With Google constantly updating their search algorithm, it seems like best practices for content marketing and SEO change on a near daily basis. Recently, a specific style of content has gained momentum and buzz within the marketing world: pillar content.
Defined, pillar content is a long-form, in-depth piece of content on one topic that could technically be disassembled into a handful of standalone pieces. This differs from the short-form pieces of content that have become the industry standard in previous years.
Why Use Pillar Content?
You might be asking yourself (between sighs), why you have to implement yet another style of content into your marketing strategy? Well, here are a handful of compelling reasons why.
- Consumer Behavior. As the online world continues to become ever more cluttered with content, it's only natural for users to gravitate towards, and even prefer, longer pieces that can be used almost as "encyclopedias" or "bibles" on a single topic versus having to toggle between ten different articles to obtain the same information. When it comes to consumer behavior, convenience is king. As more content begins to get published, this trend of favoring more thorough and well-researched content will only become more profound.
- SEO in 2018. From Neil Patel to Eric Siu to Hubspot to Buffer, SEO experts and marketing companies alike all agree that pillar content is becoming a best practice when it comes to ranking high on search engines.
- Thought Leadership Benefits. Because pillar content is so much more comprehensive and meticulous than other styles of content, it gives the author a bigger stage to showcase their expertise on a particular topic. This can have a positive impact when it comes to the amount of client inquiries, brand perception in the eyes of the readers, potential speaking engagements on the topic and more.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to pillar content is you want your reader to leave with all the questions they have on that particular topic answered. You don't want them to have to exit the page and search elsewhere.
Here's how to get started:
1. Create a list of questions.
Unsurprisingly, the first thing you'll want to do is select a topic. Subject matter for pillar content can, and should, be much more general than other blog post formats. For instance, a good example of a piece of pillar content would be "Instagram Marketing in 2018" versus something more granular like influencer marketing on Instagram.
Once you have selected a topic, begin to write down a list of all the questions a hypothetical reader would like answered about that topic. For Instagram marketing, the topics could include influencer marketing, Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, IGTV, purchasing shout-out's, and more. After you manually create this list, use platforms like Quora to see what people are actually asking when it comes to that particular topic. This will ensure that users are actively searching for the answers to these questions on a regular basis, increasing the likelihood your content will rank high.
2. Create the content.
Don't get discouraged if this takes you longer than anticipated--it should. These articles are drastically longer and much more thorough than others tend to be. That being said, if you or a member of your team don't have the time to dedicate to writing the content, use a platform like Upwork or Scripted to hire a kickass writer to do it for you.
Pro Tip: Include a table of contents at the beginning of your article to make the user experience as convenient as possible for readers.
3. Use heatmaps to see what's resonating.
Once you have published your content, use a tool like Crazy Egg or Mouseflow to see which areas of your article are being read the most and which aren't. This will help you gain a better idea of which topics within the post you should be highlighting across social media and promoting in your newsletter.
4. Promote and update your pillar content regularly.
One of the best parts of pillar content is that it tends to more timeless than it is timely. Take advantage of the long lifespan of pillar content by promoting it on a regular basis, even if six or nine or 12 months have passed.
Pro Tip: Every three to six months, go back and make necessary updates to your content. Perhaps Instagram released a new feature you can add in or Facebook updated their algorithm yet again. Whatever it is, by keeping your pillar content fresh, you'll be increasing its lifespan.
As SEO and content marketing evolves, so should your content marketing strategy. If you're not taking these updates into consideration, you won't only be stagnating, you'll be receding. This year, breathe new life into your content marketing by creating pillar content. Best of luck.