When it comes to marketing and SEO, individuals and companies are always looking for the “next big thing” that can set them apart from the competition. A few years ago, SEO was that thing. More recently, the concept of inbound marketing changed the way that businesses thought about attracting customers. And today, Pillar Content is making big promises about being the future of inbound marketing and SEO.

But what exactly is Pillar Content, and is it right for you?

What is Pillar Content?

Pillar content (also called Pillar Pages or Content Pillars) refers to top-level pages on your website which forms the foundation of your content marketing strategy. They are comprehensive, authoritative pages about a certain topic or question that are widely used by companies for lead generation. Think of them as “from A-to-Z” or “start-to-finish” guides or resources.

While a blog post typically zooms in on a single question or on a single aspect of a topic, a pillar page aims to be all-encompassing. It wants to answer all questions related to a particular topic, and explain all aspects of that topic fully.

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Google likes pillar content (we’ll get into “Why?” below). Pillar content makes for happy searchers. And happy searchers makes for more money for Google, which makes for a happy Google. And when you make Google happy, Google makes you happy by placing you higher in search results. That means more visitors to your website, more leads, and ultimately, more customers.

Pillar content is starting to sound pretty good right about now, isn’t it?

What are the pros and cons of Pillar Content?

That being said, pursuing a pillar content strategy might not be the best fit for every website or business. And even if it is a good fit for your business, it can’t be expected to solve all of your problems. To help you get a better sense of whether or not pursuing a pillar content strategy is the right move for you, we’ve gathered together these pros and cons that will help you weigh your decision before moving forward.

Pros of Creating Pillar Content

  • Google rewards Pillar Pages. Because pillar content is so authoritative and comprehensive, it does a good job of matching the searcher’s intent and answering their questions. This means that they stay on your page longer and do not “pogo” back to the search results. Google takes note of this data, and uses it to inform its search rankings. Pages that keep readers longer are ranked higher in search results, which is good for you.
  • Pillar pages are more likely to earn links. pillar pages are authoritative resources. As such, they are more likely to be linked to by outside websites. The more links you have pointing to your pillar page, the more authority your pillar page and your website over all will have. Google rewards websites with a high number of links (if people are linking to you, then you must be correct!) so the importance of this can’t be overlooked.
  • Pillar pages are more likely to be shared on social media. Because pillar pages are so thorough and make searchers so happy, they are more likely to be shared on social media than your typical blog post. This leads to more referral traffic, and indirectly might get you more links from outside pages.
  • Pillar pages build trust. Creating a pillar page allows you to answer a searcher’s question. But because the page is so thorough, you are also able to anticipate and answer their follow-up questions, all while they’re on your page. They don’t need to go back to google to do followup searches. This makes the searcher happy, which allows you to begin building trust and a relationship with them. This trust will make the searcher more likely to convert to a lead and, eventually, a customer.
  • Pillar pages are Sales collateral. Sales teams spend countless hours educating prospects about a topic before they ever get close to a sale. And by answering one question, they will often open the door to another question, and another. Before long, the entire day has been spent answering questions and no sales have been made. Bummer. By creating pillar pages, though you create a resource that your sales team can use to quickly educate prospects without all of the back and forth, saving time and letting them.
  • Pillar pages can save time (in the long run). Though pillar pages take a lot of time to create (more on that below), in the long run creating pillar pages can save you a lot of time and effort. How? One high-quality pillar page has the potential to outrank and outperform dozens of lower-quality blog posts. That means that you can write fewer, higher-quality blog posts to complement your pillar pages, instead of churning out a slew of low-quality blog posts just because you have to match keywords, etc.

Cons of Creating Pillar Content

  • Pillar pages take a lot of time to produce. Writing a comprehensive guide or step-by-step walkthrough that is going to anticipate and answer all of the reader’s questions isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work, and it can take a lot of time—depending on the topic, it could take days to weeks to create a single comprehensive pillar page. That This can make generating a pillar page difficult, especially if you are also handling many other tasks. You can’t expect a 5,000-word pillar page to take the same amount of time to write as a 600-word blog post.
  • Pillar pages don’t replace the need to blog. Though a good pillar page will reduce how many blog posts you need to write, you can’t just create a pillar page, and never produce another piece of content again. You’ll need to continue blogging so that your website remains active, and to capitalize on new search phrases, keywords, and questions that your audience might use. Yes, you might not need to produce quite so much content, but you still need to produce.
  • Pillar pages will become less advantageous as more people use them. Pillar content will always be beneficial to you  from a marketing perspective. But in terms of SEO, Pillar pages tend to benefit early movers first. If you can be the first website to produce a pillar page about a topic, then you are much more likely to benefit in SEO than if you are the 5th website, or the 20th. At that point, your pillars will either need to be more focused, or you’ll need to make them stand out in other ways (see below).
  • Pillar pages can use up a lot of resources. In addition to time, pillar pages use up a lot of resources. As pillar pages become more common, new pages need to stand out in  some way in order to compete. This will predominantly be done through the use of visuals, design features, or interactive components. And while that’s great and leads to a high-value finished product, it’s expensive. Either you need to have a full team working on producing a single page, or you need to outsource the work, which can be a drain on a tight budget.
  • There’s no guarantee that Pillar content will transform your business. Yes, pillar content is getting a lot of buzz lately. And yes, it has amazing potential to boost your SEO efforts. But, ultimately, just like with everything else, there are no guarantees of success.

The Bottom Line

Pillar content is an amazing tool/strategy that could work wonders for your SEO and marketing efforts. But it is not magic bullet, and comes with no guarantees of success. Before diving wholeheartedly into creating a pillar content strategy, it’s important for you  to understand bot the pros and cons of such a strategy so that you have a better sense of whether or not it is right for you and your business.

How to Create Pillar Page Content and Topic Clusters