Switching to Content Pillars Helps One Company Blow Up SEO Results
Several years ago, Brian Dean, of Backlinko, introduced the skyscraper technique, a content marketing tactic for link building and search engine optimization (SEO).
In a nutshell, the skyscraper technique involves finding a relevant, high-quality piece of content with a lot of backlinks and strong search engine ranking, publishing a new piece of content that’s even better, and then asking people who linked to your competitors content to link to your new piece of content instead.
For us, that first took the form of creating a content pillar around the topic of testimonial videos that is much more authoritative than anything else that was out there. It’s approximately 10K words long and provides you with pretty much anything you’d like to know about testimonial videos.
The results were pretty dramatic. Within a month or so of publication, our organic search results were up by 56%.
The transition to pillar content has revolutionized our content marketing and resulted in a dramatic improvement in SEO results and reduced content maintenance.
Content pillars are more authoritative, which Google loves, and they’re more manageable than multiple blog posts. Combined with link building techniques, they can really improve your SEO results.
Pillar content represents a real shift in thinking from traditional blog publishing. We’ve published a lot of blog posts since the company was founded and tried to abide by the “publish or perish” best practice of constantly updating our content.
But we’ve found that fewer people are passively depending on blogs as a source of news and information, these days. Where once people would wait for each new installment from a handful of blogs they follow, they’re more often using search to proactively find the information they’re looking for in the moment.
For us, content pillars serve that need much better than a continuously updated series of blog posts. We’ve found that content pillars improve organic search and require less work than a commitment to endless blogging, and encourage us to focus on creating really high quality content.
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For niche content like, let’s say, video marketing, we found that it’s really beneficial to create bigger, more authoritative pieces of content, we’re talking written content here, than it is to create a whole bunch of smaller pieces of content that get published separately.
These bigger pieces of content are known as content pillars, and for us, content pillars tend to be about 10,000-word documents, pretty big, pretty authoritative pieces.
Most of our website traffic comes from organic search, so these big pillars, which play well with SEO, are really important to us.
So about 16 months ago, we started creating content pillars, either by writing them fresh, I’ve written more than a couple of 10,000-word documents that get published onto the web, or by combining a variety of different documents that had already been published into something more authoritative.
A typical scenario for us would be to take, I don’t know, 15 different separate articles about something like a video testimonial, we’ve done a lot of writing about video testimonials, and combine those 15 different smaller blog posts into one big blog post that would typically result in, let’s say, a 15,000-word document.
You cut out all the fat, and you’re left with a 10,000-word document that’s very, very authoritative on whatever the topic is that you’re trying to write about. And again, as I said, because that one big document is much more authoritative, than 15 smaller documents, Google and the other search engines are gonna send more traffic to it.
These big content pillars are actually easier to manage once they’re written. It really cuts down on the number of blog posts that you need to continuously write to stay current. It becomes more of a matter of trying to optimize for conversion.
So we’ve got on any typical big pillar, we’ve maybe two or three different lead magnets that are in there, offers to get this document or that document, just leave us your email address, and you can have that additional piece of content. So it’s been very easy to manage going forward, and it’s really, really worked very well for us.
Our searches, our traffic from organic search is up by 56% over last year since we made the switch to content pillars.
Now, there are other things going on. It’s not all the work from content pillars that has resulted in those great metrics, but it’s a really major, very important part of our success over the last year.
If you have any topics that you tend to write about frequently, you might consider the content pillar strategy.
It’s a great way to optimize the content that you already have to become more authoritative and to gain more traffic from your search engines and, ultimately hopefully, more business as a result of you improving your conversions on that content.
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Until next time, I’m Paul Gannon for Thoughtcast Media.