If you are into any kind of content marketing, you may know the term Pillar Posts.
If you know what are pillar posts, you may hesitate to use them on your websites or blogs.
You may consider pillar posts to be time-consuming to research and pen down. Believe me, pillar posts do wonders to boost your website ranking.
I bet, if you serve your website with pillar posts, you won’t regret doing it.
In this article, I will touch on every aspect of pillar posts like what are pillar posts, characteristics of pillar posts, how to create them, their various types, the benefits of using them, and much more.
But first, for those who know little about pillar posts let’s define them.
What Are Pillar Posts?
Pillar Posts are those pieces of content that become the foundation of any website. Imagine a concrete structure without strong pillars. Well, I can’t think of any. The same is the case with pillar posts without them your website can crumble.
Let’s take it this way, when you search in google for any keyword, the first 10 results that appear in the results, in most cases, 2 to 3 would have the structure of pillar content.
Such is the power of pillar pages, they dominate the search engines regardless of any niche or industry they belong to.
Now the question is, how do you spot them. My theory is simple. The article that has 10X the content compared to others that appear in the searches is a pillar post.
A pillar page will provide a complete answer to any question a user may search for. In most cases, it goes well beyond to provide all the information related to and around that topic.
The reason is, pillar posts get tailored for this purpose only. They are not just the answers to the questions but contain all the intelligence about the topic.
From the creator’s point of view, any extensive article or a webpage focused on a specific topic becomes the pillar page.
The pillar content has so many details that you can further break it into pieces to create new forms of content like smaller blog posts, video content, email marketing, social media promotions, infographics, and much more.
So, as the name suggests, pillar posts act as pillars of your blog. Without them, your website may become volatile and may not get the rankings, backlinks, and traffic it deserves.
What Experts Say About Pillar Posts
The concept of pillar post isn’t new and is there since content marketing came into existence. However, experts refer to them differently. The other names I am familiar with are:
- Cornerstone Posts
- Flagship Posts
No matter how you refer them but pillar posts are always the best choice for the experts to fuel up their websites.
Let’s see what some of the experts have to say about pillar posts.
Digital Marketer says,
“Think of a pillar blog post like the columns in the ancient Greek temples. The pillar is what holds up the building. It supports weight. A pillar post does the same thing. It’s the foundation that supports the rest of your content marketing.”
DM adds, “Pillar posts are big, meaty posts. They’re useful, actionable, well-written, and engaging. They’re filled with relevant images and audio/video files to support the points you’re making in the text. As a result, pillar posts have something that 99% of other blog posts don’t have: longevity.”
B2C refers to the pillar posts as,
“Pillar blog posts are in-depth articles that solve a specific problem that customers in your niche are having. Pillar content is well researched, well written, increases engagement, and is the type of information that will attract “repeat” visitors to your site over and over again.”
Single Grain describes them as
“Pillar content is content that provides a complete answer to any question a user may be searching for on a given topic. It’s specifically designed to provide value for the reader, and also to rank highly in the search engines.”
HubSpot mentions the pillar page as a
“Basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.”
TheWorkAtHomeWife.com has an article that defines pillar content blog posts as,
“The bricks and mortar that support your blog or business. They are the posts that define your brand. They are so valuable that they draw readers back again and again to your site. You might also hear it called evergreen content for this reason.”
Insights For Professionals says,
“Pillar posts or pillar content are essentially blog posts that cover one key topic and help to solidify your authority, and therefore also the reliability of the blogs you produce.”
IFP further states, “Pillar posts focus on solving a legitimate problem that your consumers have. It needs to be well-thought-out and researched content that boosts engagement and will be repeatedly used by visitors.”
So you see how these industry experts talk about pillar posts.
Having said that, a lot of marketers are still missing out on this essential piece and there are a lot of opportunities for you to distinguish yourself from your competition.
5 Characteristics Of Pillar Posts
1- Pillar Posts Have Quality
Quality is the first and most important trait of pillar posts. They must aim to provide value to your readers as without that, readers will have no reason to read it.
