Pillar Content: What It Is and Why You Need It
Whether you’re brand new to the blogging world or you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably heard about pillar content. If you haven’t, then you really need to read this post!
Pillar content is something that many bloggers, especially new bloggers, overlook. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know or understand it, and other times it’s because they don’t think that it’s really necessary.
If you just want to use your blog as a hobby blog and just write list posts that do well on Pinterest, then go for it. You don’t have to have any pillar content on your website.
If you’re wanting your business to be around for years to come though and wanting to eventually start getting that beautiful and targeted traffic from organic search results, then ignoring your pillar content just isn’t possible.
What is Pillar Content?
Pillar content goes by a few different names. Cornerstone content and 10x content are the most popular. The idea is that this content is the foundation of your entire content strategy.
Whether you write a pillar post or a pillar page doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that this content is big, informative, and ten times better than anything else that you put out.
It is a broad overview of a topic specific to your target audience, and from this massive piece of content you can create new content out of it.
That new content can be more blog posts, social media posts, videos, podcasts, you name it. More and more content can be created and linked back to this piece of epic content.
Think of it like a tree. Your pillar content is the tree trunk. From that trunk sprouts many different branches. These branches represent other blog posts. And from the branches you have leaves. Those leaves are other pieces of content such as social media posts.
All of those leaves and branches are growing out of the same tree trunk, just like your other social media and blog posts are growing out of your pillar post.
Everything is interconnected.
The Difference Between Pillar Posts and Pillar Pages
The difference between a pillar post and a pillar page is pretty self-explanatory. One is a blog post and one is an actual page on your website. The big difference is really how they’re written.
A pillar post will be a long and very informative blog post talking about a broad topic. From there you’ll be able to link out to smaller blog posts that dig into individual aspects of the topic at greater depth. Most pillar posts are between 5,000 and 10,000 words. Think of it like an ebook.
A pillar page on the other hand is a little different. They’re typically shorter, think 2,000-2,500 words and they really just give a brief overview into the topic.
From there you’ll be able to link to individual blog posts or have all of the related blog posts listed on that particular page.
A pillar page can also be referred to as a silo if done properly. It’s a way to house related content together on your blog for easier navigation and better SEO.
Why You Need Pillar Content
At the most basic level, pillar content helps you to better organize your content for your readers. It gives you a clear and consistent direction for your blog topics so that you can make sure that you are putting out the right content for your readers every single time.
The other reason you need pillar content is for SEO.
It’s no secret that Google loves long posts. Google is all about making sure that it is putting the best information possible in front of the people searching for it.
A blog post that answers all of the searchers questions is going to out rank one that doesn’t. Plain and simple.
SEO Benefits of Pillar Content
If you want your blog to not only be around, but actually growing, then you should really be looking into the major benefits that having pillar content on your website provides.
Longer Time on Site
Longer blog posts take more time to read. That’s a fact. Longer blog posts can also scare away people not used to it if you aren’t careful though.
You can’t just write a long post to have a long post. It needs to be informative, engaging, and easy to skim for those people that don’t want to read the whole thing.
Keep your audience engaged though and you’ll have a much better SEO ranking because of it.
Lower Bounce Rate
Have you ever gone to a website, skimmed through, and not found the answer you were searching for so you left and went back to the search results?
Of course you have. Who hasn’t?
You don’t want your readers to bounce off your site like that. You want to keep them on there, reading not just the one post they found, but the other posts as well.
Since your pillar content links out to so many different blog posts on your site, readers are more likely to stick around and read a few more articles rather than immediately leaving. This lowers your overall bounce rate and is very good for Google.
More Backlinks and Social Shares
Since pillar posts are big, informative, and amazing pieces of content, they’re more likely to be linked to and shared on social media.
Having more backlinks is always a good thing, but did you know that Google pays attention to your social shares too?
Oh yeah. (Source)
Pillar posts are linked to and shared more often than any other type of post. Having this good quality content on your website can only help you in that regard.
Pillar posts are not season specific posts like “20 things to do with your kids this Christmas”. They’re evergreen.
That means that it will be just as relevant in five years as it is today. While you may have to update a few parts of it here and there, the overall idea of the piece will remain the same.
Higher Google Ranking
All of these things together lets Google know that your content is not just good, but great. Google’s primary job is to put the best content possible in front of its users and it judges content based on all of these parameters.
