How to Create a Pillar Content Marketing Strategy
Pillar Content helps focus your content marketing strategy making your content useful. With useful content, clear topics and a well-structured blog, your website will have a great user experience (UX). A great UX will not only attract readers to your blog, but it will allow readers to develop a relationship with you. In time you’ll be organically growing a loyal readership, who will then hopefully turn into leads, and then into customers.
In this post, we will be looking at how to create the best type of user experience for your blog by using a pillar content strategy.
Generating customers through an effective inbound marketing strategy is hard – very hard. It also takes a long time before you see your hard work come to fruition.
Besides, Google analytics is continuously evolving to keep up with changing user search behaviours. It’s an ongoing struggle, just as you feel you’re nailing your SEO, there’s another change which massively impacts your rankings.
But don’t worry!
All you need to focus on is creating helpful and positive experiences for your readers. The mistake people often make is focusing on creating content for search engines. You need to be focusing your content for your customers – for humans!
Search engine algorithms are getting smart, they recognise what is the most helpful for readers and will prioritise topic-based content. So where do we go from here?
Experts have found that creating a Pillar Content Strategy is the best method for organising your blog into topics and delivering the best possible user experience. Search engines favour this massively, and with the right techniques, you will see your web traffic improve too.
Whether you are starting out your blog or adapting your existing blog, you can implement your new content strategy using the pillar content method today!
What is Pillar Content or a Pillar Page?
First of all, let’s look at what pillar content is.
Just as you imagine a pillar holding up a structure, a Pillar Page in blogging is the main structure of a topic.
This overall body of content on a particular topic is longer than a typical blog post (usually upwards of 4,000 words). A pillar page is based on a high search volume keyword. And it should serve to simply answer a broad cross-section of questions on the given topic.
You then create Topic Clusters that branch off from the pillar page that talk about answers to each question in far more in-depth detail.
For example, you may write a pillar content page on “Blog writing”, and then create a subsequent topic cluster to discuss far more in-depth knowledge on “how to improve social shares for your blog post”.
Theoretically it should look a little like this…
Benefits of Using Pillar Content?
Types of Pillar Content
There are 2 types of Pillar content.
1. Resource Pillar Page
2. 10x Content Pillar Page
The resource pillar page includes a huge variety of internal AND external links. Now I know you may be thinking “external? That’s counter to what I’m trying to achieve!” But search engines still recognise and favour external linking, as it strengthens SEO and tells Google that this is an authority page that can effectively answer users’ questions.
A 10x content pillar page is a single page dedicated to providing the most in-depth, well-written content around that topic. 10x means 10 times better than anyone else writing about this subject.
You want to be focusing on all of the questions that your audience is looking for, and covering areas, they don’t yet know about. A 10x pillar strategy uses anchor links and subcategories that give optimal UX across every device.
So now you know What a Pillar Content Page is, let’s look at topic clusters.
What are Topic Clusters?
The purpose of topic clusters is to strengthen your pillar page. – This is the most vital part of the Pillar Content strategy!
As we mentioned above, topic clusters are particular and detailed blog posts that internally link back to the central pillar page. The topic clusters need to address specific long-tailed keywords related to the in-depth topic and other groupings.
This makes a great UX for your readers as they can jump from post-to-post to get more information about a topic. These topic clusters strengthen the pillar content strategy by addressing as many searches as possible, allowing pages to rank more effectively and provide better answers.
It also strengthens your site architecture, as URLs are linked together in an organised manner that is easy to navigate.
How to Begin Writing Pillar Content?
1. Select Your Topics
First, you need to select your topics. These topics need to be broad subjects that have a very high keyword search. Think about your core audience personas (for help on creating personas, use our cheat sheet here > ) and what their interests are. This is your main pillar content.
This broad topic must be extensive enough to branch into many cluster topics, but not so huge that you can’t cover it in one pillar page.
2. Select Your Subtopics
Then select a range of subtopics that can fall under each of the main pillars with specific long-tailed keywords. These are your topic clusters.
For example, earlier, we selected ‘Blog Writing’ as the central pillar content topic. Smaller, more in-depth subtopics from this can be “Improve Blog SEO and Social Content Reach”, or How to Write a Blog Post Template. And so on
An audience looking for an answer on ‘blog writing’ will find through the central pillar content page. Which will be ranked high on Google because of the strength of the information through the internal and external linking. The reader will then be able to move out from the pillar page onto more in-depth topics, which are all hyperlinked to and from the central pillar page.
3. Structure of Your Pillar Page
Use a table of contents:
When it comes to writing your pillar page, you want to ensure you have a table of contents at the beginning of the post. This allows the reader not to be put off by the vast body of text and jump directly to their desired answer. Thus, significantly improving the user experience.
So for example, if you came to my “blog writing pillar page” but only wanted to know about “how to get more social shares” you can click the subject in the table of contents at the beginning of the post, and arrive right at that section.
This is called Anchor Linking.
We will write a blog post soon on how to produce in-page and external page anchor links.
How to Strengthen Your Website Authority
1. Inbound Links
Inbound links are a crucial step in producing pillar content. It will all be worthless without internal linking. Imagine having an excellent restaurant, with top world-class chefs, but no door to enter? Your customers would never get to dine with you.
You may have the best blog content, but if a competitor has stronger website authority, it will crush all your attempts and make you invisible. Search engines favour high website authority as they indicate the content is credible and trustworthy.
So make sure your cluster topics link to and from your main pillar page. This is how you tell search engines you have authority within your clusters. Cross-linking the sub-topics will also strengthen your authority.
Making sure you have the right keywords is key to this whole strategy. Google now recognises the topic favoured content your audience is searching for.
Evolving Google searches:
People are now looking for longer, conversational queries which are 4 words or more!
Sentences beginning with, “Can I” make up for over 85% of mobile searches!
Pillar Content Page Keywords:
As we mentioned earlier, your pillar content needs to have broad subject keywords with a high search volume.
Topic Cluster Keywords:
Your topic clusters need to be more specific, and this is where you can capture those long-tailed keywords that users are now adopting more.
Reorganising Your Existing Content
After reading this post, you may be confused as to what to do with your existing content.
But fear not! As we have a simple tip that we found on Hubspot.
Here’s how you can recognise if your already existing content can be arranged into Pillar Content or Topic Clusters. Ask yourself this:
“Would this page answer every question the reader who searched X keyword had AND is it broad enough to be an umbrella for 20-30 posts.”
“if you’re trying to get the page you’re working on to rank for a long-tail keyword, it’s not a pillar page. If the page you’re working on explores a very narrow topic in great depth, it’s not a pillar page. If the page you’re working on touches on many aspects of a broad topic, it’s probably a pillar page.”
With a pillar content strategy in place, you’ll start to see your blog take the structure and hopefully a lot more website visitors and leads.
We too are in the process of reorganising our blog into an effective pillar content strategy, so we are right here with you!
For more information on how you can get started with your blog writing, see our post on how to write a blog post with a free template here.