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Pillar Page: The Topic Cluster Model

Keywords alone are no longer enough to get you to the top of the search results. However, with a well thought-out topic world and the right content strategy, your B2B company can also catch up.

Understanding Contexts

In the past, users always had to think about which search term was the best way to get to a desired result in Google Search. The queries were correspondingly fragmented and unnatural.

In the meantime, Google has learned a lot. Today it is possible to make complex queries and the Google algorithm recognizes the connection between the terms and creates links between topics.

Algorithms have evolved to the point where they can understand - taking into account previous similar searches - the current context behind the search intent.

The first big change in this context occurred in 2013 with Google's Hummingbird update.

The search algorithm began analyzing entire phrases instead of relying exclusively on keywords.

Thus, there was a shift towards complex thematic worlds and away from single, isolated keywords. Many SEO professionals see Hummingbird as Google's official shift from a keyword focus to a topic focus.

Create Relevance

The change of the algorithm leads to the fact that search results can be influenced only little purely by classic SEO techniques such as keywords. Google re-evaluates a page according to popularity, relevance and authority.

Topic-related content is increasingly favored by search engines and the evaluation of a page is based on a new way of linking related content.

Ranking well across a topic takes precedence over ranking for a specific keyword.

In addition to the well-known SEO onpage basics to ensure crawlability and indexability, it is therefore primarily important to build up an internal content hierarchy and thus a topic leadership.

Source: ELPRO company blog with theme worlds

Get ahead with Pillar Pages

The competition to be found among the top search engine results is intense. SEO and online marketing is clearly moving towards a topic cluster model. Many companies have therefore been busy building topic clusters for some time and are turning to content marketing.

The Cluster Experiment

Topic Clusters have a demonstrable impact on search engine results pages (SERPs). This was also confirmed by Anum Hussain and Cambria Davies from Hubspot: They conducted a topic cluster experiment for a selected group of topics.

The extensive findings from their initial topic cluster experiments showed that rankings in SERPs increase as links increase.

Since 71% of B2B content searchers start with a generic search, the topic cluster approach is properly targeted: From big topics to individual interest.

These B2B searchers are often very loyal - they prefer to visit a competent website with relevant content several times. On average, they return to their preferred site 12 times.

Again, it's clear, visitor behavior needs to be targeted to stay relevant. This means that when a content strategy is created, it needs to be appropriately targeted to the customer.

Pillar Pages

Pillar pages are topic pages that provide a broad insight into a topic and create orientation for the user. The company can show its broad knowledge about a topic and actively guide the user through the topic.

Every website should have several Pillar Pages. The selection of topics for the Pillar Pages forms the foundation of one's expertise.

The Pillar Page is in turn supported by sub-pages that go deeper into selected sub-topics. The structure of a Pillar Page results accordingly from the numerous sub-pages.

On the subpages, the specific expertise is conveyed and the depth of expertise is shown.

This video explains the structure of a Pillar Page architecture:

It is important that the Pillar Page links to all sub-pages from this topic area and that the sub-pages in turn link back to the Pillar Page. The resulting links signal to search engines that the respective topic page has authority for the topic.

Over time, this will make the content score higher and higher for the topic.

This topic cluster model is a method of organizing individual pages within the framework of a more conscious website architecture. The pillar page should primarily generate traffic for generic topics and generate leads in the long term.

The sub-pages create trust and accompany the user step by step through the customer journey.


The times when single keywords were the be-all and end-all of your SEO strategy are clearly over. However, by building topic clusters with pillar pages and subpages, you can take pole position in the race for SERP positions.