What Are Content Pillars And How Do They Get You To Position One

A staggering 7.5 million blogs.

That’s the volume of blogs posted every single day on websites worldwide. Reflecting on this, the figure isn’t that astonishing, considering there are over 600 million blogs peppering the world wide web. Furthermore, publishing articles or blog posts remains one of the most favoured and effective tactics for websites to connect with their audience.

The statistics reinforce this fact: Businesses that maintain blogs witness a 55% surge in traffic compared to those without. Blogs are also the magnet attracting 97% of all inbound visitors. Regarding blog readership, it’s clear that internet users have a liking for them – with about 60% actively reading. To leverage this potential, enlisting the help of a proficient digital agency could be immensely beneficial.

Articles, blogs, and other content types not only bring in people. They also boost a site’s search engine optimisation (SEO) and make your site appear in search engine results more frequently. But while articles and blog posts are useful, at the end of the day, it still comes down to quality.

Quality still trumps quantity, so cranking out uninformative, poor-quality blog posts won’t cut it. So, how do you maintain a high level of quality for your content?

A proven and effective way is to organise and structure your content. This strategyis called a content pillar.

So, what are content pillars?

An Overview of ContentPillars

Content pillars are the main topics around which other content is clustered. A content pillar,also called pillar content or pillar page, is a generalized subject that serves as your primary focus. Additional content, called topic clusters, is designed to complement the central theme. The result is authoritative and in-depth content that branches out to subtopics that focus on a subject your target audience loves.

A content pillar contains basic information on a topic for which visitors search. Infographics, e-books, videos or blogs typically compose the topic clusters – the content created to support the central theme. Topic clusters can be broken down into multiple content pieces.

Thus, a content pillar is at the centre, with the topic clusters connected like wheel spokes on a hub.

Topic clusters are linked to a broader topic on which you aim to be an authority. These topic clusters are designed to provide detailed and specific information on the main topic. They’re directly connected to the main topic found on your content pillar. For example, for a company that deals with home remodelling, its pillar page should answerkey questions about the main topic. As home remodelling involves multiple subjects, providing answers to those big questions can cover a lot. The page should then contain links to home remodelling-related articles for further on-site reading. The content pillar could also add embedded explainer videos to supplement the written information.

The content pillar template might look something like this:

Your topic cluster is the home remodelling-related articles linked to the pillar page. They should contain specific and detailed information about the general topic. The linked topic clusters show Google and the other search engines that your site is authoritative and thus worthy of a higher search engine results pages (SERP)ranking.

A content pillar strategy typically has three key types of pages:

  • Main pillar: Comprehensive, well-researched content with around 2,500-3,000 words focused on a primary keyword.
  • Subtopic (pillar): Content tackling the long-tail keywords related to the main pillar topics.
  • Individual posts:Blogs discussing common long-tail keywords related to the main pillar and the subtopics.

A content pillar done just right can be a valuable resource for your readers and will always be relevant. Search engines will also have an easier time indexing your site. Other benefits the content pillar gives your site are discussed below:

Benefits of Pillar Content

For readers, a content pillar page is a convenient location where they can easily find everything they want about the topic. Additionally, content pillars can be shared easily via social media campaigns and email.

But how exactly do content pillars benefit your site?

  1. Better Site Structure

Search engine algorithms, like Google’s, don’t view webpages individually. They view webpages and their content as a whole and how the content relates to each other. Thus, organising your site’s content structure makes it easier for search engines to map your strategies. You can also plan for keyword usage and identify content silos.

A content pillar consolidates a site’s various content types and creates a hierarchical map.

How a typical content hierarchy is organised

This consolidation significantly improves your site’s structure, making it easier for Google to determine your authority and expertise. Visitors would also find it easier to navigate your site.

Search engine bots can easily evaluate a site with a content pillar. Consequently, suchsitescan earn higher rankings on SERPs.

  1. Ranking for High-Volume Keywords is Easier

Content pillars cover a wide range of topics. As such, they have a higher chance of ranking for top-tierkey words in the large search volume category. This effect is due to content pillars containing comprehensive information about the main topics.

Search engine bots that understand your content mean indexing has a higher chance of success. The bots can have a better grasp of your content, which means they can accurately connect it to search queries. The bots will then recommend your page to users.

