Any seasoned marketer who’s been in the game long enough will tell you that creating quality content is hard work.
Recent reports published by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that the greatest challenge businesses face with marketing content has to do with content creation (63%). Content strategy difficulties come to a close second (51%).
By developing a well-thought-out content marketing strategy, your business can actually produce measurable results through content instead of aimlessly creating media that doesn’t bring you new business. A great way to concentrate your efforts is by organizing your content around content pillars. This is a focused content pool that helps visitors and search engines view your business as an authoritative source in your industry.
This guide will help you learn everything you need to know to get started with incorporating content pillars into your content marketing strategy.
What is a Content Pillar?
Content pillars (also known as content buckets or anchors) are comprehensive and educational pieces of content that are typically based on distinct topics. They allow businesses to focus all their efforts on creating one single anchor piece of content that they can always refer back to and use to further their content marketing efforts.
These enormous content pieces (usually in the form of ebooks, guides, articles, and reports) are split into smaller fragments or expanded upon so they be turned into several, single content bits such as:
- Blog posts, email newsletters
- Images, infographics, memes, GIFs
- Social media captions/updates
Content pillars ensure that organizations have enough material they can make use of for their varied communication channels such that each channel has its own set of customers.
What Does a Content Pillar Look Like?
To understand how businesses organize content pillars, here’s a glance at the award-winning, digital advertising platform, Hello Social’s pillar content strategy. The brand has multiple well-defined content pillars each serving a specific purpose.
You can see that Hello Social lists four major pillars:
- Content that will engage social media influencers
- A content piece with brands as its target audience.
- A blog post that will interest digital marketers.
- A segment dedicated to businesses who want to collaborate with influencers.
Each of these content buckets is detailed enough to be turned into shorter or more specific blog posts, social media snippets, memes, GIFs, infographics, a podcast, a short video clip, the list is endless.
Let’s look at a few other examples of what content pillars would look like, this time in relation to different niche industries.
- SaaS product owners can create pillar content by publishing how-to-guides ( a step-by-step tutorial of how to use products for example), educational e-books that bring value to customers and prospects. You can also put together case studies and customer testimonials.
- If you own an e-commerce store that sells soaps, you can base content pillars around teaser articles that inform buyers of when the next line of products will be released. You can send out monthly newsletters regarding the same. You can even write articles talking about soap recipes, the inspiration for them, all their benefits, and so forth.
- Medical practitioners and clinic owners can build pillar pages around case studies, articles about the latest news in the healthcare industry (specific to your practice), and other content relevant to your patients.
Why Your Business Needs a Content Pillar
Writing blog posts randomly doesn’t drive results from an SEO perspective. Content pillars are the foundation for smaller pieces of content to focus your efforts and rank for a specific topic. Here is why you should consider adopting the content pillar strategy:
Content pillars boost your Google ranking
Content pillars allow businesses to better their SEO ranking and let search engines know that your domain has authority on a specific topic.
With a little bit of digging, we discovered that the search query ‘automate tasks’ shows more than one result for the integration platform, Zapier. The first result leads to the main pillar page and the second is a featured snippet that backlinks to the pillar page. By employing a pillar page strategy, your website can end up on Google’s first page results and get more traffic.
Content pillars lower bounce rate and increase time spent on your website
By focusing on building comprehensive and exhaustive content on a topic for your target audience, your website will see a decrease in bounce rates. Visitors will spend more time going through related links on your page. If they find exactly what they’re looking for on your website, they won’t need to return to Google for answers.
Additionally, by building content pillars, companies are creating more and more consumable content pieces that let people spend an increased amount of time rifling through your website.
Content pillars encourage backlinks from other sites
As pillar pages are content-specific, they get shared across multiple social media platforms allowing your content to be distributed across the digital space. Content pillars also allow businesses to save time through content repurposing, making content creation and curation quick and easy.
How to Implement a Content Pillar
Content pillars allow businesses to gain perspective on their niche, allowing them to become experts in their field or in a few specific topics resulting in an expedited growth in audience.
