How to create high-performing content pillars to boost your SEO

How to create high-performing content pillars to boost your SEO

How to create high-performing content pillars to boost your SEO

How to create high-performing content pillars to boost your SEO

Masooma Memon

GatherContent Contributor, Writer
Content pillars guide content creation and improve SEO. The only catch? Creating pillar posts and topic cluster content as part of your content strategy takes a lot of forethought and extensive planning.

Table of contents

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

After all, content creation isn’t cheap. You must plan for maximum ROI.

But don't worry. We've written a guide that walks you through the basics of content pillars—including how to plan content buckets and drive content production from them.

Let’s get on with it.

What is a Content Pillar?

A content pillar is an authoritative, long-form piece of content focused on a key theme or head keyword relevant to your brand.

Content pillars also go by "flagship content" and "cornerstone content."

With a broad-topic-based pillar page in place, you can then create topic clusters or content pieces related to the pillar post. The goal is to create a focused content strategy and boost your search engine optimization.

Here’s how a pillar page strategy helps your audience:

  • It provides valuable, interlinked content to readers so they can understand a topic in detail.
  • It makes navigation easy as readers can dig out more information on a topic – thanks to links to cluster content on the pillar post.

As for improving your SEO, here's how a pillar-based content marketing plan helps:

  • Easy site navigation helps you gain  SEO "brownie points."
  • Readers dig deeper into a topic while staying on your site. This increases their dwell time and reduces your bounce rate.
  • Updating pillar pages regularly offers Google fresh content —something the search engine algorithm rewards with better ranking.
  • With more (topic cluster) content on a broad topic, Google ranks you better for that topic. Think of it like Google recognizing you as an authority on the topic.
  • Interlinking pillar pages with topic clusters passes link authority from one page to another. Again, this helps your content rank better.

💡 Learn more: How to create a winning content marketing strategy: A 12-step template

How to Plan Your Content Strategy from Pillars

Interested in fueling your content strategy based on pillars? Follow this 5-step blueprint:

1. Identify your target

Begin with understanding your target audience and what pressing issues they face. This is essential information for planning content that solves these pain points.

2. Highlight problems your product or service solves

Solving your target audience’s problems with helpful content isn’t enough.

You need to make sure the content pillars you create are related to your business, too. Then, you can subtly mention or link to your product as a solution to readers’ problems.

3. Understand your audience’s content preferences

Find out exactly what content topics they’re searching for.

Here’s how:

  • Analyze competitors. Find out what content topics your competition is covering.
  • Take to social listening. Identify what topics your target audience is discussing and sharing on social media.
  • Interview your customers. Ask them about problems they’re searching for and what content formats they prefer consuming.
  • Conduct keyword research. Dig for terms you think your audience is searching for. Then confirm using keyword research tools and Google Suggest or autocomplete plus the Related searches section at the bottom of the SERPs.

4. Shortlist your content pillar topics

With the list of ideas ready, create your content plan by finalizing pillars pages to create.

Keep in mind: there’s no limit to the number of content pillars to add to your content marketing strategy. Just be sure to set realistic goals around creating pillar pages.

What's more, focus on creating quality content, which takes time on its own.

Need to Know: By managing your content operations in GatherContent, you can add a quality-control checklist or an SEO optimizing checklist to each content brief you create. This way, writers can focus on content quality by ensuring all pointers on the list are met.
Create quality control checklists in GatherContent
Add a content optimization checklist in your templated GatherContent briefs to maximize the quality of the content your team creates.

5. Create your pillar pages and topic clusters

Before you begin, lay out your production plan into a content calendar so you can start creating high-quality content by set deadlines.

Need to Know: As you plan your content topics in GatherContent, add due dates to each piece. When you view these in Calendar format, you’ll see a ready editorial calendar.
Use GatherContent to create your editorial calendar.
Use GatherContent to create your editorial calendar for streamlined content production by a preplanned schedule.

For the pillar page, be sure to write authoritative content without going into specifics about any subtopics. This helps you leave room for creating topic clusters discussing specifics in detail.

💡  Learn more: Content management: Everything you need to know about strategically managing your content

Content Pillar Linking

Once your pillar page is ready, add hyperlinks to related topic cluster content.