2- Pillar Posts Are Longer
Pillar posts often exceed 3000 words. Imagine you write a post about 500 words long, there are chances that the information you provide is not sufficient for your readers and they will bounce to other websites to gather the complete knowledge.
So, to drive full value from the pillar post, they must be complete in every sense. They should provide in-depth intelligence about the topic you cover.
3- Pillar Posts Are Timeless
Eternity is a must-have characteristic of pillar posts. You can’t consider hot news of celebrities to be topics of your pillar posts. When creating pillar content think twice if it would provide value to readers for years to come.
4- Pillar Posts Are Unique And Original
You must already know the importance of uniqueness and originality for any content. The same goes for pillar posts and by being unique you leave a deep impact on the reader’s mind and they can remember your posts for a longer time.
5- Pillar Articles Are Not Just For SEO
Many bloggers take pillar posts as a source to enhance SEO. Though it’s true to some extent however the real aim of pillar articles is to address humans and not search engines. So, it’s important not to go crazy about SEO when creating pillar posts.
13 Types Of Pillar Posts With Examples
Now, since you have understood pillar posts, let’s dive into the types.
1- List Based
These are some of the most prevailing types of pillar content that you can curate easily. The readers love list-based posts as they provide easy to read experience You can create list-based posts that help readers in your niche accomplish a specific target.
Writer, John Holloway says, “This was the first pillar page we created, and it has paved the way to getting buy-in to create even more high-quality pillar pages.”
“We’ve conducted research which is published on this page, and we’ve spent a considerable amount of time designing it and creating original content for it that our visitors find interesting.”
Holloway adds, “We have roughly 100 pages supporting this pillar page. We update it every few weeks with additional content and research and traffic to it continues to grow”.
2- How-To Guides
These posts go into detail about a specific subject that helps your readers accomplish a certain task by putting the information on how to perform a task by giving step-by-step instructions.
The author of this post is Pete McPherson who claims to spend over 2 years and 120 hours creating it.
Describing it in his own words, “It’s one of the more competitive keywords in the digital marketing niche, and I knew it would be a long, slow grind to rank on page one of Google, (and it’s only recently hit page one)–but I’ve used a highly competitive and OVERUSED topic to do something different.”
“I deliberately made this post different (not just better) than anything else I’d seen on the topic, and it continues to get shared around social, and even via word of mouth from several of my followers.”
McPherson summarizes: “Pillar content can’t just be lengthy. It needs to stand out and be definitive of your brand!”
3- Quick Reference Guides
These posts give your readers tips on how to do something faster, quicker, and better. When readers look for ways to be more efficient at what they perform, they look for these posts.
As compared to how to guide these posts don’t have to be as in-depth, but give a short and quick approach on how to accomplish a certain task.
Author Joe Gast says, “This 1,500-word service page targets high-value keywords, such as CDL Training Classes and CDL School, [and also] ranks well nationally for those seeking classes to gain their commercial driver’s license.”
He adds, “The page is vital to our business because it outlines our core service while linking to the important information that directs people to sign up. Users understand what they can get out of our company and how this school can provide them with new opportunities.”
4- Curated Or Resource Content
Information is abundant out there on the web and you can use that when creating your posts. Content Curation is nothing but collecting information all over the web and creating content around it.
The curated content contains many links to awesome content all over your niche.
You can easily do this by referring to some of the most popular posts in your niche and add them to a “Curated Post” for your blog.
Customer Acquisition Strategies for Entrepreneurs
This example from Help Scout has its company’s introduction followed by several segments such as content marketing, SEO, email marketing, copywriting, CRO, and more.
They further breakdown each segment down into insights, blogs, and tools, and these links to helpful articles or sites, many of which aren’t from Help Scout.
5- Product Or Service Based
This pillar page is for those who have products and services to offer. You can be descriptive about what you offer to your clients like types of services, your benefits, how you differ from your competitors, pricing, and much more.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Management Services Page Of Vital
The page covers the overview, services offered, what’s included in the package, their approach to PPC, account setup process, pricing, etc.
