In search engine optimization, a pillar page is an long and information-dense cornerstone article that covers a specific topic. A lot of content marketers and blog writers wonder how broad should a focus topic be. Too broad and it becomes too generalist. Too narrow and it appeals to a too precise audience.
While picking your content strategy’s core topics is crucial, you can always change cap later or rewrite some pieces of contents few months down the line. And, second important precision, a specific topic can be broad to a blog but very narrow to another. A focus topic is very personal to the blog editor and the brand writing about it. Unlike keywords, topics are more abstract concepts, and therefore allow for more room to wiggle.
Organizing your blog around hubs with each hub targeting a particular topic is useful on so many levels and helps:
- Google and other search engines understand what topics your website is about
- Readers find information they need within seconds thanks to smart internal linking
- Increase your topical authority over each hub and associated search terms and keywords
Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to give a cheat sheet so every single reader gets the right topics for the pillar pages immediately. However, we have a methodology you should follow in order to figure out what focus topics your blog should target in order to yield a sustainable organic growth.
Pick Realistic Goals For Your Blog
Before you start writing the very first word, you need to decide on your blog’s clear business goals, paired with a set of measurable metrics for each. A blog can be used to educate prospects about a particular domain (e.g. marketing, dog grooming). But a blog can also be used to increase leads and **opt-insto a particular email list, or to a free trial of your product. A blog content strategy can also be used to raise the awareness of your brand in the marketplace**, and have you considered as an expert for the topics you cover.
These goals will, in our next stage, help you decide on the core focus topics to choose. If you run the blog of a unicorn SaaS product you surely will need a dozen of core topics to match the various goals you may have. Whereas, if you run a microblog with a couple of articles published monthly, you may want to pick a single goal along with a single target topic you will write thoroughly about.
Match Each Goal to a Topic, or Two
The single or multiple goals your blog will meet will dictate a lot on the topics you will write about. Indeed, you may decide that in your first year, you want to simply increase organic traffic. The chosen topics will have to appeal to a broad audience in order to generic traffic. If you instead want to generate leads and __opt-ins, you want to write about specific problematics and let readers signup for a content upgrade (ebook) or free trial of your problem-solving product.
Here is a suggestion on how to pick topics depending on the type of goal:
- Grow organic traffic — broader topics
- Generation leads — problem-orientated and narrow topics
- Raise awareness — low-competition topics
- Increase direct sales — very precise topics your offering solves
For example, a broad topic you may want to write about could be
Email marketing and a more precise sub-topic that your product could solve and generate leads from would be
Email marketing automation. Both topics are most definitely related but the second one is more focused and therefore can convert with more ease once the article are read.
Remember that within any topic, you will come up with plentiful keywords, key phrases, terms, and sub-topics to write about. These keywords can then be used to write about the very same core topic in various ways.
Topics — Not Too Broad, Not Too Precise
Pillar pages should attract readers interested in a topic. While reading a pillar page, users should find links to more narrow-focused articles.
At this point, you know what you goals are and what topics you must write about in order to achieve these milestones. Each one of these topics will have its very own pillar page with thousands of words, illustrations, and relevant links (internal and external). If you can cover this topic with a 1,000-word piece of content, it probably is too narrow. If you need a 10,000-word article for that pillar page, it may be too broad. If you are anywhere in between, you have a good candidate topic for one of your pillar pages.
The main idea behind pillar pages is to create a topic cluster (i.e. a group of closely related pages). Think about the pillar page as the hub article that in itself should educate the reader enough. However, if they want to become expert, they would need to read the sub-pages.
Therefore, your pillar page should not be the finish line for the reader! A single topic is covered, with a lot of information, in a single pillar page but offers various links to your readers to find more in-depth knowledge. The pillar page is broken down in sections in which facets of the core topics are described and clues are given. To read some problem-solving pieces of content and tackle more precise issues about one of these facets, a new article will be created.
For example, the main topic
Email marketing automation could then have the below articles linked to from the pillar page (and many more):
- What are the best email marketing automation tools and platforms?
- Top 10 marketing automation workflows for local businesses
- How to win back lost customers using an email series?
- Is Salesforce really the best platform for startup marketing automation?
- What is the difference between marketing automation and email marketing?
- Experts answer your questions on ActiveCampaign’s new marketing automation triggers
- Guide to A/B-testing subject lines in email sequences
If your pillar page’s main topic is too narrow (such as
email marketing automation tools), you will quickly run out of ideas after the basic and most obvious articles are written. However, becoming a topical authority for smaller concepts is obviously much easier. Therefore, knowing how broad should topics be for a pillar page really depends on your business and mentality. Do you prefer to own a quarter of an enormous pie, or an entire tartlet? This is a key question in topical search engine optimization.