Content marketing is important for multiple reasons. It helps you build a rapport with potential customers and boosts your visibility online. According to 67% of marketers, content generates new leads. To improve your chances of successfully using content to drive conversions, you should have a strategy. Content pillars are vital to your strategy because they help with everything from your content plan to content ideas.
What are Content Pillars, and Why Are They Important?
Content pillars are themes around which you can build your content strategy. The topics you discuss most frequently serve as the themes, and you create content that fits into each category. Content pillars make it easier for your readers to navigate your website or blog, and you can easily link relevant pieces of content.
When using content pillars, include headlines and subheaders in your pillar articles that cover the broader topic. Your pillar article will be longer, covering high-value keywords and topics in general, along with links to more detailed information about each pillar subject.
Once you’ve established your pillars and written pillar content, place similar articles, videos, infographics, and other content into the same section. This type of organization is known as a content cluster, and it helps improve your search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines are evolving with technology like mobile internet, and voice searches and content pillars make it easier for the algorithms to establish you as a relevant search result. They also help your audience find the content that’s most relevant to them.
Content pillars also help you with your social media. When you know your core topics, you can create relevant content and post material relevant to your audience, making your social media presence more cohesive and helping improve your credibility.
Types of Content Pillars
A content pillar refers to long-form content you use to group similar sub-topics. These pillars are typically about 3,000 words detailing a topic you can break down further on other parts of your blog or social media pages. You’re not limited to specific topics. For example, if you run a small fitness studio, your pillars might include training tips, health and wellness, and diet and nutrition. These common content pillars cover common approaches to creating content pillars.
Whatever your industry, you probably know what your potential customers want to know. A how-to pillar would include various content that guides your audience through step-by-step tutorials. Say you own a hair and beauty salon and want a how-to pillar on your blog. You may post a pillar titled “How to Be Happy With Your Haircut” and write a pillar that addresses how to ask for what you want, how to choose a stylist, and how to care for different types of hairstyles to get the most out of your cut. Each sub-section of your pillar would link to multiple articles on these sub-topics.
Another option for a how-to pillar would be to title the page “How-Tos” or “Tutorials” and reorganize your existing content. If you already have a number of articles and posts that offer step-by-step directions for frequently asked questions, make a how-to pillar and put all existing content into this section. Find ways to link each piece of content to others in the same section.
Guides are another great way to address frequently asked questions and create valuable content for your target audience. Like how-tos, they offer advice to your audience, but these articles are broader in nature. They offer an overview of the topic that covers the most common questions associated with it. If you were the salon owner in the previous example, you might write a pillar titled “Your Complete Guide to Haircare” with headlines that link into sub-topics. You may link to guides about different types of hair color and how it impacts your hair or what to look for in high-quality hair care products.
Instead of going into each step associated with a topic, a guide would offer your readers an overview. If you have related how-to content, include links so your audience can easily dive deeper into a topic they find interesting. Your guides should be evergreen. You can back up your stats with recent information, but the general information should not be too topical.
The point of a “What Is” pillar is to establish your credibility and answer questions for your audience. Use this pillar to address common questions and outline your benefit to potential customers. A “What Is” pillar helps you rank for different keyword searches because you can build the search into the post itself.
This pillar helps you streamline your content and target it to different audience segments. For example, if you’re the salon owner from the previous examples, your pillar may be titled “What Is The Most Important Consideration When Choosing a Salon?” Your pillar article will cover everything new clients need to consider when looking for a new salon and a new stylist.
In this pillar, you would be able to link multiple subjects that you could address in detail.
How to Use the Pillar Approach in Your Content Strategy
Using a pillar strategy for your content is an easy way to build a solid database of useful information. A dedicated approach to pillar content and sub-content helps you build a better relationship with your audience by creating meaningful content they want to read. Use these tips to create your pillar strategy.
Conduct Keyword Research to Uncover Keywords and Core Topics
SEO is one of the main benefits of using a pillar approach to content creation, but when you’re starting out, you might not know which topics are best for your website. Start your strategy with keyword research. First, list common industry keywords and list topics that match your expertise.
Next, look through your existing analytics to see which terms search engines use to drive people to your website. Note terms with a high search volume and let it inspire your topic research.
