How to Use High-Performing Content Pillars in 2024

Content Pillars

QUICK! “Content” – how does this word make you feel? 

Creating Marketing for your business, like blogs, web pages, and social media posts, might feel like a never-ending task. Many businesses struggle to meet their goals of engaging audiences and generating leads.

When your content strategy is messy and the topics are random words, it’s hard to make an impact.

To solve this, organize your content to align with your company’s goals. Content pillars can help. They give your content purpose and make it simple to create a plan that goes beyond just random words.

This post will define what a content pillar is and show how using pillar content strategies can help marketers build authority and increase website traffic. We’ll also explain how to incorporate pillar content on your website and social media.

What is A Content Pillar?

A content pillar is a detailed piece of content that covers a main topic and all its subtopics. It gives important information about a big topic. The page is also set up to match a certain word and search intent.

Now, how does this help with content marketing and getting a higher rank in search engine results pages (SERPs)?

First, content marketers create useful, detailed information on a given topic. But the real trick is to build a “content cluster” around it. A content cluster is a group of related content that connects directly to your main content.

These topic groups create a network of material, increasing your Topical Authority and keeping readers on your site for longer.

Improving your website’s visibility on search engines involves using a straightforward SEO approach centered around content themes. Achieving higher rankings means more people discover your brand, visit your site, and potentially become customers.

Let’s break down a topic cluster focusing on the keyword “Disney World Planning”:

Main Pillar: A comprehensive piece of content exceeding 3,000 words, thoroughly covering a broad main keyword. (That’s way longer than the usual suggested length for blog posts, which is typically 1500-2000 words.)

Sub-Pillar: Articles that concentrate on specific, detailed aspects linked to the main topic’s subject.

Individual Blog Posts: Posts addressing commonly used phrases related to the main topic and its subtopics.

Why Use A Pillar Content Strategy?

Why should you use a pillar content strategy for your website?

  • Improve content organization: Split your entire content into main sections and sub-topics, each serving a specific purpose.
  • Boost SEO: Start ranking for important keywords, both short and long phrases (based on a study, long form content with over 3,000 words tend to get 77.2% more backlinks on average.)
  • Develop better content ideas: Use main content as a base to come up with ideas that strongly impact the reader.
  • Keep users on your site for longer: Engage readers by giving them ample chances to click on different topics and keep reading for an extended period.
  • Create an effective content marketing system: Create a content marketing plan where all assets are connected and independently serve a defined purpose.
  • Use Relevant KPIs: Align content with business goals and understand how each content contributes to achieving them.

Look at the Google search results. 50% of all clicks go to the top three results. So, if you don’t share your content, you won’t get views.

How To Build A Content Pillar Strategy For Your Website

You can use these five steps to create a content foundation plan for your brand’s website:

1. Identify The Main Topic And Keyword

Start by choosing a main idea and keyword for your content pillar. To do this, gather information from both customers and keyword research.

Understand what people are looking for when they search for a specific phrase, known as search intent.

Figure out your target audience and create buyer personas to better know their problems and needs. The best way to do this is through interviews or surveys with consumers and clients.

Now you have a general idea of your pillar topic. Proceed to find related subtopics by doing keyword research.

Many tools for finding keywords use information about how often people search for a word and how hard it is to rank for that word. You can also type the word into a search engine and see what questions people commonly ask.

Check out these great tools for finding keywords. Some you pay for, some are free, but they all help with your search.

  • Answer The Public
  • Ahrefs
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • SEMRush
  • Keyword Revealer
  • BuzzSumo

When you’re finding keywords for your main topics, think about the measurements mentioned below. They will help you choose the best keyword.

  • Search volume
  • Competitiveness
  • Relevancy

Doing these things helps you figure out if your main topic needs a central page and related pages.

It’s also good for finding smaller topics. The central page gives a brief look at these topics, and the connected pages provide more information with links between them.

Starting with keyword research is a great way to find main topics for your content. But don’t get too caught up in particular keywords. Instead, focus on broad subjects where you can share valuable information with your readers through your writing.

2. Audit Existing Content

Check and assess all your current materials to see if they can be improved or changed to match your main content plan.

A content check can also help you find your brand’s focus, which could set the main theme. You can even reuse or rearrange existing content to fit into a different topic group.

Content checks will help you steer clear of repeating content topics and remove any unnecessary parts. It’s also a chance to review how you link things internally.

If you have lots of content, doing a check manually could take a long time.

3. Research Your Competitors

After finding the main problem, it’s time to do more research. It’s likely that other brands in your area or industry also want to rank for similar words.

Study your competition to understand how they market their content. Find gaps you can fill and ways you can talk about the topic better.

If you can make a guide that’s more complete and trustworthy than what your competitors have, you can rank higher in searches.

Looking at your competitors helps you see what they’re doing right and what you can do better.

