The Ultimate Guide to Using Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages to Drive Huge Amounts of Website Traffic
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
HubSpot Topic Clusters. Will they be your savior or the next fleeting content trend?
Spoiler: it’s the former.
HubSpot’s new content strategy feature will transform how you strategize, plan, and execute your content strategy. You can create incredibly useful pillar pages and sub-topics that engage your audience and demonstrate your core areas of expertise. With a few pillar pages and sub-topics under your belt, there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get it. HubSpot Topic Clusters are changing the way we form content strategies. It’s exciting because it's much more intuitive than using the keyword strategy method. And if you invest enough time and energy into creating pillar pages and sub-topics, you’ll end up with the highest quality of content you’ve had in years.
But when you finally have all of that content built, what do you do with it? It all goes back to how you promote it.
Using Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It's the rule that says you should be spending 20% of your time creating content and 80% of your time promoting it.
(Whoever came up with that rule wasn’t also trying to run a business.)
When you have so much on your plate already, it’s difficult to check off every content marketing best practice and promote your content everywhere. Coming up with an ingenious strategy, creating exceptional content, getting it to rank, and effortlessly distributing it across the right channels is a tall order.
And while the structure you use to link pillar pages and sub-topics will make them easy to rank, they can’t promote themselves. Getting traffic to your pillar pages is going to require some additional effort on your part. Here's how to push that beautiful pillar page out into the world and start getting traffic.
1. Improve The Visibility
A pillar page isn’t a blog post; it’s a website page, so you will need to find a location for it the same way you would for a company page or a pricing page. Otherwise, no one will know where to locate it, or that it even exists. And you didn't invest all of that time and energy into a long-form website page to let it go unnoticed.
Find opportunities to make your pillar pages more visible on critical website pages, or in the navigation of your website. You can add it into email workflows, or link it to relevant blog posts you already have. The easier it is for website visitors to find, the easier it will be for website visitors to engage with it.
2. Incorporate Pillar Pages Into Social (Regularly)
You shouldn’t share your pillar page once and call it a day. You need to incorporate your pillar content into your social publishing on a regular basis. You want as many eyes on that pillar page as possible. Buffer builds a strong case for repurposing and sharing content again, as you can hit multiple time zones and ensure new followers don’t miss it.
One of the best tips in our repurposing guide is to repost content using a different image each time, so even if your followers have seen it, it feels new. If you’re sharing on platforms like Facebook that allow it, you can also always invest a small budget towards boosting posts on a regular basis.
3. Link to Old and New Content
You want to link your pillar pages to as many new or existing blog posts and website pages that you can. Otherwise, it will be difficult for visitors or search engines to locate the content. Conduct a mini content audit and determine any places within your existing content a link to your pillar page would be organic. There's an entire strategy around linking these pages and posts together that HubSpot explains very well.
If you do not have a lot of website or blog content, consider studying your backlinks. If any of your older blog content is bringing in traffic (not a significant amount), it may be worth reaching out to see if the site can swap out that content for your pillar page instead.
4. Consider Ads
To give your pillar page the jumpstart it needs, consider investing in a paid content promotion. You can go beyond merely boosting a post on Facebook every week, and extend to other channels as well. For instance, you can run a Native Ad on LinkedIn (here are some examples of ads on LinkedIn that crush it) or promote a Tweet on Twitter.
While a lot of these tactics are effective, don’t forget your customer. It only makes sense to run an ad on a platform your ideal customer is likely to engage on. Otherwise, try another promotion tactic that aligns with their preferences and behavior.
5. Add To Nurturing Emails
If you are already using email workflows to nurture and engage with your leads, you can add links to pillar content and sub-topics. Depending on the topic, a pillar page could easily link within a welcome series or inspire a new welcome series. A new customer workflow could include sub-topics that relate to any challenges they may be experiencing from day to day.
If you don't have a lot of nurturing emails, look to your existing offers. You can also add a link to content on the thank you page for offers.
6. Publish Related Content Elsewhere
When building a pillar page, you invest a lot of time into research and strategy. Put that information to good use, and publish an article related to your pillar page on LinkedIn and Medium. You can scale down the length of the pillar page, and recap the essence of it in a brand new post. You could also answer questions on Reddit or Quora that relate to the pillar page, and provide a hyperlink within your response.
However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t copy and paste the same content word for word. Avoid duplicate content, and focus on the sections, proof points, and insights that would engage a reader. At the end of the post, you can briefly mention your pillar page, and you can also link to the pillar page multiple times within the post itself.
7. Pitch Guest Posts and Podcasts
Another creative way to promote a pillar page is with a guest post or hosting opportunity. There’s still a lot of smart ways to find guest posting opportunities. You can find sites the regularly cover the subject of your pillar page and reach out to see if they have an interest in the additional content. If you’d rather get on a podcast in your industry, you can craft pitches that relate to your pillar page topic, and even send them the actual pillar page as a preview.
Either way, you get a link back to your pillar page from a reputable source.
8. Repurpose the Content
Again, once you do all of the research for a pillar page, you’re going to be an expert. Put that research to use. You can create a SlideShare presentation based on your pillar page and post it on LinkedIn, or you can create a video and get it on YouTube. Even an infographic based on your pillar page would be compelling. You can get creative with repurposing your pillar page, and you should, because you already spent a ton of time on it.
9. Discuss Related Topics in Forums
When brainstorming ways to promote a pillar page, ask yourself one question. Which of your customers need this information, and where are they already looking for it? When I have a question, I head right to forums like Quora, Reddit, and a few select Facebook Groups to find an answer. I like the responses that are long and thought-out, and it always helps when the person answering a question or comment can provide additional resources (which could be your pillar page link.)
However, avoid spamming these communities. The easiest way to get kicked off a forum or get down-votes on Reddit is to get too aggressive about your self-promotion (ask me how I know.)
10. Conduct Interviews
Another crafty tactic to getting buzz about your pillar page is conducting an interview. If you have a podcast or a blog that's generating traffic, set up sessions to discuss content that relates to your pillar page with another subject matter expert. You will need to share a link for them, of course, but that person will share the post to their entire network. You can get your pillar page in there too, and you’ll reach a whole new audience.
These interviews are easy enough to coordinate, and you can record them over Zoom or Skype. After you finish the piece, you can even take quotes from the interview and link the content back on your pillar page to enrich it even more.
11. Ask For Feedback
One of the tried and true methods of promoting content? Send the pillar page to trusted peers and influencers and ask for their feedback. You can share your content without seeming overly promotional, and acquire genuine feedback on the page. It’s a win-win. You get your content out there and get some advice to make improvements to your page. After you make their recommendations, you can also ask if they'll share the post in their network.
Gaining Traction With Pillar Pages and Inbound
To get the best possible performance from your HubSpot pillar page, you need to promote it. In social, paid advertising, PR, and inbound strategies, you need to find ways to share, distribute, and link to your pillar pages. Otherwise, the content won't get in front of the right customer. Once you start with promotion, you can study which methods generate traffic and optimize your approach. All of that data can help inform the promotion of future pillar content.
If you're building a topic strategy and pillar pages without a robust inbound strategy in place, you may have some work to do before you see results. If you need more direction on creating an overarching inbound strategy, check out our EBook, Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain. In this book, we'll discuss how to engage with your customer at every decision point.