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What Is Pillar Content? How To Get Started

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Josh Crouch - Relentless Digital LLC

Author's Bio:

Joshua Crouch, a regular on the Service Business Master podcast, is renowned for his insights on service-based businesses. 

An active member of industry groups, he’s at the forefront of emerging trends. As a recognized Google Business Expert, Josh drives growth for Relentless Digital’s clients.

Pillar Content - Relentless Digital LLC

In today’s hypercompetitive digital world, standing out from the crowd can seem like an impossible challenge. Successful digital marketing is no small feat, particularly for service-based businesses like plumbers and HVAC contractors. Fortunately, you can get a leg up on the rest of your competition by creating and posting pillar content. But, what is pillar content? How does it work? What type of benefits can pillar content provide for service-based contractors?

This blog post will answer those questions and more, and we’ll also discuss how to create your pillar content strategy. At Relentless Digital, we provide a range of SEO services for HVAC contractors and service-based companies, including:

  • Search engine marketing
  • PPC and paid advertising
  • Website design
  • Content marketing
  • Client retention strategies
  • Social media marketing
  • Reputation management

Let’s start by defining pillar content and exploring why it’s a valuable resource in today’s digital climate.

What Is Pillar Content in SEO?

Content marketing is the foundation of every successful SEO strategy, and you should build your website and business blog with this in mind. Anyone can write an uninspired, average blog post full of content you can find on a thousand other web pages. Instead, aim to create relevant, well-researched content that gives readers a unique perspective.

The best content is:

  • High in quality
  • Compelling
  • Informative
  • Accurate
  • Valuable
  • Engaging
  • Relevant
  • Well researched

Approach your content marketing strategy with the idea of quality over quantity. Don’t spam readers with meaningless blog posts. Instead, create content that provides value to the reader, answers pain points, solves a problem, or contains vital information they want to know.

So, what is pillar content? It’s long-form content (3,000+ words) that discusses and explains a specific subject or keyword in great detail. It should also give readers a complete answer to whatever piqued their curiosity or need for information. Every content pillar page should contain:

  • Information that’s different or explores a new perspective from other content on the subject
  • Accurate, relevant, and comprehensive information that answers a question or solves a problem
  • Content that’s compelling, useful, and shareable

The primary goal of creating pillar content is to provide readers with quality information that ranks highly on the major search engines and will remain relevant.

For large or complex subjects, you can develop a primary pillar and cluster pages with related subtopics that explain a keyword or particular subject in more detail. Then, make the subtopics into individual blog posts or smaller content pieces that link to the original pillar page.

3 Types of Content Pillars

Although blog posts and web articles are commonplace forms of pillar pages, they’re by no means the only kind. Pillar content can also be videos, tutorials, white pages, or any other type of informative post. However, there are three primary types of content pillars, which we’ll discuss below.

The Guide Pillar:
 Every “guide” pillar page should provide a comprehensive overview of the primary pillar topic, with plenty of supporting research, elements, cluster topics, and authoritative links to back it up. These “guide” pillar pages must contain an in-depth subject view with proper keyword research and optimization to ensure an extraordinary user experience.

The “How-to” Pillar: 
Every time you search online for “how to change a flat tire” or “how to grow tomatoes,” you’re benefiting from the knowledge contained in a “how-to” pillar. “How-to” pillar pages are powerful resources and valuable assets for your company’s content marketing strategy. A “how-to” pillar page for a services-based contractor should provide a thorough list that describes the correct steps to complete a task, such as clearing a drain or fixing an AC filter.

The “What Is” Pillar:
 The “what is” pillar page is highly useful to readers. This type of pillar content defines and explains a subject or keyword in depth, often with several cluster pages that expound further on the core topic. It should be easy to read and understand, with high-quality content and a responsive, easily navigable layout.

Why Should You Use Pillar Page Content?

