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Strategy for creating effective B2B pillar pages

Content clusters and pillar pages for B2B enterprises

Content clusters and pillar pages for B2B enterprises.

What are pillar pages?

A few years ago I wrote a blog post explaining what are pillar pages: What are topic clusters and pillar pages? And how to use them to improve your SEO.

Moz recently published a whiteboard update titled A step-by-step strategy for B2B pillar pages.

Why pillar pages for B2B?

There is greater competition in B2B. Pillar pages increase your stickiness as there a greater number of topics to explore.

Your B2B customers and clients need to process more information before they can decide to do business with you because the stakes are higher.

Pillar pages constructed with the help of topic clusters prove that you have enough knowledge about your field.

Not just pillar pages, B2B customers and clients prefer to read white papers, case studies and even e-books. The more content you can provide them, the better it is for your business.

The whiteboard from Moz update is primarily focused at helping you improve your search engine rankings to creating B2B pillar pages.

Obviously, it involves studying your keywords and creating a proper URL structure.

As I always tell my clients, when it comes to researching keywords for your business, don’t think in terms of what or how you think of your business; think in terms of how your prospective customers and clients think of your business.

Address their concerns. For that, you need to understand their language. What words do they use when you talk about your business? This becomes the basis of your keywords.

Now that I have read the script of the whiteboard, it doesn’t contain lots of good information. Anyway, I will try to cover some topics.

Making more sense of topic clusters and pillar pages

Although these days I have been repeatedly writing posts on why I prefer smaller blog posts, when it comes to improving your search engine rankings, pillar pages hefted by topic clusters definitely have an advantage over smaller, standalone blog posts and web pages.

In fact, topic clusters are exactly multiple short blog posts that are a part of a bigger pillar page.

Pillar pages are used to improve your search engine rankings for a broader topic. You choose a topic that may have 10-15 subtopics.

You cover all these 10-15 subtopics in individual blog posts – this forms your topic cluster. You can interlink these topic list of pages or blog posts.

Then you have a pillar page, or a pillar blog post that links to all these cluster links.

You can create a pillar page by writing small intros about all these 10-15 subtopics and then link to them.

What is the benefit of creating topic clusters and pillar pages?

The benefit is multifaceted. In terms of creating content, it is easier to create a topic cluster because you can publish individual blog posts and web pages on smaller topics.

Managing the flow is easier when you write and publish segmented content. It’s like writing smaller chapters of a book. Every blog post belonging to the topic cluster can be around 400-800 words, which are easier to write.

You can create the pillar page or the pillar post in the beginning and then keep updating it with new intros and your links. It can be an evolutionary exercise. Don’t rush over it. Take your time.

Pillar pages and their related topic clusters improve your search engine rankings in the long run.

How to create topic clusters and pillar pages for B2B enterprise?

Pillar pages and topic clusters are mostly related with improving search engine rankings, but they shouldn’t just be created for that. Pillar pages and topic clusters, especially when you write them for your B2B enterprise, also increase engagement and conversion.

They help you establish your authority. So, don’t just try to cram as many keywords as possible into your topic clusters and pillar pages. Have a plan to create a knowledge base. Here are a few things you can do to create effective topic clusters and pillar pages for your B2B enterprise:

Use a main pillar page topic

This could be something like “Step-by-step guide to creating a B2B content marketing strategy”.

It is obvious that this topic needs to cover a broad range of subtopics such as digital marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, PPC campaigning, multiple format content publishing, quality content writing, creating a publishing calendar, and others.

The broad topic doesn’t have to be exactly the keyword you want to optimize for. In the above topic, maybe you want to optimize for “B2B content marketing services”. But, such a topic may not attract enough traffic and besides, it might be quite difficult if other businesses have already created content clusters around this topic.

You will need to be creative. A pillar page topic shouldn’t be something that you must come up with in a hurry. Spend some time. Brainstorm. Do keyword research. Then create a topic that would attract people to your content cluster.

Create smaller posts containing your keywords

Within your B2B content marketing, there are many subtopics such as B2B digital marketing, or B2B email marketing, or B2B search engine optimization, and such. Write and publish individual blog posts on these topics and then link to them from your main pillar page.

Creating a pillar page or a content cluster may be a long-term undertaking

This is going to be a comprehensive project. Don’t be in any hurry. It is like building a structure that is going to generate business for you for years to come.

