4 Tips for Selecting Pillar Page Topics (and How to Brainstorm Them)
Pillar pages are a great way to boost SEO for the core services you provide. A pillar page is a comprehensive web page that covers a core topic in depth. So, if you want to create a pillar page, the natural question is, "What core topic should my pillar page cover?"
As you start thinking about topics for your pillar page, we've found it's helpful to make sure your topic search aligns with your business and marketing goals. After that, there are several strategies to get started finding the topics that might work best for your brand, and for brainstorming core topics, and subtopics. In this article, I'll give you 4 tips for selecting your pillar page topics and how to brainstorm more!
Review Your Business and Marketing Goals
Marketing goals should not be getting more likes and follows or about improving SEO rank. Like all marketing activities, your pillar pages should be helping your brand achieve the business goals set for your company such as growing revenue, increasing sales to a specific market segment, or penetrating a new market segment.
Mapping marketing activities to goals is so important, we like to do this first so that you have your business goals in mind as your thinking of pillar page topics and associated topic clusters.
The goals should also be SMART goals:
- Specific. Discrete goals are easier to understand and focus on.
- Measurable: This will allow you to track key performance indicators (KPIs) to see if you're on track and adjust course if need be to hit the goals.
- Attainable: Your team must be able to realistically hit the goals.
- Relevant: So that marketing efforts are helping achieve your brand’s overall business goals.
- Time-bound: This identifies a defined period that you have to achieve the goal.
Making sure the goals you defined have these qualities will help ensure the goals are meaningful to your business, will help your team focus on execution, and make tracking performance related to business goals much easier.
To make sure the topics you’re considering align with your business goals, ask and answer the following questions:
What specific business goals will this pillar page help achieve over the next six, 12, and 18 months? How does it help achieve them?
Since marketing and sales should be working closely together, we like to ask another question to ensure strong alignment with sales goals.
How will this pillar page help achieve sales goals over the next six, 12, and 18 months?
Plan Pillar Page Campaigns like Content Binge Campaigns
Pillar pages are a part of your website infrastructure, and will likely continue to evolve. For planning and goal alignment purposes, think of pillar pages as a content campaign. That’s really what it is. You’re releasing (or re-releasing) a number of content pieces which link to the pillar page you’re creating and promoting both the pillar page and the related content to drive traffic, generate leads, and conversions.
There is one notable difference between a traditional content campaign, and a pillar page campaign - the amount of content that is released with the pillar page. Many brands run traditional content campaigns by having 2-6 content pieces ready at the start of the campaign. They spread out publication and promotion of content pieces over each week, releasing one or two pieces of content each week to maintain interest. They also may create and publish new content as the campaign progresses.
To get the SEO benefit from a pillar page, it’s recommended that you have 15-20 pieces of content linking back to the pillar page right from the start.
Moreover, a key idea behind the pillar page approach is to allow for content binging. The same way viewers binge on Netflix shows when they are all released at once, pillar pages and the associated content allow your visitors to consume as much content on the topic as they want. This works well because, to cover the topic thoroughly, your pillar page should have enough content so that 15-20 content pieces can be harvested from it.
Maintain interest by providing a base level of promotion for each piece of content at the time of initial publication, then more broadly promoting individual content pieces over several days or weeks to maintain interest and keep the buzz about your pillar page going.
To learn more about how to promote pillar page content see Publish, Promote, and Monitor the Pillar Page and Content.
4 Strategies for Choosing Core Topics
With awareness of your business and sales goals, and knowing the amount of content you need to create or repurpose, you're in a great frame of mind to start thinking about core topics and subtopics.
Here are 4 strategies for thinking up great pillar page topics:
- Core Services you provide. What services do you provide or products to you sell? Look at your website's 'solutions' or 'services' page for inspiration.
- Problems you solve or opportunities you provide. How do your services solve problems or create opportunities for your customers? Look at customer evidence like case studies, customer quotes, and recommendations for inspiration.
- Specific industries, verticals, or niche's you serve. What specific segment do you serve and how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Look at your website's 'industries' or 'clients serve' page or your list of clients for inspiration.
- Emerging industry needs or shifts. Is there a change that's happening or about to happen in your industry? Getting out in front of changes with great content and information to educate your audience will bring in leads and customers. Look at trending topics on news sites for your industry or use tools like Buzzsumo to find emerging trends.
Strategies for Brainstorming More Topics
If nothing is jumping out at you, leverage your internal staff and customers to brainstorm potential topics. Get help from:
- The sales team. Get a list of the top questions they answer. These answers may help you create a 'solutions' pillar page.
- The helpdesk team. Get a list of the most common problems they help customers solve. This also might be used as part of a 'solutions' pillar page.
- Ask your top clients. Ask why they chose you, or continue to work with you. These answers may help you build a 'why we're different' pillar page.
- Ask executives about company focus. Executives usually have a clear idea why the company is going a certain direction or investing in specific technologies. Ask them what and why. Their answers may be a jumping off point for creating either a 'solutions' or a 'differentiation' pillar page.
- Poll Employees. Employees talk to people. Customers. Friends. Family. Ask them how they explain the unique value your brand brings to the table. Again, the answers may serve as a starting point for either a 'solutions' or a 'differentiation' pillar page.
Having a Lot to Say Pays Dividends
This may seem like a lot of work, but it pays dividends in the long run. Both while creating your pillar page, and for your brand overall once it's published. Remember, your topic has to align with business, marketing and sales goals. It also has to be broad and deep enough to generate 15-20 separate pieces of content.
If you're doing it right, the topic will be something your subject matter experts, marketers, and salespeople talk about frequently and love to talk about. That will make content creation easier. It will also provide a number of additional benefits during content development, and after the pillar page goes live.
Want to learn more about pillar pages? See our pillar page on pillar pages here.
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