Content has been ruling the digital landscape for quite a while now and marketers are leaving no stone unturned to make the most out of it. Meaningful and engaging content that resonates with the right audience, this is exactly what content marketing is all about. From educating the audience to converting visitors into potential leads and eventually customers, the power of content is unmatched today.
However, unlike other marketing strategies, content is a steep learning curve. While anyone can periodically publish blogs, articles or any other form of content on the website, only a few understand how to satisfy the search intent of their readers. Wanna know the secret? Well, the answer lies in the topic and format of this article itself. Content pillar, that's correct!
What is a content pillar?
A content pillar is a substantive and informative piece of long-form content on any specific topic or theme that can be broken into several overarching sub-topics or derivative sections. Breaking a large piece of content into many sub-sections is an efficient and result-oriented way to deliver informative content. By covering all your content bases that fall under the purview of the primary theme, the idea is to drive audience engagement by marketing the right content on the right platform. Well, before you start googling how, let us simplify this for you.
Examples of Content Pillar
Let's consider an ebook as an example. How many of you would download an ebook over reading an 800-word blog or watching a 1-minute video? Well, very few in our opinion. And that's mainly because the content in blogs, videos and infographics are much easier to consume as compared to the same content featured in a 35-page ebook. The only difference is how the content was segregated into different sections and featured on the most suitable platforms. Now, the ebook here is a content pillar and the sections derived from the ebook are content clusters. Now, you must be wondering, how exactly do we get people to read these lengthy reports, ebooks and whitepapers.
The marketing team of Deloitte, one of the leading MNCs in the world, tried a different approach to help us understand the impact of pillar content on the primary content. Deloitte conducted a study on the future of productivity in Canada and collated the substantial findings in a major report of some 60 pages. But in addition to posting the report, the marketing team also curated infographics, blogs/articles, social media communications and several videos from the report itself to reach a majority of its stakeholders. The result was a dramatic increase in full report downloads and a two-fold increase in media impressions and news coverage, says Colleen Albiston, CMO of Deloitte in Canada.
Similarly, this "Beginners guide to content marketing in 2021" is one of the best examples of pillar content. Right from educating the readers about the top performing content marketing strategies and listing the best content marketing examples in 2021 to helping them build a content marketing strategy from scratch and giving great insights into some of the ideal content marketing platforms, the guide covers everything around content marketing. The links to different landing pages embedded in the article also help the article rank higher on google search results.
Benefits of a Pillar Content Marketing Strategy
Builds audience engagement
Content Pillars makes it easier for the audience to navigate the content. These pillars present information in the most streamlined manner, helping readers to follow links to other valuable information and topics once they land the pillar page. This enhances audience engagement and builds a loyal following of visitors who can also become potential customers, depending on the business objective.
Elevates Google Ranking
The google algorithm sorts massive heaps of data to feature the top-performing content on the first page of its search results. While the algorithm is highly confusing and keeps evolving, learning the right strategies can help get you there. According to Hubspot, 75 percent of people stop looking at search results after the first page. Now, Google values content that is well streamlined and easy to index. So if your content pillar has a good volume of trending keywords and internal links between the pieces. Your article/blog posts stand a very good chance to stay ahead of the curve if you generate more internal links and cover a diverse array of content. The more detail you provide on the pillar content, the higher are your chances to shine.
Well, the competition within the digital landscape is intense at the moment and one thing that we all crave the most is website traffic. The average time spent on a landing page determines the quality of your content. Adding more cluster topics and links to the pillar content definitely boosts the engagement rate and time spent on a particular page.
Characteristics of an ideal content pillar
Well, not everyone can master the art of creating excellent pillar content that not only ranks at the top of google search results but also generates good revenue/leads for your business. And to reach there, you need to first understand your target audience. Your content needs to satisfy the readers' search intent while also meeting all kinds of business requirements. So if you've created content pillars in the past but aren't happy with its fruition, here are a few things that you need to look at if you’re planning to start the next one soon.
- The first rule for creating quality content is solving a purpose for your readers. An ideal content pillar looks into the type of content that the buyers are looking for, the pain points that need to be addressed, the top trending Google searches in reference to the topic and the content types that have performed really well in the past.
- Excellent pillar content never loses relevance for its target audience, no matter how old it gets. By understanding the evolving nature of businesses and markets, it is imperative to keep adding content clusters or updating numbers and facts, whenever deemed necessary. For instance, the pandemic has drastically changed the way we all look at the world and business now. So if one wishes to take their business online, it would be really great to first take a look at all potential risks and advantages of starting an online marketplace from scratch amidst the pandemic. If you already have a content pillar on the given topic, it would be insightful to add some latest stats and figures along with a separate section that talks about its fruition in the foreseeable future.