6- Round-Up Posts
A roundup post is a compilation of expert views on a certain topic.
Roundup posts are precious to the readers because they get many expert opinions in one place. So when creating them you provide your viewpoint on a certain topic and back it up with an expert’s opinion.
These posts are extremely helpful in bringing traffic because many of the experts (that you refer to in your posts) will share your posts with their audiences. In the process, you also build relationships with these experts because you’ve featured them on your blog.
By round-up posts, you not only create new content for your website but also attract tons of social media shares, expert exposure, and authority.
In this infographic roundup, people ask questions on how to use infographics as a marketing tool.
7- Case Study Oriented
Case studies are the end product of extensive research and are based on real observations, experiences, and analysis. These are tough to write so think twice before jumping into them.
Publishing case studies on your blog help you get several quality backlinks and a steady stream of traffic.
How We Increased the Readership of Buffer’s Blog to Over 1.5 Million Visits
Buffer published this case study on its blog in 2017, and the data spans from 2011 to 2017 and provides a helpful model of how to grow and maintain a steady stream of traffic on your site through blogging.
8- Statistics Based
These are some of the most powerful posts to act as strong pillars for your blog or website. These are difficult to compile and you need to research a lot to put things together. You must carefully study all the reports from the industry leaders before using them as a base in your pillar posts.
20 Compelling Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Blog
Small Business Sense has curated this article giving several reasons small businesses should blog and all the reasons are backed by the stats surrounding them.
9- Definition Based
You can create these posts if you have essential concepts that are complex to explain. You can produce a pillar article that defines the concept explaining what it means and how it can be implemented.
The Definitive Guide to API Integration
Author Lisa Zwikl says: “The subtle animation on this pillar page makes me happy every time I look at it.”
“More so, I love this page for its results. It helped our client increase organic traffic by 53% in three weeks and increased traffic to the other blogs linked via the pillar.”
10- Theory Or Argument Based
These are some of the most accepted forms of pillar posts. For example, if you blog about education, writing an article discussing educational studies, changes in the pattern of higher education policies, the psychology of college students can all be theoretical posts.
The important thing here is to present unique thoughts that your readers can believe and take an interest in.
Our Best Practices for QA Testing
Amelia Whyman says this “pillar page is one of the best-performing pages and my favorite as it is instrumental in our marketing efforts because it receives a consistently high volume of traffic and a high conversion rate.”
Whyman adds, “Pillar pages are useful in terms of SEO, and having a thorough and high ranking pillar page can dramatically improve the number of people coming to your site.”
11-E-Course Or E-Book Based
This is one of my favorite pillar concepts. You can turn any topic into an e-course, e-book, or a series of articles that teach your readers how to do something.
You can create a PDF that your readers can download or break the content into several blog posts and interlink them together.
“We give our visitors the option to download a PDF version of the pillar page by using a pop-up form; they can take the helpful piece of content on-the-go, and we can capture these leads!”
12- Technology Focussed
These are very similar to a how-to post but are more focused on the technical aspects. Technology companies are good at these pillar articles and they do it by using graphs, spreadsheets, and images. This way they create a step-by-step, visually enhanced article showing exactly how to complete a task.
Chatbot Scripts: A Step By Step Guide (With Examples & Templates)
“This pillar page has helped increase our traffic this year by 30% and our top of the funnel leads by 50%,” says Steve James.
“It has helped our business because it allowed us to develop a great step-by-step process for chatbot script development. This has helped position our team and our writing services as leaders on the subject, and it has helped us develop great results for clients.”
13- General In-Depth Articles
Any topic that goes deep into the details, coving all the aspects can act as a pillar post. These are very similar to how-to guides and list posts. but the format of these articles is more comprehensive.
What Is Business Development? (How It’s Different From Sales)
“In my experience, the most successful pillar pages are concise and use interlinking to guide readers to more in-depth pieces,” writes Izabelle Hundrev.
Hundrev adds: “The pillar should be a concise overview of the subject. In this example, we did that exactly that. It’s one of my highest trafficked pieces and keeps readers on our site consistently.”
