an organic search engine results page. Featured snippets typically include additional data, such as images, ratings, reviews, pricing information, and other structured data, making search results more appealing and informative. These enhanced search results can improve click-through rates and user engagement.
To maximise your chances of getting rich snippets displayed in search results take a look at this post: How to Optimise Search Snippets for Pillar Pages
5. The Outro (or Summary)
As your reader approaches the end of your pillar page, seize the opportunity to keep them moving forward. Leave an indelible mark and provide opportunities for engagement with your brand and meaningful connections.
Pillar page author (link or bio)
Sometimes, you may want the content to be authoritative without tying it to a specific author. For example, if your pillar page represents the collective knowledge of your team or organisation. Including an author link or bio on a pillar page can be beneficial, but it depends on your specific content strategy and goals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
From both a user perspective and an SEO perspective, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be beneficial. But, not essential. Therefore the inclusion of FAQs in the pillar page template should be optional.
From a design perspective, whether FAQs are included as a feature that can be included in the main content or built into the template is open to debate. As is the option to show both the question and answer in full or allow the reader to open and close questions via an accordion.
Either way, the FAQs feature of a pillar page should always include the FAQ ‘Schema’ and as a general rule, the question and the answer should ideally be no longer than one to three sentences each.
Comments and discussion
User-Generated Content!. Google needs it (and other search engines), and readers need it. Search engines give credence to the fact that people have read and responded to content. And, people like to see what their peers think!
Allow readers to leave comments and engage in discussions about the pillar page’s topic. Encourage interaction by responding to comments and fostering a sense of community.
6. Footer & Next Steps
Your reader is fully engaged and has reached the bottom of your pillar page. What next? Get them to take another step and keep them engaged.
Links to related topics
Provide links to related subtopic content within your website. These links should direct users to more detailed articles or resources that expand on specific aspects of the broader topic covered in the pillar page.
Include social sharing buttons that allow readers to share the pillar page on their social media profiles easily; this can help increase the visibility of your content and attract more visitors.
Offer a section that lists and links to other relevant articles or resources within your website related to the pillar page’s topic; this helps users find additional information on the subject.
Final call to action (CTA)
Include a clear and relevant CTA that encourages readers to take a specific action; this could be signing up for a newsletter, downloading a related ebook, requesting a demo, or exploring your product or service offerings.
Related resources or downloads
Offer links to downloadable resources related to the topic, such as ebooks, whitepapers, templates, or checklists – this can be especially effective for lead generation.
Back to top button
Add a “Back to Top” button or link to allow users to quickly return to the beginning of the page, especially if the pillar page is lengthy.
Pillar Page Template Design Checklist
Prioritise a clean and uncluttered design that enhances readability. Use a legible font, ample spacing, and a font size that’s comfortable for reading.
When designing a pillar page, there are several important considerations to keep in mind to ensure it is visually appealing, user-friendly, and effective in conveying information. Here are the top six design considerations for a pillar page:
1: Visual consistency
Maintain a consistent visual style throughout the pillar page, including font choices, colours, and image formatting. Consistency in design elements contributes to a polished and professional appearance.
2: Mobile responsiveness
With the increasing use of mobile devices, it’s essential to design your pillar page to be fully responsive. Ensure that the content, images, and layout adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and orientations. Google also prioritises mobile-friendly pages in its search rankings, making this design consideration crucial for SEO.
Make the content easy to read by using a clean and legible font, appropriate font size, and sufficient line spacing. Break up long paragraphs into smaller sections, use subheadings to structure the content, and employ bullet points and numbered lists to enhance readability. Consider the contrast between text and background colours to improve accessibility.
4: Make it visually appealing
Incorporate relevant visuals, such as images, infographics, charts, and videos, to enhance the visual appeal of your pillar page and support the content. Ensure that these elements are appropriately sized, optimised for web viewing, and don’t slow down page loading times. Visuals should complement the text and provide additional context or explanations.
5: Make it easy to navigate
Design an intuitive and user-friendly navigation menu that allows visitors to easily access different sections of your pillar page. Consider using a sticky menu that stays visible as users scroll down the page, making it convenient to jump to specific sections. Additionally, include internal links within the content to guide users to related topics or subpages within your site’s topic cluster.
6: Maintain branding and consistency
Reinforce your brand identity using consistent colours, fonts, and visual elements that align with your brand guidelines. A cohesive design helps build trust with your audience and creates a professional impression.
Pillar Page Template Design FAQ’s
What are pillar pages, and why do I need them?
Pillar pages are comprehensive content that serves as central hubs for a particular topic, covering it comprehensively and acting as a foundational resource for readers and search engines. A well-designed pillar page template provides consistency and streamlines the content creation process.
Check out our Ultimate Guide To Pillar Pages for a full breakdown.
What skills do you need to design and build a pillar page template?
Designing and building a pillar page template requires combining the technical skills of a developer and the creative skills of a UI/UX designer. While it’s possible for a single individual to possess all these skills, often, a team approach is more practical, with specialists in design, development, content, and SEO collaborating to create an effective pillar page template.
We lack the in-house skills to create a pillar page template. What are my options?
If you lack the in-house skills to design and build a pillar page template, there are several options available to you, including; hiring an agency (er hmm, like Lighthouse), using website building platforms, template marketplaces, Freelancers, training or upskilling.
What can I do if I don’t have the budget to design and build a pillar page template?
While a custom-designed pillar page template are beneficial, it’s possible to create effective pillar content with limited resources by taking advantage of existing tools and repurposing content. Prioritise the quality and relevance of your content, as this is as critical as the design itself. Explore DIY website builders like Hubspot’s Free CRM. While these may have limitations, they can be sufficient for creating basic pillar pages.
As a final note…
I hope this guide has helped you understand how important pillar pages are for search engine rankings, engaging your audience, establishing authority, and enhancing the user experience.
A pillar page template streamlines the content creation process, ensures consistency in design and layout, and contributes to better SEO practices.
When designing a pillar page template, prioritise factors like visual consistency, mobile responsiveness, readability, visual appeal, easy navigation, and brand consistency.
Whether you have in-house skills or need to explore external options, having a well-structured pillar page template is essential for creating pillar content that drives results and effectively communicates your brand’s message to your target audience.
Chief Tea Boy | Lighthouse
The driving force behind all online projects. Mike is a digital consultant and Entrepreneur ready to help Membership Organisations
Topic(s): Pillar Pages