In SEO 101: A Pillar Page Primer, we introduced the topic of pillar pages, why they’re so popular these
To summarize: pillar pages are comprised of mostly owned content with hyperlinks that guide viewers back to existing site pages on tangential topics. These connect the content on your website thematically, increasing reader engagement. Basically, they offer readers a lot of what they’re looking for all in one convenient, easy to navigate place. In this post, we’re going to dive into content and layout/design considerations for your pillar pages.
The best practices for writing pillar pages all start with the basics: decide on the topics you want to cover and source related keywords you’ll try to rank for. Once you’ve got this firmly in hand, you can start building your pillar page.
The first step is to write a solid introduction. You want to make a good impression and be concise about what you are going to provide in terms of content, so the reader will continue down the page. Don’t forget to include your definition of the term or topic you’re exploring.
Copywriting for your page doesn’t have to be as challenging as it might seem. The key to developing great content starts with knowing your audience, the type of content they want, and the format that best suits their reading habits.
Before you start writing, it’s best to put yourself in the readers shoes and anticipate what you’d like to read about a subject if you were them. Make sure you are using vocabulary that your audience understands. Avoid using excessive scholarly phrases or “buzzwords”, as these can annoy readers. Focus on educating, and keep it simple and concise.
Some easy and simple best practices that go a long way include:
Speak to your target audience, not at them.
Make sure you’re writing a story, not just information. It should have a narrative that makes sense.
Focus on benefits: What can they gain from reading your content? Leave them with something valuable they can walk away with.
Include a call to action (CTA): Concluding your piece with a CTA encourages your readers to act upon what they’ve just read, take your advice, or engage with you further.
In the end, what matters the most is that your content is helpful. Every reader is looking for something - information, a new perspective, the answer to a specific question. If you understand what your readers are looking for, then you should also understand why it’s important not to disappoint them by wasting their time.
Of course, even if you are the leading expert in your field, you also have to be sure you’re writing the right type of content.
What kind of content will help maximize the performance and ranking of your pillar page? Ungated content.
Ungated content, or content that is not “hidden” behind a form, allows free access to anyone. Widely known examples of ungated content are blogs, infographics, videos, interactive elements like calculators or quizzes, and (usually) case studies.
So, why is it important to have ungated content and what are the benefits?
Ungated content encourages trust and boosts credibility by removing roadblocks to valuable information. Position your organization as one that offers genuinely helpful information without a catch.
Additional benefits of ungated content include: better SEO performance and spikes in organic traffic, and a higher “shareability” factor on social networks.
Ungated pieces encourage readers to click around, too, as main website navigation can present and “suggested” or “related” reading can be shared -- gated PDFs don’t easily allow for this. Giving folks to immediately access your information can also increase page dwell time, which helps you move up in SERPs!
DESIGN & LAYOUT CONSIDERATIONS
Now that you’ve got copy down, it’s time to lay out your design. When thinking of the layout, you can approximate the pillar page to an ebook, but with a few key differences:
Navigation should exist
Smaller content blocks are key
Use anchors and a table of content
White space should be ample
Leverage interactive components
Top navigation should exist: The top navigation works extremely well on this pillar page for Typeform. It’s clean, placed properly so that you can always find it but it doesn’t steal attention from the amazing hero image that’s been used.
Smaller content or copy chunks: SaaS DNA Project is an example of a website that uses small chunks of copy on their website really well. It’s tidy so that readers won’t feel overwhelmed by text.
Leverage anchors: Make sure all content can be quickly referred back to by allowing users to skip the long scrolling process. Ensure an anchor-linked table of contents has been incorporated, and try positioning it on the side or using a ‘Sticky’ text box to make sure it’s clickable at any point.
Use white space to separate ideas and subtopic concepts: Hubspot’s Battle of the Bots showcases how to use whitespace in an effective way. The colors on this page are carefully considered and balanced well, with vibrant hues playing off of the white space. This pillar page truly tells as a story and separates each subtopic concept clearly by using bold font.
Include interactive content moments (quizzes, calculators, etc.): The Atlantic curated an exceptional pillar page for viewers. The header has a healthy amount of text followed by great use of white space. But when scrolling down the page you’ll see the cool features they’ve added that allow for interaction, making the page engaging and the user experience more unique.
Now, it’s time to take the next steps and create one for your website! If you need some inspiration, check out these awesome pillar pages to get the ball rolling.