Benefits of Pillar Articles
Pillar pages are beneficial to both readers and the curators. Let’s look at some of the major benefits.
- More time spent on your site- It’s very obvious, the more content available for users to consume, the more time they’ll spend doing so.
- Low bounce rate- If readers get what they’re looking for on your page, they won’t go back to Google to find another source.
- More Backlinks- Pillar articles are very popular and for this obvious reason, they get used on other website pages as backlinks.
- Tons of Social Media shares- Similar to backlinks, the pillar articles get widely shared on social media.
- Enormous traffic- Pillar contents are evergreen, so their value doesn’t diminish and they continue to get bulk traffic to your website.
- Higher search ranking- Lengthy content, keywords rich, loads of shares, and backlinks will all contribute to improved visibility on SERPs.
As pillar articles are above and beyond standard blog posts, they demand a lot of extra effort to develop.
So, let’s dive into the step-by-step approach to creating them.
9 Steps To Create Enticing Pillar Posts
Step 1- Understand Your Audience
When writing pillar content it’s important that the topics you address resonate with your audience. You can only do this when you know your audience deeper. Before starting a pillar page, you must be able to answer the following questions.
- What is the average age of my audience?
- Is my audience primarily male or female?
- Where are my audience members located geographically?
- To which community does my audience belong?
- What is their average socioeconomic status?
- What is their basic education level?
Answering these questions will give you insights on how to give a personal touch to your readers with your pillar content posts.
Step 2- Understand What Readers Want
- Check what your audience likes and shares on social media.
- Look for the comments on your blog to know what answers your audience is looking for.
- If your blog is new and doesn’t have enough comments, check out other pro-bloggers blogs in your niche.
- Visit Quora to check what questions your audience often asks.
- Check out what pillar pages other established bloggers have in your industry.
- If you have a YouTube channel, create videos, and request what your audience wants.
- Even if you don’t have your channel, you can follow other channels, look at their comments section to do the same.
Step 3- Choose Your Topic
Steps 1, 2, and 3 interrelate. You need clear answers for 1 and 2 and after you know your audience requirements, you can pick your topic for the post. This is the most important step for creating pillar articles so give yourself enough time and don’t rush.
The topic you decide should address the following concerns.
1- What push does your audience need to believe the idea or concept you will share?
Let’s say you want to write about the prevention of heart diseases by reducing body weight. Your focus should be heart diseases and not weight loss. Your audience is more concerned about a healthy heart rather than losing body fat.
2- What does your audience search to meet their requirement?
Moving on with the same example. You must look at various aspects of the prevention of heart diseases, but what exactly your audience is looking, is the most important. If they are keen on a healthy diet plan for a healthy heart, you can’t stress weight loss.
3- What is the thought process of your audience?
Taking the same example, if your audience is looking for a healthy diet plan, how they would go achieve it. Do they want to attain it on their own or will they hire a dietician?
Digging deeper into audience needs will help you decide your topics for the pillar posts.
So, in this example, let’s assume your audience wants a solution for a healthy heart using healthy diets by following a monthly planner.
And now, since you know this, your topic of pillar post can be:
“Follow This Monthly Planner To Keep Your Heart Healthy (10 Nutritious Low-Fat Meals).”
Step 4- Decide Your Goal
It’s a general rule if you want to achieve something you should have a definite goal. Your pillar posts are no exception, through them, you always aim at reaching a certain targeted goal.
You can have goals like:
- Increase Brand Awareness
- Lead Generation
- Gain Potential Customers
Let’s look at each one:
1- Increase Brand Awareness
Let’s assume you are a dietician and want to spread awareness of the services you offer. When writing a pillar post about healthy meals you will direct your audience to your services page. You may not aim at selling any things but making people aware of your services.
2- Lead Generation
In this case, you can direct the readers to register for a free workshop, a live event, or offer them free coupons. This way you are not selling anything but only generating leads.
