Writing Pillar Posts, which brings traffic to your Blog
Q. How Do You Create A Pillar?
There is no exact formula for producing an article that will become a pillar,
however there are definitely some key characteristics you can work on. You may
be surprised when articles you write become pillars when you didn‚Äôt expect it, or
the reverse where you pour your heart into a great article and it doesn‚Äôt do much
for your traffic at all.
Here are typical pillar article concepts that you can post to your blog:
1. The ‚ÄúHow-To‚Äù Article
This is a staple pillar article concept. Think about your industry and write an
article that teaches how to do something in it. Be certain to only write how-to
articles on topics you genuinely understand how to do and have experience with.
Some possible examples:
¬ï If you are a marketing consultant, write some advice on how to market a
business using no money.
¬ï If you blog about dogs, write how to choose an appropriate dog name.
¬ï If you blog about how to write a book, produce a how-to guide on
¬ï If you blog about food, write recipe guides on how to prepare popular
¬ï If you blog about your life, write how-to guides on self development from
the life lessons you have learnt (e.g. How you got a job, how you dealt
with breaking up with your boyfriend, etc.).
It should be reasonably obvious which how-to topics are popular and relevant to
your audience and which you feel capable of explaining well. Remember to tell a
story if you can!
2. The Definition Article
Many industries have key concepts which new readers won‚Äôt know. If a concept
is complicated, produce a pillar article that defines the concept, clearly explaining
what it means and how it can be implemented.
It may seem simple and obvious to you, but remember you are an expert in your
field, so explain it to the newbies in simple terms and, of course, try and tell a
story as an example.
A glossary definition page is a good pillar article. If there are a handful of key
concepts in your industry, write an article that lists the concepts and provides a
one-paragraph definition for each. A resource page like this is good as a
reference piece and often referred back to by other bloggers and websites.
You may say why bother doing this if most terms are already defined elsewhere
on the web at sites like Wikipedia?
It‚Äôs okay to link to other websites for definitions, especially in the short term when
you are just getting things set up, but it‚Äôs a lot better if you write your own
definitions. It keeps readers on your blog, increases your pageviews (the total
number of pages of your blog readers view) and visitor length (how long readers
stay at your blog).
You can describe a concept in your own words, using your own unique story and
voice. This helps to build credibility and trust.
It‚Äôs always smarter to include your own version of a definition if you are capable
of explaining a term or concept, rather than link to other sites and drive traffic
away from your blog.
3. Present a Theory or Argument
If you blog about politics, writing an article discussing your theories about
communism, democracy or capitalism can make a great pillar article.
The important thing here is to present some unique thought. Give your opinion
on a major issue in your industry, or even on a mainstream topic that you suspect
your readers will take an interest in.
Try not to simply rehash what other people have said and clearly present your
own thesis argument. Stimulate conversation, perhaps controversy, about a topic
that is often discussed and is not time-dependent and you will draw traffic to your
4. Create a resource like a free report, whitepaper or e-course
This is one of my favorite pillar concepts. A document such as a whitepaper (a
small document, 2-10 pages, which teaches how to do something) or a series of
articles combined to create a course, is a fantastic pillar.
You have a few options to present this information:
¬ï Create a PDF which your readers can download, just like what you are
reading now. The benefit of this method is that the file can be shared
easily (forwarded through email for example ‚Äì hint, hint 😉 ) and you may
benefit from viral marketing effects, especially if you produce a top quality
e-book or report.
¬ï Type the content into several blog posts and interlink them together. You
can also highlight them as a stand-alone series in your archives or articles
If you visit the articles section of my blog under the ‚ÄúFree Reports‚Äù heading, you
will see an example of a PDF report that Brian Clark and myself put together,
which is a good example of free resource pillar content.
If you can’t decide what is the best method to distribute your free resource, my
suggestion is to offer it in as many ways as possible. Make a PDF available for
download, publish the articles individually and make them available from an
email list too. That way you maximize your exposure and cater to the widest
The important thing with this concept is to create a complete all-in-one solution to
a common problem. Similar to the how-to article, a free resource is a powerful
pillar concept because it demonstrates your expertise and brings in consistent
5. One of the most popular pillar concepts is a List Article
You have probably seen many of these at other blogs. The usual titles are ‚ÄúTop 7
Ways To‚Ä¶‚Äù or ‚Äú10 Tips To Improve‚Ä¶‚Äù etc. These work well for a couple of
1. Lists are easily digested by human beings. It‚Äôs been tested and proven
that articles in the 300-700 word range with lots of clear dot-point bulleted
lists and a compelling headline are good traffic pullers. In this case it‚Äôs all
about simplicity of consumption for people with short attention spans ‚Äì i.e.
most web surfers.
2. Lists provide directly actionable lessons and people love to share lists
with other people. Consequently list articles are often linked to by other
bloggers and added to social bookmarking sites that drive traffic.
Provided your list follows all the standard pillar concept rules ‚Äì timeless, original
content, problem solving ideas ‚Äì and you keep it directly applicable to your
audience, most lists will become pillars.
Be wary of doing lists of topics well covered by other people or on really simple
concepts. As usual the more ‚Äúyou‚Äù included through stories and a unique style,
the more likely your list will perform well.
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