Pillar content refers to blog posts and other content that are informative, authoritative, and a “one stop shop” for a consumer, giving them everything they need to fully understand and act on a certain topic or subject.
When users new to you consume or check out this content, they have a “wow” experience and immediately trust your business or brand.
If you sell products or services, this educational content also allows you to slip in links to what you sell as a logical solution.
Take, for example, this series of articles from Soundproof Cow on how to soundproof a room in your home.
Not only do you learn the different ways you can soundproof a room and the materials you’ll need, but for each option the company sells the necessary soundproofing materials you need to get the job done.
Also, unlike social media posts that become irrelevant days or even hours after posting, pillar content is evergreen. It’s timeless and will never ‘retire’.
Pillar content pulls its weight for you and your business day after day.That’s why I created a “toolkit” of 5 free resources to go with this article series that you can download here.
It’s so valuable, in fact, that websites allow you to mark whether your blog post is pillar content, in a distinction they call “cornerstone content”.
This tells Google that this particular post is a good representation of the quality of your business as a whole.
I even include pillar content creation near the beginning of many consulting packages I propose, because it’s often a critical piece of your baseline content marketing strategy.
How does pillar content help your business?
There are a few reasons why pillar content can aid and grow your business:
It will never go stale
Are you sick of doing dozens or even hundreds of social media posts with little to no growth?
Spending the same amount of time on a piece of content that lives on your site forever has a way longer half-life.
It will project authority and expertise
It takes knowledge and fluency in the subject matter to produce a deep, well-constructed piece of content.
You not only know a lot about a certain topic, but you also show that you understand what information should be consumed in what order for readers to be successful.
When readers see this tactical, rigorous approach from you, you actually help them (especially if they act on what you share and get results), and they’re more likely to trust you.
It builds your email list
Like it or not, email remains one of the most cost-effective platforms in marketing, commanding a dominant 44-to-1 return on investment on your dollars.
Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are flashy, but it can be hard to actually get in front of your entire audience, and the landscape is really competitive.
With email, you have a direct line of communication (which is why content on your platforms should drive people to your email list).
It improves your website
Every business needs consistent interest from new prospects (called leads) to survive and grow.
Make a great first impression with these new people by directing them to a piece of your pillar content early on in your journey.
Want to get in front of these new people for free? A tried-and-true way to get in front of new people for free is to be the brand that appears at the top of Google Searches.
The first 5 results of a web search end up getting 67% of all the clicks, so it can be very lucrative to build a website that lands at the top of searches.
SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization) is an $80 billion industry, because who doesn’t want new customers finding them for free each day?
Even if your business is more referral-based, pillar content will seal the deal and help answer a lot of initial questions from your prospects.
It’s safe to say creating pillar content is one of the best things you can do for the long-term health and success of your business.
What You’ll Get In This Beginner’s Guide
There’s a popular (but not popular enough) saying in digital marketing from consultant Tom Pick: “Social is sexy, but search pays the bills.”
So in this beginner’s guide, we’ll do a complete walkthrough of how to create pillar content for your business from start to finish.
We’ll do this process in six parts, each of which I’ve separated out as its own post to help keep things organized.
Part 1: Marketing 101: Search marketing versus social media content strategy
We’ll get out of the weeds and distinguish different components of your marketing strategy and workflow from a 10,000-foot perspective.
We’ll identify where you may be overbalanced or underbalanced between search marketing and social marketing, and highlight how to apply pillar content to strengthen and realign your strategy.
Part 2: How to figure out what pillar content to create
We’ll define a simple step-by-step for getting your expertise out of your brain and onto paper, as well as what topics to prioritize.
If you find you get stuck on what to write, it’s often because you really are an expert in your field, and you just need some help zeroing in on what subject matter to write about first.
You’ll walk away from this section able to achieve that.
Part 3: Create pillar content and get more leads for your business
Next, I’ll take you through the process of outlining, writing, and “engineering” pillar content for maximum strategic benefits.
If you’re spending this much time on one piece of content, you want to be able to leverage it as much as possible.
(If after reading, you decide you love pillar content but may not have time or resources to produce it yourself, we can do it for you.)
Part 4: Market your pillar content for maximum visibility
Now we’ll share your expertise with the world! We’ll go through what assets to create to make the biggest splash online in the days and weeks after your content debuts.
I’ll also give you a quick-and-dirty rundown on how to setup special links and tracking so you can measure where your interest comes from from day one.
Part 5: Analytics: How to measure the performance of your content
Time to bust out the measuring stick, see what is working well, and identify what we can improve. Many bloggers skip this step in favor of writing their hearts out, and then are flying blind as a result.
Don’t let this happen to you; simple tools like Google Analytics are very easy to set up and can tell you so much about how people end up on your website.
Part 6: Adding to your pillar content over time
Your pillar content is a living, breathing piece of your business that you can expand over time (but it’s not high-maintenance – think succulents rather than orchids or flowers).
We’ll go through some more intermediate topics around photo, video, and backlinks that will help both your content and your whole website be stronger and more integrated in the months to follow.
I want you to feel totally set up for success.
So I’ve created a free accompanying “toolbox” of resources to use as you browse this guide. The toolbox includes
- A “pillar content checklist” to use as you create your own content
- A “keyword research” log to help you track what your audience is looking for
- A “writing tracker” to help you set clear daily, weekly, and monthly goals
- My bookmark list of websites and widgets that make content creation easier
- A PDF copy of this entire guide for easy reference
Get your own copy of the pillar content toolkit by clicking the image below, or grab it here.
And, if you like the experience you have while consuming this guide and want to recreate a similar experience for your own business, but want to outsource it, I can do that for you and my services page is here.
Now, let’s get started! Hop on over to Part 1: Marketing 101: Search marketing versus social media content strategy and dive in.