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Pillar Page Marketing: What Is a Topic Cluster?

Friday 18 January 2019

7 minute read

By Sarah Burns

Topic clusters are a key part of the development, and foundations of, a pillar page marketing strategy.

They are designed to be a core element of content marketing toolkits everywhere as they prioritise the narrative you’re creating, allowing you to appear concise, knowledgeable and focused on a key topic (and appropriate sub-topics).

Why should this matter? It helps to prove your value as a reputable leader in your industry, one who is able to give guidance and impart wisdom - a trusted source of information. In turn, churning out valuable, relevant, fresh content will boost your ranking in the search engine results pages - Google and co. will favour you over others who are putting out sporadic content offers, often without strategy or focus.

Strategy and focus are two things that topic clusters most certainly provide.

As HubSpot’s Justin Champion says:

“If you want to create effective content that converts visitors into leads and eventually customers, you need to create a helpful, positive user experience that solves for both the searcher and the search engine, not just one or the other.”

(Source: HubSpot Academy - Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages)

How do you do this? By creating targeted clusters of content that each cover a specific core topic - these clusters will then lead to one “ultimate” hub of information, which has everything and anything you’d need to know on your topic. This is a pillar page (or content pillar).

Pillar pages are website pages that cover a broad topic in depth and is linked to from a cluster of related content (topic cluster).

Definition of a topic cluster

Topic clusters are a collection of carefully-curated, interlinked articles, videos and resources that fit around one core, umbrella topic.

How do I create a topic cluster?

Start with one key pillar page - a generalised subject matter - which will be your main “topic”. Once you’ve chosen and built this page covering the wider, generalised topic, you will support a “cluster” of supporting content - i.e. articles, webpages, resources - to showcase your extensive knowledge.

The benefits of topic clusters

This is essentially an evolution - and closing of the gap - for content marketing and SEO. In a similar way to the efforts of long-tail keywords and blogging, it's designed to better organise your content, so search engines can understand it greater and with more ease, to ensure you rank higher for relevant topics and phrases.

The anatomy of a topic cluster

Begin by deciding on your core topic, something broad, usually 2-3 words long, and that you can confidently and uniquely go into great detail about.

For example:

  • Digital marketing
  • Product design
  • 3D printing
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Pest control
  • Mens footwear
  • Household cleaning
  • Stationery supplies
  • Office furniture

This core topic will be the primary structure for your pillar page. It's the broad term you’re trying to rank for with the search engines.

From this point, identify your topic cluster, this will be several, relevant sub-topics. They can standalone from your core topic, but will also support and be relevant to your core topic too. These sub-topics should be explored in the form of blog posts or videos, for example.

For example:

  • Digital marketing: SEO; Social media
  • Vehicle maintenance: MOT tests; Vehicle upgrades; Hybrid technology
  • Office furniture: Open-plan design; Workplace culture

How do you pull them all together to work in harmony? Hyperlinks!

You should link all relevant subtopics (topic cluster content) to your core topic (pillar page) and funnel all of your traffic into further reading, so they’re more clued up and inspired to come to you to solve their problem.

How do I get started?

Work out what you most want to be found for by answering the question:

“What do we want to be famous for?”

Its this topic or key area of expertise that should be expanded using the topic cluster/pillar page approach.

Our Thriveability Plan can help you deliver the content that should be a part of that, and a buyer personas workshop can also help identify your core audience, and therefore the main priorities for content creation.

If you need more support or advice about pillar page marketing and content strategy, get in touch with our team via Live Chat, emailing hello@thriveability.co.uk or calling our team on 01325 778 786.

If you're looking to embark on a website build project, whether it's completely from scratch or a site refresh, our ebook will give you the knowledge to make your project as stress-free as possible.

The Website Design Handbook for Businesses

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