Here’s a visualization of how topic clusters relate to a pillar page as explained by HubSpot, which is widely known for adopting the pillar content strategy for their site:

Create topic clusters centered around the theme of your pillar post.
HubSpot's visualization of topic clusters created around a pillar page. (Source)

In reality, all the hyperlinking looks like this:

Example of how to interlink topic clusters into a pillar page
Example of hyperlinked topic cluster pages into a pillar page. (Source)

Or, there's a visually engaging way to add them too:

Example of how to link topic clusters into a pillar page in a visually engaging manner.
Example of adding internal links to a pillar post in a visually engaging manner (Source)

With multiple content pillars, here’s how the entire strategy works:

The pillar post and topic cluster content strategy as visualized by HubSpot
Here's how a content strategy based on content pillars and content posts looks like

Want to make sure you correctly link to the relevant content pieces?

Lay out your entire content strategy as shown above. This gives you a bird’s eye view of all your content, so you don’t miss linking any page.

Need to Know: Plan your content in one content management platform like GatherContent. In doing so, you can organize all your content in one place, allowing easy access to all team members. Most of all, writers can find and link to different pieces in their content using the centralized resource library.
Use GatherContent as a central repository for all the content you create
Use GatherContent to create an accessible content resource hub containing all the content you've created.

One more thing: Every time you create a new piece of content based on a pillar page’s theme, update the pillar post by adding a link to the new resource.

💡 Pro tip: Refresh your pillar pages regularly. This will help you provide up-to-date, evergreen content that’s highly valuable to readers and does well in the SERPs too.

Content Creation from a Content Pillar

Having pillar pages in place means you’ll never scramble for last-minute content ideas.

Instead, the content pillar’s topic guides your content creation as you can work on different types of content related to the pillar’s theme.

Content pillars can also guide your social media marketing, as you can repurpose pillar page content into content for social media such as Twitter threads and LinkedIn posts.

Moreover, you can share the evergreen pillar page(s) on your social channels, providing more fodder for sharing content.

💡 Learn more: A step-by-step guide: How to improve your content workflow

Not to mention, you can reuse pillar content in different formats.

For example, create a podcast pilot episode based on the pillar page. Then, record more episodes based on the content you’ve created for topic clusters. This way, your podcast can focus on one topic—going deeper into it with each episode.

Similarly, you can repurpose pillar page content by creating infographics. Here are more ideas for content repurposing.

In short, content pillars play an important role in your content strategy. Want a head start to planning pillar posts?

Good to Know: Download our Content Strategy Roadmap template to dive into your strategy creation today.

After all, content creation isn’t cheap. You must plan for maximum ROI.

But don't worry. We've written a guide that walks you through the basics of content pillars—including how to plan content buckets and drive content production from them.

Let’s get on with it.

What is a Content Pillar?

A content pillar is an authoritative, long-form piece of content focused on a key theme or head keyword relevant to your brand.

Content pillars also go by "flagship content" and "cornerstone content."

With a broad-topic-based pillar page in place, you can then create topic clusters or content pieces related to the pillar post. The goal is to create a focused content strategy and boost your search engine optimization.

Here’s how a pillar page strategy helps your audience:

  • It provides valuable, interlinked content to readers so they can understand a topic in detail.
  • It makes navigation easy as readers can dig out more information on a topic – thanks to links to cluster content on the pillar post.

As for improving your SEO, here's how a pillar-based content marketing plan helps:

  • Easy site navigation helps you gain  SEO "brownie points."
  • Readers dig deeper into a topic while staying on your site. This increases their dwell time and reduces your bounce rate.
  • Updating pillar pages regularly offers Google fresh content —something the search engine algorithm rewards with better ranking.
  • With more (topic cluster) content on a broad topic, Google ranks you better for that topic. Think of it like Google recognizing you as an authority on the topic.
  • Interlinking pillar pages with topic clusters passes link authority from one page to another. Again, this helps your content rank better.

💡 Learn more: How to create a winning content marketing strategy: A 12-step template

How to Plan Your Content Strategy from Pillars

Interested in fueling your content strategy based on pillars? Follow this 5-step blueprint:

1. Identify your target

Begin with understanding your target audience and what pressing issues they face. This is essential information for planning content that solves these pain points.

2. Highlight problems your product or service solves

Solving your target audience’s problems with helpful content isn’t enough.

You need to make sure the content pillars you create are related to your business, too. Then, you can subtly mention or link to your product as a solution to readers’ problems.

3. Understand your audience’s content preferences

Find out exactly what content topics they’re searching for.