3- Gain Potential Customers
Potential customers are not your front end customers but can become in the future. By directing them to any of your low-ticket products like an e-course, you can draw them towards being your real customers. If they buy a low-cost item from you and like it, the chances are, they will go for your services in the future.
Step 5- Button Your Call-To-Action
Once you figure out the goal, the next step is your Call-To-Action. Without a Call To Action, your readers have nowhere else to go once they’ve finished reading your pillar blog post.
The following are all the ways of Call-To-Action I can think of it.
- Learn More About
- Get More Info
This way you have control over your targeted goal that you set in the above step.
Let’s say as a dietician your goal is to increase brand awareness. Here you can have a call to action of Learn More About, Get More Info, Attend An Event, and so on.
Step 6- Pickup The Post Type
The next thing to consider when writing a pillar blog post is to pick your post type.
We have already discussed various pillar post types earlier in this article. You can choose any depending upon your goal.
In the dietician’s case, she wants to write on:
“Follow This Monthly Planner To Keep Your Heart Healthy (10 Nutritious Low-Fat Meals).”
The title suggests that the post will be list based. However, if the dietician does a How-To type post, she can tweak the title as:
“How to Keep Your Heart Healthy By Following This Monthly Planner?”
Step 7- Choose Your Perspective
Your perspective for your post is the most important step to create pillar posts. Sadly, even pro-bloggers miss this not because they don’t know it but they are negligent to it.
Your perspective is a way to differentiate your post by making it more interesting, attention-grabbing, and to make it stand out from the crowd.
Here are some perspectives I use often.
1- New Or Fresh Notion
With an abundance of content on the net, your readers always seek new and fresh ideas. If you have something new to offer, definitely add this perspective to your writing.
You can focus on new developments, new technology, new announcements that will for sure give an impulse to your readers to click.
Make sure you don’t make a false claim. If you don’t have any new concepts, then avoid going for this approach.
2- Focusing On Benefits
This is the most common perspective bloggers use to present a topic. Here, your post structure, from the start till the end, primarily concentrates on covering the benefits of the product or services you offer.
The benefits should be strong enough to trigger the readers that they will for sure gain or learn something after consuming the article.
3- Negative Tint
Though not as negative as it sounds, this is a good way to present an idea and is contrary to the Benefits. Here, rather than focusing on benefits, you focus on what the treaders will missout on or lose if they do not take advantage of your offer.
4- Oddity Tinge
Using this tone you don’t provide benefits or something new, but you just draw the reader’s interest by making him curious about what he gets when he discovers your content.
5- Shouldering The Experts
This way you leverage something else that’s well-known to lend extra interest and credibility to your topic. Most of the time it can be an expert or a company in your niche. You can refer to these as quotes or links to enhance the authority of your pillar posts.
If you don’t choose any of the above, then creating your post in an informative form, can be a good idea. Here you simply provide all detailed and relevant information about your offer.
If you are sure your products or services are the best in the market, then you can also compare them with others and make a bold statement on how yours can outperform others.
If you are good at research work, then this form is one of the best perspectives to use. Load your content with lots of analytical data and facts about your offer.
Step 8- Pick The Right Keywords
Keywords have the same importance in pillar posts as in any other blog post. They are a critical component of your strategy to create pillar content. This way you optimize your pillar posts to rank for those specific search terms.
To create impactful pillar articles, you must choose the right keywords. The keywords you choose should have a high search volume and less competition. They can be between 2-4 words long and should be niche specific, educational, and supports your products or services.
There are several paid and free tools available to help you with keyword research. I strongly recommend Ubersuggest as it provides everything you need and is completely free to use.
In our example, let’s assume the dietician chooses two keywords, “healthy diet for the heart” and “healthy eating for the heart”. If she puts these terms in the Ubersuggest keyword research tool, she sees the results as:
The first keyword is perfect to choose as it has a high search volume and less competition.
The second keyword is the one to avoid as though it’s less competitive, it has very little search volume.
So the dietician must choose the first keyword and avoid the second one.
Keyword research is a wide topic and my aim is not to cover it here.
