How to use content pillars in a digital marketing strategy?

content pillars

Keyword stuffing extravaganzas are out, replaced with the need for quality content above all else.

No quality content? No first-page keyword rankings for you.

What does quality mean? All your content must perfectly match the search intent of the keyword – and provide even more helpful info than all the top-ranking pages for that term.

There’s more to it, of course, but that’s the gist.

It’s been that way for a while, too, but the marketing world is just catching on to what that means: the need for content pillars.

With content pillars, you can build all-inclusive digital resources that cover all aspects of the topic at hand.

Wondering how that works? Here’s what you need to know about using content pillars in your digital marketing strategy.

What is a Content Pillar?

A content pillar is a long-form article designed to cover a well-defined topic in full. The main section gives a broad overview. Then, the piece branches out into clusters of content for a deep dive.

Ideally, the resulting piece covers the topic better than anyone has ever done, making your page the go-to resource on the subject.

The content cannot just belong though – it needs to fully satisfy the search intent for the keyword to truly make a difference in your rankings and the readers’ lives.

In short, aim to cover everything your readers need to know about that topic.

Beyond that, the content should:

  • Be easy to read and understand
  • Have images, graphics, and/or videos
  • Use well-sourced stats as appropriate
  • Be free of typos and other errors
  • Include internal and external links

Don’t forget to center your content around the main keyword and its semantic equivalents. Otherwise, how are your customers going to find and enjoy your pillar content to the fullest?

With that formula, you can use the pillar content to drive your digital marketing strategy – and scale up your agency over time.

Evergreen vs. Timely Content Pillars

As with all content, you must decide if you want to take a timely approach or go the evergreen route.

Evergreen content typically stays relevant to the topic forevermore. The info surrounding that topic never changes, making it easy to create a static resource for the ages.

Timely content, on the other hand, covers an everchanging topic, like breaking events, scientific studies, and tech updates. As the information rapidly changes, your content must also evolve to keep up with the times.

In the end, there’s no hard and fast rule to follow when deciding whether to create evergreen vs timely content pillars.

It all comes down to one thing: search intent. Think about why your readers might search for your content pillar’s main keyword.

For example, do they:

  • Want to learn about a historical event, including what led up to it? Evergreen content is the only way to go, for sure.
  • Want to follow a riveting court case to completion and see who wins? You’ll need to set up a timely content pillar – and keep it updated all along the way.
  • Need solutions in a fast-changing industry, like cybersecurity, travel, or automotive? Build pillar pages with a mix of evergreen and timely content.

As a bonus, timely pillar content can turn evergreen after the event in question ends. The only question is: will your readers want to return to the content later to explore past events in detail?

How to Create a Content Pillar Strategy

Ready to create a winning content pillar strategy for your brand? Just follow these steps when creating your content brief and beyond.

Determine Your Core Topic

To truly elevate your digital marketing strategy, your content pillar pages must center around topics highly relevant to your brand.

To find them, you’ll need to:

  • Do a full content audit
  • Complete a competitor analysis
  • Perform customer research
  • Look at your customers’ pain points

Where are the gaps in your existing content? How could you improve on the pages you already have? Are you missing any key chances to support your customers on their buyer’s journey?

Once you have a few key topics in mind, dive into the research phase to see if there’s room for improvement.

Start by completing a search using the topic as your keyword. Look at the top five pages to see how they are covering the subject, and then honestly reflect on if you could do better.

If the answer is yes, move on to seeing if the topic has enough interest to make the endeavor worthwhile.

To do that, simply look at the search volume and competitiveness of the keyword. Review the domain authority of the top five pages on the topic as well.

The perfect keyword? High search volume, low competitiveness, and domain authority numbers that match or fall below your own.

Not all things in life are perfect, however. So, if the topic is highly relevant to your customers’ needs, then you might want to move forward anyway.

Identify Compelling Cluster Content

The main topic for your content pillar serves as the foundation for your page. Within that topic, there are many subtopics to explore, also known as your cluster content.

If you’re writing a pillar page on “dog obedience training,” your subtopics might include:

  • Top dog obedience commands
  • Positive vs balanced training methods
  • Dog training tools and rewards
  • When to start obedience training
  • Ways to work through training challenges
  • How to train dogs for obedience trials
  • Popular dog obedience trials in the world
  • Most effective ways to reward dogs

The goal here is to identify all the things your readers want to know about the subject and put them on one page. Your research in the prior step can help you do that, including your review of the competitors’ pages. But, if you’re stuck, just look to Google for help.

Complete a search using your main topic as your keyword. Then, look at the autocomplete predictions to see all the different directions your content could go.

After that, explore the ‘People Also Ask’ section toward the center of the search results page. Once that’s done, check out the ‘Related Searches’ at the bottom as well.

Finish Your Creative Brief and Start Writing

With your main topic and clusters in your creative brief, fill out the rest of the sections, including:

  • Main and semantic keywords
  • Relevant, high-quality internal links
  • Reputable external links
  • Distribution plan with promotional text

Remember to list any collaborators you’ll include in the pillar content along with their social media profile info.

With all that mapped out, it’s time to start writing. You can start at the very top – or dive right into a content cluster you know best. The choice is yours. As you do that, aim to thoroughly cover the topic in each section while making it a joy to read.

Proofread, Publish, and Promote Your Pillar Content

Once you’re done writing, all that’s left to do is proofread, publicize, and promote your pillar content.

Proofreading lets you address any technical or readability issues in the piece before unleashing it on the world.

Publishing lets you put your content where it will work best for your digital marketing strategy.

Promoting lets you sing the praises of your content and get as many eyes turning your way as possible.

Proofreading and publishing are usually a one-and-done endeavor, but never stop promoting your pillar content.

Regularly post about it on social media, link to it in your other content, and encourage your collaborators to do the same. You spend a ton of time creating the content, after all, so feel free to wave it around proudly whenever you get the chance.

Need Help Creating Content Pillars for Your Brand?

Despite knowing just how to use content pillars in your digital marketing strategy, completing the process can prove overwhelming.

If that’s the case, then think about getting the content marketing services you need to easily hit the mark with all your marketing efforts.

But where are you supposed to find all the content marketing services you need? At WriterAccess, of course!

All our marketing managers, content strategists, freelance writers, and other leading experts eagerly await the chance to help you achieve your goals.

To get started, all you have to do is sign up for our 14-day free trial.

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