If you are following the latest content marketing and SEO trends, you must have definitely heard about the importance of ‘pillar’ content. It is everywhere. Everyone from Gary Vaynerchuk to Neil Patel has been talking about its significance.
This article will help you to understand the art of creating pillar content for your blog. Before we dive into the ‘how’, let’s get into the ‘what’ part.
What is Pillar Content?
In simple words, ” Pillar content can be defined as a long-form content about a specific theme/subject which further breaks into the derived topics from that particular theme “
The pillar content can be a long-form blog post or a vlog or a podcast or a video or a guide. It can take any form but the basic purpose remains the same. It has to educate the audience about a particular theme in entirety.
Depending on what content form you are great at, you can pick one. For bloggers, it is mostly a long-form blog post.
In the blogosphere, the articles that have the titles like ‘The Ultimate Guide’ or ‘Everything you need to know about’ are usually pillar content pieces.
For Entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk who is the face of his brand Vaynermedia, his pillar content is his AskGaryVee show or a keynote or a Q&A session.
For a SaaS product in the sales CRM space, Sales Prospecting can be a pillar topic and they can include prospecting methods, tools, features, best practices etc under the same and link it to their appropriate feature page or blog posts.
Pillar Content Examples for Bloggers
For a travel blogger, budget traveling can be a pillar content and tips, apps, hacks, destinations, experiences, food recommendations and everything pertaining to budget traveling can come under the article.
The blogger might have detailed blog posts on all the above subtopics related to budget travel and they can be linked inside the pillar content as well. Those blog posts can also link back to the pillar content.
A lot of the bloggers blog about blogging. Seasoned bloggers will always have a ‘How to start a blog?’ article on their blog that serves as the pillar content and every aspect of blogging including finding the niche, choosing a domain name, server hosting, essential plugins, content generation ideas, blogging content plan, traffic strategies will be covered under the article.
In the image above, ‘ How to Start a Blog’ is the pillar article and it includes content on all the topics mentioned around it.
Experienced bloggers will have a pillar article on each one of the sub-topics as well. That can serve as a neat example of their subject matter expertise and a great way to dominate the search engine results. There is no fixed number on how many pillar articles your blog can have.
Step by Step process for creating your pillar content
1. What is your Blog about – Primary Niche?
Answering this question will help you identify the topics for your pillar content. What’s your niche? What are your articles mostly about?
Some of the popular blogging niches are Personal Finance, Lifestyle, Travel, Financial Freedom, Parenting, Hobbies, Home Decor, Frugal Living, Health and Wellness, Fitness etc.
There is a high probability that your blog falls under one of the above categories. Write down your top category.
2. Drill down your top category and get your subcategories
Now that you have the top category of your blog, it is time to drill down even further. For example, if your blog’s top category is Personal Finance.
The subcategories would be Saving Money, Investing, Retirement Planning, Frugal Living, Debts etc.
There are two ways to find your blog’s subcategories
1. Simple. Look at the categories of your blog posts. If you have been blogging for some time, you would have grouped your posts into categories and your sidebar will most likely have them.
2. Do you follow any top/successful bloggers in your niche? Go to their websites and check out their categories. You will find them mostly on their sidebar. If your blog belongs to the same niche, your subcategories would be the same too.
Write down your top category as well as your blog’s subcategories.
3. Zero down on the topics to write about
If you have been running your blog for a year or two, you would have at least 30 to 40 blog posts that can be grouped under the subcategories.
If you are a newbie blogger, you need to have these blog posts ready for linking in your pillar content.
Take each subcategory and come up with five blog post titles that you can write about in the subcategory.
This exercise will take time and you will need the help of the following websites.
a) Answer the public
This is one of my favorite free tools. Let’s continue with the same ‘Personal Finance’ example. Let’s search for the subcategory ‘Saving Money’. Our goal is to find five topics that we can write about in the ‘Saving Money’ subcategory.
These are the suggestions for the ‘Saving Money’ keyword that is in the form of a question. It showed me around 600+ topics in total.
By hovering over the titles, you will be able to see the search volume and the competition.
As you can see, the keyword ‘ Is saving money important’ has a search volume of 1000/month with a competition of 0.03 (ranges from 0 to 1 based on the difficulty with 0 being easiest and 1 being the hardest).
So you can identify 5 blog topics for each subcategory that you have determined. If you have 5 subcategories, you should have 25 blog post topics.
For the sake of pillar content, have at least 1 to 2 blog posts ready for each subcategory.
b) Google + Keywords everywhere plugin
Install this free Chrome plugin – Keywords Everywhere
Once this plugin is installed, all your searches on Google will have the search volume, cost per click as well as the competition below your search bar.
We are looking at the search volume because we need to write content about a topic that is searched by the people.