Okay, so now that you know what pillar content is, it’s time to discuss the “why.” What kinds of benefits can pillar content provide for your business? Of course, the obvious benefit is improved SEO and better search engine rankings. However, there are advantages to using a content pillar strategy beyond SEO. Let’s take a look below.

Enhances SEO and Search Rankings

As a service-based contractor relying heavily on local business, you should prioritize refining your website’s organic and local SEO tactics. Posting pillar pages and cluster content increases your website’s quality, relevance, and usefulness in search engine algorithms even further. Google’s algorithm has over 200 ranking factors, the most important of which judge content quality and how helpful your site is to users.

For example, if searchers click on your blog posts and then quickly leave, Google assumes that your site doesn’t have valuable, informative, or relevant content, which can hurt your Google search ranking.

Content pillars with a comprehensive overview and thorough information about a keyword or subject improve your website’s quality, boosting SEO, page ranking, and organic traffic numbers.

Improves User Experience and Engagement

Connecting with your target audience is vital to the success of your business, and there’s no better way to engage your site visitors and improve page experience than with cluster content and pillar posts. Page experience is a group of signals measuring how users interact with your website. The most significant signals include:

Core web vitals:
 Google’s core web vitals include cumulative layout shift (CLS), largest contentful paint (LCP), and first input delay (FID).

 Google’s mobile-first index emphasizes how friendly your page is for users on mobile devices in terms of responsiveness, ease of navigation, etc.

No intrusive interstitials:
 NII measures how accessible your page is to users.

 Checks the security of your site’s connection.

Including useful, relevant, and interesting pillar content can increase the duration of page stays and reduce the number of page bounces. This tactic improves user experience and engagement levels, boosting your search volume, SEO, and page rankings on the major search engines, especially for critical, high-volume keywords.

Speeds Up Content Creation

It’s no small task to create valuable and compelling content, whether it’s a blog post, video, or another form of media. One excellent benefit of including pillar articles on your website is that it will result in much faster content creation.

Starting with one broad topic and working outward from that central pillar makes it easier to organize and create cohesive and shareable blog content. This type of pillar content strategy also encourages brainstorming for new keywords, queries, and ideas you can add to your core topic clusters.

Plus, organizing your content with pillars lets you create a cohesive internal linking strategy and pinpoint gaps in your content that could harm your page ranking.

Encourages “Content Binging”

Have you ever searched online for a particular topic, discovered the information you were looking for, then suddenly realized that two hours had passed? Falling down the rabbit hole of Google and “content binging” is another benefit of adding high-quality cluster content to your website.

If you can create posts that provide a comprehensive overview of a specific keyword or subject, you increase the likelihood of users staying on your page for longer. Once readers gain interest, they start clicking those handy links you included, eager to soak up the knowledge you provide and discover new information. Content binging also increases the length of page stays, giving your SEO a sweet boost.

Builds Trust and Credibility With Quality Content

When you find a blog or social media post with spammy ads and false, misleading, or inaccurate information, do you ever visit that site again? Of course not. While it might take longer to create and post thoughtful, well-researched pillar content, the trust and credibility it builds within your customer base are well worth the time spent.

For example, researchers performed a large-scale systematic review of published literature regarding consumer trust in eCommerce platforms. The results found that when people trust your credibility as a business owner, it positively affects their satisfaction as buyers.

By publishing pillar articles on your own website, you increase the perception of authority among your customer base by providing valuable information that resolves a problem, fixes a pain point, or provides a solution.  

Improves Your Website’s Infrastructure

Another often-overlooked advantage of using a content pillar strategy for your website involves the benefits to your infrastructure. If your content is organized neatly in clusters and subtopics, it streamlines your site’s technical structure and navigability. Visitors can quickly find the information or topic cluster they’re looking for without issues.

Keep updating and improving your web design and content, including images, load time, page title, meta description, etc. You can leverage organic and local SEO tactics more efficiently with an optimized site structure.

