If you follow me regularly, you must be aware I place the utmost focus on content that provides value to my readers and actually help them learn.
I am also aware that constantly producing high-quality content can be a very tricky thing nowadays, for sure.
But you probably already know that publishing content regularly is a great way to increase traffic, inspire engagement with your customers and in the end increase profits.
A common mistake that marketers make is choosing quantity over quality because they believe if they post more often that will drive more traffic to the webpage.
This might not be the best strategy for your business. If you want to have a trusting following, you might need to “dig deeper” in a subject and produce a top-notch piece that will naturally draw your target audience to you.
To do that, you need to invest time in creating a great pillar content that will not only draw people to you but also increase your reputation in your customers’ eyes in your industry.
If you are interested in what’s pillar content, how did it start, and how you can use it to improve your SEO, let’s dive in.
The beginning of Pillar Content
One of the earliest articles that can be found on the internet where pillar content is described and talked about is this one.
In the article called “10 Techniques for Finding Blog Readers,” the author Yaro Starak puts pillar content on the top of his list telling the readers:
“…A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally, they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time-dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better…”
This article was published on 28th February 2006 which means that even then people were starting to appreciate high-quality, informational content more than just general, easy articles.
Since then many things have changed in blogging. One of the most important changes is the number of words per blog on average.
Nowadays, the articles are quite longer than then with better SEO, and they try to dig deeper into the subjects.
We tend to create longer, more informative pieces that will stay on the internet for years to come and through updating them, they will continue to be relevant and provide visitors with important information.
What is Pillar Content?
Think about the word “Pillar”. It is a structure that is made to support a building.
But can one pillar hold the whole building? Most certainly not.
Usually, there are many pillars throughout the whole building and together they are able to hold the structure up.
Every single one of them plays an important role in holding the building up, and they are equally important in that sense.
If we apply that metaphor to content writing, pillar content is a big piece of informative content that can be broken down into many sections, pieces, or materials.
All of these pieces, sections, and materials are very important in making the blog piece the best piece it can be.
Pillar content can be an eBook, a guide, a report, or another type of a large piece of content that can be turned into many individual blogs or articles.
Pillar content has a few basic elements and those are:
- It tries to answer any possible question a person has on a certain subject
- It solves a problem, gives an answer to a question, or gives comprehensive tutorials
- It’s trying to be much more in detail in comparison to other content available on the subject
- It is interesting and trustworthy
- It can be easily broken down into sections, e-mails. Infographics, or other smaller pieces of information
This type of content is what builds the trust and loyalty of your readers. Moreover, these types of content will continue to be relevant to new visitors long after you’ve created them.
What is a Pillar Page?
So far, I was talking about blog posts or articles. But you can also go a different way about this by using Pillar Pages.
A pillar page is a separate page on your website dedicated to a section of your site.
For example, my blog is encompassing tips and information for entrepreneurs and everything connected to digital marketing.
But in that area, I have a lot of things to say. That means that there are sub-themes that I cover that fall into separate categories.
If you visit my page “My Best Digital Marketing Articles” you will see what I mean.
The Pillar Page is the place where you can find anything connected to digital marketing for your business to thrive, and it is sectioned by categories so it is very easy for visitors to find whatever it is that they need help with.
Visiting the Pillar Page gives you an opportunity to have everything on digital marketing in front of you, and many other related articles.
This way, you can narrow it down without much effort. It is clear, helpful, and organized- serving the visitor the best that I can.
You can use this type of clustering content in whichever way you see fit that would be the most beneficial to your visitors.
How to Write Pillar Content?
Now that you have an understanding of what pillar content is and why it is useful for your business, let’s talk about how you can produce it.
Understand Your Audience
Before you even start the pillar writing content you have to think very deeply about the basics of your blog.
Remind yourself of the purpose of your blog and what type of people would look at the content that you provide.
Understanding your audience completely is absolutely necessary in order to produce content that will be invaluable to them.
The better you understand your audiences’ needs, the better content you will provide for them making your pillar content successful.
There are a few ways in which you can better define and understand your audience and those are the following:
- Building Buyer Personas– or also known as marketing personas are generalized representations of your ideal customers. Building a buyer persona for your own business will help you in understanding your current and prospective customers which will result in giving you guidelines to what content you need to focus on producing. With this strategy, you can get to know your customers on a deeper level and understand their specific needs and interests. There are many templates on the internet that you can use for this purpose.
- Google Analytics– is a very important tool when it comes to understanding your audience and looking at their behaviors on your page. Looking at your Google Analytics will tell you a lot in terms of what gender is your audience primarily, what is the average age of your audience, where are they located geographically, how much time they spend on which pages, and many other things. All of this information can help you in defining their needs and maybe predicting their behaviors.
- Check out your competitors– a good form of market research are your competitors. You can take some valuable information about the people that are their target audience. Chances are, many of those people are also your visitors especially if you’re all ranking high on search engines.
It is not enough to just know who your target audience is, you need to be aware of what type of needs they have which you can help them with.
Think about how you felt when you were starting out in the industry.
- What types of questions did you have?
- What types of issues were you worried about?
- What kind of information would have made the biggest difference to you then?
- What were your expectations?
- What type of pillar content are your competitors offering?
All of these things are probably the same questions that upcoming entrepreneurs have.
Try to also do research on what the target audience is saying on social media and what kind of mindsets and interests do they have.
Look at their complaints, their comments, what they share the most, what they agree or disagree with, etc.
When you know all this, you can have a clear idea of what type of content does your target audience need.
Once you’re confident that you have a great understanding of your audience and their needs, you can continue with the pillar content process.
Choose the right keywords
Any good content has to be supported by relevant keywords to have a good impact on your page’s SEO.
