What is Pillar Content & Why Does Your Business Need It?

Content Marketing
Pillar Content graphic

On your travels across the interwebs, you’re no doubt familiar with so-called “killer content,” which is the kind of content that stands above and beyond the ordinary and withstands the test of time. It’s the kind of content that you share with colleagues, friends, family members — and heck, even total strangers who would benefit from reading, watching or listening to something informative and engaging.

And so based on this, you might think that “pillar content” is then next level of “killer content” — and you’re right! But to understand this very important (and very profitable) new category of content, we first need to take a brief journey back in time. Don’t worry, we aren’t heading to the early days of the computers. We only need to reverse about 20 years.

The Old Content Strategy  

In the first couple of decades of this century, the content strategy was straightforward: businesses created (or had created for them) content that focused on topics that were relevant and interesting to their target audience. For example, a firm that provides travel insurance would create content on “5 Myths of Travel Insurance that Can Cost You a Fortune”, a company that provides pest control solutions would create content on “3 Pests That Love Making Your Home, Their Home”, and so on.

Now, if you have a large inventory of this content on your website, then please don’t panic: this kind of content is not (repeat, not!) going away. In fact, it’s more valuable and important today than it has ever been. Here are some statistics that should put your mind at ease:

  • Content marketing generates over 300% as many leads as outbound marketing, but costs 62% less. (source: Demand Metric)
  • Businesses that publish 16+ blog posts a month generate almost 3500% more traffic than businesses that publish less than 4 blog posts per month. (Source: HubSpot)
  • Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 780% higher for content marketing leaders vs.  followers. (Source: Aberdeen Group)
  • 74% percent of businesses say that content marketing increases their lead quality and quantity. (Source: Curata)
  • Conversion rates are 600% higher for businesses that use content marketing vs. those that don't. (Source: Aberdeen Group)
  • 95% of customers view marketing content as trustworthy when evaluating a business and its offerings. (Source: DemandGen)
  • 82% of businesses that blog regularly have acquired customers exclusively through this method, with no other outreach effort or cost. (Source: HubSpot)
  • Publishing unique content is the most effective and efficient SEO technique. (source: Marketing Sherpa)
  • 20% of the total time that people spend online is on business websites that offer a large library of original, quality content. (source: the CMA)

So, now that you know good ol’ fashioned content isn’t going anywhere, let’s turn our attention to what’s new: pillar posts.

The New Content Strategy

The new content strategy is centered around something called pillar posts. These are long articles that are typically in the 2,000-3,000 word count range, although they can be significantly lengthier and essentially look like content guides or ebooks (but in web page format).

The main purpose of pillar posts is to provide a comprehensive amount of information about a high-level topic. The secondary purpose of pillar posts is to point visitors to related content (e.g. blog posts, infographics, ebooks, white papers, checklists, videos, and so on).

If this sounds a bit confusing, then this explanation will help clear things up:  

Let’s return to the firm that sells travel insurance. In order to establish itself as a thought leader in its marketplace — which is undeniably the most profitable position to hold — the firm creates a 2,500-word pillar post called “The Basics of Travel Insurance.” This content covers things like what travel insurance is, how it works, when and why it’s needed, how to file a claim, and so on. It also includes

statistics, quotes, and other pieces of information that help make the overall article more robust and substantial. And of course, it is visually appealing and features high resolution photos, clear headings and sub-headings, and other graphic design elements that enhance engagement.

Furthermore, this pillar post references other pieces of relevant content. For example, let’s say that this firm also has a 500-word post in its blog entitled “5 Myths of Travel Insurance that Can Lead to Huge Bills.” At an appropriate place in the pillar post (perhaps in the sub-section on “Why You Need Travel Insurance”), this blog would be referenced and linked to. Visitors could then click it to dive into that topic, or they could keep reading the pillar post. It’s like exits on the freeway — it’s up to drivers (visitors) to decide where they want to go and how quickly they want to get there.  

It’s also important to note that pillar posts are not sales-oriented content. There can be (and usually is) a call to action at the end of pillar posts that invite visitors to book a consultation, download a free trial, watch a demo, or take any other action that ushers them forward along the buyer’s journey towards a sale. However, the body of pillar posts must stand on their own as authentic, credible information. Otherwise, they can become liabilities instead of assets.    

Why Do Pillar Posts Exist?

At this point, you may be wondering: why bother with pillar posts? There are two reasons:

  1. Studies have shown that visitors like and appreciate pillar posts. They find them informative and enriching, because many of their most important fundamental questions are answered in a way (e.g. what is travel insurance, how does it work, what is the claims process like, etc.). The deeper the engagement, the more likely a visitor will become a customer and/or positively influence another customer.
  2. All else being equal, search engines are now ranking websites with pillar posts higher than businesses without pillar posts. This is because search engines are geared towards providing the most relevant suggestions possible, and pillar posts help them do that (especially when pillar posts contain an appropriate number of strategic external and internal links). In other words, pillar posts help Google and Bing dive deeper into a business and discover what it offers and how it can help.

Learn More

To learn more about how business can benefit from pillar posts, contact the Noble Webworks team today for your free, no obligation consultation.

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