Oli Lynch
Content. Marketing. Strategy.

What Is Pillar Content & How Can You Build It?

Content is King. Yes, despite being an overused cliché, it is still true.

And, there is also an undisputed King of Written Content: The Content Pillar.

You’ve probably heard of a content pillar, and you’ve probably read a few in your time too. Sometimes interchangably referred to as pillar content or cornerstone content, although this is the same thing.

As someone who has written a fair few content pillars in my time as a marketing strategist and content writer, this is my explanation.

What is pillar content?

For those who are unsure, a content pillar is an authoritative piece of content on a specific subject. Normally, you’ll find this in the form of written content such as a blog or downloadable resource such as an e-book.

Of course, being authoratitive, it’s also usually particularly long form. Think multiple thousands of words with lots of images and infographics.

Crucially though, pillar content shouldn’t be a broad and all-encompassing read, or an advertorial. Instead, it should be the definitive guide to a major pain point in your industry, and a useful resource.

What’s the point I hear you asking?

What are content pillars for?

A well researched, structured and written content pillar can be exactly what it sounds like; the proud supporting component for your content strategy.

When done right, a content pillar is not just the essential defining content for what you or your business does. It’s also a well researched, engagingly written and shareable document which is referred to and linked back by everyone.

Heck. They might just make the movie one day.

OK, maybe not…

But in short, a good content pillar is going to be a defining piece of content for your industry.

I wrote a series of content pillars for a property client of mine which were all about an impending change to rental law. The final doc was probably in the region of 3000-4000 words long, included references by industry thought leaders, original data and a whole shit load of statistics.

I’m not sure how many backlinks it got back, but it was widely read and shared within the first few weeks of publication.

Hmmm nice pillar content you got there
Hmmm nice pillar content you got there

How do you write a content pillar?

The point of a content pillar is that it is a richly detailed and informative resource.

So, the first thing, once you’ve identified what the content is going to be, is to build an outline.

  • What are the common questions asked around this subject?
  • Are there steps that need to be followed?
  • Will there be a need for infographics or other pictorial data?
  • What statistics or data will you need to present to back up your findings?

Beyond the actual content you’ll also need to have an understanding of your audience.

  • What are they looking for that might lead them to your content pillar?
  • How will they find this content?
  • What action might they take once they’ve read your document?
  • What tone of voice/style should you be using to speak to your reader?

And then there’s the issue of search engine optimisation (SEO) which also needs to be considered. Yes, that link there goes to my in-depth look at SEO, so check that out too.

White papers vs content pillars

If you’re wondering if you need a white paper or a content pillar, here’s quick explanation.

A white paper is usually original research or a business proposal. It’s designed to be used as a reference and isn’t usually meant to be used for search engine purposes.

A content pillar is a resource for your potential audience, and is totally designed for search engines.

I hope that clears that up.

Who needs cornerstone content?

In general, if you’re trying to rank well in search engines, especially in a competitive industry, content pillars are invaluable.

You might already see that a competitor ranks highly for your search term because they have an in-depth guide on their site. But perhaps there is room for improvement? Maybe you know that you can up the stakes with a really solid piece of content.

When it comes to writing a blog post or ebook that is designed to generate lots of web traffic (and ideally conversions) the best bet is to hire a content writer. Even if they’re not familiar with the industry or the subject, their expertise is to take the available information and make it pop.

So if you need a solid piece of pillar content, drop me a line.

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