What’s the Difference Between a Hub Page and a Pillar Page?

When you’re developing content for your website, you typically want to group information into categories that make sense to your visitors so that they know where to go. Part of this process can involve the creation of hub pages and pillar pages. Both are beneficial to your search engine optimization, but they’re also easy to confuse. Read on to learn about the main difference between a hub page and a pillar page, and how they can both be used to improve your website ranking.

What Is a Hub Page?

A hub page is essentially a table of contents about a specific topic. 

For an example of what a hub page might look like, let’s consider our marketing blog. It contains posts that fall under broad topics like website conversions, lead generation, and content marketing, among several others. This one happens to be about a subtopic of SEO. If we were to create a hub page for SEO, it would likely include a link to this article and any others under our blog that discuss another subtopic, thereby offering a convenient means for visitors to see at a glance how much material we have, and easily find the material that’s most relevant to their search.

Digital marketers refer to this structure as the hub and spoke method. Applied to our example, the spokes would be individual blog posts, and the hub would be “SEO.”

What Is a Pillar Page?

The difference between a hub page and a pillar page is how they present content. A hub page offers a quick overview of a broad topic and links to its subtopics, while a pillar page is a comprehensive version of that same high-quality material all on a single page. Going back to our example above, a pillar page about SEO for us would be taking all of the articles that we’ve written about it and merging them into one piece of content. 

Pillar pages are basically your go-to resource to explain a topic in its entirety, which helps your search ranking through the use of industry-specific keywords, informational value, and the encouragement of backlinks from other websites. 

Is One Page Better Than the Other?

Not necessarily. Both types of pages have their own value because different visitors may prefer different means of reviewing the same information, including guidance on their market or products and services that will benefit them. 

What matters is how well that information is presented, and whether pages are user friendly. A table of contents is great, if readers can find the link they need to a specific subtopic. A comprehensive review of a broad subject is also great for visitors who want to learn everything about it, if it’s organized in such a way that people can understand it and skip to the sections that are most relevant to them. This is why a pillar page often includes a table of contents at the top that links to sections of that page, instead of linking to different “spoke” pages from a hub.

Benefits of a Hub Page

When done well, a hub page improves the user experience by allowing readers to easily move from hub to spoke pages and back again, as well as between spokes. This keeps them on your website and helps decrease bounce rates. It also gives multiple pages the opportunity to rank when crawled by Google and other search engines for their use of keywords, alt tags, and other important aspects of technical SEO. Plus, with hub content, you don’t have to rewrite anything — just add a few descriptions and share some links, and you’re all set!

Benefits of a Pillar Page

If you’re trying to encourage other people to create backlinks to your website, a pillar page has a better chance of securing them. It may seem counterintuitive when so many people skim what they read, but simply having a long article can convey authority and encourage others to look at it as expert material. Plus, if readers want the full story on a particular subject, some do prefer having it all available on one page that they can review, rather than searching individually linked posts on different pages. 

Are Hub Pages and Pillar Pages Absolutely Necessary?

They are highly encouraged, but certainly not required. We say that for a couple of reasons. First, it’s possible that your product, service, or industry may simply not have that much content that is necessary to create and promote. Second, if your website is relatively new, you’ll still be in the process of creating the material that will eventually be a part of those hub and pillar pages, which means more time needed before you can develop them.

It’s also important to note that you can rank pages on your website using standard SEO tactics without hub and pillar pages. The only caveat to this is that if your competitors use hubs and pillars (and use them well), they’ll have a better chance of ranking their pages above yours when Google compares them.

What Technical SEO Do You Need?

When a search engine crawls your website, it seeks to render, index, and rank it by:

  • The long-tail keywords and associated keywords that you use.
  • Whether you’re avoiding keyword stuffing, which is the intentional overuse of a keyword in order to rank for it. 
  • Your page speed, to see how quickly visitors can access your material. 
  • Your bounce rate, to see whether people stick around because they find your material relevant. 
  • Backlinks, which are links others have made to your website content, indicating that they find your material valuable enough to share. 
  • Your use of alt tags to identify the images that you use.
  • The meta descriptions for your pages, and whether they align with your content and keywords.
  • The anchor text that you use, which is the text you hyperlink to another page, like your hubs and spokes.

If you’re interested to learn more about what’s involved with rendering a website, check out this
introductory article by Search Engine Journal.

A Word About Topic Clusters

The more recent evolution of pillar content comes in the form of topic clusters, whose arrangement will likely sound a lot like the hub and spoke method we discussed above. When you have a pillar page that explains everything on a broad topic, you may still wish to create separate pages that focus on individual subtopics that then link back to the pillar. This configuration is referred to as a topic cluster, and can help you grow your SEO when internal links are used with the appropriate anchor text, as HubSpot explains.

If you’re struggling to outrank your competitors for industry-specific keywords, you can use topic clusters to rank for less competitive long-tail keywords. This allows you to establish market authority with search engines so that you can gradually improve your SEO to the point where you can compete with those original keywords.

Would You Like Help Developing These Pages?

If you have questions about how to apply hub pages and pillar pages to your content strategy, identify broad topics for them to discuss, as well as address and implement technical SEO, we want to hear from you. Click the link below to get started.

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