Developing content pillars is a good way to improve both the user experience of a website and its relevance in search engine results.
A strong content pillar makes it easier for visitors to find both the information they want as well as related topics. Because of its high relevance to a specific topic, the content pillar is also a great SEO tool that can provide an entry point into the search rankings and improve your website’s search position. Not all pillars are created equal, so knowing how to make an effective content pillar is essential in getting their full benefit.
What Are Content Pillars?
Though content pillars may have different aesthetics depending on the site where they appear, the concept behind content pillars is simple.
The pillar is a page that represents a single topic or resource type within a website, providing users with access to all relevant material on the site. Viewing a content pillar, a user will typically see links and descriptions to every blog post, page or other content related to whatever the content topic is that the pillar represents.
Content pillars are popular, especially on larger websites, as they provide several benefits to the site:
- Increased SEO possibilities for long-tail evergreen content
- Increased opportunities for user engagement across multiple related pieces of content
- Additional conversion opportunities as calls to action are incorporated across content items that make up the pillar
- Improved organization of topics on the website, allowing for easier repurposing of related items into other formats
The use of content pillars also provides an easy reference for content creators to ensure that topics are covered thoroughly without repetition.
Types of Content Pillars
There are two primary types of content pillars: Topic pillars and resource pillars.
A topic pillar is a listing of related items that are all relevant for a specific topic, acting as a directory or reference list for relevant content hosted elsewhere on the site. A resource pillar is closer to a unique piece of long-form content that acts as an authoritative resource for the topic at hand, appearing as a single piece of content despite providing crosslinks to other content.
Depending on the content your site hosts, you may use a combination of these two content pillar types.
Content Pillars and Topic Clusters
Topic clusters are subgroups within the larger document of the content pillar, breaking down its information into more easily accessible sections.
If the central topic of the content pillar was “SEO,” the topic clusters would be the specific aspects of SEO that you wanted to cover.
Each should have a name or headline, followed by links or content that fall within that specific topic. This allows visitors to see a well-organized list that isn’t overwhelming when they visit your pillar page. If a visitor is only looking for one specific aspect of the topic, a scan of the topic cluster headings will provide the relevant results quickly.
Creating Powerful Content Pillars
Developing content pillars requires an understanding of both what visitors are looking for and what else they need to know about the topic.
Keyword research is an essential skill here, as is the ability to determine related topics for your pillars to serve as topic clusters. Strong headline development skills are useful, as is the ability to write informative summaries that give readers just enough information to leave them wanting to read the content. Adding graphics or other media to supplement the text can be a great way to let your content pillars stand out as well.
Of course, it is important to realize that content pillars are typically not a “one and done” creation. Unless your website is focused on a very specific topic, you may have content pillars on several topics and will have to add more as the site continues to grow. Content pillars also require maintenance as new content is added to the site.
The effort is worth it, however, as the more work you put into your content pillars the more productive they will be moving forward.