To recap: You have identified the main category of your website in Step 1. You have identified 5 subcategories that come under your main category in Step 2. You have identified at least one blog post under each subcategory on your blog in Step 3 (If you are a new blogger, you need to write these blog posts before you write the pillar content).
4. Freeze the outline for the pillar content
This is basically the sitemap of your blog post. What are the main headings? What are the subheadings? What are the takeaways for the reader?
There is no fixed template but it is essential to include answers to the questions. Consider ‘X’ is the topic you are writing the pillar content on.
What is x? Why is x important? What are the types of x? How to do x? What difference will x make to the reader (What’s in it for them)? Examples of people who do x better, personal experiences related to x, takeaways, resources, conclusion.
Now that you have the basic outline of the pillar blog post, you can also include the relevant blog posts on subcategories that you can link to this article.
5. Decide the title of your Pillar Content
The title of your blog posts plays a very important role in the success of your blog. There are millions of articles and the title of the blog post has to do the most important job of making the readers click the article.
Your pillar content is your most important piece of content on your blog that links to all your other important blog posts and also establishes your authority in the niche. So if you are using a mediocre title, you are losing out on a major chunk of page views for all your blog posts.
This is where Coschedule Headline Analyzer can help you. Let’s look at my attempts to zero down on the title for the blog post you are reading right now.
I entered the list of titles that were a good fit for the blog post and Coschedule will score the title based on its algorithm as shown above.
Below are the other titles that I used and their scores next to it.
I have picked the one that has the highest score. Coschedule is free to use tool and more you use it, you will learn the art of creating catchy blog post titles.
6. Do what you do best – Write the pillar content
We have come to the most important step in creating the pillar content which is actually the creation. Build on the outline from the previous steps and start writing the content.
If you are using a plugin like Yoast SEO, you can keep a tab on the SEO and the readability of the blog post as you type the article.
Make sure you use images, infographics, videos, screenshots etc to add proof or value to your content. If you are quoting influencers on the topics, link it to their websites and let them know once the blog post is up.
The length of the pillar blog post can range anywhere between 2000 to 5000 words and the only goal of the pillar content is to add immense value to the reader on the subject.
Finishing touches :
- Create a good-looking featured image that has the title of the content on it. You can design it using Canva
- Make sure all the internal and external links inside the article are set to open in a new tab.
- Add social sharing icons that make it easier for the readers to share the content and also showcase social proof.
- Make sure all the images used inside the pillar content has alt tags that contain the keyword you are trying to rank for.
- Use Table of Contents plugin to automatically include a table of contents inside your pillar content so that the readers can quickly reach the subtopics that interest them.
- Add the call to actions to your resources and freebies wherever you deem appropriate.
7. Promote your pillar content
You would have spent hours working on the blog post. Now before you squeeze your brains to come up with the next pillar content to write about, you can focus on promoting the published post first.
Here’s a detailed blog post on how to promote your blog post. Follow these steps to get the word out about your pillar content.
Leave no stone unturned. This is one of your best blog posts and you want every new and old reader of your blog to read this.
You can even link it to a catchy image and title from your homepage sidebar. As this article links to most of your other good articles, it is important to drive as much traffic as you can.
This also helps increase the time spent by readers on your website thereby increasing your SEO score in the eyes of Google. Get into its good books.
8. Keep updating your pillar content
Your pillar content has to be constantly updated to include the recent trends in the industry or else it would seem outdated for the reader.
As a matter of fact, it is essential to dedicate a day in a month to go over all your blog posts and make updates to them. You can add a line or two linking the old articles with your new and relevant content.
Google loves content that is constantly updated and it increases your chances of ranking higher on the search engines. Make sure you add a note with the last updated date.
Even after months and years of creating pillar content, if you are driving traffic to it, it has to be relevant and hence it has to be constantly updated.
Let’s recap the steps in the process of creating pillar content.
Advantages of creating pillar content
1. SEO : Pillar content is usually long form and is aimed at providing massive value to the readers. The readers spend a lot of time on this page and click through to read your other articles which indirectly increases the time spent on your website. This is good for SEO.
2. Authority: Anyone can write a 500-word blog post about anything without getting into the details. There are thousands of articles that do that. Only experts can write decent long-form content and if your pillar content does well, you are seen as an expert in the eyes of the reader.
3. Opportunity to sell: If your pillar content is about blogging and you have a blogging course for beginners, it is the perfect spot to place your short sales pitch or direct your readers to your course’s landing page.
4. Build your email list: The best time to collect your readers’ email ID is when you provide massive value to them or help them to solve their problem. So pillar content is a great place to have an email capture.
You are now ready to create your own pillar content on your blog. The best time to write is right now. Good luck.
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