But to accomplish this, your business needs to put some thought into the process and come up with a content pillar strategy that works best for your organization. Let’s look at how your business can implement this process.
Step 1: Understand and define your audience
If you want your pillar content to appeal to your audience while also ensuring that it is representative of your business, you need to first understand your audience.
Start by formulating a buyer persona with the aid of social media analytic tools, Google analytics, or your database to answers questions such as:
- The gender and age of your target audience.
- The location of your audience. (Are you looking at a local, national or international demographic?)
- What industry or job title do your target audiences hold? (Do you want to target only CxO and decision-makers or marketers, professionals, etc).
- What do you know about your audience’s level of education?
- What is the socio-economic status of your readership?
Once you’ve listed down the answers to these key questions, you can decide on the best approach to employ and curate your pillar content accordingly.
To aid you, your business can make use of our keyword strategy tool to guide you through picking content pillars and topics to write about based on your target audience, competitors, and search volume of topics.
Step 2: How Can You Address the Problems of Your Target Audience?
You can only cater your pillar content around your audience’s needs and interests if you’re ready to address their problems. You can do this by simply lending an ear and listening to them.
Start by taking down pointers from the FAQs posed by your readership. There’s plenty of ideas and inspiration for pillar content you can glean from there.
If you want to take a more direct approach to understand the needs of your readers, ask them yourself through a short write-up that you can publish on your social media channels. You can also keep close tabs on what your target audience is saying on social media and take inspiration from there.
Step 3: Create a Content Calendar
For your brand to stay ahead in the content marketing scene, you have to plan all your content at least a month in advance. This way, you will not end up compromising on quality with the bonus of bringing in a sense of regularity to everything your brand publishes on the blog or website. A few other points to keep in mind:
- Ensure that you’ve noted down special dates like holidays, launch dates, key events, and so forth so that you can plan specific SEO or newsletter-based content for the said dates.
- Make sure you have decided on days where you will post macro content such as blog posts, videos for YouTube/vlogging platforms, podcasts, etc.
- Short SEO posts such as the ones fit for social media that would make up your kitchen table for micro-content. Since these content pieces are a lot easier to formulate and write up, managing and scheduling slots for these should be quick and simple.
- No matter what content piece it is that you’re putting up whether it is on your blog, a vlogging platform, or social media, ensure that you have a clearly defined CTA in them all.
- All pillar pages must have backlinks to smaller content pieces whether they are social media bits, infographics, videos, and vice versa.
Step 4: Create, Repurpose and Plan Engaging Content With a clear CTA
Now that we’ve gone over all that is required to create pillar content, discussed the various ideas businesses could use to get the ideation and creation stage started, let’s talk about content repurposing.
Content repurposing is the process of finding new ways to use old content. Instead of going back to the drawing board to come up with ideas for new topics every time you need pieces to post on your website, blog, or social media, you can simply make use of what is right before you.
Take, for example, a general article (10 tips businesses can make use of to further their marketing efforts) that is already sitting in your blog. This one blog post can be repurposed into:
- A newsletter
- A short, engaging, creative video with a brief on the main points.
- An infographic focusing on the numbers.
- Short social media snippets for your Twitter and Instagram.
Just like that, you have 4 additional pieces of content that you can now plan your week around, schedule and publish on your website, and share across social media without having to break your head over new content ideas.
Keep in mind that whenever you do share this content, it is done so with a clear CTA, so that you can make the best use of the situation.
Step 5: Linking Content Pillar to Sub Posts and Posts Back to the Content Pillar
When businesses build pillar pages within their website, they stand the high chance of attracting Google’s search engine crawlers that does the job of scouting for internal links within websites.
These search engine crawlers acquaint themselves with different websites and end up discovering internal links of subtopic content that finally point them to the main pillar page.
Here’s an example to demonstrate the idea.
Although pillar content creation is not an easy process and involves drudging through a few key steps, the result is quite rewarding. If you’re a burgeoning business, content marketing leave alone pillar page creation may seem like a daunting task, here’s where Letterdrop comes in. We have tools that scrape the web to help you create a content pillar strategy and execute on it. Book a demo today to learn more.