Here’s how:

  • Analyze competitors. Find out what content topics your competition is covering.
  • Take to social listening. Identify what topics your target audience is discussing and sharing on social media.
  • Interview your customers. Ask them about problems they’re searching for and what content formats they prefer consuming.
  • Conduct keyword research. Dig for terms you think your audience is searching for. Then confirm using keyword research tools and Google Suggest or autocomplete plus the Related searches section at the bottom of the SERPs.

4. Shortlist your content pillar topics

With the list of ideas ready, create your content plan by finalizing pillars pages to create.

Keep in mind: there’s no limit to the number of content pillars to add to your content marketing strategy. Just be sure to set realistic goals around creating pillar pages.

What's more, focus on creating quality content, which takes time on its own.

Need to Know: By managing your content operations in GatherContent, you can add a quality-control checklist or an SEO optimizing checklist to each content brief you create. This way, writers can focus on content quality by ensuring all pointers on the list are met.
Create quality control checklists in GatherContent
Add a content optimization checklist in your templated GatherContent briefs to maximize the quality of the content your team creates.

5. Create your pillar pages and topic clusters

Before you begin, lay out your production plan into a content calendar so you can start creating high-quality content by set deadlines.

Need to Know: As you plan your content topics in GatherContent, add due dates to each piece. When you view these in Calendar format, you’ll see a ready editorial calendar.
Use GatherContent to create your editorial calendar.
Use GatherContent to create your editorial calendar for streamlined content production by a preplanned schedule.

For the pillar page, be sure to write authoritative content without going into specifics about any subtopics. This helps you leave room for creating topic clusters discussing specifics in detail.

💡  Learn more: Content management: Everything you need to know about strategically managing your content

Content Pillar Linking

Once your pillar page is ready, add hyperlinks to related topic cluster content.

Here’s a visualization of how topic clusters relate to a pillar page as explained by HubSpot, which is widely known for adopting the pillar content strategy for their site:

Create topic clusters centered around the theme of your pillar post.
HubSpot's visualization of topic clusters created around a pillar page. (Source)

In reality, all the hyperlinking looks like this:

Example of how to interlink topic clusters into a pillar page
Example of hyperlinked topic cluster pages into a pillar page. (Source)

Or, there's a visually engaging way to add them too:

Example of how to link topic clusters into a pillar page in a visually engaging manner.
Example of adding internal links to a pillar post in a visually engaging manner (Source)

With multiple content pillars, here’s how the entire strategy works:

The pillar post and topic cluster content strategy as visualized by HubSpot
Here's how a content strategy based on content pillars and content posts looks like

Want to make sure you correctly link to the relevant content pieces?

Lay out your entire content strategy as shown above. This gives you a bird’s eye view of all your content, so you don’t miss linking any page.

Need to Know: Plan your content in one content management platform like GatherContent. In doing so, you can organize all your content in one place, allowing easy access to all team members. Most of all, writers can find and link to different pieces in their content using the centralized resource library.
Use GatherContent as a central repository for all the content you create
Use GatherContent to create an accessible content resource hub containing all the content you've created.

One more thing: Every time you create a new piece of content based on a pillar page’s theme, update the pillar post by adding a link to the new resource.

💡 Pro tip: Refresh your pillar pages regularly. This will help you provide up-to-date, evergreen content that’s highly valuable to readers and does well in the SERPs too.

Content Creation from a Content Pillar

Having pillar pages in place means you’ll never scramble for last-minute content ideas.

Instead, the content pillar’s topic guides your content creation as you can work on different types of content related to the pillar’s theme.

Content pillars can also guide your social media marketing, as you can repurpose pillar page content into content for social media such as Twitter threads and LinkedIn posts.

Moreover, you can share the evergreen pillar page(s) on your social channels, providing more fodder for sharing content.

💡 Learn more: A step-by-step guide: How to improve your content workflow

Not to mention, you can reuse pillar content in different formats.

For example, create a podcast pilot episode based on the pillar page. Then, record more episodes based on the content you’ve created for topic clusters. This way, your podcast can focus on one topic—going deeper into it with each episode.

Similarly, you can repurpose pillar page content by creating infographics. Here are more ideas for content repurposing.

In short, content pillars play an important role in your content strategy. Want a head start to planning pillar posts?

Good to Know: Download our Content Strategy Roadmap template to dive into your strategy creation today.

Tagged as:

No items found.
Ready to get started?
Start your 30-day free trial now
Start free trialBook a demo
No items found.

About the author

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer for SaaS. When she’s not writing actionable blog posts or checking off tasks from her to-do list, she has her head buried in a fantasy novel or business book. Connect with her on Twitter.

Related posts you might like

No items found.