Article updated, November 2023.
Pillar content sounds monumental, doesn’t it? The phrase has got me thinking of content like a towering structure of biblical proportions.
Huge. Immense. Gargantuan. Erect…
Blimey. Typing that made me a bit sweaty.
It’s called that because it supports other content. Yeah, doesn’t sound nearly as impressive now, does it? And it’s still kinda vague.
So, what is pillar content?
Lemme describe it this way: it’s a piece of content that organises all the rest. Holy Saint Peter and his keys to heaven, that’s put another shade on it.
Why do you need it?
Well, lover man, it increases the chance of people finding your stuff.
I have the song, Lover Man in my head (the Barbra Streisand version) so be prepared for the lyrics to seep out in this post.
Before I explain further, let’s start with what’s currently happening.
Standard website structure.
Imagine a homepage.
That page uses CTA buttons to point to other areas on a website. One of those other areas is a blog page. Hyperlinks (clickable text) on each post point to similar information within the site. Sound familiar?
What do you mean, no?!
The usual approach is to assign a focus keyword to each blog post. You then optimise the living shit out of that individual page for search engines.
Oh, look, a graphic to help explain what I mean:
There’s a slight problem with that.
You’re relying on that one blog to do some serious heavy lifting when it comes to being seen on the web. And yeah, ok, that’s why you pop those hyperlinks throughout the content—to tell Google about all your other suitable stuff.
But hang on. If you’re writing posts around a subject, using certain keywords and optimising them as stand-alone pieces, you run the risk of competing against your own content.
Shitting arseheads, Doris.
Well, hello pillar content…
How you doin’?
I’ve heard it said that the thrill of pillar content can be like a heavenly dream…
(Shoe-horning more Lover Man lyrics there.)
I mean it’s great but it’s probably not thrilling. However, it will make you rethink how you’re currently blogging.
Hey, don’t panic.
I’m not about to suggest you delete your blog (unless it’s just the pits). You’re going to have a proper clear-out and sort through your posts and pages. Doing that will highlight the ones you keep and the ones you delete.
Don’t get attached to stuff on your website.
A cull is a good thing for SEO. If it ain’t serving your purpose (your audience/keywords), it needs to take a walk.
How do you create pillar content?
You start by choosing what broad subject all your content will fall under. That topic should be one of the keywords your website targets. So, for me, that’s SEO content writing. Once that topic is fixed, create a new webpage. This will become your monumental piece of content.
These are the posts and pages that your pillar content will link to.
My dad used to be in a band called The Cluster. They had this tagline: “Add lustre to your cluster with Max Factor knacker-lacquer.”
My cluster content would include stuff like this:
- Website building
Yeah, you get the picture.
You will continue to add a focus keyword to individual posts. It’s good to still think of them as landing pages in their own right, just keep in mind that you’re building a library (and one without duplicate content). That library should be working together towards one goal—to increase the chance of being found by people searching for you.
You want to avoid targeting the exact same, or similar keywords for individual pages. If you don’t, you’ll end up competing with your own content. That confuses the hell out of Google which might rank all your content lower.
You can use a plugin like RankMath to make sure you’re not targeting the same keywords each time you create a new page.
Build a stronger domain authority.
That just means your website will become more relevant to those seeking info based on your industry.
Sort through your content.
Calm down, this is not as much work as you think it is.
List your current blog posts.
I got my nerd on and created a spreadsheet. It was much simpler to assess all the work I had.
I’m pretty lucky, my main subject has always been clear, which made it less of a ball-ache to arrange into cluster content. If your blog is all over the show, with no clear topic, this process will be a fooking nightmare. At best, It might throw up several broad subjects, at worst, you’ll have a truckload of posts that don’t make any logical sense. If you do find that you have a couple of wide topics, that’s cool but it will mean you’ll need more than one piece of pillar content.
Once you’ve established your broad topic and sifted through your cluster content, you’re ready to prep some pillar content!
That page you created earlier will be a one-stop-shop for everything you ever published around your broad subject. Your cluster content categories can become headings, underneath which you provide a brief outline of the subject. That outline should be long enough to include hyperlinks to your relevant blog posts. This is your ultimate guide to what you bang on about.
Pillar content: things to keep in mind.
Add a table of contents.
Allowing people to skip to the sections they want to learn about is muchos important. User experience, bitches, that’s what we always say, remember?
Give it a crackin’ title.
Don’t make it lame. One of mine is called The Mistfit’s Guide to SEO
Any figure from 3000 to 5000 is good but it really depends on how much cluster content you have. You’ll add to it as you regularly blog.
And thou wilt regularly blog.
Make it worth the effort of reading.
Here’s the truth: people may not read every word but write it as if they will. Ignore what some twats say about long-form. People do read it. But they usually have to set aside some time—but only if it’s of value to them.
Make it evergreen.
keep it updated. Revise the content. If it no longer applies, chuck it out.
Just like a blog post, add headings. Break this huge piece of content into bite-sized morsels. It will give people the ability to skim (and some bastards will always skim).
Mix your media, not your metaphors.
Sorry, I just made myself LOL.
Lay down some infographics, graphs, video – whatever makes damn sense. Put on a bloody show!
Add a CTA.
We gotta have a mix of hard and soft CTAs.
What do I mean by that? Well, hard CTAs would be things like, Book A Call, Contact Me or Hire Me. Soft CTAs are things like, Download A Free PDF, Sign Up To My Blog or Find Out More. Add them throughout your pillar content
Ok, off you go. Create!
Are you a writer in need of some SEO content help? If that is you then you would be perfect for this.
I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).