“Content is king.”
If you’ve been in the blogging world for any length of time, no doubt you’ve read about the importance of your content many, many times.
Obviously, having quality content is important, but “quality content” can mean many different things. In reality, what really matters is that your content satisfies readers and provides them with whatever it is that they are looking for.
One of the most common approaches to providing quality content is to create pillar posts (also sometimes called “cornerstone content”). A pillar post is simply a very strong and important article that can serve as the foundation or backbone for your website. It’s something that will be of interest and importance to your target audience and it will be in-depth. Because pillar posts are in-depth, they’re usually long. But not all pillar posts have to be long, and not all long articles will qualify as pillar posts. It’s about much more than just length or word count.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of pillar posts to better explain the concept.
Guide to Essential Oils – Savvy Natural Cleaning has published a number of articles related to the topic of essential oils, but this one is a detailed guide that would serve as an excellent starting point for anyone who is new to the topic. The other essential oils articles on this blog link back to this one as a resource.
101 Massively Useful Link Building Ideas – This article at Profit Blitz is a huge resource that any internet marketer or blogger should bookmark. It’s filled with actionable tips that can help anyone who is looking to get more traffic to their website or blog.
Gluten-Free Alcohol List – This one from Gluten Bee is different than the others, but still a great example. It’s mostly just a list, but it is a comprehensive list that would take a lot of time to research. Anyone who is on a gluten-free diet can use this page to find all different kinds of alcohol that are gluten-free.
Now that we’ve looked at some examples, hopefully you have a solid understanding of the type of content that I’m referring to as pillar posts. Let’s take a look at 10 specific and convincing reasons why your blog needs pillar posts.
Related reading: How to Start a Blog in 5 Simple Steps
1. To Stand Out
With millions of blogs online, and more launching every day, it’s very easy to get lost in the crowd. In order to have success, you’ll need to make your blog stand out somehow. This is especially true if you blog in a crowded niche.
High-quality pillar posts can help to establish your reputation as a blogger. Readers will take notice and they’ll view you as an expert on the topics that you cover with your pillar posts. You can use this to your advantage by creating detailed, awesome articles on the topics that are most important to you and your branding.
2. It’s Helpful to Readers/Visitors
Successful blogs not only attract a lot of traffic, but they also provide content that is genuinely helpful for readers and visitors.
Although all different types of content can be appreciated by visitors, informational pillar posts are incredibly helpful. Readers can learn a lot from your free content, and if your blog is honestly helpful to readers, you will also win in the long run.
3. Evergreen Content
Evergreen content will still be relevant and applicable a few years from now, as opposed to trendy content that will become quickly outdated or obsolete.
Not all pillar posts will be evergreen, but many of them are. Sometimes you may need to update your pillar posts every now and then in order to keep the details up-to-date, but the topic should be something that will still be relevant well into the future. For example, the gluten-free alcohol list that was mentioned above may need to be updated once a year to include new drinks and make sure that the existing ones are still available, but if those updates are done, the topic and content will still be of interest to readers in the future.
Evergreen content is important because it can help to attract traffic well into the future. If your blog is full of content that gets outdated very quickly, you’ll be on a never-ending mission to keep cranking out new content in order to attract visitors.
4. To Encourage Email Subscribers
One of your main goals as a blogger should be to grow an email list. An email list is critical because you’ll be able to communicate with your most passionate and loyal followers at any time, and you won’t be dependant on Google or social networks for all of your traffic.
Pillar posts are great for enticing email subscribers. When a visitor arrives at your pillar post, the goal should be to provide so much information that they want to subscribe to your email list so they don’t miss any of your future articles.
You can also use content upgrades to encourage even more subscribers. For example, Gluten Bee could create a printable PDF version of the gluten-free alcohol list so people could print it and take it with them. And in order to get the PDF, visitors would need to subscribe to the email list.
