Every business needs a blog. It’s the ideal tool for marketing yourself, your business, your product, or your service. For many businesses, a blog is also an information portal, educating visitors and introducing them to products and ideas that they would not have been exposed to otherwise.

But how can you grow your blog to reach more of your target market? Or more precisely, how can you structure your blog to live long and dominate in search?

The answer is to make use of content pillars.

An SEO strategy that focuses on topics rather than keywords, this approach is intent-based and simplifies blogging by creating content around one central topic – referred to as the “pillar” page or post.

The pillar page is a substantial piece of content that covers a topic broad enough that is can be broken down into smaller subtopics, which are then covered in sub-posts that link back to the pillar page.

Image credit: https://blog.hubspot.com/news-trends/topic-clusters-seo

The organized structure of pillar content builds up the relationship between each page or blog post and helps drive the authority of the pillar page, which can prove useful in search rankings, and more importantly, for driving traffic to your site.

Phase 1: Define your Pillar

The best (and only) place to start is with the main topic for your pillar. Say you’re a flower shop and you want to build up your blog, where do you begin?

Breaking your products and services down into major categories is the logical way to define your topics. Use the Google keyword planner to find search volumes and related topic ideas for the topics you choose. A higher search volume is better, but keep in mind that with great search volume comes great search competition. That makes it more difficult to break into search results, so I would suggest that you find tightly grouped topics that closely match your service or product rather than go for ultra-broad topics with the most search.

For a flower shop, topics could be Seasonal Flowers, Flower Arranging, Flower Gifts, Flower Colours etc. These are ideal because they are broad topics that can be broken down into many smaller subcategories for which you can write cluster pieces to support the pillar.

Phase 2: Define your cluster

Once you have your topics, start defining sub-topics to flesh out the pillar. This can also be done using Googles keyword planner, which will help you find all sorts of related and similar search terms to choose from.

As mentioned earlier, the sub-topics need to be highly related to the topics you chose in phase 1, and these will then become your blog posts. Ideally, you will end up with a comprehensive list of blog post ideas that covers all bases. If you get stuck or are unsure that you’re going in the right direction, try to answer the following questions to get started:

  • What are your visitors looking for?
  • what questions are they asking?
  • What problems does your product or service solve?

Another approach is to focus on the sales cycle and structure your cluster content around the basic stages of the cycle. Top of funnel content focuses on awareness and would include topics like:

  • Troubleshoot
  • Issues
  • Resolve
  • Risks
  • Upgrade
  • Improve
  • Optimize
  • Prevent

This type of content is usually highly educational and only mildly promotional of your business. The idea here is to inform visitors by providing valuable information, and making them aware that you are a solutions provider.

The next stage is the Middle of the Funnel content, that is centered around consideration, and solutions. This stage of the cycle is vital to driving traffic through your sales funnel and should become a major part of your marketing strategy.  Here, your content should continue to educate but also start positioning your company or service as the right solution to your visitors needs and challenges. Topics to cover would include:

  • Solutions
  • Providers
  • Services
  • Suppliers
  • Tools
  • Applications

The last stage in the sales cycle is the decision stage, or the bottom of the funnel. Here, visitors are searching for reasons to sign up or purchase your product. This segment is close to making a purchase decision, so you will need to provide some convincing reasons for them to select you over your competitors. These topics could include some of the following that relates to your product or service:

  • Compare or Comparison
  • Versus or Vs.
  • Best or Top
  • Cost or Price
  • Pros and Cons
  • Benchmarks
  • Review
  • Test

The final step in building a content pillar is internal linking.

Strategic internal linking is key to optimizing your site, and especially important for content marketing. Related posts should link to one another, and where possible, you should include a link back to the pillar page.

Internal links help with website navigation, builds the relationship between pages and help your content gain authority and ranking potential.

In order to maximise the effect of your internal linking, pay attention to the main elements of a good linking strategy.

Deep linking – Don’t link only to your pillar content, link laterally to related cluster content. This helps define the relationship between pages and is key to building a highly optimized pillar. Try to spread your links evenly between posts and pillar pages, and most importantly, don’t link too much from a single post.

Anchor text – make sure that your anchor text is natural and makes sense in the context of your page. When someone clicks on your link, they should have a solid idea of where they will be going. Also, using anchor text instead of linking another asset such as an image has more benefit to your SEO strategy. In short, link naturally from your content using natural text to form the link.

Relevance – make sure that your links are relevant to your audience and that they support the content on the page. Placing a link to the home page is usually not relevant to anyone but linking to a related post or resource can be beneficial to your visitors. This relevance is fundamental to the success of you content pillar strategy and done right, can boost your ranking opportunities tremendously.

In summary, content pillars are a powerful SEO strategy that can help your site maximise its search footprint, and by following the process mapped out here you will be building potent content pillars with strong clusters adding a boost to your sites search potential.

Contact us, if you need help with your SEO Content Strategy?