What Are Pillar Posts in Content Marketing?

Christy Walters


May 28, 2022 (Updated: January 24, 2024)

ancient building with blue sky background to represent pillar posts

Did you know that in 2022, B2B marketing teams spent about 33 hours per week creating content? That’s 83% of a traditional workweek. But here’s something the statistics don’t track: are these marketers concerned with the quantity or the quality of their content? If they’re concerned with quality, they’re likely creating pillar posts to put these hours of content marketing to good use for years to come. But what exactly are pillar posts and what makes them the key to sustaining your long-term content marketing efforts? We’re exploring that question today with topics like:

What Is a Pillar Post?

ancient building with blue sky background to represent pillar posts

Image via Unsplash by @hansreniers

Pillar posts, another name for knowledge base articles or cornerstone content, get their name from architectural structures. Pillars are tall, vertical columns that provide essential support for buildings. A pillar post does the same for your content marketing. It provides essential support for all your marketing efforts and lays the foundation for you to advance your strategy. They help you establish your knowledge and authority on the most important topics related to your business or industry.

Think of them as top-level content, things you’d find in a navigation bar on a website. They’re the topics people want to see first and most often in your industry. They’re the pieces that make your audience think, “Wow, this company knows what it’s talking about. I want to work with this team.” Pillar posts often include guides, manuals, in-depth tutorials, or definitive content that explains what you do and why you do it.

They may be longer than some traditional blog posts and articles, but if it’s 10x content and better than what’s already out there, the length isn’t the most important factor. The most important thing is that they provide value to your audience.

Why Does Picking the Right Pillar Posts Matter?

Choosing the right pillar posts makes your content more valuable to your audience. It also improves your search engine optimization (SEO). Both are common tactics to use when trying to increase your organic traffic, reach, conversions, and sales. Some specific areas that benefit from pillar content include:

Targeting Search Intent

Pillar posts are some of your best content tools for matching user search intent. Why? Because they’re in-depth pieces that answer searcher questions. This is even more important today in the world of zero-click searches. These occur when users get their information right from the search engine results page (SERP) without having to click a source link. How can you create pillar posts that are smarter than Google, so people still have to click to get a result rather than find the answer in position zero?

You can do this by answering not just the question the user asks the search engine, but answering others on the same topic. Your pillar posts are so thorough that you don’t just provide an answer to one question, but you anticipate the next and the one after that and so on. For example, someone who asks what a pillar post is might want more than just the definition. That’s the starting point. If your post appears as the featured snippet, but the result anticipates the searcher’s next question, they may be more likely to click.

By providing all the information they need in one place, users say on your page and site longer. That increases the chances of getting conversions and turning searchers into return visitors and paying customers.

Related: Search Intent: An Introduction for B2B Marketers

Promoting Backlinks

Pillar posts are great linking resources because they cover all aspects of a topic. They let you show your industry knowledge and give you the space to provide a new way of thinking about a topic that doesn’t follow mainstream views. When you take a topic and do more than just give the definition, but show people how it affects their day-to-day life and gets them to question it further, you’ve set the piece up as a perfect linkable resource.

The better your content, the more links it gets. This improves your backlink profile and signals to Google and other search engines that your content is valuable. That gives you Domain Authority. Google uses this as one factor to determine if your content is worthy of hitting page one in SERPs or appearing in featured snippets. Both situations mean more exposure, which further promotes your pillar content and establishes your company as an industry thought leader.

Related: All You Need To Know About Domain Authority for SEO

Encouraging Social Shares

Social shares may not affect your SEO directly, but they can help behind the scenes. Just like pillar content is great for grabbing backlinks, it’s also prime for social shares, for the same reasons. Getting other professionals and potential clients to talk about your company and content in their social spaces is a good thing. It increases your reach and takes some of the promotional strain off your marketing department.

Word-of-Mouth marketing (WOM), reviews, and outsider recommendations are some of the most trusted promotional channels. People believe what their colleagues, friends, and even random internet reviewers have to say about companies and products online. If you have people sharing your content on social media, that’s like giving you their stamp of approval.

Related: Where and How To Use Social Sharing Buttons in Your Content

Increasing Lead Generation

The longer your content stays relevant, the further you can get it to spread across the internet. This increases your chance of collecting leads. When you create pillar posts, you’re creating something more than just trending content. Trends can be fun, they can be timely. You don’t want to eliminate them from your content marketing altogether. But you do need to balance them out with content with more longevity. Use trending content to let your audience know you understand what’s going on in your field and what everyone is talking about. These posts show them your brand is relevant.

But use pillar content to signal that while you’re in touch with the current culture, you also understand the building blocks of your industry. And you’re likely to grab more leads with a solid understanding of your industry and its key topics. Trending posts might capture people’s attention, but pillar posts get them to stay and trust your company.

Related: 17 Evergreen Content Ideas That Last

You’ve Created Pillar Posts, Now What?

Pillar content is a solid foundation, but as we discussed with trending posts, it’s not the only content you create. Nor should it be. It’s the foundation, not the whole house. With just pillar content, your marketing strategy would be boring. Moreso, it would look like you did the bare minimum of work and then just gave up. To stick with the house analogy, what’s a foundation without a frame, or rooms, or a porch? You don’t pour a foundation and call it a house. You need much more than that.

But where do you go next? You create vertical content, which builds on your pillar posts to create subtopics. It allows you to take more niche and nuanced topics that relate to your pillars and develop them further. For example, a content marketing company might create a pillar post about “what is content marketing?” Then the team creates vertical posts about subtopics like how to choose the right content topics or tools to track your metrics. Both types of content work together to help your business grow and become an interesting structure your audience wants to see.

CopyPress helps you create both kinds of content to reach all your goals. Request your free content marketing analysis report to view your content gap keywords. These areas let you target the right search intent of your audience and determine what pieces lay your foundation and build your content home. After requesting your report, schedule a call with our team to start planning a winning content marketing strategy.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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