By John Doe December 11 2017

What is Pillar Content? And Should I Be Using It?

You’ve probably heard of pillar content lately and are wondering if it’s something you really need to know about.  Well, it’s not just a fancy buzzword.  In fact, pillar content has been around for a long time – at least as long as there have been blogs.  If you run any kind of business with a strong online presence, pillar content should be a critical part of your branding.  When done well, it can dramatically improve your search engine rankings, brand positioning, and customer engagement.  So what is pillar content and how is it different from the normal content that you’re already posting?  And, most importantly, should you be using it on your website?

What is pillar content?

Imagine your online content strategy is a tent.  Without the proper supports, the canvas would just flop to the ground.  Pillar content provides that support – hence the name pillar.  Pillar content is the tent poles the rest of your content should gather around, and these pieces reinforce your content strategy and your branding.

Setting aside the metaphor…  Pillar content is high-value work comprised of long, timeless pieces that demonstrate your authority in a particular subject area.  The actual media can vary – e-books, video lectures, guides, reports – but the most common format for your pillar pieces are long-form articles (1500+ words).  Compare this to your normal content, which should be shorter and more focused on subtopics.

Identify 2-4 subjects that you (as a brand) can speak authoritatively on.  Chances are if you have a blog, you’re already producing normal content tangential to these subjects.  Pillar articles are written at an expert level and cover everything about your subject.  Sometimes referred to as “10x content”, pillar content should be ten times better written and more informative than the top Google search result for the same subject.  Though these pieces should be substantial, they also leave room for explanation in future content.  This way, when you produce your normal blog content, you can create shorter pieces that dig deeper into the details of the subtopics inspired by your pillars.

Pillar content stays current.  The articles you post as pillar pieces should stay fresh and relevant for years.  They should be evergreen – written in a way that does not indicate a specific time period – and they should be updated regularly if significant new information in your area of expertise becomes available.

Pillar content is also easily broken down. It gives you more freedom in your normal content to explore the details of subtopics and niches within your pillar subjects because each subtopic you touch upon in a pillar article can easily lead to multiple pieces of content across multiple media streams.  One small section of a pillar article can be the springboard for a handful of blog posts, some YouTube videos, social media posts, and more.  It takes the guesswork out of content creation, and the best part is, it keeps your branding focused and consistent!

How Can Pillar Content Help My Business?

You have probably begun to realize that pillar content can help your business in a major way.  It grows your organic reach, eases the content creation process, enhances your brand positioning, and ranks high for a long time.

Pillar content has high value for your readers.  It is the best quality writing on your website.  As this is often the first interaction a future customer will have with your brand, it’s a critical step in the conversion process and it encourages readers to spend more time exploring your site and brand.  It is also highly shareable because readers who enjoyed learning about your subject will share it on social media or their own websites. Pillar content also establishes your business as the expert and authority on the subject you’re writing about, enhancing your credibility and brand positioning in relation to other businesses in your market.  Having strong pillar content allows your customers to see you as the most knowledgeable and trustworthy in your field.

Where pillar content really comes in handy is SEO.  With trillions of searches happening each year and hundreds of trillions of websites out there, great content that is search engine optimized is what will set your page apart.

Pillar articles are long and full of important keywords.  Because they also touch on multiple subtopics, they also contain several long-tail keywords, which are more specific search terms that target customers who are either ready to buy or looking for more advanced knowledge on your subject.  Similarly, they contain many LSI keywords, or series of related terms that help search engines determine what your content is about and its relevance to users.  The more relevant and meaningful your page is, the higher it will rank in search results.

There are other factors that influence search engine rankings – at least 200!  Besides keywords and meaningfulness, it also helps if your content is engaging.  When readers spend a long time on your site, it boosts your rank.  The combination of engaging writing and the length of each article means that readers will spend longer on your site.  It also increases the likelihood that they will click to other parts of your website.  This is something Google loves to see and will reward you for.

We also discussed sharing as a way to grow your audience, but did you know it also affects rankings?  When readers link to your article on their own blog, it creates backlinks, which let search engines know that people find your website useful.  Use this to your advantage when you create your normal content by always linking back to your pillar content pages.  And finally, because the content is evergreen, it stays relevant for a long time, so it can continue to rank higher without becoming outdated.

Getting these high rankings in relevant searches greatly increases organic traffic to your website, and SEO has a significantly higher conversion rate than other forms of online marketing.

Conclusion

Although a complete guide on how to create pillar content would take a lot more space than we have here, hopefully this article got you thinking about why pillar content is important and some ways to get started.

Remember that the best pillar content is long-form, search engine optimized, and evergreen.  It is high-quality, high-value, comprehensive work that proves that your brand is an expert in your field and is easily broken down into subtopics.

You should definitely be using pillar content, so spend some time determining what your brand’s content pillars should be, then get writing!