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Google loves to keep us marketers on our toes, so they’ve recently announced changes to the...


Technology has changed, and so has the way we search for things. Now, we can just ask Alexa to find us something, or we can type “Chinese restaurants near me” into our smartphone and it will use our GPS location to find us customized answers.

Since we no longer use choppy keywords to find what we want on Google, the search engine has come up with new ways to deliver us the information we need. Enter 2018 RankBrain.

Google’s algorithm is led by its machine-learning, artificial intelligence-based software called RankBrain. RankBrain will take a user’s search query and show them results based on interpretation and intention, not just exact match keywords.

This is where pillar content comes in.

H 2: What is pillar content?

Essentially, we need to tell Google that your business or company is an expert in your industry. One of the main ways we used to do this was by publishing blogs that contained targeted keywords. Now, however, we use pillar content.

Instead of writing multiple short, keyword-focused blogs on a topic, we now create a larger piece of core content on a page that uses hyperlinks to link out to smaller pieces, or “clusters” of content. The larger content is the pillar content, and it contains your main keyword or topic. The clusters contain subtopics that are related to your main topics.

So, for example, let’s say you were writing pillar content for an insurance company. One of your pillar content topics would be car insurance, and your cluster content could contain subtopics such as “how to choose the right insurance company,” “which cars are best for insurance,” and/ or “the benefits of winter tires.”

The key is to think about things as topics and themes, not just keywords.

Dissecting the elem ents.

There are 3 main elements to your pillar content:

  • The Pillar Page: the main foundation, where the overview of your topic will live.
  • Content Clusters: content pages that provide more specific information about your subtopics.
  • Hyperlinks: the glue that holds your pillar content strategy together.

Your pillar page is longer than a blog post, but not overly specific about the topic. It should include an overview of your subtopics and provide answers to your audience, but it shouldn’t step on the toes of your cluster content. That’s where you’ll really dive into the nitty gritty of your specific topic. Then, it all comes together using hyperlinks.

Sound fair enough? Let’s get started.

How to build your pillar content strategy

So, now that you know what pillar content is, it’s time to put your words to work.

If you already have content on your website, that’s a great starting point. What you’ll want to do is take all of your existing content and sort it into topics. Then, plan out how it will all connect and build out a pillar page to bring it all together.

If you don’t have content to organize, consider your buyer personas and try to get into their head. What is their search intent? What are their problems, questions, or interests? Think about the content you can generate to them that will provide value to their life and help them on their search.

Whether you already have content or not, you should also do some keyword research and select long-tail keywords you can use as your subtopics to help build your SEO strategy.

Putting it all together

To rank well in the search result pages in 2018 you need a dynamic content marketing strategy in your SEO toolbox. It’s not enough to stuff some keywords in a blog and expect people to find you.

If all of this is sounding a little stressful or confusing, we’re here to help. Connect with one of our H&C team members who will help guide you through this process and build you a data-driven strategy to grow your business.

Alex Blackadder

AUTHOR: Alex Blackadder

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