Google ranking is complicated, but one factor is something called “domain trust.” There’s most likely an algorithm Google uses to determine this, but there’s no official Google documentation on it. The more Google trusts your website, the higher you rank.
This all leads to one brilliant, though complicated, strategy for increasing Google’s trust in your website: The pillar and topic cluster approach.
What is the Pillar System?
The pillar system is important for helping Google trust your website. The pillar system works kind of like a tree and branches. A single long-form pillar page has a cluster of quality blog posts attached to it. The goal is for visitors to read the pillar post and then follow the links to the related content.
How Should You Put Together a Pillar Page?
Start by choosing your topic. The topic for a pillar page should be of interest to your customers and related to a core product offering, and it should be a relatively broad topic. For example, a cybersecurity company might have a pillar page on encryption. Finally, the topic should be something that attracts at least 300 searches a month; you can get this data from tools such as Ahrefs, ScreamingFrog, or HubSpot Marketing Hub.
The pillar page should cover all aspects of that topic on a single page, at the overview level. Pillar pages should not be in-depth, but do need to be longer. While there is no hard and fast rule about length, 2,000-3,000 words are most common.
Needless to say, your pillar page should be of high-quality. It’s often best to hire a marketing expert, a good writer who understands SEO, to produce your pillar page for you. It should be properly SEO optimized for appropriate keywords, too (but without keyword stuffing). It also needs to be grammatically correct and highly readable.
What About the Topic Cluster?
The next step is to produce your topic cluster. This consists of six to twelve high-quality blog posts. Each post should take an aspect of the topic and dive into it in depth. Essentially, these posts are “read also” or “you may also like” content that leads the reader to a better exploration and understanding of a specific area. If you’ve ever read one article and found yourself reading another recommended article, then you’ve actually already seen topic clusters without even realizing it!
Related topics should be linked to the pillar page in an intuitive way, in addition to being properly categorized under an overall topic keyword.
The pillar and cluster should provide comprehensive, high-quality content that sets you up as an authority on the topic.
How Do You Promote Your Pillar System to Help Google Trust Your Website?
Once you have your pillar system, you need to promote it. You need to start funneling readers (and potential customers) to the information.
You do this by promoting the pillar page. Once the topic cluster is in place, start sending out the link to the pillar page to your email list and social media followers.
Your focus should be on the pillar page itself, not the blogs in the topic cluster. The goal is to get visitors to read the pillar page, and then go from there to the cluster content. This encourages visitors to stay on your site for longer and go to multiple pages, improving vital stats such as bounce rate, time on site, and pages per session.
Make sure to add social media share buttons to all of the pages in the cluster to encourage the development of backlinks. You want people to be both reading and sharing the content.
Over time, this will convince Google’s algorithms that your site is popular for the keywords you are using and that people view you as an authority on the topic. This will continue to push your site up in the rankings. This will, in turn, attract more visitors, allowing for organic growth in traffic. Google will also start to rank your site for related long-form keywords as well as the ones people are using to search for your site. It’s the marketing gift that keeps on giving.
As a Bonus, You Can Reuse the Content
At the end of this process, you’ll also have high-quality comprehensive content on a valuable subject related to your products. You can repurpose this content into other formats. Maybe you can make an ebook that people can download to read later or find a photogenic representative to record it as a video series. You can even reformat it into an email course.
All of these things will help people see you as trustworthy; in addition to improving your Google rank, it will increase brand awareness. Customers are more likely to choose a brand they see as knowledgeable and caring. You can use the blog posts to draw attention to these other offerings. Offering content in multiple formats and media helps you attract and retain customers with different learning preferences.
How Many Topic Clusters Do You Need to Help Google Trust Your
Google prioritizes active sites, so you need to be updating your site regularly. The number of available topics may vary depending on your industry, but you should aim to create a new topic cluster every three months.
This keeps the content within what you can optimize while showing Google that your site is active and being well cared for. Content clusters can, of course, be supplemented with one-off blog posts on smaller topics, or with press releases about new products to keep your site moving.
The size of each topic cluster obviously depends on the content; resist the temptation to add low-value “filler” that will only cause visitors to leave.
The topic cluster model is considered by many to be the future of blogging. It does take a fair amount of work and/or money to put together each cluster, but once they are in place they should attract attention organically. Do you want to help Google trust your website? To find out more about how to put together good topic clusters and promote them effectively, contact Business Builders today.