Using Content Pillars – How to Build a Focused Blog Strategy
You’re aware you need a focused strategy to get your blog recognized on search engines. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to do it. Building an online presence for your business doesn’t have to be tough or feel impossible. And using content pillars can go a long way toward streamlining the process.
At Maggie Writes Copy, we work hard to provide marketing strategies. So that all you have to do is implement them. Let’s get the ball rolling by discussing why you need a blogging strategy.
Why You Should Implement a Blogging Strategy
When you set up a website and start a blog, it’s easy to lose track of what your message is. As well as who you’re talking to. Blogging isn’t as easy as filling a page with whatever comes to mind.
It can be easy to write a blog post. But it’s often less easy to stay on brand, on message, and reach your target audience every time. Not to mention figuring out how to correctly implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That’s where a blogging strategy comes into play.
Having a game plan to look at before you start writing is the best way to keep your blog focused. And creating content pillars can help with that.
What Are Content Pillars?
Content pillars are blog posts that dive deep into a very specific topic. Typically a topic important to your audience. It’s impossible to get every aspect of a subject into one 3000-word blog post. So first you write your content pillar. Then this article becomes the hub that you link to with future articles in that subject area.
Content pillars are a great way to build your blogging strategy. They help you completely flesh out a topic for your readers. Sporadically talking about hundreds of topics may get lots of eyes on your site. But, they won’t necessarily be your target audience.
There are several benefits to using a content pillar strategy.
Why Use a Content Pillar Strategy?
Using a content pillar strategy can be a very effective method for a whole host of reasons.
- Completely cover all aspects of a topic to answer all your audience’s questions.
- Keep your readers on your site and decrease your bounce rate.
- Improve your site and content organization.
- Decrease the amount of irrelevant content that you produce.
- Boost SEO as you rank for more and more keywords on a topic.
- Decrease the likelihood of writer’s block or indecisiveness on what to post.
By covering one topic of interest to your audience, you create more relevant content. And provide more value to your readers.
I know what you’re thinking though. You don’t want to only write about one big topic. And you’re completely right. Your site shouldn’t be made up of just one content pillar. So how many pillars do you need?
How Many Content Pillars Should You Have?
There isn’t necessarily one answer to this question. How broad or narrow your niche is will determine how many topics you need to cover in depth. Part of this depends on who your target audience is and how many questions they have about your subject.
A good starting point would be 5 content pillars. This will help keep you relevant for your audience. As well as giving your target audience some variety in what you deliver to them. No one wants to read the same content all the time. So dividing your pillars into categories can help to shake things up.
- 3 Educational Pillars: These educate about aspects of your products or your services. Typically the call to action will be a sale.
- 1 Shared Value Pillar: A meaningful topic that relates to your industry. It doesn’t have to be related to your product directly. You may choose your email list as the call to action for future news.
- 1 Shared Interest Pillar: Something you and your audience are both interested in. More lighthearted than your shared value. Again without a salesy call to action.
Spreading out your pillar topics gives your audience variety. while still covering a subject completely. It also helps define your target audience further. And remove anyone who doesn’t find all your content relevant.
Knowing what types of pillars to create is great. But I know you’d like to hear how to choose your pillar topics. There are a couple of different ways to do this.
Creating Content for SEO
Writing for SEO alone isn’t a good idea for providing value to your audience. But it should definitely inform what content you write.
Search engines are programmed to provide people with the info they are looking for. This means that they are trying to send the most relevant content to the top of the search query.
Your goal is to figure out what people are searching for the most. Then provide the most relevant information. This adds value to the internet and reaches your target audience.
You can do this by determining key phrases or keywords that your audience searches for the most. Use tools like Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, and Semrush to find search terms used frequently. Then use these keywords to define your content clusters.
What if you don’t have access to these tools and don’t have the budget for a new business expense just now?
Make Your Email List Work for You
One of the best resources you can cultivate as a business is your email list. Not only can you use your email list for marketing purposes. But you can also use it to research what your audience is interested in.
Use Open Rates to Inform Your Content Creation
Chances are, your audience will only open emails with subject lines they’re interested in. Using email metrics to determine content creation can be hugely successful.
Send Out Surveys
Everyone loves to share their opinions. Sending surveys to your email list can be a great way to hear directly from the source. They will tell you exactly what they want to learn about. If you don’t get a lot of responses, consider adding an incentive like a prize.
Use Different Email List Opt-ins
Having multiple opt-in options on your site can give you a lot of different information. The freebie with the most signups and downloads is what your audience cares about most.
Your email list has a lot of different uses. Both in driving what content pillars you create. And in sending out updates after blog content is published. But it isn’t the only way to determine your content pillars.
Using Competitor Research to Define Your Content Pillars
Seeing what other people are doing and then copying them is the oldest trick in the book. Keep in mind that when I say “copy” I definitely don’t mean you should plagiarize their sites. Plagiarizing is bad for a number of reasons. And it will hurt both of your sites visibility. But you can use them to learn what search engines are featuring and what they aren’t.
They can also show you where there may be a hole in the information that is available to your audience. This can be a great way you can add more information that isn’t readily available.
You can either go to your competitor’s sites to research potential content pillars. Or you can perform searches of important topics in your industry and see what’s already out there.
After reading an article look for the information gaps. If you think the audience will still have questions YOU could be the one to answer them.
Now that you’ve determined what your content pillars should be, it’s time to start writing them.
Implementing Content Pillars
If your site and blog have been live for a while, there’s a good chance you already have quite a bit of content. It is definitely a good idea to use this content for your pillars. Take stock of what you already have and start arranging them into your pillars. Add links between correlating pages.
These links between similar topics help tell Google what each page is about. If you don’t already have an article to act as the pillar, it’s time to write it and link it to all your outlying pieces as well. Your pillar will likely be a longer blog post as it will have a lot of information to cover.
Now that you have your existing content linked and categorized it’s time to fill the gaps. Take a look to see what information is missing that your audience needs. Then write about it.
It’s a good idea to spread new content creation between your different pillars. Don’t write in the same pillar all the time. Spread it out so that you keep your audience engaged. This goes hand in hand with sharing your content with your audience.
A Content Calendar
Posting your new content on your blog is far from the last step in your content pillar strategy. It’s important that you use many channels to get your content to your audience. A blog post written in August should still be featured on your marketing channels in October. Channels like:
- Email newsletters
Even if you don’t have all these social media and search engine channels, you should have some of them. And you should be using them to reach your audience with the content you’ve created.
Does this sound like an overwhelming amount of work? Don’t let it stress you out. There are many scheduling sites that allow you to create your social posts ahead of time. Then schedule them to go live on a certain date at a certain time.1
Keeping your content in front of your audience has a few different benefits.
Making Your Content Pillars Work for You Longer
When you publish a blog post the goal is for your audience to read it. But that doesn’t always happen. Even if it does, it doesn’t happen right away. Building your content calendar creates more ways for your audience to find you. It increases your visibility.
Search Engines track how many people see a piece of content. How long does your audience spend on that content? And whether your audience leaves your site or heads to a different page.
Creating multiple streams of visitors will help your post and your site’s SEO in the long run. Because search engines will track more people coming and staying on your site. Especially when you build your content calendar out further.
Content Pillars for Small Business
Blogging strategies don’t have to be tricky. When you outline a plan ahead of your content creation it can really make your blog stand out. Content pillars are a good way to do this.
Hopefully, you feel confident in building a strategy now. But if you still feel like you need help. Or if you just don’t have time to put a strategy together, don’t hesitate to reach out. We love to help with content creation at Maggie Writes Copy.
1 16 Top Social Media Scheduling Tools – Sprout Social