Step 9- Curate Good Content
Till this point, you know your audience, decided a topic, set the goal, have a post type, resolved the perspective, and picked the right keywords. So, you have everything you need to write your pillar article.
Before you start, always keep in mind that your pillar content articles should be so helpful and engaging that the readers get bound to bookmark your page and share them with their friends, family members, and colleagues.
Let me also briefly outline the process.
This is the first and most important part of your post as 80% of people will read a headline while only 20% will click to read the rest of the blog post.
This is the very first thing people will see, so make it catching, intriguing, and informative. We already discussed having a perspective so write your headlines following your perspective.
Even after readers click on your article, only 18% will read the entire thing. So hooking your readers is important to capture the attention at the very start of the post.
People love stories as it creates a human connection. Just because you are writing an article and not a novel doesn’t mean you can’t use storytelling techniques in your post.
Make your articles more readable and eye-pleasing by using proper headers, sub-headers, images, bullets, and not just long paragraphs.
Assuming that you have created a wonderful pillar article to keep your readers hooked till the last, you need to tell them what action you want them to take. I have earlier told you about Call-To-Action and now it’s time to use that.
Don’t rush to publishing the post straight away. Give yourself ample time to revise and edit several drafts of your pillar content posts before publishing them.
Each time ask yourself whether the content you’re sharing goes above or beyond your readers’ expectations.
So, You’ve Got The Pillar Post Ready. Now What?
Once you have created the pillar article, it’s time to make them more impactful, and here’s how you can do it.
1- Placing The Pillar Posts On Your Blog
Pillar posts are not actual posts but are pages so always set them up as bold pages and not as ordinary posts. By doing so, they never get buried deep under your other blog posts.
My advice is to set up a pillar post in your pages section along with your other prominent pages like contact us, about us, as this way they become timeless and evergreen.
2- Promote Your Pillar Articles Regularly
Once you’ve created and published your pillar articles, you must keep them in front of your audience by promoting them in several places.
- Link to your pillar posts from your homepage as it increases visibility to traffic and search engine rankings.
- Include them as a list of recent or most popular posts throughout your website, such as a sidebar or at the bottom of pages.
- Link to them from your “About” page and other prominent pages.
- Share the content in your online communities and groups.
- Post them to your social channels.
- Link out to influencers within your niche.
- Add internal links within current blog posts, especially popular ones.
- Add them to your email newsletter.
- If you have budgets, consider doing ads.
3- Update Pillar Content As Needed
Always keep your eyes open for any industry changes that require you to update your pillar content. As pillar posts are the foundations of your entire blog, keeping them up to date is essential.
If any shifts within your industry make your articles irrelevant, you’ll want to update your content so it continues to provide value to your audience.
Updating blog posts regularly also aids in boosting Google rankings.
Leverage The Power Of Pillar Posts
As mentioned above, a pillar article provides structure to your overall website. In a way, it’s a trunk of a tree that leads to many branches and thus helps the overall tree to grow. Similarly, one pillar article can further lead to:
- Blog Posts
- Video Scripts
- Outbound Emails
- Lead Magnets
- Promotional Content
- Facebook Posts
- Pinterest Pins
- and many more.
So, pillar articles while helping you stay focused on your business also take care of the overall structure of your website.
Pillar articles allow you to develop other deep content and supporting materials to create awareness around your brand.
I hope you relished this article and have realized the importance of pillar articles for the overall growth of your website or blog.
Creating pillar posts takes more time, effort, and attention than a regular blog post. But I am sure the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term investment.
By creating pillar content, you consistently attract the readers who will subscribe to your list, share your content, and buy your product or services.
In the end, you will reap the benefits and your audience will see you as an authority within your niche which will help you establish yourself as a market leader.
So, what are you waiting for? If you do not have any pillar articles on your blog, start creating two or more pillar posts now. It will surely help you a lot in the long term.
That’s it from me. Now, it’s your turn to create Pillar Posts and share your feedback comments.
If you have questions, please feel free to reach out, I am glad to answer your queries!
Best of luck!