That is why you need to have a very clearly defined keyword strategy before starting to write your pillar content.
Keywords are very important and they will help you come up with ideas around them for important subjects connected to the main one you want to speak of.
There are a lot of options on the Internet when it comes to keyword research:
It is probably one of the most used and most easily accessible keyword searching options out there.
You can use it pretty easily, just type Google Trends in Google and you will see a search bar where you can write the word you’re interested in.
You can also visually see the popularity of searching a certain word in a given period of time.
You can see in which periods this keyword is used more and in which less.
For example, if you see the image here you can notice that the term SEO gets spikes around the end of the year/beginning of the new one in the last five years.
Another great option that Google Trend has is comparing two or more different keywords to see which one performs better.
From this comparison, you can see that using SEO would be much better than using Search Engine Optimization even though they are both the same.
You can also see which countries search for these keywords, related queries, and much more information.
Another free tool that you can use for keyword searching. This is the right tool for you if you are looking to generate lots of keyword ideas in a short amount of time.
You just put one keyword, and the tool gives you a list of generated ideas connected to that keyword.
However, it is a quite basic tool and doesn’t provide much more information beyond that.
It also gives you the opportunity to use positive and negative filters. This means that if you add a positive filter, the results will include that word. If you add a negative filter, the results will exclude that word.
This can be a very helpful tool for SEO purposes.
Other tools for keywords that are free are:
- Keyword Surfer
- Answer the Public
- Bulk Keyword Generator
Make a Plan
Once you know what your target audience needs and which keywords are relevant for your industry, you can go ahead and start with some planning.
If you want to be organized and effective, I advise you to not skip on the planning process.
Just starting to write things on a certain subject can be hard and can lead to confusing, unorganized content that is difficult for the readers to follow.
That is why planning before starting to produce the content is wise.
What works best for me personally is to figure out the chapters or in which general direction will my content go.
It is much easier to figure out the chapters and then write several articles that are 500-1000 words each than it would be to aim to write the whole big content at once.
Once you write all the sections you can piece them all together and edit the content.
Ideally, you wouldn’t write and edit the whole piece in one day. If you are pushing too hard you’re likely to make mistakes or miss important information.
You want to make sure that you are producing the best content on the subject and that requires a lot of research and fact-checking, so take your time.
So, once you have a plan, start the writing.
It has been a long way to here, hasn’t it?
But the good news is by now, you should have a few pretty good ideas on how to proceed.
That means that the hardest part is done.
Now you just have to sit down and use all the information that you gathered so far to produce an amazing high-quality pillar content.
You want to create content that your audience will want to share with people and use it for their own professional endeavors.
While writing your content, pay attention to the following things:
- Title- it’s the first thing that the people see. According to statistics, 80% of people will read the headline but out of them, only 20% will actually click on the link. This means that the title of your content is the first contact with your audience and it will be the deciding thing in whether or not they want to learn more. Try to make it catchy, but informative.
- ClickBait- one of the worst things you can do is try click-baiting your audience. The clicks of 2 seconds don’t count and you will make sure that most of those people lose trust in your page. High-quality content is what you need to stick to.
- Hook- some people will click on the link, but not all of them will finish reading it. This means that you need to write an attention-grabbing hook that will motivate the visitor to keep reading until the end. You can try interesting facts, anecdotes, news, etc.
- Personalize- tell a personal experience or story. People like to be reminded that there is a human being behind the content and that you have been through your fair share of hardships.
- H1, h2, h3 tags– having a pillar content without a clear structure is just a waste of content. Use images, graphics, videos, bullet points to make the content easier for reading.
- CTA/Invitation– for the most motivated readers that kept going to the end of the piece, you need to have a clear CTA or invitation for them to join/comment/propose/answer or whatever other action you want them to perform.
Link Building and Promotion
Once you crafted the best possible pillar content that you can, backed up with lots of good information and checked facts/statistics it’s time to promote it.
There is a lot of competition on the internet and your great content has to be backed up with credible links so it can rank higher on search engines.
If you include links that lead to authority sites it will make your information feel trustworthy and fact-checked which is always a good idea.
Also, once you have your pillar content and you publish it, promoting it frequently is another thing that you have to focus on.
- Link the pillar content on the first page or the about page of your website
- Boost your posts and share them on your social media accounts
- Add internal links to the pillar content, specifically popular posts
- Inform people via a newsletter
- Update the pillar content when you have new information
Benefits of Pillar Content
If the benefits of pillar content, at least some of them, should be very clear to you by now.
- Increasing customer loyalty: providing high-quality, thorough and fact-checked content to your visitors will increase their loyalty and they will be motivated to come back to your website more often when they need help.
- Lower bounce rate: if the visitors that visit your page are satisfied and the content answers all of their questions they won’t bounce
- Longer time spent on your page: the same applies here if visitors find what they are looking for and are interested in reading the whole thing the time spent on the page will increase.
- Constant traffic: if the pillar content is good, it will be relevant for a long time and that means it will bring constant traffic to your page.
- Better Google ranking: if you produce a long, high-quality content with relevant backlinks that gets shared on social media, your Google rank will improve for sure.
To sum it all up, pillar content is a serious type of content that requires a lot of planning, researching, and plain effort.
But on the other hand, that effort is highly likely to produce amazing results for your page and business overall.
At the end of the day, it’s not about how many people will click on your article or open your eBook, but it’s about how many of them will read and enjoy the content you produced and share it, recommend it, believe in it.
If you found this content helpful and want to become a master of content writing, check the following posts:
- Top SEO tools (Free and Paid)
- Top Content Marketing Trends that will boost your traffic
- Best On-Page SEO Tips to Rank First on Google
Leave a comment letting me know which aspects of content writing you want me to cover next.