- While blogs and articles are the best examples of ideal pillar content, other content formats such as infographics, videos, quizzes or podcasts should also be given equal importance. Good pillar content follows a blended approach and taps into the latest interests of its readers.
- Keyword research is a prerequisite for writing outstanding content. It is always better to get a list of search queries related to your topic to fuel your content ideas and resonate with your target audience. This will ultimately enhance the SEO compatibility of your content and build engagement. An ideal pillar content is always bursting at the seams with high-value keywords and informative content.
- Links, links and links! The idea behind this topic cluster content format is to help Google recognize and index a particular topic. By giving you supreme authority over your pillar content, you help your readers find you. Besides, it also helps you garner decent traction on your landing page. An ideal pillar content consists of hyperlinks at both ends, between the pillar and content clusters. Linking every content cluster to another and directing the readers back to the pillar page is imperative to maintain continuity.
5 Step guide to building a successful content pillar
Step 1: Understand your audience
While it is imperative that you choose to offer unique, informative and valuable content to your readers, you must also ensure that the topics you choose to address solves a purpose for your target audience and resonates with them. Your content should be of the greatest possible use to your readers which will ultimately benefit your platform and business in the long run. Listing the basic details about your target audience such as their age, education and socio-economic status along with their primary requirements will help you paint a clear picture of your pillar content.
Step 2: What is your audience looking for?
Now that you know who your target audience is, the next big question is, what are your readers' most pressing concerns. This will help you list the relevant cluster topics for your pillar posts. To understand the immediate or evolving needs and requirements, you can read through your followers' posts on social media, perform a competitive analysis, see the kind of pillar content (in terms of different content formats) that your audience prefers to read and determine the success rate for your platform.
Step 3: Time to create outstanding content!
By the time you reach this stage of the process, you will have a fair idea of the concerns that you need to address and the top trending content formats for your pillar content. A platform like Scalenut can help you generate quality content in minutes with its two latest technologies; QualityX and GenerateAI. While you can create powerful copies with GenerateAI, the other platform- QualityX can be used to deliver high quality, engaging and informative articles.
It is important to remember that quality is not only limited to proper sentencing, structure or apt grammar. Here are a few more junctures that you will be required to hit:
- Catchy, intriguing and informative headline
- Interesting facts and intriguing content to build interest
- More stories to create a human connection
- Follow a structure with no long sentences, short paragraphs, more bullet points and a lot of visuals
- Back your facts with stats, quotes and links
- A clear call to action
Well, you may not be aware but 80% of the people will read a headline while only 20% choose to click the rest of the blog post. And even after clicking on the link, only 18% of the readers read the entire post. Surprising, isn't it? Make sure you make the most out of your content by keeping these simple hacks in mind.
Step 4: Consistent Promotions
Once your pillar page is ready, you can cross-promote it on all other platforms- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube or emailers. Remember, you can always choose cluster topics separately for promotion. This will give your content better exposure. However, do not forget to tag or link the pillar page in all your promotions. And yes, the promotional content will differ based on the style and tonality of the platform.
Step 5: Update pillar content
Sitting on the same content and facts for years might leave a negative impression of your brand/business. Proper upkeep of all kinds of pillar content is of utmost importance. It is important to keep an eye out for market/industry changes. If you've made certain shifts within your industry, you have to update your content that will continue to provide excellent value to your readers. You can also plan to promote your previous pillar articles in new and trendy ways. Updating posts on a regular basis also helps in boosting Google rankings. Once the update is done, you can change the date with a simple note at the top of the article that says "last updated".
Ideal Pillar Content-Length
Well, this is a widely discussed topic amongst writers and marketers. Should we make it too long, say 4000-5000 words or stick to an ideal length of 2000- 3000 words?
While the ideal pillar content length is 2000 to 3000 words, pillar posts can even go beyond that. However, regardless of the length, it should be seen as one overarching theme/topic with several sub-sections. Remember to be brief with the cluster topics on the pillar post and use the cluster pages to discuss the topic in length. Internal links between cluster posts and pillar posts and within the pages should also be seen as a mandate.
The idea behind creating an ideal pillar content is to establish new connections and nurture existing relationships and this can only be achieved if you pay attention to the evolving needs and requirements of your customers and readers. Content generates awareness, which is the first step towards conversion, therefore everything you write or gather should be worth the time spent on your post.
Still waiting for a killer start? Don't worry, a team of experts at Scalenut is always there for you. Get in touch with the team now and we will help you get started right away :)