4. Build Your Pillar

Now that you have all the needed info, start making your main page. Begin by organizing all the topics you’ve gathered so far. See how they match up with what clients need now and what’s happening in the industry.

Your main page starts with the main topic and goes through each sub-topic. Once it’s written, make it better for keywords that matter, focusing on what people are searching for.

Include a list of what’s in your main page at the beginning – these pages are big, after all – and make sure the sub-headings have the right words for what they mean.

Look, there’s an easy-to-read list of topics to help you quickly go through different subjects. Plus, there’s a short video at the top for those who like watching.

We’ve also added a CTA to do something and an option to get emails for topics you’re interested in.

If we take a closer look at the website, we’ll find many links to related info, tools, things to buy, and pictures that help us understand topics. These are common things that make it easier for people to get what you’re saying and make them want to read more.

Other crucial things to think about:

  • Put the main topic in your page’s title and URL.
  • Make the main topic the H1.
  • Make sure your table of contents links to the right section.
  • Make the alt text for images the main topic.
  • Add a “Back to the Top” button.

5. Create Your Cluster To Back Up Your Pillar Content

After finishing your pillar page, you can begin adding cluster pages to it. Decide how much to write for each blog post based on the keywords and research you’ve done.

This plan also involves subheadings and different important words.

A content map is great here because it acts as a guide and shows all of your main material visually.

Concentrate your connected pages on crucial words related to your main topic. Improve each page for what people are searching for and other important words.

Once your main and cluster pages are done, think about how to connect them internally to make a connected experience. Lead your readers through valuable information that guides them to buy your product or service; connect your pages appropriately.

Connecting various pieces of information is crucial for ranking high in search engine results. Investing in backlinks from relevant industry websites will help you position your content as a knowledgeable source on the topic.

6. Distribution and Promotion

Sharing and promoting your content is the last step in your content pillar plan. Break down the main page into smaller parts like infographics, social posts, and videos, and share them on various social media platforms.

Make sure your website’s main page is easy to find and stands out. Other ways to spread the word include:

  • Sharing in social communities
  • Remarketing campaigns
  • Email Newsletter
  • Collaborating with Influencers
  • Presentations
  • Press Release

Blogs still bring the highest return on investment (ROI) for your business compared to other marketing methods.

To make the most of these chances, you need to craft fresh and engaging content inspired by the pillar page. These contents should be easy to share on social media and through newsletters.

You don’t always have to promote your main pillar. You can promote any post or other content within your topic cluster. In the end, all these smaller pages lead straight to your pillar page.

Examples of Content Pillars

There are 3 types of popular content pillars:

  • ‘What is’
  • ‘How to’
  • ‘Complete Guide’

We’ve provided an example of each below.

  1. What is – “What is SEO by Search Engine Land”

Don’t let the not-so-great look of the Search Engine Land main page discourage you. The information you’ll discover there more than makes up for it.

Their guide on making your website more visible to search engines is one of the most detailed ones available online. It’s well-organized, and you can easily see the different sections the guide includes.

These sections lead to various parts on the blog of the website. This is one of the methods you can use to progress with your main pages.

Instead of creating just one page and adding links for different parts, you can write a few articles or posts and link them together on the main page, just like Search Engine Land does.

  1. How to – How to Build Your Own Free Stock Photo Library By Massive Kontent

The writer of this main page on making a collection of free stock photos uses an engaging introduction. They say that by following the guide, anyone can make their own folder and start using it in less than 60 minutes — impressive!

A list of contents at the beginning of the page helps you move through the different parts of the page easily. When you go to the part of the page you’re interested in, your web address will have a marker that looks like this:

This page doesn’t connect to individual pages. Instead, it works like a complete page with anchored elements.

Even though there’s a bunch of information about stock photography, it’s easy for newbies to understand. This is because there are plenty of examples and situations that help break down long chunks of text.

  1. Complete Guide – “The definitive guide to SEO in 2022 By Backlinko”

Backlinko’s guide on SEO is full of images, all following one design (except for screenshots).

You’ll find the main content section at the top of the page, directing readers to the right part of the page.

Even though the guide is quite long, it can be read fast. This is because the writer focuses on using short sentences and bucket brigades, making it easier for readers to take in the information.

The Role of Pillar Content in SEO

It’s no secret that writing blog posts or articles on your business website is a great way to:

  • Make the content needed to boost your website’s SEO strategy.
  • Engage with your audience on a more personal level.

One big benefit of pillar content is that it can help improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. How?

You create a content cluster by connecting related, shorter blog posts (also called cluster content) with your pillar content. This shows search engines, like Google, that your pillar content is an expert on the topic. This approach can help boost the visibility of your content on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Over 92% of content marketers include blog posts in their content marketing strategy.

