Two Benefits Of Pillar Content

by derek on January 20, 2011 · 37 comments

There is a good chance that you have had the term “pillar content” if you have had any involvement in creating your own blog or website, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you truly understand what it is and how it can benefit you.

What is pillar content exactly?

Pillar content is the foundation that holds up the structure of your blog – and keeps it from collapsing around you. This type of content typically stands the test of time and provides the reader with a thorough overview of a particular topic within your area of focus.

As an example, assume you are writing a blog about motorcycles. Your pillar content might be a few posts along the lines of: 1) how to winterize your motorcycle; 2) three tools every rider needs to have; 3) top ten places to ride. These are articles that you can reference time and time again and will often be linked to frequently from other blogs and websites as well.

So how can pillar content benefit you?

Become an authority

When you first begin your blog – or any time for that matter – writing pillar content will establish your name within your niche. Once people begin to recognize your pillar content, they will link to you and send traffic your way. More and more people will find your website via search engines as well as mentions on social media sites and links from other blogs.

You will become the authority on your topic.

Once you become an authority, you will become the go-to resource for that topic and people will come to you for information. You will form connections with your readers – your community – and they in turn will continue to pass along your name and blog to others.

As your name and authority continue to grow, the sky is the limit – book deals, membership websites, training courses, and many other opportunities will be available to you because you are an authority in your niche.

Sustainability

Another benefit of writing pillar content is that you will continue to receive a steady stream of traffic from these pieces of content – even well after they were written.

Remember earlier when I mentioned that pillar content is like the foundation that prevents your blog from collapsing?

Consider the following example.

Early in 2009 (almost two years from today) I announced to my community that the cost to pursue my passion had become too steep and I needed to step away. Over the course of 2009 and 2010 I published a total of 49 posts. Considering that this blog has well over 500 posts, writing less than 10% over the last two years was a significant decrease in activity.

One would expect that my blog would have shriveled up and died a slow death.

Quite the contrary. As a result of having pillar content that continues to bring in traffic, there has been a steady stream of traffic over the two years that the blog remained mostly dormant. Just how much traffic? Well, here you go:

  • 111,200 visitors
  • 171,454 page views

Not too shabby considering I only wrote 32 posts in 2009 and 17 posts in 2010.

The pillar content prevented this blog from collapsing into the abyss of abandoned blogs. Not only that but the blog continued to generate revenue during that time as well. Writing pillar content doesn’t mean you should leave your blog idle, but this example does show that pillar content can carry your blog when needed and launch your blog to new heights when leveraged properly.

Where are your pillars?

Whether you are just starting your blog or have been writing for awhile now, it is never too late to create outstanding pillar content. Take a look at your niche and ask yourself what you can write that will help people interested in your topic and will stand the test of time.

For more information on how to write great pillar content, here are three authority sources on pillar content that provide a wealth of information:

See what I mean?

These three guys have written great pillar content that I have just linked to while writing about pillar content. Now that is a great example of being an authority on your topic and building sustainability as each of these posts is 3-4 years old.

Take a look at your blog – where is your pillar content?

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Leo February 2, 2011 at 5:02 am

The good thing about pillar content is that links should -slowly – flow towards it.

And the good thing about writing less frequently (honestly I don’t know how people manage to write 1 new blog post every day, sometimes 2) is that you have more time to promote each post (gain backlinks with the likes of commentLuv for example) resulting in higher SERPs for each… well that just gave me an idea for a new blog post!

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm

As the links flow in on the pillar content there will be a pretty steady stream of traffic as well, both from the links and the improved placement in organic search results.

Great to see you had the inspiration for a new blog post!

Leo February 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Not only that but it’s going to be my 1st guest post (hopefully) :)

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Sounds like a great plan!

Bit Doze February 4, 2011 at 8:37 am

Indeed pillar content is a must have if a blogger want’s to have success. But also writing articles more often it will be a good idea.

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Frequency of posts can be debated, as there are a number of blogs that are successful with infrequent postings. However, it is important to try and be consistent with your postings. If you’re only going to post once per week, that can be fine if your readers know when to expect that post.

This is something most bloggers, myself included, struggle with on a regular basis.

Kyle February 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I would also mention, and maybe this is a no brainer, that you should always link to your pillar content on your main page. Your most recent posts will continue to push older posts off of the main page if you’re using WordPress, Joomla, or Blogger. You want to make sure that those Pillar Posts are always linked to on the main page both for SEO and for users who might be looking for a Greatest Hits of your content.

Derek has obviously already done this here, see: Content So Hot You’ll Freak, but if you haven’t done this on your blog definitely take the time to do it some time soon.

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Great point Kyle. It is important to feature your pillar content prominently for readers to find – and don’t be shy about linking to it from within more current posts as well. Deep links throughout your site can be quite helpful.

AlanAllport February 6, 2011 at 9:35 am

Definitely evergreen subjects should have a major place on your blog. This is a great way to ensure that your blog has a long shelf life.

Just thinking about the concept of pillar content alone can help you to focus on the subjects that can form a good backbone for your blog in whatever niche you’re in.