Do enough research. Write quality content. Deliver maximum quality. Don’t try to exploit some sort of search engine vulnerability by creating random content on chosen keywords.

Remember that your bounce rate can affect your search engine rankings. Bounce rate depends on how people interact with your content. Keep this in mind. Writing and publishing inferior quality content will be counter-productive.

Well, I intended to write a short blog post with just an intro to the Moz whiteboard update. But then, when I started writing, I noticed that the whiteboard doesn’t have enough information and it is a simple regurgitation of often-repeated topics. Hence, I ended up writing more words than I had initially intended.

Nice analysis of how Grammarly attracts 41.46M monthly visitors with content marketing

Grammarly content marketing strategy

Grammarly content marketing strategy

I just checked my old email inbox that I used to use around 2010. In 2011, they were just in the process of launching Grammarly and one of their representatives had filled up my contact form inviting me to write a review for their writing tool in exchange for a three-month Grammarly subscription.

Through the email thread it isn’t clear whether I actually wrote the review or not – in a couple of years I had to take down my old website because another website had completely hijacked my content and due to that, my search engine rankings had dropped to 0.

I don’t have much problem with grammar and I’m not their ideal customer, nonetheless, a few times I have tried to use their service but have always found it a bit expensive, especially for my limited needs.

But that’s another story.

Here is a nice analysis of how Grammarly uses content marketing to attract 41.46 million monthly visitors to its website. The writer of this blog post says that Grammarly uses strategically connected content clusters.

What are content clusters? It is the grouping of multiple web pages and blog posts under one primary topic.

So, you create a blog post briefly explaining the main topic, and then for all the related subtopics you write separate blog posts and then link to those blog posts from the main blog post.

Why content clusters help?

Content clusters are good for conversion rate as well as search engine rankings.

Why content clusters are good for conversion rate?

Around 50% B2B buyers prefer to read 3-5 content pieces before they make a buying decision. Normally they read a blog post or a web page. Then they navigate to another website. Then you again make an effort to bring them back to your website. This goes on multiple times. Most of the times they lose the track.

When you create a content cluster, they are immediately exposed to all the relevant content pieces. Whatever they need to read before deciding, it’s right in front of them. You don’t have to get them to your website multiple times, wasting your own time and resources.

Why content clusters are good for your SEO?

Google evaluates your rankings on the basis of the relevance and comprehensiveness of your content as well as the way people react to your content. When you create content clusters you already create comprehensive content.

If people find your link on Google, go to your website and then leave your website to carry on with the search, Google assumes they didn’t find the information they were looking for and hence you shouldn’t be ranking for the search term used. Your ranking for that keyword or search term is lowered.

Conversely, upon finding your link on Google, when people click it, go to your website and then spend some time exploring your website and going through additional links, Google assumes that your website contains relevant information and consequently, improves your rankings for that keyword or search term

Coming back to Grammarly…

The SaaS company knows that it is a service for writers or people who take their writing seriously whether they are scholars, writers or business persons. Consequently, there is lots of written content on their blog. The above-linked blog post says that Grammarly has 2100 content pieces on its blog.

On second thought, 2100 content pieces isn’t much for a company with a valuation of 100-US$ 500 million (source), but still, it is enough content to make it into a content marketing powerhouse, especially when the content pieces are strategically grouped together in the form of logical content clusters.

What are topic clusters and pillar pages and how they improve your SEO?

What are topic clusters and pillar pages

Neil Patel has published a nice blog post on the concept of creating pillar pages, improving their SEO and in the process improving the overall SEO of your website.

In the beginning of the blog post he has also referred to an older Hubspot post that explains in detail how they have been able to help one of their clients improve their search engine ranking for their chosen keyword through a pillar page in particular and topic clusters in general. I had come across this Hubspot blog post a couple of months ago and had been wanting to write about it but somehow, lost the thread while trying to handle other topics on my blog and website.

The Hubspot blog post explains why creating topic clusters are important due to the way people use search queries these days.

Content marketers and search engine optimization experts believe that, due to the complexity and quantity of content available on the web, search engine users don’t use single-word queries. An average query these days consists of 4-5 words.

One reason is, as mentioned above, there is plenty of useless content available on the web and hence, users want to make sure that they give the search engine as much information as possible to zero-in on the right search results.

After all, as this blog post suggests, if you run a query on Google, you may come across billions of search results. But frankly, not many people go beyond the second or the third search results page unless he or she is doing some really important research and there is no other option but to scour through as many search results as possible.