Ranking for keywords can be difficult, but using a content pillar can help. How? This is because your content pillar contains subtopics that expand on the main topic, which is structured into a topic cluster. Search engine bots love this arrangement – it shows them that your site provides complete information on the main subject. Thus, your site more than likely satisfies users’ queries or needs.

Your topic clusters also have a good chance of ranking higher on pertinent long-tail keywords. After all, they’re linked to the pillar and the rest of the topic cluster. This connection puts the keywords in context, making their purposes clearer to search engine bots.

Long-tail keywords are usually composed of three or more words and show a specific intention or situation. These keywords, however, get a lower number of searches compared with other keywords. The graph below illustrates long-tail keywords:

  1. Increased User Engagement

Users typically search first for primary terms when researching a topic. Once they find your content pillar, they’re likely to click on any related subtopics in the topic cluster. The information is there, after all – like succulent dishes on a buffet table, ready for the taking.

With supplementary content readily available on the topic clusters, users can easily click and go deeper into their research. If the content proves to be helpful, users will invariably seek your site again. This action will make your page their go-to site whenever they need additional data on that topic.

After all, users will always prefer content containing complete information over content with shallow information filled with fluff.

All this will result in users spending more time on your site, increasing user engagement. The longer users stay on your site, the higher chance of them clicking on your links. You’d have a better chance of getting users signed on and converting potential customers to paying ones.

  1. Improved Internal Links and Backlinks

Internal links indicate how well your content is organised. As search engine bots love well-structured sites, the organisation makes it easy for them to classify your content. The links also lessen the chances of any of your pages becoming an orphan – that is, becoming unconnected to other pages, isolated and hard to find.

Content pillars can also help the bots to determine which pages are more important. Through this ranking, internal links can allocate link equity or link juice.

Moreover, because of how content pillars are structured, attracting backlinks organically is a cinch. Authority sites use pages that contain well-researched, high-quality content as a reference. Getting backlinks from these sites can mean a gateway to your other content – it’ll get noticed and attract traffic and backlinks, provided, of course, that your content, such as blogs, infographics, e-books, long-form articles and others, are designed to fit together towards a content pillar.

So, how do you make a content pillar? Read on.

Creating a Content Pillar

Good content, including blogs, can help you increase traffic to your site by as much as 434%.As that number indicates, good content can take you ahead of the herd. But you have to be careful of what content to put out. Just because content is popular doesn’t mean you can publish one that’s created haphazardly.

Below are tips on how to structure and create content pillars:

  1. Understand your Target Audience

The logical first step would be to understand your target audience. After all, you wouldn’t want to create content your target audience won’t be able to use, would you?

Know your target audience. Knowing your audience may require you to do interviews and surveys or use a few tools and techniques.

You’d have to look for answers to questions like, “If you’re marketing a certain product or service, what segment of the population do your think is likely to purchase them?”

You can try visualising a few buyer personas.Finding out your audience’s demographics can help you a lot, like:

  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Location
  • Socioeconomic standing
  • Education level
  • Employment

After getting an idea of your audience’s demographics, creating various buyer personas shouldn’t be too difficult. Invest in market or audience research and analytics to get a more accurate picture of your user personas. Try to find the answers to the following:

  • Your customers’ preferred type of content they consume daily.
  • The type of content that has always performed well with your customers in the past.
  • How your customers present themselves and how they communicate on social media.

The answers to these questions can help you design your content pillar and find a suitable tone and voice. Your content will resonate more if your style is relatable to your target audience’s online presence.

Once you have a good idea of your target audience, you can create more accurate buyer personas. Defining buyer personas can also give you insights to guide you in your marketing strategies. Some of these insights are the following:

  • Recognising customers’ pain points (challenges encountered by your customers in the marketplace)lets you design more effective customised messages and targeted offerings.
  • Keeping records of your primary buyer person as will make your marketing strategies more unified and efficient at meeting client needs.
  • Getting an idea of your potential customers’ preferred “hang out,” whether online or offline, makes content distribution more straightforward and efficient.

Buyer personas for businesses aren’t static. Companies are define their buyer personas every so often. A market is a dynamic place, after all. Businesses can also have several key buyer personas, and not just one. You’d probably have to create several buyer person as to accommodate the people in your target audience.

