Pillar pages, or web pages that go in-depth on a particular topic, are increasingly common. Not only are they a great way to position your organization as an expert on a subject, but they also provide readers with a lot of information and present numerous opportunities for search engine optimization (SEO). But pillar pages can feel daunting to write, considering their length and breadth of information. Here’s how to tackle one.
1. Select your keywords.
“Pillar pages (also known as cornerstone content or pillar content) should offer readers in-depth coverage of what your site, service or product is about,” says Rebecca Kimber, an SEO consultant we’ve worked with. “An important aspect of SEO is demonstrating E-A-T (expertise, authority and trustworthiness), so your pillar page is a great place to show off your expertise.”
If SEO is part of your pillar page strategy, start by dialing in which keywords you’re aiming to rank for. And be sure to research the questions people are searching for that involve your keywords. Pillar pages are an excellent way to answer numerous questions folks have on a particular topic, which is a great way to improve SEO.
2. Write an outline.
Outlines are helpful for organizing any type of content but are especially important when writing long-form pieces, such as a pillar page. Refer to your keywords and decide what it is you’ll cover on your page. Arrange your thoughts in an outline, making sure to answer the questions readers have about your topic.
If you intend to do a series of pillar pages on various topics, give some consideration now to a standardized format. Perhaps a traditional who/what/when/where/why format would work for your content. Or a problem/solution/outcome format or a series of FAQs. Whatever it is, creating a templated approach will save you time in the long run. And readers who engage with multiple pillar pages on your site will know how to navigate the content.
3. Do your research.
Using your outline, scan your existing content library for any materials you may be able to repurpose on your pillar page or link off to. Then pull in other source materials to reference. Identify areas where you’ll need a subject matter expert to weigh in. Then, schedule your interviews.
4. Get to writing.
Once you have everything mapped out and your research is complete, it’s time to write, write, write (and write some more). Pillar pages traditionally clock in around 1,400 to 2,000 words. However, your word count should be content driven. If you don’t have enough content to support 1,400 words, then consider broadening your subject area. Likewise, if your page is nearing the 3,000-word mark, you’ll probably want to consider narrowing your topic or splitting it into multiple pillar pages.
The most important element to include when writing content for a pillar page is effective display copy (i.e., H2s, subheads, etc.). Use them liberally and make them descriptive so readers can quickly find the information they’re looking for when scrolling.
Lastly, don’t forget a call to action — or three. Even if your pillar page’s main purpose is SEO, don’t pass up the opportunity to link to additional content on your site, encourage newsletter subscriptions or even direct readers to a sales channel. As long as you don’t overdo it, there’s little risk of annoying readers with a few calls to action on a page that gives them the information they’ve come for.
Pillar page checklist
What does it take to write a pillar page that performs? Be sure to do these things:
- Pick the keywords you want to rank for.
- Choose a format you’ll be able to apply to future pillar pages.
- Create an outline that addresses all the questions your readers want answers to.
- Pull in content from your existing library.
- Research additional information.
- Interview subject matter experts to fill in any blanks.
- Write, write, write, aiming for 1,400 to 2,000 words.