I think you should also have a way of highlighting your pillar content in your blog’s navigation system to give your readers some points of orientation and a logical way in to your content.

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Agreed – when starting out on a new blog you can do a mind map of the evergreen subject and come up with a great foundation for your blog content.

Brent February 8, 2011 at 11:25 pm

This definitely is a good way to drive more traffic to your website. The other way to perceive is that you are actually helping people providing them with generic information which they can avail of. Thanks for the informative read Derek! I will surely browse all the mentioned three links.

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm

And that is really what it is all about IMO – helping people whenever possible.

Russell Davison February 9, 2011 at 12:49 am

Hello Derek,

Nice article. I’m impressed with your average of 4600 visitors per month and totally agree with your strategy. I’ll incorporate some of your (and your comeenters’) ideas into my sites.

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Thanks Russell. It isn’t too shabby considering how long the blog sat completely idle. Now to get it back up towards the 10,000 per month mark. :)

Roger February 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I also agree with the startegy of Pillar Content – we often called it Bring In posts, and I used to have a blog where one of these articles managed to get a PR8 dofollow backlink within 5 days of the blog become online. That content then received further attention I can tell just tell that…

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I like that name for it as well, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience Roger.

Tommy February 12, 2011 at 7:18 am

great strategy, i wanna try.. thank you for sharing..

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Do or do not…there is no try. ;)

Alana1980 February 12, 2011 at 7:49 am

I’m thinking about starting a blog and I understand the concept of pillar content driving people to your site in the long run, but should I stick solely to pillar content in the beginning? Or save really good stuff for after I get some readers?

derek February 15, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Alana, that is a common question as you the feeling is that you don’t want to use up all of your pillar content before you really have an audience to read that content.

I don’t think there is a problem if you want to space it out a bit. Start off with 2 or 3 really great pieces of pillar content, add in a handful of standard blog posts, and then as you are seeing some traffic come in go ahead and add more pillar content.

By the same token, if you’ve truly written great pillar content, people will find it even if you publish it all upfront. In this case, be sure to link to it on the main page and possibly even have a special message for new readers to alert them of your pillar content.

There really is no wrong or right answer; focus on writing great content and connecting with your readers and you will be impressed with the results. Also, you can always write more pillar content as time goes by.

wordpress themes February 22, 2011 at 5:50 am

the concept of pillar content is really great for bringing more traffic to your website and especially in case you are not posting regularly, it will save your website from collapsing. Started writing pillar content for my site. :)
thanks for sharing…

Pete February 22, 2011 at 8:29 am

Nice idea. I write for a niche in which new data is constantly emerging, and that’s great for new articles, but also means they’re outdated quickly. This’ll help me create articles that have a better half life. Thanks for posting!

Pete

Antony March 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Well, this is the first time I heard about pillar content, and yeah I write this kind of content every time I make new blog, I just don’t know that it is called “pillar content”

Gold Star March 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm

This was the first time I’ve heard about pillar content and I do think it is essential in maintaining a blog. I’ll check out all the links here. Thanks for sharing!

Anne March 24, 2011 at 12:26 am

This is a nice post and I have never heard this kind of post before. This post is pointing only to one direction and it is creating QUALITY CONTENT thus gaining more traffic. I will apply this on my next blog. This is a big help for us! Great!

Suzanne March 28, 2011 at 2:27 am

I would also mention, and maybe this is a no brainer, that you should always link to your pillar content on your main page.

Rod March 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I only have one question: I have written a lot of articles that I would think are “pillar content”, and actually some of them have gotten to high positions in Google, but when time passes, they start to loose any good position they got and actually some of them disappeared from Google completely, so what can you do to avoid this? This has caused my blog to have the same traffic since half a year ago (even tough I have written 50 more well thought articles since then)

Settlement Purchaser April 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm

great info Derek. I have had a hard time with this on one of my blogs and maybe this could help it out a bit. thansk.

Settlement Purchaser June 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm

You make a great point here Derek. Some people don’t realize that you need a core base and then one that is general and give users what they are looking for and quickly. Its all about finding the right way to balance it all out.

Online Opportunities July 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Great article as usual, thanks for sharing!

Ouesm July 14, 2011 at 3:36 am

I really like this idea of ‘Pillar content’. I think it’s great. I would like to try it too.

Victor Jacobs July 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I am trying to write some pillar content within a new niche website, I’m testing a lot and I hope I will see some GREAT results. Thanks for sharing these links and tips!

Veronica Cervera August 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Pillar content I think is the very foundation of your Internet business. One may reckon that having a product or service to sell is all that’s necessary to drive a successful business. Not that quite. Today, consumers are hungry for information and very much interested in wanting to know more about your business.

Steve October 2, 2011 at 8:49 am

I’m still having a hard time with regard to the concept of Pillar Content. I understand that there’s tons of benefits with this concept however i’m still having difficultly with it.

Rebecca March 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Ha, ha. I actually do have a blog about motorcycles. Thanks for the very on-point examples. :) I used to work in the magazine industry and pillar content is a little like what we called evergreen stories. Anyway, thanks for the article. Lots of good ideas.

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