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Pillars and Clusters 101

We’ve been talking for a while about the best way for Sparrow’s clients to order their websites and optimize them for higher search results with Google.  But, over the years, things have changed significantly.  Here is what we’ve learned lately.

The way things were

(raspy grandpa voice) “Back when I was just a whippersnapper….” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was a big thing to master in order to rank in the top five results.  The whole point was to have keywords and long-tail keywords sprinkled liberally throughout all your writings so that they could be found by the algorithms of the internet.  They were sometimes extremely cumbersome because you would have specific words in a certain order which didn’t allow for quality writing so that your keywords could be located.  

The way things are now

SEO was useful when people made very generic searches, like “Lancaster Landscaping;” but now search queries tend to be more conversational, like “I need someone to mow my yard.”  Because of this switch in searching trends, Google now has to find a way to recognize the searcher’s intent which means that you, as a business owner, need to change your SEO habits to match that change in behavior.  This new trend eliminates the need to stuff keywords into all the blog posts and conform to a completely different process.

A new concept

This process is called Pillars and Clusters.  The theory is that your industry (no matter what it is) will have some broader topics you can cover really in-depth.  You would pick something you know well and write around 1,400 words about it… that is your Pillar page.  Within that large body of writing, you inevitably cover multiple topics that you could expand upon in greater detail.  You would then create a new post (called a Cluster page) about one of those topics and hyperlink that new content to your Pillar page and also hyperlink in reverse, from the Pillar page to the Cluster page, to create a wider web of content for Google to notice.  So, let’s explore how this might look in a specific industry setting.

Let’s say you work in the Agriculture Industry.  “Ag” covers so many areas, but you could begin with writing 1,400 – 1,800 words about all the areas your job covers.  If you’re a farmer, you could write a pillar page about A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FARMER and write a breezy account of all the things you encounter during a typical day.  That would easily be enough content to make a good Pillar page.  After you finish that, you would look back through your writing and find areas in which you could expand and detail out more clearly.  You might choose to write 300 words about your theory of crop rotation and another cluster page about the best feed for your cows, or even another giving business advice on how to sell milk to a distributor.  Each of these topics that you write in more detail would have hyperlinks back to your Pillar page and vice versa.  This is also a continuous project.  You wouldn’t have to necessarily create all the possible cluster pages right up front but would consider this a long-term project to work on over time and gradually add more content along the way.

Think of your pillar and clusters like a diagram or flow chart. They will all be connected.

This is a fairly brief overview of what Pillars and Clusters are and since it is a relatively new concept, you can consider yourself part of the groundbreaking trendsetters.  In all seriousness, this could be an overwhelming project because it requires so much writing.  If you’re unsure you can create a pillar page, don’t worry because Sparrow has you covered.  You can read a freshly created blog post about how one of Sparrow’s writers creates content and gives you her personal tips for you to recreate on your own.

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