If websites are essentially online versions of physical stores, a pillar content strategy is a way of building a strong foundation for your store.
Just like you would select the highest quality materials for your physical store, you must create the highest quality content for your website.
In this blog, we will help you understand what goes into creating a successful pillar content strategy and how you can get your website into prime real estate on the first page of the search engine.
What is a pillar content strategy?
A pillar content strategy is a systematic approach to content creation for websites.
It works like this: you create content on a broad topic and publish a central long-form piece of content that covers many subtopics in brief and links to their individual blog posts. In return, the individual blog posts also link back to the central piece in their text.
The central piece is called a "pillar page," and the related blog posts are called cluster content. We have covered the basics of pillar pages in great depth in this Scalenut blog, ‘What is a pillar page and how they help in SEO rankings?’
This process of organizing information on your website and establishing relationships between content pieces through links is called "pillar content strategy."
If a user wants to know anything about topics related to your products and services, they can find a comprehensive knowledge resource on your pillar page.
Why should you create pillar pages?
To answer this question, let’s go back to the store example.
If you are developing a physical store, you want people to be able to find you. So you will install billboards, share WhatsApp group messages, and display posters to increase visibility.
In the online world, this exercise is called content marketing. It requires you to create content on topics related to your products or services and market them as much as you can through a webpage.
This will get you referral website traffic from search engines like Google, community forums, and other websites that talk about your industry niche.
A "pillar page" lets you target all the keywords relevant to a broad topic in one place, which further increases the visibility of your website in search engines, the online main street for everything.
Search engines like Google love a website that has a defined content structure. It makes crawling and indexing a website easier and better, which further increases the chances of your website being featured in search results.
The thing about creating blogs in silos is that they serve a select few people looking for specific information. By covering everything about a topic in your pillar pages, you attract a wider audience, addressing casual searches and final decision-making.
A pillar content strategy is an ideal way of producing coherent content pieces that link to each other. It helps you leverage every website visit and hook the reader with your extensive topic coverage.
To sum up, here are some key benefits of a pillar page content strategy:
- Better crawling and indexing by search engines.
- Increased organic traffic from SERPs.
- Increased backlinks from websites that talk about the same topic.
- Improved user experience and navigation for website visitors.
- Enhanced topical authority for your brand.
Now that you understand the what and why of pillar content strategy, let’s look at how you can create a pillar content strategy for your next project.
How to create a pillar content strategy
Let’s assume you want to create a pillar content strategy for your tourism business. For simplicity, you provide customized national and international tours for families only.
Here is how you can create a pillar content strategy:
Understand your audience
The first step is to understand your target audience. Let go of any preconceived notions about who your ideal customer is.
Start with a blank page and create a buyer’s persona; give it an imaginary name with qualities inspired by real people. We will call our buyer persona Amanda Jenkins.
Amanda is a high-school teacher with two kids and a lawyer husband. She works tirelessly at the district school as a maths teacher.
Age, sex, location, and job roles are easy to mention, but where it gets interesting is answering questions like what motivates her while making a purchase. What are her goals? What are her likes and dislikes?
While creating a buyer’s persona, try and interview a few people with the same questions. You will get deeper insights into your buyer’s behavior.
Identify your customer’s needs and pain points
Now that you have a buyer’s persona, the next step is to identify their needs and pain points. Think about what your customers want to read, what information they are looking for, and how your product can solve their problems.
Our school teacher-mom, Amanda, may want to plan a family trip, but she does not know where to start. She hates looking through countless tourism websites only to realize there is not enough information. Another thing that bothers her is the lack of a detailed itinerary. She is looking for a website that can solve all her problems at once.
Choose a topic and subtopics
Choosing a topic and related subtopics is the trickiest step. You want to select a topic that is broad enough for long-form pieces of content, i.e., more than 2000 words. It should also have a lot of subtopics or related topics that you can create individual blogs on.
For our tourism business, a broad topic could be “Planning a Family Trip,” and subtopics could include “Steps to Planning a Family Trip”, “Creating a Family Trip Budget”, “How to Pack for a Family Trip,” “Top 50 Places for Your Next Family Trip," and so on.
You can even create sub-sub topic blogs for each of the 50 places you mention in the “Top 50 Places for Your Next Family Trip” blog.
The idea is to create a topic tree with the broad and specific topic at the top and subtopics as branches. With a pillar content strategy, you will keep adding branches to your broad topics.
Do keyword research and map them to your topics
The next step is to conduct extensive keyword research. Start with the first specific keyword that comes to mind and group related keywords as you find them.
You can use tools like Google Search Console, Keyword Everywhere, or Scalenut’s Topic Cluster Generator to find the most commonly used keywords on the internet.
Think of what Amanda would search for if she wanted to know about planning a family trip.
You can also find keywords from the Google SERP sections like ‘People also ask for’ or ‘Related Searches.’
Here is what Google’s search engine results showed for the generic keyword “family trip.”
The more specific your search query, the better keyword ideas you will get.
The goal here is to create keyword buckets with a healthy mix of high search volume and low-difficulty keywords.
Once you have created keyword clusters, match those buckets with the pillar topic and subtopics.
Write subtopic blogs first
If you create the pillar page first and then get to cluster topics, you may find yourself struggling to find fresh content.
The goal of pillar pages is to give a detailed overview of every aspect of the broad topic and not cover them in so much detail that there is nothing left to write about in the subtopic blog posts.
Therefore, it is best to start with cluster topics first and then create the main pillar page at the end. This way, you will have a better understanding of what is covered in those blogs and how you can write the best pillar page content with lucrative anchor texts linking to them.
Interlink pillar pages and topic cluster pages
The final step of the process is interlinking between pillar pages and the topic cluster blogs.
For instance, the pillar page about “Family Trip Planning” will have different subheadings talking about creating an itinerary, budgeting the family trip, packing essentials, and the best places for a family trip. We must make sure that at the end of every section, we include an internal link to the individual blog posts on these topics.
Similarly, every individual cluster blog will give a brief introduction to family trip planning. That section can almost always link back to the pillar page, citing an in-depth content resource for planning family trips.
If you cannot find a suitable place to link your pillar page, you can always go with the classic interlinked CTA at the end of your blog.
We hope you now have a complete understanding of what pillar content strategy is and how to create one for your next project.
If you are looking for some real-life examples of pillar content, this blog about content pillar examples can help you learn from the best.
Download a FREE pillar page template for your use
If you are wondering where to start, here is a free pillar page template, a ready reckoner with best practices for your use. Download this pillar page template and kickstart your journey to the awesome world of pillar content strategy.
Topic cluster tool by Scalenut is here to help
Creating a pillar content strategy is no small feat. It is a demanding task that requires a lot of time, patience, and research. If you’re running short on time but still want to create and execute a pillar page content strategy, the Topic Cluster Generator by Scalenut is here to help.
Through this tool, you can easily find high-volume keywords that can become the basis of topics for your pillar page content strategy. Simply enter the target keyword and location, and our tool will quickly provide a list of related keywords for your use.
With the free template mentioned above and the Scalenut topic cluster generator tool, you will be well on your way to creating some awesome content with your pillar content strategy.