Having pillar content on your site is essential to a strong SEO strategy.
Creating Pillar Content
Hopefully by now you’ve realized why you need to have pillar content on your website. Now let’s talk about how to actually get it there.
Understand Your Audience
First and foremost, you need to understand your audience. If you don’t have a clear picture of who your ideal audience is and what they really need from you, then your brand identity isn’t nearly as strong as you think it is.
Going back to the basics and understanding who your target audience is and where to find them is where you need to start.
Determine User Intent
Next let’s talk about user intent. This is a step that many people overlook.
Just because you have an awesome idea for a blog post doesn’t mean that anyone wants to read it. You need to know not only who your audience is, but also what they’re searching for.
The easiest way to do to actually talk to your audience.
If you can’t do that though, then go on Google and start doing your own searches.
Look for things that your audience will be searching for and see what types of posts are already ranking for those searches.
Are they how to posts, basic overview posts, or do they dig further into an area that you hadn’t considered before?
Looking at these posts is extremely beneficial for you because these are the posts that Google has already determined are the answers to the searcher’s questions for that particular word or phrase. That means that if you try to target that keyword and write something completely different, you aren’t getting on page one.
It doesn’t matter how well you write your post and optimize your keywords. If no one is searching for the answer you’re trying to solve then no one is going to read your post.
Keep Keywords Broad
The targeted keyword for your pillar post should be a little more general than the keywords for the secondary content.
For instance, the keyword “breastfeeding” gets nearly 400,000 searches each month. That is a massive keyword and not one that a new blogger with no domain authority is going to be able to rank for.
If you’re a lactation consultant though, then you’ll have quite a few posts revolving around this huge keyword.
Writing a pillar post around the basics of breastfeeding would make sense, not only for you, but also for your readers.
From there you’ll be able to break it down into smaller, more targeted posts.
- Breastfeeding problems
- Types of breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding tips
- Importance of breastfeeding
The possibilities are endless. The important thing is that ALL of these additional posts are all related to your main breastfeeding post and can all be interlinked together.
Identify Core Topics
Let’s look at that breastfeeding post again.
There are a million different things that you can talk about relating to breastfeeding. You can’t talk about all of them though or you’d have an entire text book. Unless that’s your plan, you’ll need to narrow it down some.
This is where knowing your user intent really comes into play.
Think about the primary topics that your reader wants to know about when searching for your keyword. Are they looking for information about:
- how to start breastfeeding
- warning signs related to breastfeeding
- milk supply issues
- pain management
Or perhaps all of the above?
Take those primary questions and answer them in your post. You don’t have to go into a huge amount of detail, but you will need to cover the topic enough that your reader walks away from it feeling like they’ve had their initial questions answered.
From there you’ll be able to create those additional posts really digging into the different elements.
Make it Informative
Always, always, always provide value to your readers. If you’re talking just to talk, then people will stop listening. The same thing will happen in your writing.
If someone reads your post though and feels as though you answered their questions, then they will come back to your site again and again.
I see bloggers all the time, especially when they’re first getting started, that start pumping out content daily because they think that having 50 posts will do more for them than only having 10. In many cases that’s true, having more content does give you a greater chance of being seen.
The problem though is if you have 50 pieces of useless content, then no one is going to see it. And the people that do most likely won’t come back to see what else you have.
It is better to have 10 pieces of amazing content than 50 pieces of mediocre content.
You don’t know everything.
I don’t say that to be mean. It’s merely a fact of life. No one knows everything. We all have to have a little help every now and then. The same is true of our writing.
If during your research for your post, you find an article that is really helpful that you believe would be something that your readers would like to see, then absolutely link to it!
This is how the internet grows and evolves.
Use sources for your articles and feel free to quote them and link back to them. The other bloggers will appreciate the shout out and you’ll get on someone else’s radar.
Just don’t link to an article directly competing with your own. That only gives your competition a leg up in the rankings.
Pillar Content for the Win
Hopefully by now you’ve realized the amazing benefits that can come from creating pillar content for your website.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know about pillar posts and my content suffered. Now though, I couldn’t imagine not having my content planned out around my pillar content.
I know exactly what to write, how to write it, and what to link it to. This helps keep me on track and organized, as well as helps to improve my Google rankings.
If you’re still struggling with your content plan though, stop by our Facebook group and ask your questions. We, and all of our amazing business owners, would be happy to help.