What the hell is pillar content and why do you need it?

What is pillar content and why do you need it?

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 it?

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 currently happens.

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?!

Blogging.

The usual approach is to assign a focus keyword to each blog post.

You then have the task of optimising the living shit out of that individual page so that Google might deign to allow users to find it.

Oh, look, a graphic to help explain what I mean:

Pillar content

There’s a slight problem with that.

You’re relying on that one post 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, 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.

Just don’t. You managed to let Derek go and he was dreamy (yes that was a not-so-veiled Grey’s Anatomy reference).

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 it?

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.

Cluster 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:

  • Blogging
  • Website building
  • Keywords
  • Copywriting

Yeah, you get the picture.

You will continue to add a focus keyword to individual posts.

Still think of them as landing pages in their own right, just keep in mind that you’re building a library without duplicate content. And that library should be working together towards one goal – to increase the chance of being found by people searching for you.

You can use a plugin like RankMath to make sure you’re not targeting the same keywords each time.

So, when I write yet another fabulous post about blogging, I make sure it’s from a different angle. I don’t want to be competing for the same keywords.

Doing this builds a stronger domain authority.

That just means your website will become more relevant to those seeking info based on your industry.

Huzzah!

Sorting through your content.

Calm down, this is not as much work as you think it is.

Start by listing all 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 fucking 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.

Now young grasshopper, you’re ready.

Too young to get that reference, huh?

You’ve established your broad topic, sifted through your cluster content, let’s 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 on 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.

Things to keep in mind when creating pillar content.

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. Mine is called The funniest bestest guide to SEO content writing, EVER. Yeah, it’s a bit extra. 

Word count.

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.

Headings.

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 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.

I am so done with CTAs.

But we gotta have ’em and you need one at the end of all this beautiful content you spent so much time writing, otherwise what’s the actual point?

Reward the people that get to the end, make them buy something.

As usual, I have a blog sign up form. If they can get through all that long-form, the silly sods might want to sign up for more.

Ok, off you go. Create!

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