The point is, if you are competing with “billions of search results”, you need to do something exceptional, something that is not possible for most of the people to achieve, to move your rankings to the first page or at least the second page.

The second reason is that more and more people are using voice to search, mostly on their mobile phones. So, when people speak into their mobile phones, they mostly use phrases, day-to-day expressions, to carry out the search instead of single keywords. Something like, “find the best barber near me” or “where is the nearest eating joint selling vegan food”.

I have written multiple times on my blog that writing to improve your SEO is just one aspect of content publishing and content writing. The other aspect is, writing for your ideal persona. The search engines will be ranking your content, but it will be the human beings who will be reading it and then basing their decisions on how they react to your content.

Creating and maintaining topic clusters allows you to gather relevant and interrelated bits of information around a single source and hence, increase the subject-authority of your website or blog.

What are topic clusters?

A cluster means, a sort of a grouping. It’s coming together of different components of an environment or a topic. The same applies to topic clusters.

Topic cluster and pillar page explained

Google is constantly looking for authoritative, specialized content. It wants its users to be able to find as much information as possible through a single source, through a single link. For this, Google wants to showcase authority content.

How does it know that you have “authoritative, specialized” content?

One way of finding that out is, of course when your content is being referred to and responded to by lots of people on the Internet in general and social networking websites in particular.

But when it comes to on-site SEO, it means having lots of good quality content around your chosen topic.

Let’s take an example of my website. Suppose I want to increase my search engine rankings for the keyword or key phrase “SEO content writing services“.

The normal route would be creating lots of web pages and blog posts on my website including the search term “SEO content writing services” – I’m still using this method and I need to explore the concept of creating topic clusters more. I will share my progress on this later.

So, I will create lots of blog posts and articles talking about the various aspects of SEO content writing including

  • What is SEO content writing
  • Why SEO content writing is important
  • SEO content writing doesn’t mean low quality content
  • How to write SEO content
  • How to target different markets with SEO content
  • How does Google deal with your SEO content
  • What type of SEO content writing services I provide
  • How I can help you improve your SEO with my content
  • What is my SEO content writing methodology
  • How much I charge for my SEO content writing services

The list can go on and on.

The problem with the traditional method is that all the blog posts, articles and web pages that you create around your chosen keyword or search term are isolated and scattered. They’re not connected with each other. They’re not part of a cluster. The search engines will crawl them and index them as separate entities.

This sort of content arrangement gets lost in all the hubbub that fills up the Internet.

This sort of content management worked previously because there wasn’t lots of content on the Internet and not many businesses were using content marketing to promote their businesses. Now that content marketing has gone mainstream every business and individual want to use it and hence, your content authority needs to stand out. This you can achieve by creating content clusters, or topic clusters.

The important components of a topic cluster are

  • The web page containing an introduction to the main topic, in my case that would be “SEO content writing services”
  • A cluster of blog posts and webpages – on my website as well as on other websites like Medium, Quora and LinkedIn – that lead to the main web page and to each other

Hence, it becomes a cluster.

What is a pillar page?

A pillar page is the main web page to which every other web page, blog post and article links. This is the web page or blog post you want to optimize.

As explained above in the topic cluster section, pillar page exists at the center of your topic cluster. It is the main topic you want to cover. Everything else links to it and it links to everything else. It becomes an Oracle of knowledge about the topic or the search term.

How does creating topic clusters and pillar pages improve your search engine rankings?

Search engines like Google are constantly looking for authority content. They want to provide high-quality information to search engine users.

Since search is becoming very complex Google prefers sources that are packed with very useful and relevant information.

The information doesn’t just have to be useful and relevant, it also needs to be arranged in such a manner that it is easier to consume and understand.

Modular information is easier to consume and understand.

When you create topic clusters you create lots of content pieces and then join them around your pillar page. Your pillar page becomes a sort of a hub for all the information relevant to that particular topic.

Creating topic clusters solves two purposes:

  • It makes you write/create/gather lots of information around a single topic covering every possible subtopic
  • It makes it easier for users to navigate through the entire spectrum of the topic through hyperlinks

This further boosts your SEO.

Since all the pages and blog posts are interconnected, even if a single link gets an SEO boost it has a trickle-down effect on all the connected links.

Also, since lots of web pages, blog posts and articles – on your website and outside of your website – are connecting to your pillar page, Google begins to think that it is a very important page about your chosen topic and hence, begins to improve its search engine rankings.