What Are Content Pillars and Why Do They Matter for SEO?

content pillarsSEO is changing once more.

With the presence of semantic searches, there’s been a huge change in the way that people optimize their web pages internally.

Instead of ranking for keywords, as we would in the past, many people are finding themselves a bit confused.

If the terms “content pillars” and “content cluster” don’t mean anything to you, then perhaps it’s time that you start to learn about the future of white hat SEO. Read on and we’ll show you how to keep your rankings up through page organization.

Content Organization

The internal organization of your content is becoming more and more important for SEO.

Indeed, irrelevant internal links are now finding themselves actively penalized when it comes time for search engines to decide where you’re going.

Instead, SEO experts are recommending that you begin organizing your topics into clusters. Using topics for SEO instead of keywords is the way to go.

Content Pillars

Pillar pages cover the various parts of a topic. They should be long and built in an in-depth manner, providing something of a mountain effect for your content.

Think of a pillar page as the top of the mountain.

If you’re working with a topic such as mountain biking, for instance, your pillar page will briefly cover a ton of different topics. The types of mountain biking, different bikes available, different variables, maybe touching on what you need on the trail.

This is your pillar page. It covers the entire topic.

Unlike a skyscraper article, however, it won’t be going super in-depth with each of the subtopics. Instead, you’ll use your internal linking structure to place the more-in-depth comment on other posts or pages.

Cluster Content

Cluster content is comprised of the various subtopics underneath your pillar page.

While the pillar content holds everything up, it doesn’t necessarily need to bring up every aspect of the topic on the same page.

Instead, each smaller piece of cluster content is responsible for holding its own. It will allow your users, or at least those who came in from the content pillar, to find the information they need if they’re looking for something more in-depth.

Continuing from the above example we might, for mountain biking, have clusters of content about say… cross country biking, downhill, trail riding, and extreme mountain biking.

We might also have links to the various types of safety gear required for the sport, such as gloves, helmets, and chest protection.

Your cluster content should be as in-depth as possible… and linked to from your content pillar.


The entire structure of a page can be built in this way. Even if you don’t necessarily have all of the content in place yet which you’ll be linking to from the pillar page.

Your content pillars should be large enough to outstand most blog posts.

But keep in mind that there’s a difference between skyscraper content and content pillars.

Essentially: a skyscraper article is likely to have all of the information which you would place into an individual cluster in the structure held up by your content pillar.

Meanwhile, a content pillar provides a brief overview with relevant internal links for those who wish to explore the topic further while remaining on their page.

Remember to keep quality up, no matter how you go about things. Hurting your reputation during a site restructure isn’t going to help matters at all.

Creating Pillar Content

It’s not entirely time to forget keywords just yet.

That day may well come but it doesn’t yet seem to be on the horizon. You need to change the way you think about them, however.

Instead, when you’re creating a content pillar you’re not going to want to target a low volume, longtail keyword.

Find something with at least 2,500 searches per month, even if it’s a bit generic feeling.

Afterward, you’re going to identify core topics that fall underneath the broader head keyword.

Most of these will have a smaller search volume than the head keyword and are likely to be longer.

Make sure to go over each of these in a bit of depth within the pillar content itself. Then, you’ll be linking inwards to the content which covers each topic more in-depth.

These pieces of cluster content, combined with the pillar content, mean that you can comprehensively focus on working with topics instead of just keywords.

Not only does this kind of internal structure play well with search engines, but it can also eliminate the drudgery of coming up with keywords on a constant basis that many of us deal with when we’re creating our content marketing strategies.

How Does Pillar Content Play With Google?

Quite nicely.

Okay, it’s a little bit more complex than that. Site structuring is something which a lot of people ignore. After all, a lot of websites simply run blogs for their content marketing.

While some people plan them out, more than a few people just have keywords targeted and produce content to match them. It’s worked well for many years, but it’s beginning to fade lately as the algorithms change.

The important thing to remember is this: user experience and matching search intent are a search engine’s entire reason for existing.

That makes site structure a hugely important part of SEO and user experience.

Some of the most important metrics for ranking are hidden within your site’s structure. Increased dwell time and CTR are important factors and you’ll need them in order to really compete in rankings.

Guess what a pillar oriented site structure is likely to increase?

Your users are more likely to find the information they’re looking for when you organize things properly.

So maybe it’s time to quit thinking about just keywords and instead expand your SEO horizons.

Pillar Content is a Game Changer

As time goes on, pillar structuring is likely to become more important.

It’s not going to completely erase old white hat methods of SEO but it’s easy to understand, can be implemented quickly, and allows you to think your content through thoroughly from the very beginning.

That alone would make it worthwhile, even if it wasn’t for the importance of pillar content when it comes to raising your SERP.

Looking for some more tips on your site’s structure? Check out our general business advice section to help get your business to the next level.