More marketers are investing in content creation and marketing to generate traffic, bring in leads, increase their search rankings, and build their brand. Chances are, you’re one of them. You might be producing short videos, podcasts, articles, blog posts, and even infographics. But one type of content that you may not have created is pillar content.
What is pillar content?
Pillar content, also known as pillar pages or cornerstone content, is typically a large piece of content that dives deep into a specific subject. It aims to be the definitive guide on a topic. The content is often very long, organized, well researched, and authoritative. It is also well designed, formatted, and offers helpful resources.
If you’ve ever downloaded an industry white paper before, think of that put onto a web page that’s freely available to view. To give you an example, it could be a 4500-word piece on using email marketing. The content will outline the critical strategies for how to build an email campaign, increase open rates, generate clickthroughs, and more. It can also integrate relevant images, videos, charts, statistics, and provide resources to add more in-depth insight.
Why create pillar content?
As you can imagine, creating this kind of content takes a lot of work. So why even go through all the trouble when you can stick to the regular content you’ve always been creating?
There are several reasons why you want to invest the time and resources into creating this type of content. These include attracting links, connecting your pages, and the immense value your visitors will get.
1. Attract organic links
People like comprehensive and authoritative content. If your pillar content provides a lot of value, it will be shared organically by your target audience, industry experts, and influencers. It’s a great way to enhance your SEO strategy. It’s also the primary strategy resulting in how ActiveCampaign grew their blog readers to 100K per month.
2. It’s a great way to connect sub-pages
A pillar page for email marketing can set the stage for other pieces and connect relevant content. Pillar pages often link related pages within the content, organizing related pages together. Internal linking to related pages can help those pages rank higher and get the attention they deserve.
3. It offers immense value to your target audience
Your target audience wants the kind of topic that’s a one-stop-shop to learn everything they need to for a given topic. Massive pillar content is a better solution than trying to get bits and pieces of information from multiple websites to build up knowledge on a topic. You are also building brand value, credibility, and authority. Websitesetup.org has a very detailed piece of pillar content on its homepage, which is part of the reason the site has grown to high levels of traffic and income.
5 Steps to Creating Your Very Own Pillar Content
So now that you’re interested, how do you go about creating this type of content? Fortunately, it’s not that much more complicated than creating any other kind of content. The only difference us you go more in detail. Here are the necessary steps:
1. Pick a topic
The idea here is to create a sizeable main subject. For example, if you’re running a gardening website, an excellent starting topic for your pillar content might be organic gardening. You need to strike a balance between going too broad or too narrow.
Gardening is way too broad. The topic of gardening could span an entire set of encyclopedias!
It might be best to narrow organic gardening down into a specific plant or flower, for instance, growing organic tomatoes. That strikes a balance between too broad and too narrow. You’re most likely very knowledgeable about whatever topic you choose, and will need to brainstorm some topic ideas. Use a sliding scale to go broader and more narrow and see what you find.
2. Choose the right keywords
You want to make sure that you pick one primary keyword (usually the topic) and related keywords that receive several searches. For this step, you need access to a keyword tool, whether free or paid, like Keywordtool.io as shown below:
If you settled on growing organic tomatoes, then type that into a keyword tool and make sure people search for it. Use the variation of that key phrase that gets the most searches as your primary keyword. Find additional modifications to use within the content as well.
The last thing you want to do is stuff your pillar content with a keyphrase over and over. Write naturally, but include your primary and related key phrases within the content to make sure they’re covered.
Your pillar page may start ranking for these keyphrases, as well as the main keyphrase. Remember, pillar pages tend to receive a lot of links when executed well.
3. Outline & write your content
Get an idea of what your audience needs and wants to learn about the topic. Doing the keyword research in the previous step will lead to lots of angles you can cover. Also, browse online forums, social media sites, and community blogs to get more subtopic ideas. Create a list of subtopics that you will need to cover under the main topic. From there, outline and organize everything linearly and logically so that the content is easy to consume. General design, formatting, pacing, and visual hierarchy are essential as well.
After that, start filling in the gaps and fleshing out your content. Write in a conversational tone and make sure to keep it interesting.
4. Integrate other elements
You will want to integrate other elements that add value to the content. These additional elements can be anything from statistics to visual charts, or images to videos.
Combining these elements helps increase engagement, adds credibility to your content, and provides more value to the reader. It also helps to break up the monotony of reading a long page full of text. You want to keep the visitor reading until the end. Many pieces of pillar content utilize best design practices. You should use them too if you want your content to stand apart from the typical blog post.
5. Link to related pages
In most cases, linking will naturally come as you start filling out the content for the subtopics since, hopefully, you’re researching as you write. Related pages can include both internal and external links. Don’t be afraid to provide outbound links to authoritative websites. This adds credibility and authority to your content.
As mentioned earlier, linking to relevant pages will help those pages rank higher. Your pillar page will get a lot of links and pass down the link value to these pages.
Where to Keep the Focus When Creating Pillar Content
There are several essential things you need to keep in mind when creating pillar content as shown in the image below:
First, you want to create the most comprehensive, relevant, original, and valuable content possible. If you manage to create a lengthy but subpar piece of content, nobody will pay attention to it. You’ll put all that effort in only to receive few links and get very little SEO value.
Next, pillar content needs to be updated regularly. Remember, one of the main points here is to create a definitive guide for a specific topic. Things change all the time, so you need to update the content on your pillar pages. You want to retain the credibility and authority you’ve built as a result of the content.
Lastly, you want to get value from your pillar content aside from SEO. Try to include multiple calls to actions to sign up to your newsletter, call for a consultation/quote, or check out a product or service. If you’ve written a great piece of content, the reader is going to be impressed. It’s a lost opportunity if you’re not reaching out to them to take some action that helps your business.
To sum up, there are many good reasons to create pillar content. It’s the perfect complement to your SEO strategy and the benefits go beyond just SEO. If you’re looking for a way to boost the results of your existing SEO campaign, you should give pillar content a try.