Pillar Content 101
Pillar Content is exactly what it sounds like. Think about the purpose of pillars in architecture. They serve as the part of the foundation that holds everything else up, the element upon which everything else is built. This is why pillar content is also sometimes referred to as cornerstone content. Essentially, it’s the base content that all of your other content revolves around. Because of this, your pillar content needs to be some of the best damn material you (or your copywriter) has ever written. EVER!
After all, this is the bread and butter of your site. And we’re talking a fresh-baked, artisanal French loaf accompanied by lightly salted butter, hand-churned by virgin maidens, from fresh milk sourced from a small coterie of Jersey cows in the Swiss Alps… NOT slices of Wonder Bread smeared haphazardly with ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®’-brand vegetable oil spread. So how does one craft this stellar content you ask? Let’s explore.
But First… Why Pillar Content?
Simply put, pillar content is what helps your website slide into those coveted number one spots on search engine results pages. Pillar content is also important because typically it’s focused on a broad topic, and then more narrowly-focused content can stem off of it. It can be used as a sort of landing page for the rest of your more specific content, and visitors to your website can easily jump from one topic to the next after they get the gist of your site’s focus on the pillar content pages.
Having this foundation makes it exponentially easier to break down content into blog posts, infographics, videos, emails, social media updates, etc to pull in different kinds of people with different interests through various channels.
How to Construct Pillar Content
Though the idea is fairly straightforward, the execution can get messy. So we’ll break down how to construct your pillar content into 5 steps:
1) Understand your audience.
One of the most crucial aspects of pillar content (and content marketing in general) is forging a connection to your audience. But how are you supposed to do that if you don’t know who your audience is? Take some time to really nail down who is interested in your brand and why. Then, use that information to carefully craft content that will speak to that group specifically. This will play a major role in your audience feeling heard, respected, and cared about which will generate a lifelong, loyal customer base.
You can then use this basic “outline” as a jumping off point for future marketing endeavors. For example, if you’re a small business that sells yoga mats, then your customer base is likely made up of people who enjoy doing yoga. So what other content might they be interested in? (Things like healthy recipes, exercise, active lifestyle, mindfulness etc.)
2) Use a sitemap.
A sitemap is a file that contains information about the pages, videos, and other files on your website and the relationships between them. Search engines use this file as a guide to more intelligently crawl your site. Using a sitemap, you can plan and organize your content, linking pages and defining the relationships between them. To refine this process, keep all content relevant, use lists to make information more easily digestible, utilize headings and subheadings, and ensure that everything has been edited and proofread up and down.
3) Create amazing content.
Remember, this is supposed to be your best material. This will be the first impression for not only your site visitors but for the search engine algorithms as well. Keep content relevant but broad. Use what you discovered about your audience and their wants and needs to tailor all of your content. The goal is to be compelling enough here so that readers will feel driven to click on other links to explore further.
4) Promote and share your pillar pages.
The job doesn’t stop after you’ve created and posted content. You want to make sure that your pillar content pages are the most consistently and frequently promoted. Share your pages on your social media pages, blog communities, forums, email newsletters, etc. And of course, link internally whenever possible.
5) Update and refine content frequently.
Updating your posts accordingly is always a good idea, but it’s especially essential for pillar content. Keep up to speed with changes in your industry, and make adjustments accordingly. Your pillar content needs to stand the test of time, so providing out-of-date or just plain incorrect information can damage your reputation as a brand.
Pillar content is one of the most important elements of your website. Without a strong foundation of pillar content, the rest of your website is just disjointed bits and pieces that will serve you no favors. I hope this article will help get you started in creating solid, high-quality, foundational content that you can continue building upon for years to come.