What Is a Pillar Cluster Model? Definition, Benefits and Tips
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published November 2, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Content writers, website administrators and marketing directors might use a range of techniques to improve a website's performance in search engines, which can increase site traffic. This process is called search engine optimization (SEO), and it's a key part of online marketing since attracting more visitors can lead to more online sales. One SEO strategy involves organizing website content using a pillar cluster model. In this article, we define pillar cluster models, explain how marketing professionals use them, list key benefits of using this technique and provide tips for adding pillar cluster models to your SEO process.
Related: Guide: What Is SEO?
What is a pillar cluster model?
The pillar cluster model, also called the topic cluster model, is an SEO strategy that organizes web content into a series of groups. Each individual topic has a pillar page, which summarizes a concept, and cluster pages, which give more information on specific topics. An advantage of the pillar cluster model is that it allows you to use internal links to connect the pages in a cluster to each other and to the pillar page. You can use hyperlinks to create connections within your site, which can help your site's search rankings and encourage readers to explore your pages.
How are pillar cluster models used?
Website administrators and content creators might use pillar cluster models to organize informational content on a website. For example, a dog trainer's website might have a pillar page that gives readers a summary of the goals and practices of dog training. The pillar page might link to cluster pages that provide more details about specific topics within dog training, like clicker training, classical conditioning or relational training. Providing detailed content about topics related to a company's products or services can help establish the company as an authority in the field, which might increase sales.
Pillar cluster models can also help companies arrange webpages that focus on different products and services. A software company might have several product lines of antivirus software with different functions and costs. Their website might use a pillar page to provide information about antivirus software properties and their brand values, with cluster pages that focus on individual software products or services. Organizing sale options using a cluster can help potential customers find the ideal product or service for their needs easily and quickly.
Benefits of pillar cluster models in marketing
Here are some ways that using pillar cluster models for your web content can increase site traffic:
Search engine algorithms use many factors to determine a webpage's relevance, including the overall content of the page's parent site. For example, a webpage on recycling methods might rank higher in search engine results if it's a part of a larger website that focuses on sustainability, ecology or another related topic. Pillar cluster models use internal links to show a webpage's relationship to related content on the site, which can improve its search engine ranking. The links tell the search engine algorithms that the page is a part of a larger resource, increasing its value to users.
Related: Become an SEO Expert
Improved user experience
Pillar cluster models organize information in a way that is easy for readers to understand. By providing links between related concepts and a central hub of information, you can help your readers find the information they need and provide additional resources. This structure can encourage potential customers to spend more time on a company's website, which might increase the chance that they'll make a purchase or contact a sales associate. It can also establish the website as a helpful resource about a specific topic, which can increase the number of people who share the site's content on social media.
Creating clusters of related content can help you adjust your content marketing strategy to reach more readers. By organizing your content into groups, you can identify areas to add content, which can help you expand your keyword list. For example, a financial service company's website might use a pillar cluster model to organize content pages relating to different types of investments, including stocks, bonds and real estate. The company's content strategist might use this structure to find missing content areas, like cryptocurrency and private equity, that might reflect the interests of potential customers.
Using a pillar cluster model for online content can allow you to add, remove or update information easily. Because each cluster page focuses on a single idea or product, you can change elements of individual pages while keeping the rest of the pages the same. For example, a landscaping company might use a pillar cluster model to organize web pages about different services they offer, like mowing, seeding and pruning. If the company's leadership changes the fees associated with one of these services, the webmaster or content manager can simply change that page to reflect the new price.
Tips for using pillar cluster models effectively
Here are some strategies that can help you add pillar cluster models to your website successfully:
Use existing content when you can
When you're creating a pillar cluster model, you can revise existing content pages to fit the cluster structure, which can save you time and allow you to keep effective content. To change your content into a cluster model, you might add or take away key points or divide content to create new pages. For example, if your site originally had a single page listing all the company's services, you can divide that content into different sections, one for each major service. Then, you can use the content to create new cluster pages, each linking to a central pillar.
Create the cluster pages first
If you're creating a new cluster, you might start by deciding on a pillar topic and listing topics for cluster pages, which might include specific products or questions your readers might have about the topic. Then, you can create cluster pages for each question or service. After you complete the cluster pages, you can return to your pillar topic and build a webpage that provides a general overview. Creating the cluster pages first can help you determine the focus of your pillar page and allow you to add links to your cluster pages as you build the pillar.
Make cluster pages unique
When you create cluster pages, narrow the focus of each page to a single topic and distinguish the information from other parts of the cluster. For example, a pillar cluster model for a tutoring company's services might include a page for general information and separate cluster pages for group classes, individual tutoring and self-paced online programs. Each cluster page in that group provides information on that single topic. Creating unique pages can improve a website's search rankings by showing search engine algorithms that the site has a range of related organic content.
Update clusters frequently
Because clusters are easy to adapt, you can change them to reflect updated trends, products or services. You might create cluster pages to focus on new topics in the cluster's content area or add marketing copy to existing pages. For example, a company that's launching an annual sale might add sales links to their pillar and cluster pages, ensuring visitors can access the promotion from any part of the site. When you change a cluster page, check the other pages in that group to ensure that any information they provide matches the new content.
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