Content Pillars: The Basis for Effective Content Marketing

Content Pillars: The Basis for Effective Content Marketing
Article by DesignRush DesignRush
Last Updated: October 25, 2022

Content pillars are integral to any brand's content strategy, serving a fundamental purpose. Content pillars offer an authoritative and comprehensive exploration of a topic so the reader can get everything about a subject in one place.

This may sound straightforward, but while incorporating the concept of pillar or cluster content into the content marketing strategy, marketers need help addressing the scope of questions, problems, or solutions they seek to deliver.

This article will dive into understanding content pillars with examples while highlighting the process of developing a content pillar strategy for your brand.

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What are Content Pillars?

Content pillars are clusters of content that provide a substantive amount of information and can be divided into formats such as hub pages, long reads, ultimate guides, and so on. Content pillars offer digital marketers an opportunity to create an improved user experience. Readers are rewarded with high-level, authoritative content as a result.

Content pillars are destinations for critical and in-depth information backed by enough data and guides. Regardless of the type of content, a pillar page should be optimized for a particular keyword satisfying the searcher's intent.

Overall, a content pillar is the center of your content hub, interlinking the cluster pages. The best thing about pillar content is that it can be dissected and repurposed into smaller pieces of content in the form of social media posts, emails, landing pages, etc., and promoted to the audience

5 Steps For Developing a Content Pillar Strategy for Your Website

Here are the steps to develop your brand's content pillar strategy from its foundation:

Step #1: Identify the Main Topic and Keyword

Identifying the core topic and keyword is the first step, and both should satisfy the user intent while also attracting the search engine algorithms. It is essential to consider what problem you are solving, which products and services you are offering, and who is your target audience.

This will require you to return to your buyer personas and their pain points. For instance, if your customers’ pain point is balancing work and family, your content theme can be around family activities or guides to striking a balance.

Next, you must identify the primary keyword and the topic, which should be substantial enough to build a hub. Consider factors like the search volume, the topic’s competitiveness, relevance to the audience and product offering, and the content’s potential of becoming an evergreen piece.

Once you have decided upon the core topic and keyword, it is time to analyze the subtopics that will form the cluster pages and support the structure of the pillar page. The pillar page must touch upon all these subtopics and link to the relevant articles, uncovering them in detail.

Step #2: Audit the Existing Website Content

Performing a content audit of your website will let you determine whether you already have content that can be modified, optimized, and repurposed for the pillar content page.

There are two main benefits of this process. First, by optimizing and updating existing content, you can avoid the downsides of cannibalization or duplicate content on your website. Second, you can re-evaluate the internal linking structure.

However, if you still need to get existing content to support a content pillar, you will need to reverse-engineer the process. Specific content strategies can begin with creating the pillar page and then supporting the cluster articles.

Step #3: Consider Your Competition

If you have identified a topic to become an authority on, chances are that there is competition. So, you will need a competitive content analysis on their content marketing strategy to find gaps, opportunities, and other areas for your website’s pillar content.

Looking at the competition also enables finding areas of improving what already exists and, therefore, building a more classic piece, which is valuable for the readers. You can also analyze the subtopics covered by the competitors and identify content gaps. Overall, you will be able to build a more robust and comprehensive content pillar.

Step #4: Create Your Content Pillar

The final step is to start creating the content. Start by mapping out the structure of the pillar page. Next, you should combine all the possible questions your pillar page will seek to answer and use them to design the article’s structure. Remember that articles with advanced headings and subheadings are among the top-performing organic content.

For example, if your subtopic is ‘What is the disadvantage of filing for bankruptcy, you will get valuable insights on popular headlines and FAQs collected from the web. From this, you can create an outline of questions you want to answer, such as:

  • What does it imply to file for bankruptcy?
  • How to declare bankruptcy?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the consequences?

You can use advanced tools to create automated SEO-friendly content briefs, provided you know the subject well.

Step #5: Why is Evergreen Pillar Content Better?

Ideally, your content marketing management strategy must include a variety of timely pieces and evergreen content. Often, evergreen content is considered to be working the best while creating pillar and cluster content.

Pillar pages that center on evergreen content perform exceptionally well for readers and search engines if you have high-quality cluster topics to support them. That is why; emphasizing the searcher's intent and the topic's subject is of utmost importance.

Here's an example of how evergreen content is created. Imagine that you have a news publishing website and, during a specific content audit, realize that you have several articles following a historical event. You can easily create a full evergreen pillar page from the vantage point.

This page will offer an authoritative, high-level view of that historical event along with all the highlights. Alongside, links to your cluster topics will further dive into each subtopic in greater detail.

Examples of Content Pillars

Based on your content marketing goals, there are three main types or examples of content pillar pages, as explained here:

The Guide

The Guide format webpage offers an authoritative overview of a subject with various elements and pages that link to support it. These subtopics can be FAQs, blogs, links to resources and products, and so on. They are clustered around the main topic of the pillar page.

An excellent example of a pillar page is a piece of content from the Southern District of New York website. The content ranks on Google's first page with “How to File for Bankruptcy in New York” as a keyword phrase.

The content is titled 'Understanding Bankruptcy,' It provides a high-level overview of bankruptcy law, defining the significant themes, courts, and chapters in personal and corporate bankruptcy matters. It is detailed and optimized to give the reader everything they need to know about the subject in one place.

On the other hand, the left sidebar lists the cluster content topics closely related to the user's search query. They are the best-recommended readings for anyone gaining knowledge of bankruptcy laws.

The "What Is"

The What Is pillar page covers subjects in great detail, and long-form blogs are a prime example. Often, the subject matter is complex, so the theme or subtopics are broken down into chapters and segments.

In The What Is pillar page, the subtopics are organized by a linked table of contents on the left side of the main content. Each cluster is optimized for its particular purpose by adding elements like videos, graphs, and illustrations. The visual elements make the content more sharable on social media.

The "How-To"

The How To pillar content is a powerful asset for any brand, enabling it to leverage content marketing benefits. It is an ideal format if you are targeting an audience with transactional and informational intents.

Another highlight of The How-To layout is that it presents actionable content to the user and enables them to start the process immediately.

Takeaways on Content Pillars

Pillar is a loaded term, regardless of the context in which it is used. Content pillars are unique content that helps brands stand out from their competitors. For content marketers, content pillars can be more strategic and consider what the readers want.

Therefore, understanding all the elements of a successful content pillar strategy is crucial. Strategic thinking is the first step when aiming to increase your brand's authority and exposure or sell products online.

Your website's content pillar should cater to the user's intent and be structured according to the search engines.

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