5. To Attract Links
Pillar posts can also be excellent for attracting links from other websites and blogs. If your article is truly an informational powerhouse that can’t be found anywhere else, other websites and blogs are likely to link to you when they are writing about a related topic.
Brian Dean of Backlinko.com has built an incredibly popular blog by using pillar posts. His articles are so helpful, useful, and in-depth that countless bloggers link to him.
Pillar posts often rank very well in search engines like Google. Part of that is because of the inbound links that were mentioned in the previous point, but there is more to it.
Google loves lengthy, in-depth content right now. Long articles tend to have a lot of related keywords and phrases that naturally occur in the text, so your pillar posts will have a chance to rank for a lot of different keywords and phrases. Also, Google likes to see high-quality content that keeps visitors on the page. A long-detailed article that is well written should be very helpful for readers, and Google will reward that. If you focus on writing the best content possible, that is a good start for your search engine optimization.
7. Social Media Shares
Readers love to share pillar posts through their social profiles. High-quality pillar posts often get hundreds or thousands of shares on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Of course, more shares means more exposure. More exposure means more visitors, more subscribers, and more revenue.
It’s a good idea to have social share icons on your posts to make it easy for visitors to share the content. Some blogs use buttons/icons at the top of the page, the bottom of the page, or floating on the side of the screen (or some combination of those).
You may also want to do some outreach to encourage more sharing of your best content. When Brian Dean was working on growing Backlinko he didn’t simply write and publish pillar posts and sit back to wait for all of the shares and traffic. Instead, he did extensive blogger outreach. I’m sure it took a lot of time and effort, but it led to the big amount of traffic that he receives today. (You can read about Brian’s approach here – Blogger Outreach: How to Get Influencers to Share Your Content for Free.)
8. An Ongoing Source of Income
Because pillar posts tend to attract traffic from search engines, social networks, and inbound links, they can be great for making money. And since most pillar posts tend to be evergreen, they can produce income for a long time.
Of course, not all pillar posts will generate income in the same way. Here are a few different possibilities:
- Affiliate links – Include affiliate links for relevant products and services within your pillar posts.
- Your own products – If you sell your own products, physical or digital, write content that will allow you to mention them or promote them in a natural way.
- Services – If you offer services, like consulting, you can write pillar posts that will demonstrate your expertise.
- Sponsorships – You could reach out to companies that offer relevant products and services to see if they would be interested in sponsoring your content.
You can use pillar posts to provide all of the information needed on your topic and create a natural flow for your readers. For example, if your blog is about running, you could create a series of pillar posts that would give readers all of the information they need to know about running a marathon.
- You could have an article that is a detailed buyer’s guide to help people find the right running shoes and other accessories needed.
- You could have another article that is a detailed guide on how to train for a marathon.
- You could have another article that is a guide to the week of the marathon and how to prepare physically and mentally all the way up to and including the race.
These articles could link together to create a nice flow for visitors to your site. Between the pillar posts, a new visitor could get all of the information needed to thoroughly understand the topic.
Think about the main topics of your website. What types of pillar posts could you create and how would they work together to create a nice flow for your visitors?
Once you have a series of pillar posts written and published, you can continue to direct visitors to this content. You can make it easily visible from any page on your blog, share it in a follow-up sequence for new email subscribers, feature it on your Facebook page, and any other way that you can get exposure for it.
10. It Can’t Be Easily Duplicated
One of the challenges with blogging is that the barrier to entry is very low and anyone can start a blog easily and quickly. Pillar posts give you a little bit of protection from competition because if your post is truly epic, it will be very hard for others to come in and match the content that you’ve produced.
They may be able to create other articles that cover similar topics or target the same keywords, but yours will be better.
Pillar posts take a lot of time and effort to create, but the results can totally justify the effort. Those pillar posts may be just what you need to get your blog over the hump and get you the exposure that you want. Take some time today to brainstorm article ideas that would be a good fit for your own blog.