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Building High-Performing Content Pillars

Building High-Performing Content Pillars

Content pillars are an essential part of a brand’s content strategy and they serve a fundamental purpose: they provide a comprehensive, authoritative exploration of a topic that a reader can get everything they need on that subject in one place


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What Are Content Pillars? What Is a Pillar Content Strategy?

Pillar pages provide a substantive amount of information that can be divided into numerous formats such as ultimate guides, longreads, hub pages, & more. It is an opportunity to create a better user experience & be rewarded by search engines with high-level, authoritative content.

The content pillar is the center of your content hub, where cluster pages are interlinked with the pillar. It can be dissected & repurposed into smaller pieces of content that you can promote to your audience - social media posts, emails, landing pages, gated content, or other channels where you market your brand.


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What Are the Key Elements of Content Pillars? What Are the Examples?

Depending on your content marketing goals, there are three main types of pillar pages: the “Guide”, the “What Is”, and the “How-To.” We’ll look at examples of each type and see how they work.


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The Guide

For the “Guide” format, this webpage should provide an authoritative overview of the topic with various elements and pages that link to support it. The subtopics and supporting elements, whether they are blog posts, links to resources or products, related questions, FAQs, or videos are clustered around the pillar page’s main topic. Think of the pillar page as the “head” of your content marketing strategy, and cluster topics are the legs, arms, and torso that support your overall goal.


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The What Is

Long-form blogs can be excellent candidates for the “What Is” pillar page that covers a subject in great depth. If the subject matter is complex enough, you can break down the themes or subtopics into chapters and segments.


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The How-To

The How-To can be a powerful content asset for your brand, and an opportunity for you to position yourself as a subject matter expert. It can also be the ideal format if you’re targeting an audience with informational and transactional intents.


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How Do You Develop a Pillar Content Strategy for a Website?

As the great Sun Tzu famously said, “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” While we are not discussing the art of war here, the importance of strategic thinking in content creation is essential in achieving the desired outcome of any marketing effort. Content without structure and purpose will ultimately fail for your brand, your customers, and search engines.


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1. Identify your core topic and keyword

Identifying the core topic & keyword should both satisfy the user intent as much as it should attract search engine algorithms.

Identify the primary keyword or topic, & make sure it’s substantial enough to build a hub around. Look at:

  • Search volume
  • Competitiveness of the topic
  • Relevancy to the audience & the product offering
  • Potential of becoming evergreen content

Analyze Subtopics

Come up with a list of subtopics to form the cluster pages & create the structure for the pillar page. The pillar page should touch base on all of these subtopics & link to the relevant articles uncovering them in detail.


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2. Audit the Existing Content on Your Website

Performing a content audit of the website will help determine whether you already have existing pages that could be modified, repurposed, & optimized for the pillar content strategy, & help identify whether you already have a candidate for a pillar page, or better yet—that you already have plenty of articles that could be restructured into a central pillar.

By updating and optimizing your existing content, you can avoid the pitfalls of cannibalization or duplicate content on your website.

The audit process allows you to re-evaluate your internal linking structure. 


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3. Take a Look at the Competition

If you’ve identified a topic that you want to become an authority on, chances are you have competition vying for the same space. Next, you’ll want to do competitive content analysis on what their content marketing looks like to identify gaps, opportunities, & other areas for pillar content.

One of the best ways to leapfrog the competition in search is to find areas where you can improve what’s already existing & build a more authoritative guide. By analyzing the subtopics covered by your competitors & finding content gaps, you’ll be able to build a better content pillar.


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4. Create Your Content Pillar

Map out the Structure of Your Pillar Page

The next step is to collect all possible questions your pillar page will strive to answer and use them to design the structure of the article.


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5. Interlink, Promote, and Distribute Your Pillar Content

Interlinking your cluster content to your pillar page is an essential part of the information architecture. If you want your pillar content to rank, you’ll need to optimize your links (both internal and backlinks from external sources) to start getting traction.

Remember that the pillar page is the hub where the user can get access to all the information they’re seeking all in one place. Additionally, since you want to promote your pillar content as an authoritative resource, you’ll want to have a strategy for acquiring backlinks from high-quality sources, too.


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Digital Marketer Welcome to my Deepstash where I share ideas I find most valuable for those who wish learn more about digital marketing!


Content pillars are an essential part of a brand’s content strategy and they serve a fundamental purpose: they provide a comprehensive, authoritative exploration of a topic that a reader can get everything they need on that subject in one place.


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