We've been talking a lot lately about how pillar pages boost SEO for your brand's core services. HubSpot has been leading the charge on this. A pillar page strategy isn’t just for brands using HubSpot; everyone should use this strategy. We're such firm believers in this we made a pillar page on how to make pillar pages!
You don't need to use HubSpot to create pillar pages; you can use with other tools too. HubSpot did, however, create a new tool called Content Strategy designed to help plan, validate, and track the performance of your pillar pages.
If you use HubSpot now or are curious about how HubSpot can help you create pillar pages to boost SEO, I'll show you how it works in this article.
Get Started by Adding a Topic Cluster
In the HubSpot interface, Strategy in found in the Content Menu.
Once you open Content Strategy, you’ll find a video introduction, and an option to create a topic cluster.
If you select to create a topic cluster, you need to add a core topic.
Find and Validate Topic Keywords
The Content Strategy tool can help you find and validate topics. Type in a topic to see domain authority and monthly search information. This allows you to see which topics your domain authority, and which topics receive a higher number of monthly searches.
This is essentially keyword analysis, so you’re going to want to pick keywords that you rank for now, or can rank for once content is published so it’s good to consider long tail keywords that better reflect your niche. For example, if you offer technical training, and cloud computing is one of the technologies you offer training for, you should check both the phrases ‘cloud computing,’ ‘cloud computing training,’ and ‘cloud computing classes’ to see what yields the best result. Having a higher domain authority in conjunction with a larger number of monthly searches is what you’re looking for.
Content Strategy Also Recommends Topics
The Content Strategy tool also examines the content on your website and blog and recommends potential core topics for pillar pages.
The Content Strategy tool will compile this list from the following sources:
Keywords used on your website.
Keywords used on your blog.
Blog topic categories.
Website headers (H1 and H2 tags).
Defining Pillar Content in the Content Strategy Tool
In HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool, for the core topic to your pillar page, select the core topic and configure the Pillar content object.
You can link to:
An existing landing page in the HubSpot CMS.
Create a new landing page in the HubSpot CMS from this point.
Link to an external page on your website hosted outside of HubSpot (such as WordPress).
Once you save the link to the pillar content, the Content Strategy tool will validate that the URL page is accessible, and will validate the supporting content to make sure it is linked to the pillar page. If it is not, the tool will display an error.
Linking Subtopics in the Content Strategy Tool
In the HubSpot Content Strategy tool, only one piece of content can be associated with a subtopic so you will have to create a subtopic for every piece of content you want to track with the tool. While you shouldn’t be linking content at this point, it’s important to understand the one-to-one relationship between subtopics and content pieces in the tool.
For your actual pillar web page, you can use fewer, major subtopic categories. For example, in the Content Strategy tool, you might have three separate subtopics on the three major cloud vendors, ‘AWS,’ ‘Azure,’ and ‘Google Cloud,’ while on the pillar page you might have a single subtopic called ‘Selecting a Cloud Vendor.’
Optimizing Linked Content with HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool
When you link content with the Content Strategy tool, the tool checks for the following issues:
A link to the pillar page from the subtopic content piece.
Low-quality inbound links.
Low word count on the associated content piece.
A warning is displayed if issues are found.
In the case of this image, no link was found from the content to the pillar page, and the content contained a link to a domain with low authority.
You can see this information once you link supporting content to subtopics, or when you link your core topic to pillar content.
Tracking Pillar Page Performance
To track the effectiveness of your pillar page and content measure and track the following metrics about the pillar page and each linked piece of content:
Sessions: More sessions means more visitors.
New Sessions: More new sessions mean you’re expanding your reach to new visitors.
Average Session Length/Duration: The longer people stay on the page, the more engaged they are.
Bounce Rate: These are visitors who come to your site and leave immediately. A lower bounce rate is better.
Inbound Links: This number should grow over time.
Contacts Created from the Page: This number should grow over time.
Customers Created: This number should grow over time.
You can monitor these metrics using Google Analytics and use a spreadsheet or other tools to map activities back to contacts and customers in your marketing and sales software.
HubSpot’s Content Strategy tool does a nice job of tracking these metrics for the pillar page:
Image courtesy of HubSpot
And subtopic content:
Image courtesy of HubSpot
For the pillar page itself, monitor the following three metrics, and look for growth:
Domain Authority for the topic.
Monthly search volume.
Optimize Content and Promotion
As your content is consumed and you begin to collect metrics on which pieces are most viewed and shared, optimize your content and promotion strategy:
Create new content that is similar to and supports content that is popular.
Promote more popular content pieces more frequently.
Identify social media channels, websites, and influencers that are generating the most traffic, and promote all content more aggressively to these channels and influencers.
Refactor content that is unpopular based on lessons learned from popular content.
Get Familiar with the Content Strategy Tool
If you're using HubSpot, get familiar with the Content Strategy tool. Pillar pages are a great way to boost SEO, and the Content Strategy tool can help you plan, track and optimize them. Other tools can help find content, refine topics and other aspects planning and building pillar page. To see how we use Content Strategy with those tools, check out our pillar page on how to boost SEO with pillar pages.