Here’s an example of a buyer person a template:

For example, if you’re marketing outdoor gear, one of your buyer personas can be Nikki, a newly married woman in her late 20s who works as a teacher and has just recently taken up hiking mountain trails. Another could be Graham, a single dad freelance writer who’s a runner and mountain climber.

These buyer person as can make you understand your target audience more intimately. They can humanise your audience, making it easier to design content that specifically addresses your audience.

  1. Selecting Main Topics and Keywords

After knowing your target audience, the next step is choosing your content pillars. How many content pillars should you create? Well, for many small-medium enterprises, three to five content pillars are generally sufficient.

With a limited number of content pillars, it’ll be easier to maintain focus on the main topics your target audience cares about. You can have a diverse and extensive content library yet still maintain consistency.

To determine the topic and keywords to focus on, you’d have to conduct customer and keyword research.It’s also essential to understand user search intent – what they want to know and do when searching for a particular phrase.

Below is an example of keyword research results:

After getting a general idea of the most helpful pillar topic, use the results in your keyword research to find applicable subtopics.

Many keyword research tools have keyword difficulty and search volume included. You can also use the “People also ask” feature in search engines to find keywords. These will help you find the topics needed to fill out your content pillar and topic clusters.

Your keyword research result will also determine your subtopics. The results will show how your target audience searches for pillar topics. With the results of keyword and buyer persona research in hand, you can start conceptualising topics for your pillar pages.

As content pillars are intended to be in-depth, start with general topics that can be broken down into small, detailed ones. Not to argue the point, but remember: Don’t start a topic that’s too narrow. Developing a contact pillar with a confining subject matter can be difficult.

  1. Audit Your Site’s Existing Content

Go over your site content and do an assessment. Check if you can update your content to fit your content pillar strategy. Auditing your content can help you discover which topics to emphasise and which to put as your main topics.

You can delete content that doesn’t contribute to your theme and revise redundant posts. If manual content editing for your site isn’t feasible, there are free SEO site auditing tools you can use.

Content auditing will likely affect your site’s structure and organisation. You’ll have to adjust your website and give your target audience what they need.

Here are a few tips to get you started on your audit:

  • Make a list: List your site’s various content types on a spreadsheet. These may include blogs, infographics, videos, guides and others. Note the pieces that go with your main themes. Include details to have a better organisation and easier content segmentation. You can add elements like:
    • Content type
    • URL
    • Keyword
    • Main Topic
    • Subtopic
    • Buyer persona
    • Action needed
    • Content target link

Your spreadsheet might look something like this:

  • Sort your content:After you’ve identified your content, the next step is to sort and categorise it into general topics. You can use these as ideas for your pillar pages. Determine your most popular content and the content your customers need for their journey. The content will be a crucial addition to the topic clusters connected to the broader content pillars.
  • Design a course of action:Create a plan to improve the content and align it with your goals. Go over the data in your spreadsheet and check which main topics have enough topic clusters. Pick the ones that you want your brand to be known for. Those topics should be featured on your content pillars. After you’ve assessed your content, design an action plan for each piece. You can do the following to your content:
    • Reuse
    • Rewrite
    • Expand
    • Update
    • Add visual elements like videos and images
    • Optimize metadata

Auditing content is a continuing process. Revisiting your content from time to time to evaluate its performance and make the necessary adjustments is an excellent way of keeping control of your site.

  1. Check Out The Competition

You’ll likely be competing with other sites for the same subject matter. So, you could use a competitive analysis tool to get a leg up. This method will help you identify opportunities and information gaps your site can fill. The tool can also locate areas in your content where you need to improve.

With the analysis tool’s help, you can:

  • Examine your competitor’s primary content strategy.
  • Establish benchmarks and inspire ideas for your content pillar.
  • Produce an outline of your critical findings and create actionable insights.

It pays to know the content already available on the web and the content formats your competitors are using.

Conclusion

Content pillars are the main topics around which topic clusters are linked. They’re designed to provide comprehensive answers to general topics. As content pillars are designed to provide value to a website’s target audience, they can rank high on SERPs.

You can create content pillars by knowing your target audience – what they want, their pain points and how they present themselves online. Getting to know them is crucial—you can create content specifically tailored for them and provide solutions to their problems.

It can also be a big help if you examine your existing content. You can adjust and update your content to fit your pillar page strategy. Lastly, analyse your competitors’ content. This analysis may give you an idea of how to create content pillars suitable for your audience.

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