How to build pillars of successful content

Content pillars, also known as pillar pages, are high-level introductions to a topic. They link to more detailed resources on each subtopic to form a content hub.

Here are some benefits of using a content hub strategy:

  • Better organization The pillar pages essentially serve as a news hub and allow you to explore a topic in detail.
  • More commitment – It’s easy for readers to find related content and consume more.
  • Other links – People often link to the pillars of content, as they are a good starting point for those looking to learn about a topic.

In this guide, you will learn how to create a content pillar for your website.

How to create pillars of content

Follow the steps below to create content pillars for your website.

1. Find the main topic on which to create a content pillar

Grab a seat, pen and paper (or laptop), then brainstorm content pillar ideas. If you are familiar with the niche, a lot of topics should come to mind.

For example, I have been dancing breakdance for the past 10 years and many topics come to mind for pillar pages (e.g. types of powerful moves, game steps to know, and more).

Alternatively, you can also use Ahrefs’ keyword explorer to find ideas. Just enter a broad term related to your niche and go to Corresponding terms report.

Report on matching terms, via Ahrefs' keyword explorer

However, not all terms here will be a suitable topic. What you would like are arguments that:

  • Have an informative intent – People are looking for information, not to buy. You can check this by searching Google for the topic. If most of the results are blog posts, articles, or other hubs, the topic is likely to have an informational intent.
  • Have search traffic potential – Look at the Traffic potential (TP) column next to each keyword to see its search traffic potential.
  • They are quite wide – The topic should not be so narrow that it has no subtopics to talk about. And it shouldn’t be that wide that your pillar page is 50,000 words long. As a general rule, look for topics with an intermediate distance five and 20 subtopics.
Venn diagram of how to choose the best topic for your content pillar

For example, let’s compare the “yoga postures” topic with the criteria:

  • It has informational intent – Most of the results are blog posts.
  • It has search traffic potential – The TP of the topic is 33,000 (US only).
  • It is quite large – There are potentially hundreds of yoga positions to cover. But if we stick to the “best” ones for starters, there should be a good range for a pillar page.
SERP overview for the query "yoga positions," via Ahrefs' keyword explorer

If you’re a yoga site, this could be a fantastic topic for a content pillar.

2. Find out what you need to cover in your content pillar

The key here is to choose subtopics that are highly related to the main topic.

Here are some ways to find them:

R. From your experience

If you are an expert or are familiar with the niche, you probably have an idea of ​​what you need to cover. For example, if you are a yoga teacher, you probably already know the different types of yoga poses that beginners should master first.

B. Check Wikipedia

If your topic exists on Wikipedia, it’s a great way to find subtopics as everything is already organized correctly.

For example, Wikipedia has a page called “List of Asanas”, where different yoga positions are arranged in a table:

List of asanas, via Wikipedia

C. Watch online courses

There are online courses for almost any subject and are usually logically structured. Therefore, they are also good places to look for relevant subtopics.

For example, this course on Udemy covers the key positions for yoga:

Outline of a course on the key positions of yoga, via Udemy

D. Analyze the competition

Since the main goal of a content pillar is to rank for the main topic, you can look at the pages currently at the top of the rankings to see what they are about.

For example, the first page of “yoga poses” has already covered the essential poses for beginners:

VeryWell article on the best yoga poses for beginners

Since the subtopics are neatly organized in a hierarchical fashion (H2s, H3s, H4s, etc.), a good way to see them all at a glance is to install Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar and open the Content report.

Content report for VeryWell's article on the best yoga poses for beginners, via Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

Side note.

This is simply a search for your content pillar. You want to make sure you don’t miss any important subtopics. But you’re not even trying to squeeze out all the subtopics. Use your experience and taste to understand what you should include on your pillar page.

3. Create your content pillar

Once you’ve finished your search, it’s time to create your content pillar.

Think of it as a “portal”. Your goal is to offer readers a starting point for further discoveries on the subject. So keep it relatively light.

You are not trying to say everything on every subtopic. Leave it on your cluster pages to provide more details. Stick to what people need to know.

For example, our beginner’s guide to SEO only has a one-sentence introduction for each chapter:

Ahrefs SEO Beginner's Guide

If you have the budget, consider creating a custom design for your content pillar. This is what we have done on our own. Not only does good design make it easier for readers to consume content, it also stands out among other guides, hopefully leading to more shares, links and traffic.

But if you can’t afford a custom design now, don’t worry. You don’t need incredible design to create useful content pillars. Take a look at Zapier’s pillar page on remote work – it’s basically a text:

The page of Zapier's pillar on remote work

4. Create your cluster pages

Even though a pillar of content is a standalone page, it’s almost useless without its supporting cluster pages. So when you’re done with the main pillar page, it’s time to create the rest of the hub.

With the subtopics laid out, you already know what you need to create. It is simply a matter of execution. But it will take some time.

Watch this video to find out how to create content for your cluster pages:

If you have existing content that fits into the “hub”, just link them together.

5. Promote your content pillar

Don’t wait for the content pillar to be discovered – proactively promote it and let people know.

Here are some tactics you can use:

  • Share it with your audience – Email list, social media accounts, etc. Share it wherever you have a following.
  • Have it included in newsletters – There should be plenty of newsletters dedicated to curating the best content in your niche. Find the emails of these newsletter writers and promote your content pillar for inclusion.
  • Share it on communities – If you are an active member of any community (Facebook groups, Slack, Discord, Reddit, forums) share your content pillar with them.
  • Build links – Links are an important Google ranking factor. So if you want your content pillar to rank high, you’ll need to create links. Read this guide from start to finish on how to link to your pillar page.

Recommended reading: 13 Content promotion tactics to get more visibility on your content

Examples of content pillars

Check out these pillars of successful content to inspire yours:

You can find more examples of pillar pages here.

Find out more

If you are looking for more guides on how to create content pillars, I recommend that you check out these articles:

Questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.

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