Today’s Ask An SEO question comes from Robert from St. Pete, who asks:
I’m new and just starting, and I’m confused about Pillar Posts.
If I have software, gear, and training for a certain niche I want to highlight, do I write separate pillar posts for each category?
And should I have multiple cluster posts already written and ready to post, so I have something to link back and forth to from the jump?
For the uninitiated, communicating an effective content structure is a daunting task.
This is not because content structures are challenging to understand.
Marketers have tricked up our vocabulary, creating terms like “Pillar Pages” or “Topic Clusters.”
In reality, a topic cluster is a group of content centered around a specific topic.
Clear as mud?
Ok, let’s think about this from an ecommerce perspective.
I want pages for each product if my website sells widgets, weebots, and doohickeys.
That includes the blue widget with a kung-fu grip and the pink weebot with action arms.
But I also want category pages to help direct my site visitors to my products.
The category pages usually contain descriptions and links to a specific product category.
A category page may, for instance, contain descriptions about the quality widgets, weebots, and doohickeys sold on my site.
But it will also link into a specific sub-category page, in this instance, because we want a page for widgets, a page for doohickeys, and a page for weebots.
So my site’s navigation from an ecommerce perspective would be:
Home > Category Page> Sub-category > Product page
Home > Widget|Weebots|Doohickeys > Weebots > Pink Weebots
This content structure provides lines where SEO pros and content marketers can color the details.
So let’s take that same philosophy and think of it in content structure terms, rather than ecommerce terms.
The navigation should look familiar:
Home > Pillar Page > Sub-category page > Category page
Notice, even in my example, that the terminology for the ecommerce navigation and content structure navigation share standard page descriptions like, “category page.”
In my experience, it’s best to make sure everyone involved in a project uses the same name for the same thing – unless you want your Category pages to get confused for category pages.
Should You Write Pillar Posts For Each Category?
I hate to be the one that utters this dreaded phrase, but the answer is that it depends.
How well defined are your categories?
Is there an overlap between categories?
Do your categories share keywords?
You get the picture – each site is different, and I suspect if two knowledgeable SEO pros looked at your content structure, they most likely would disagree on what needs to be changed.
Your content structure needs to adhere to the structure of the content, not the other way around.
In a perfect world, the structure of a site would be created around the content needed to communicate the purpose and value of the page – no more, no less.
What’s The Order Again?
But in reality, it’s usually more efficient to set the site structure and fit the content into it.
Just be aware that creating the site architecture in this order could result in insufficient content being developed to support a specific topic.
Then it would help if you found pages to fit into the site architecture to bolster the content and rank in the search results.
This is how “Frankenstein sites” are born.
It’s easier to think that a square peg might fit into a round hole after you’ve been staring at the peg and the hole for a long time.
No matter how long you stare, a square peg will never fit into a found hole.
But we find content architecture forcing those squares into holes every day.
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