Many marketers mistakenly prioritize producing a lot of content rather than focusing on its quality. They churn out short pieces daily, hoping to boost traffic.

The Content Marketing Institute states that blog posts and articles are the most successful types of content for generating demand.

  • Almost one-third (29%) of business-to-business (B2B) marketers think their work was very successful.
  • More than half (55%) of B2B marketers see their work as moderately successful.
  • About one in six (17%) B2B marketers feel their work is minimally effective or not effective at all.

Building a Pillar Content Strategy For Social Media

Making pillar content for social media follows a similar process, but with a few important differences. Here’s how you can use your social media pillar content:

1. Build a Content Bank

A content bank is like a collection of your thoughts. These ideas should be about the three to five main topics that your brand cares about.

To make a content bank, start by looking at your target audience to figure out:

  • The websites they use the most.
  • The topics they like.
  • Content that helps or talks about problems.
  • How they check out content.

Many social networks have tools to help you learn about your audience, like Facebook’s Audience Insights.

Once you’ve answered these questions, take a look at your current metrics to find out what’s working. Check which posts are getting the most views, what kinds of posts are getting the most interaction, current trends, and more.

Look at the top-performing posts to see what they’re about, the hashtags you used, the images, and the captions. Your upcoming posts can follow a similar style.

By now, you likely have an idea of what topics to address. Next, explore the themes and key influencers to figure out the perspectives and hashtags you should use. But, you’re not restricted to using existing hashtags; feel free to create your own.

Lastly, look at the whole industry and your main rivals. This will help you firm up your ideas, stay updated with industry trends, and think of new ones.

For example, a company that sells haircare products can gain from the current interest in cruelty-free goods. They can create posts to advertise related products and take advantage of this trend.

Your collection of content should focus on your main pillar topics, but you can also include a section for exploring new areas.

2. Repurpose Existing Content

Make a list and organize your current articles to check if they talk about your main subjects. If a post covers the main topic or a sub-topic, think about improving or updating it to fit your new needs.

If your articles are too old but still relevant to your main theme, refresh them with new images, captions, hashtags, updated statistics, and so on.

Even if the posts don’t fit your main themes, you can use them to inspire new ideas.

For example, if an older article’s structure worked well but the information and images were outdated, you can try using the same structure for newer articles.

You can repurpose content from your website’s main pages by breaking it down into smaller, easy-to-share formats like pictures, charts, and videos for social media.

3. Create Content Calendar

Make a plan for your posts in the upcoming weeks by creating a content calendar. Think of a social media content calendar like a schedule for your content.

This schedule shows all the content you plan to publish during a specific time, usually a month. It includes the dates when you’ll publish them and any important notes.

A simple monthly content calendar has this format:

Use online tools to create bigger and customized social media calendars.

For best results, your social media posts should have links to longer content like a main page, YouTube video, or blog post.

Focus on important dates, posts, and links to your other longer content. If you use different platforms, your content calendar may have blog posts and YouTube videos.

4. Schedule Your Posts in Advance

When you plan your posts in advance, you can regularly share important content on social media.

Utilize tools like Buffer for scheduling and previewing your content across various social channels from one place. This way, you can automate the publishing of your posts on time.

Remember, don’t just schedule your posts and leave them. Keep updating your content calendar to stay current with trends.

Ultimately, aim for posts that capture your target audience’s attention. Avoid sharing anything that might be offensive or goes against what your audience feels.

Many tools for planning let you see and edit your posts ahead of time, making it easy to update one or more posts quickly with the latest news.

Planning your articles in advance helps you catch issues and stick to a cohesive content plan, ensuring social media updates and other content remain consistent. It also gives you extra time to focus on other aspects of your marketing strategy.

5. Create an Integrated Content Pillar Strategy

Make sure your social media and website main content complement each other, creating a smooth system where each supports the other, aiming to attract leads and turn them into customers.

A disorganized or scattered content plan might confuse readers. You might have an excellent social media post, but the link could take them to something unrelated. It’s vital to keep your messages and topics consistent across all your marketing channels.

With a steady content distribution plan, your social media main points will guide visitors to your website main points or sub-topics. From there, these pages will lead potential customers through the sales process.


Here’s a quick overview of Content Pillars!

Now it’s your turn. Use the tips we discussed today to come up with ideas for your content pillars. After that, try out your ideas before deciding on your main topics.

To stay organized, put your pillar topics on your content calendar and assign tasks to the right team members.

Christopher Smith
Author: Christopher Smith

SEO and linkbuilding expert. More than 7 years of work in the field of website search engine optimization, specialist in backlink promotion. Head of linkbuilding products at GREAT Guest Posts, a global linkbuilding platform. He regularly participates in SEO conferences and also hosts webinars dedicated to website optimization, working with various marketing tools, strategies and trends of backlink promotion.

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