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How to Create Content Pillars for Building Topical Authority

Julia McCoy
Thursday, 8th Feb 2024
how to create content pillars

Imagine you’re building a house. Before the walls go up or the roof takes shape, you lay down a solid foundation. In digital marketing, content pillars are the pieces that lay the crucial groundwork when building your brand’s online presence.

Content pillars are essentially those core themes or topics that anchor your content. Whether you’re a seasoned content creator or just starting out, learning how to create content pillars is crucial. It might seem like piecing together a puzzle at first glance — figuring out which pieces go where — but once you get the hang of it, everything starts to flow seamlessly.

In today’s blog post, we’ll dive into some practical steps on how to create content pillars that not only resonate with your audience but also give your brand’s story depth and direction.

Get ready; content pillars might just be what elevates your digital marketing game.

Table Of Contents:

What Are Content Pillars?

Content pillars are key themes or topics around which a brand or content creator organizes their content strategy. They serve as the foundation for creating consistent, relevant, and valuable content for a target audience.

Content pillars help maintain focus, establish expertise, and reinforce brand identity across various platforms and formats.

Essentially, they are the core subjects or categories that represent the main areas of interest or expertise for a brand or individual. By consistently producing content around these pillars, organizations can build a stronger connection with their audience and establish themselves as authorities in their respective fields.

Why They Matter

Imagine visiting a beauty brand’s Instagram page looking for skincare tips only to find unrelated memes. Confusing, right? That’s why sticking to clear themes matters.

Pillars Ensure Focus on Core Objectives

The essence of having well-defined content pillars cannot be overstated. They ensure that every piece of content you create aligns with your overarching goals and engages consumers at each stage of their journey.

By focusing on specific topics relevant to your audience through these pillars, you maintain consistency in delivering value — turning casual readers into loyal followers.

Avoiding Chaos Through Organization

Without predetermined themes or subjects for your content pillars, brainstorming sessions might lead nowhere fast, spreading efforts too thin across unrelated areas.

The result? A chaotic mix rather than a cohesive collection of valuable insights for readers.

On the contrary, structured content pillars not only streamline the ideation process but also enhance efficiency — making sure every post contributes meaningfully towards building authority and driving conversions.

Catering Specifically to Your Target Audience

Not everyone will need what you offer, and thanks to content pillars you won’t waste any time appealing to a broad audience. Instead, resources are directed towards prospects that are most likely to convert.

Simplifying The Content Creation Process

With specific categories guiding your pillar content strategy, you don’t have to spend hours brainstorming what needs coverage next — reducing fatigue among marketers when planning blog posts or social media updates.

To sum up: Well-thought-out content pillars pave the way for more targeted and efficient marketing efforts that resonate deeply with audiences, all while boosting online visibility and topical authority.

Illustration of a topic cluster from HubSpot

4 Types of Content Pillars

There isn’t a strict rule about the number of content pillars, but generally, there are four common types of content pillars:

Educational/Informative: Content that aims to teach or inform the audience about specific topics, providing valuable insights, tips, tutorials, guides, or how-to articles. This type of content establishes the brand or individual as an authority in their industry or niche by sharing knowledge and expertise.

Entertaining: Content that entertains the audience such as humor, memes, stories, quizzes, or entertaining videos. This type of content is designed to capture attention, engage the audience, and create an emotional connection with them.

Inspiring/Motivational: Content that inspires or motivates the audience, featuring success stories, personal anecdotes, quotes, or inspirational messages. This type of content aims to uplift the audience, boost morale, and encourage them to take action or pursue their goals.

Promotional/Sales: Content that promotes products, services, events, or special offers to drive sales or conversions. This type of content may include product demonstrations, customer testimonials, promotional campaigns, or announcements about upcoming events or launches.

These content pillars can be customized and adapted based on the specific goals, target audience, and industry of the brand or individual. They provide a framework for developing a well-rounded content strategy that meets the needs and interests of the audience while supporting the overall objectives of the organization.

Infographic from Social Shepherd

How to Create a Content Pillar Strategy

Creating a content pillar strategy is like building the backbone of your brand’s online presence. By structuring your work, it ensures that each piece of content crafted aligns with a specific goal.

1. Identify Your Audience

To kick things off, getting to know your target audience inside out is crucial. It involves immersing yourself in their likes, dislikes, challenges, and motivations. Knowing your audience allows you to write pillar content that truly connects.

Social media analysis tools and surveys can help you unearth your audience’s preferences and desires, essentially hearing it straight from them.

2. Choose Core Topics and Buckets

After studying the needs of your audience, the next step involves identifying key themes that interest them while also supporting your company’s objectives. Think of these as broad themes under which all other content will fall.