How Do You Write Pillar Content? 5 Steps to Creating a Successful Content Strategy With Pillar Pages

Whether you have a website, a business blog, social media pages, or other marketing channels, developing a pillar content strategy is essential. Keep reading for actionable advice and five steps for creating and promoting content pillars within your digital advertising platforms.

1. Scope the Competition and Know Your Audience

If your HVAC business struggles to expand or gain enough business, it’s time to figure out why. One way to pinpoint your company’s vulnerabilities is by scoping out your chief competitors in the local market. What are they doing that you’re not?

Next, identify your target customer base. For example, do you provide residential or commercial services? Plumbing, electrical, or HVAC? What pain points can your service/content alleviate? Your cluster content needs to straddle a fine line of being informative yet interesting enough that people will want to read it.

Understanding search intent is another key to the puzzle. Look at social media posts and evaluate shared content to see what resonates most within your target audience.

2. Research Your Core Topics, Keywords, and Subtopics

To create evergreen content that will provide value for years to come, get ready to do some serious research. For example, start with free keyword research tools, such as Google’s “People Also Ask” or “People Also Search For.”

Next, find long-tail keywords for your core topic, and incorporate them throughout your content. Start with your primary content pillar, then create an outline or diagram that further expands on the subject. 

A great place to find new topics for a pillar page is by searching through user comments on blog posts. Or, you can work with a professional marketing agency and take advantage of their expert advice and assistance.

3. Audit Your Existing Content

Before you go crazy writing individual blog articles and long-form content, take the time to do a content audit. First, check whether you already have valuable information on your core topic that you can reorganize or optimize into pillar content, whether that’s on your website, social media pages, or another digital platform. Next, eliminate fluff and redundancies, and update old or outdated content.

Then, look for ways to create an efficient content cluster that will provide the most value and information to your site visitors. It’s a great way to refine your brand’s overall focus and niche within your target market.

4. Create Compelling, Informative, and Valuable Pillar Content

Now, use the pillar technique to create compelling, informative, and relevant pages for your business. Since you’ve already done the keyword research and developed a content pillar outline, focus on optimizing your content to provide the most value for your target market.

For example, place your main keyword within your H1 title and URL for every pillar post, add internal links to establish credibility, and consider using a table of contents or “back to the top” button for ease of viewing.

Every pillar page should relate to the previous broader topic. If you’re having difficulty formulating a content strategy, create a content map to visualize each topic cluster and where it fits. Of course, this is challenging and time-consuming work, which is why most companies hire an experienced marketing agency for professional assistance.  

5. Promote Your Pillar Content

Once you’ve optimized and perfected your pillar content, it’s time for distribution and promotion. Take the main pillar page and break it down into various media, such as videos, social media posts, blog articles, email campaigns, etc.

Use every tool in your arsenal to create a cohesive omnichannel content strategy that will reach the largest number of users possible. Ensure that your website and social media pages are consistent and complement each other. And remember, every smaller content pillar page should lead directly back to the original topic. 

Finally, don’t forget to continually improve and refine your pillar content to adapt to dynamic SEO best practices and algorithmic changes.

Don’t Wait: Contact Relentless Digital Today

Navigating today’s ever-shifting digital landscape as a service-based contractor is challenging at best. Leveraging every resource is critical to your success, but creating an effective marketing strategy with high-quality and well-researched content pillars and topic clusters is essential.

Now that we’ve answered your question, “What is pillar content?” we hope you have a stronger understanding of how to use the above steps to increase your online presence and market reach.

Interested in discovering more? Learn about common web design misconceptions and other SEO and content marketing techniques on our blog. Then, contact Relentless Digital today at 262-393-4241 and request a consultation with our HVAC SEO team.

Josh Crouch - Relentless Digital LLC

Author's Bio:

Joshua Crouch, a regular on the Service Business Master podcast, is renowned for his insights on service-based businesses. 

An active member of industry groups, he’s at the forefront of emerging trends. As a recognized Google Business Expert, Josh drives growth for Relentless Digital’s clients.

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