Content Pillars: Definition, Types, and Role in SEO

If you’re a content writer, a website owner, or both, you probably understand how crucial SEO strategies can be when it comes to improving your online presence and achieving more growth.

As such, the search for more effective SEO content writing techniques is always ongoing. Today, we’re discussing one of the most successful and widely used ways to boost SEO widely: content pillars.

A content pillar allows you to comprehensively incorporate high-volume keywords into your website and expand its reach. For effective implementation of this content marketing strategy, you need to adopt a methodical approach with clear goals instead of just dumping all your knowledge about a topic into an article.

If you’re into social media marketing, own an online shop, or are a digital marketing agency owner, this helpful guide is for you. This guide will help you understand how content pillars work for SEO and how you can master creating your own.

content pillars

What Are Content Pillars?

At the very heart of your content planning process lies the content pillars. Each of these is a high-quality piece of content that serves as a fundamental core for your entire content strategy.

These quality content pieces should be packed with comprehensive information on their specific topic. They should also link out to detailed articles (cluster pages) that provide further information on subtopics of the main content theme.

In a content hub, content pillars are like the table of contents that covers ideas as a whole via a general yet beneficial overview. Yes, they point visitors to more in-depth articles, but they should also be independent and offer value in themselves.

Content pillar pages are often the landing pages of websites as they present the target audience with the most central topic.

Content Pillar Examples

If we consider SEO as a theme, then a pillar page in this case might briefly mention subtopics such as local SEO, backlinks, and SEO algorithms, then link to a cluster page for each subtopic where you can find more detailed information.

Another example is social media as a theme. In this case, the content pillar page might poke at subtopics such as marketing, mental health, and communications, then link to cluster pages on each subject.

How Long Are Content Pillar Pages?

When creating a content pillar page (a step-by-step guide is below), keep in mind that its length should be well over that of an average blog article.

There’s no rule set in stone for how long a pillar page should be, but we can say that it typically doesn’t go less than 2,000 words. In addition to being notably longer than regular posts, content pillars should also be high-quality.

Types of Content Pillars

This section will break down the main types of content pillars: the what is, the guide, and the how-to. But keep in mind that a pillar page may not strictly abide by the format of a single type and instead combine elements from two or more.

“What Is” Content Pillars

This type of article is a staple in any pillar content strategy. Every day, millions of people access search engines with questions that start with “what is”, so it makes sense for pillar pages to use this cue as a foundation for content across various niches.

As such, the “what is” content pillar was born to serve as a stand-alone, high-quality, and very useful overview of a topic. It’s similar to guide content pillars in that it establishes itself as a definitive authority for information on a subject.

“What is” content pillar posts are incredibly effective in driving organic traffic to your website. Once you manage to pull off an interesting “what is” landing page, the flow of traffic will continue to reach the cluster pages linked to within the content pillar.

“Guide” Content Pillars

This type of pillar page aims to establish your article, website, or brand as the ultimate authority on the topic you’re discussing.

A guide pillar page offers an inclusive outline of a subject that makes it the go-to destination for users looking to learn all about it. Within its content, the guide pillar page will link to related articles or pages that offer expanded knowledge on specific parts of the main topic.

A guide pillar page can be aimed at beginners, refined for advanced users, or anything in between. Using this type of pillar content post, you can build trust, drive traffic, attract attention, and grow your backlink profile.

“How-To” Content Pillars

Last but not least, “how-to” pillar pages focus on providing the reader with actionable steps that they can take to resolve a problem, create something, or improve an aspect of their lives. Prove to the world that you’re an expert in your field by making specific content on how-to guides.

As such, “how-to” content pillars offer website owners a good chance to introduce the audience to certain tools or services and bring in profit. Of course, this will only effectively work if your post delivers a lot of valuable information first. Don’t forget to throw in infographics, visuals, and so on.

content writer
Content Marketing Strategy

How to Develop Content Pillars

Here are the steps you need to follow to create a content pillar.

1. Choose the Main Theme

Deciding on a topic for your pillar page can be a tough decision. While it needs to have enough room to include multiple subtopics, it should also be packed enough that it allows for a stand-alone article.

Ideally, your choice of topic should be derived from your niche or business. Ask yourself what sort of message are you trying to get across. Most likely, your content pillar will be a “what is”, “guide”, or “how-to” as we explained earlier.

2. Find Keywords and Determine Which Information to Include

Next, you need to come up with a list of keywords to mention throughout your content pillar post. In the world of content marketing especially if copywriting is involved, keyword research is the key!

You can use keyword-generation tools to get the job done. You can also use Google’s auto-completion search suggestions or study competitors for keyword content ideas. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using the audience’s pain points to create ideas.

3. Write the Content

With your main topic and keywords ready, it’s time to start writing the content of the pillar page. A lot of time, skills, and dedication go into writing SEO content. While you can try and do it yourself, you can also outsource content creation for faster and more reliable results.

4. Update and Promote

The final pieces in the pillar content strategy puzzle are to ensure the provided information remains up to date and put your work out there. You can accomplish this using a content calendar or productivity management software like basecamp.

Try to do guest posts to get more exposure, improve your backlink profile to increase authority, work with influencers to drive traffic, and implement content binging to give your audience some freedom when navigating your website.

How Do Content Pillars Help SEO?

Now that you have a better idea of what content pillars are and how to create them, it’s time to unravel how they benefit SEO.

Better Recognition of Domain Authority and Website Structure

When search engines sweep the internet for websites to display on their result pages, they do global scans. This enables the algorithms to analyze websites as a whole, not individually, for a more accurate examination of the page’s content and how it holds up against other websites.

One of the elements that support SEO ranking is the inclusion of high-quality links as they increase domain authority. Another way through which content pillars help SEO is the presentation of information in an organized hierarchy, which enhances the site’s structure in general.

They Rank Easier for Keywords with High Search Volume

The pillar content strategy relies heavily on variations of keywords. This SEO tactic goes in line with the significance of intent when people use search engines.

Ranking for high-volume keywords is easier when you use pillar pages because their format allows them to cover subjects in a broad sense. Because most people are looking for a general overview of their target topic, it’s more likely for content pillars to pop up in search results.

It gets even better.

Once readers learn more from the pillar content, there’s a good chance they’ll want to read about related subtopics.

Since the pillar page already dabs into them and links to other articles on your website for further information, visitors will eventually spend more time on your site during which they’re guided through the whole sales funnel.

In other words, content pillars create an impeccable SEO circle.

Content Pillars vs Topic Clusters

With that we discussed above, you should be aware that content pillars aren’t solo players, meaning they need other elements to help them achieve their full potential in maximizing reach and conversions.

Enter the topic cluster pages.

Remember at the beginning of this article when we talked about content pillars linking to other articles to provide more in-depth information about various subtopics of the main theme?

These related articles are known as topic clusters. In a content hub, topic clusters are groups of content containing related information.

If we consider a book where a content pillar is the table of contents and introduction, topic clusters would be the individual chapters.

Final Thoughts

An effective content pillar strategy can boost your website’s rank and drive more organic traffic.

As you can tell by now, creating your pillar pages is all about planning. Granted, you’ll need to pay great attention to SEO writing, but figuring out the guidelines for the process always comes first.


  • What are the differences between copywriting vs content writing?

Published on: 2023-01-02
Updated on: 2023-09-30

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Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.