Buckets help further organize related ideas under each core topic — think subtopics that provide more specific angles on the broader theme.

For example, if “sustainable living” is a core topic for an eco-friendly beauty brand targeting millennials on Instagram, buckets might include “DIY beauty products,” “eco-friendly packaging,” and “brand sustainability initiatives.”

3. Audit Your Website Content

Conducting a content audit of your website enables you to assess whether existing content can be refined, enhanced, and repurposed for the pillar content page.

This process offers two primary advantages.

First, by refining and updating existing content, you can prevent content cannibalization or duplication on your site.

Second, it allows for a reassessment of the internal linking structure.

However, if you require additional existing content to boost a content pillar, you’ll need to reverse-engineer the process. Specific content strategies may start with crafting the pillar page and then developing supporting cluster articles.

4. Analyze Your Competition

Once you’ve pinpointed a topic to establish expertise in, you’ll likely encounter competition. Conducting a thorough analysis of their content marketing strategy is essential to uncover gaps, opportunities, and other potential areas for your website’s core content.

Studying your competitors also empowers you to enhance existing content and create even more valuable resources for your audience.

By scrutinizing the subtopics addressed by competitors, you can spot content voids and build a stronger and more expansive content foundation.

5. Create Your Content Pillar

The last step is creating your pillar content. To begin, outline the structure of the pillar page by addressing all potential questions. Use headings and subheadings for optimal performance.

For instance, if your subtopic is “home foreclosures” you can gather valuable insights from popular headlines and FAQs online. This information can help you build an outline of questions to address, including:

  • What happens to my home during a foreclosure?
  • What are the legal rights and protections of homeowners?
  • What is the impact of foreclosure on credit scores?
  • How to negotiate with lenders during foreclosure

Using advanced AI tools like Content at Scale, you can generate SEO-friendly content briefs to help you structure your pillar content on any topic.

Example of a pillar content structure from Semrush

Social Media Content Pillars

Creating strong social media content pillars is not just beneficial — it’s essential. These pillars serve as the foundation for your brand’s presence online, guiding every post, tweet, and share towards achieving your overarching business goals.

Social media content pillars compel you to scrutinize every piece of content against your wider objectives, ensuring you’re not merely mimicking competitors or chasing trends without a purpose.

For brands managed by multiple teams or agencies, these pillars offer a unified direction that fosters collaboration and consistency across different channels.

When plotting out your social media content calendar, these pillars can streamline the process, allowing for more strategic planning month-to-month.

Beyond serving as an internal guidepost for creating on-brand content, pillars also act as a creative springboard. If you’re stuck, your established content pillars can kickstart inspiration or refine existing concepts.

Integrating Pillar Content Into Your Social Media Strategy

Different social media channels cater to different audience demographics and preferences.

For instance, Instagram content pillars might focus more on visually appealing posts that tell a story or showcase products in action because 81% of users look up products and services there. This figure highlights the necessity of tailoring your approach to align with the distinct habits prevalent on each platform.

To start creating relevant social media platforms’ content, consider what makes each channel unique. Twitter thrives on timely updates; LinkedIn favors professional insights; while TikTok champions creative short-form videos.

Shape your primary topics to align perfectly with the preferences and expectations of different social media platform users.

FAQs – How to Create Content Pillars

What are the 5 content pillars?

The five pillars include brand offering, educational or value posts, product offering, company culture, and customer feedback.

What are pillar content examples?

Pillar content examples range from in-depth guides on a specific topic to comprehensive tutorials that anchor related posts around them.

What are the 4 pillars of content marketing?

  1. Setting and Understanding Clear Goals
  2. Understanding the Nuances of Your Audience
  3. Embracing Helpful Content on Every Level
  4. Keeping Conversion at the Center of Your Strategy

Conclusion

Learning how to create content pillars is like laying the foundation for a sturdy house. You now know it’s about more than just posts; it’s crafting a strategy that stands tall.

Creating content pillars is essential for establishing a strong and sustainable content strategy. By identifying key themes or topics relevant to your brand or niche, you can build a cohesive framework that resonates with your audience and reinforces your expertise.

Through in-depth research and strategic planning, you can develop pillar pages and supporting cluster content that not only engages your audience but also enhances your visibility in search engines.

Remember to focus on providing value, addressing audience needs, and maintaining consistency across your content pillars. With dedication and creativity, content pillars can serve as the foundation for long-term success in your content marketing efforts.

Ready to start building (or improving) your topical authority with content pillars? With Content at Scale, you don’t always have to start from scratch! Just feed your keyword into the AI and it will create a pillar content that covers every subtopic in your cluster. Try it today!

Written by Julia McCoy

See more from Julia McCoy
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