Identify Topic Clusters and Content Ideas
Your results from keyword research will help you narrow down topics for your pillar content and cornerstone content. These are the topics your audience cares about the most and are most likely to drive traffic to your website.
Go beyond your initial results when brainstorming your topic clusters. Dig deeper into your target audience and determine what they want to know. Break down issues they face and how you can help them overcome these issues.
Learn what your audience wants by listening to your existing customers. Take note of what they’re talking about on your social media pages. See which posts get the most traction and which generate the most engagement.
When you have a clearer picture of your target audience, use your keyword research to narrow down the topics for your content pillars.
Carry Out Competitor Research
Learn from your competition. Check out their websites to see if they are already using a pillar strategy. If their blog and other content is well organized into broader topics, make note of their content pillars. Click each pillar page and note any sub-topics that appear.
You can also see what your competitors are posting and how often they post to benchmark how you should manage your content strategy. Your competitors aren’t limited to people in your industry. Run internet searches for your chosen keywords and topics to determine who is ranked at the top. It may or may not be your primary competition.
Build Your Pillar Page and Interlink
After you’ve narrowed down your keywords and used them to identify topic clusters, start building your pillar pages. Each pillar page should contain long-form content that offers your readers a broad overview of the topic. Use one of the types of pillar content to structure your pillar pages.
Before you write your pillar pages, do extensive topic research and outline. An effective content pillar is well-organized and easy to follow. With topic research, you’ll get a better feel for what your audience wants to know and how to break it down. Refer to your keyword research and audience analysis to draft an outline. Note your sources so you can link them on your pillar page. Always give credit to your sources.
Each section should cover a different sub-topic with links people can click to dive deeper into topics of interest—Interlink your cornerstone content throughout the pillar page. Cornerstone content is what you consider to be most important. Which articles and posts are most popular on your site, and which do you want to rank highest in search engines?
Distribute and Promote Your Pillar Content
You’ll probably revise your pillar page a few times before it’s ready to go live. But once you’re happy with it, publish it to your website and start promoting. Make sure your pillar pages are prominently featured on your website and are easy to find.
If you already have a navigation header for your blog, change the landing page to feature your pillar pages. If not, consider adding a section on your navigation bar for each content pillar. When your pillar pages are live, promote them on social media and add links to them in existing blog posts.
Send an email newsletter to your marketing list promoting each topic with a message explaining how the topic benefits your readers and a call to action to read each page and share it with their social networks.
Couple Content Pillars With Your Social Media Strategy
Taking the time to identify your content pillars helps you focus your social media strategy. Your research will help you develop topic ideas that make your social media presence more cohesive. When you’ve fleshed out your pillar strategy, use it to create a content calendar to write and schedule social media posts.
Use your pillars to find third-party content to share with your social network. You can build a more authentic relationship with your audience by mixing self-promotion and exciting information. If you’re at a loss for posts, your content pillars can offer inspiration.
When you post on social media, include links to your pillar pages in your posts to drive traffic to your website, encouraging your audience to stick around and go down different rabbit holes.
Develop Marketing Automation Campaigns
If you’ve already automated welcome messages for people who sign up for email or birthday and anniversary campaigns, you’re familiar with marketing automation. Use your content pillars to inspire people to sign up for your newsletter or mailing list. Create an automated welcome email around your content pillars and add a link to the landing page.
Make sponsored posts on social media platforms directing people to your content pillars or including a call to action to sign up for your newsletters. Use your pillars to segment your email list. Create an automated campaign for each pillar, subscribing people to a specific list based on their pillar preference. Then whenever you create a new post for each pillar, your readers are only subscribed to content they want.
Get Help Where You Need It
Content pillars are an effective way to improve your SEO and drive traffic. They also let you build a relationship with your audience and enhance your credibility. By organizing high-quality content into topic clusters, readers can search for and read content that matters to them, easily clicking on links to read more about their desired topics.
However, creating a content pillar strategy is time-consuming. If you need some help developing a content strategy for your business, Compose.ly can help. Our team can help you with different tasks in your content strategy, like keyword research or topic research. You also have access to our network of vetted writers with SEO experience to help build your pillar page.
Don’t spend extra time on this valuable marketing task or rush through it and end up with an ineffective pillar page. Request a sample and learn more about how Compose.ly can help you.