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B2B companies are really focused on the middle of the sales funnel. They’ve got great e-books, lots of good data published, but they tend to neglect the top-of-the-funnel content. That type of content is actually crucial to B2B success, as it allows your potential customers to learn more about your brand.
A great way for B2B companies to fill this gap is by creating pillar pages. To help get you started, in today’s Whiteboard Friday, guest host Carly Schoonhoven of Obility walks you through a simple strategy for employing pillar pages on your website. Enjoy!
Hello and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Carly Schoonhoven, and I’m a senior SEO manager here at Obility. We’re a digital marketing agency focused on B2B in beautiful Portland, Oregon.
Now one of the biggest struggles I find that B2B companies have, when working on a content strategy, is how to create content that’s able to effectively rank for those top-of-funnel, higher search volume, more conversational queries. A lot of times B2B companies are really focused on mid-funnel. They’ve got great e-books, lots of good data content, but they tend to neglect the top-of-the-funnel content.
However, that type of content is so important because it allows for your potential customers to perform self-discovery and really learn more about your brand, learn more about the industry you’re in before they’re ready to take a more meaningful step, like filling out a form or requesting a demo. So one great content strategy for a B2B company is creating a pillar page.
What are pillar pages?
Pillar pages, you might have heard them referred to as hub and spoke content or umbrella content, but whatever you want to call it, it’s essentially the same thing. So the idea is that you start with your pillar page. So this is one large piece of content that’s really optimized for one very broad topic that’s really relevant to your business.
Then it internally links out to your cluster pages, which are targeted at those longer tail, secondary keywords and really well-optimized to answer the questions that your customers may have. It’s so important that you’re linking back from the cluster pages to the pillar page and from the pillar page out to your clusters.
Again, this has multiple benefits. One that your customers are able to navigate to this content and get their questions answered themselves. Then, at the same time, it’s great for SEO because it’s so easy for Google to tell what this content is about since it’s all internally linked to each other and it’s all focused on one specific topic. So if this sounds like something for you, I’m going to walk you through step by step how to go about creating a pillar content strategy.
1. Pick a topic
So Step 1, of course, is you have to pick a topic. So there are a couple things you want to keep in mind when you’re doing this, one of which is that you want it to be broad but not too broad. So obviously it has to be somewhat broad because you need to be able to find enough secondary keywords that also have search volume that it’s worth your time putting the work in.
But if it’s too broad, it’s going to be really difficult to create one piece of content that covers everything you need to cover in this content. So, for example, a pillar page about SEO as a whole, that might be a little bit too broad. There’s a lot of stuff you’re going to have to cover, and it’s going to be really difficult to rank for a lot of those keywords. But something like SEO content strategy, that’s a little bit more focused, there’s still a lot of potential there.
You can talk about ideating content for B2B. You can talk about on-site optimization. So something that is definitely broad, has lots of keywords, but not so broad you’re biting off more than you can chew.
2. Keyword research
So speaking of keywords, obviously you have to do keyword research. This is SEO.
It’s so important. So you can start with that one topic, but then you really need to expand your list of keywords to find all of those secondary keywords that you want to include. Moz’s Keyword Explorer is a great tool for this because you’re able to put in your topic and then it will generate all of those related keywords for you, along with things like search volume and keyword difficulty. I also love that you can filter down to just the keywords that are questions, because again it’s so important to make sure that you’re answering your potential customers’ questions in your content.
3. Look at your existing content
So you’ve got your list, you’ve got your keywords, but don’t forget to look at your existing content as well. So you’re going to be putting a lot of work in. Find ways you can save yourself time. Maybe you’ll have some content buried in your blog or buried in your resource section that you can repurpose and include as part of this strategy. Definitely make sure you’re not neglecting content that you already have.
4. Plan URL structure
Up for you in future, planning your structure. So you’re going to be creating a great new piece of content. You need to know where you’re going to put it. You can just link to it in your top navigation, or maybe you just want to feature it on your resources section. But one thing to keep in mind is that you want to make sure that your cluster pages are in a subfolder of your pillar page.
5. Start writing (clusters first)
All right, Step 5, start writing. You actually get to start putting these pieces together. So ultimately, what do you want them to look like? Now ideally, for your main pillar page, what you want is to have sort of just an introductory section talking about the topic area as a whole, but really this page serves as that hub that links out to all of your other secondary pages.
So you want to make it really easy to navigate. You want to make sure you’re including lots of mid-funnel CTAs within that content, because ultimately this is that hub piece of content where everyone is going to navigate to from those cluster pages. So start with your intro and then have a nice table of contents and then a little header for each of your cluster pages with a little bit of a summary, but then that ultimately links out to those cluster pages so that someone can visit that page if they really want to learn more and get more in depth into that topic.
As far as your cluster pages, this is where you really want to get in depth, spend a lot of time putting your content together and make sure you’re covering it. I think that the question-and-answer format is a really good approach for this type of content because it really helps you optimize for featured snippets or for the people also ask feature. So you want to make sure that you’re putting your question in the header, and then summarize the answer to that question in about 40 to 50 words if you’re optimizing for a snippet.
All right. Number 6 is promotion. So you’ve created your content. You’ve figured out where to put it. You’ve published it. You did all of this work. You want to make sure people see it.
So promote it internally. Make sure you’re sharing it on your social media. Share it with your team. But then also flex your link building skills and reach out to anyone in your industry who you think would benefit from this content or be willing to share it as well.
7. Measure everything
Number 7 is measure. So, of course, you put all this work in and you want to see how does it do. Did it perform well?
So you have your list of keywords, so use Moz to track your keyword rankings. Take a look to see if there are new keywords you weren’t expecting to rank for. Obviously, keywords are super important. Also, look at Google Analytics. Check out your landing page report. Are you getting organic traffic? Are people actually converting?
See what you can learn from that, if you need to make tweaks, swap out your CTAs. Just make sure you’re measuring and you don’t let this content go to waste. You’re bringing in this new traffic. Make sure you’re converting those people.
Step 8, repeat. So once you have the process down, do it again. Find other topics that are really relevant to your industry you can create a pillar page about.
When you do, tell me about it. I really hope that this was helpful for you, and I hope you go out there and create some pillar content. So thank you so much.
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