At BOCA, one of the things we pride ourselves on is our incredible content bureau. Kathleen Shanahan started the agency in 2007 with a vision for a specialist model where people can focus on doing what they are best at, whether that is writing, pitching or account managing.
That vision is in our DNA as an agency and today we have a dedicated content bureau that is always thinking about how to make the most of the content we develop for our clients. One strategy that we use is called “content pillaring.” If you’re interested in how content pillaring works or how it could help your business, read on.
What is Content Pillaring?
Content pillaring is taking one foundational, informative piece of content (like a whitepaper or a data-heavy infographic) and breaking it down into dozens of other, smaller pieces of content to get more “bang for your buck.” It’s done for two reasons:
- More content, less time. The more content clients have around their keywords of choice, the better. This is an easy and effective way to bulk up that presence substantially, quickly.
- More opportunity for linkage. Think of the piece at the center of the “pillar” as a little sun in the center of its own little content universe. Everything else circles around it and (ideally) links back to it. This drives more traffic to the initial, informative piece and boosts its SEO ranking, so that the most useful pieces of content (the whitepaper, etc.) are the ones potential customers of our clients are most likely to come across.
The types of content that can come in content pillars are blog posts, social media blasts, Powerpoint presentations, email newsletters or bylines. (Obviously, some are more labor-intensive than others.)
How Can Content Pillaring Help With PR?
Companies can use content pillaring strategically in many different ways, but here are four that stand out:
- Content pillaring can help create those darn proprietary terms/categories. Does your company have a phrase it wants to “own”?. As we all know, it can be hard to get those placed in contributed bylines, because nothing says “I’m not vendor-neutral!” like a proprietary phrase. But content pillaring is a great solution. A white paper with the keyword in its title can spawn three or four blog posts and one or two bylines, each of which can feed at least four or five social posts. Flesh these out with keywords, images and video, and you’re sitting a lot prettier in terms of showing up for that search term.
- Content pillaring can make your contributed articles mean more. Articles with identical wording, even different websites, can annoy the Google gods, so it isn’t a good idea to repost contributed articles on your blogs word-for-word. That said, one place it doesn’t matter is on social media, which means that you can essentially clip snippets directly from our articles, slap an image on it and repost it with a link, at it can make a significant difference for boosting SEO.
- You can time your ‘content storms’ for maximum impact. When it comes to posting new content, timing matters. Don’t delete and repost old blogs unless they were total flops, because doing so erases the SEO cred they might have earned thus far, but do time your content pillars in such a way that they will be at the top of the feed when interest in search terms is likely to spike. Think of it like trendjacking for content– if there’s an event or time of year that you think a particular term will be more highly searched, you can be prepared to release your wave of relevant content at the same time.
- You can turn pieces of content into “initiatives.” Just like a full-on press push, content pillaring initiatives can be extremely impactful. Sometimes “repurposing” can feel, for lack of a better word, lame. As writers, we want to feel like our work is original, unique and creative. For that reason, it can be easy to shy away from reiterating the same point again and again in slightly different words. The trick is to remember that although it may seem repetitive to us, it most likely will not be for most readers, and that all those pieces of content together ultimately make it that much more valuable. During slow news cycles, content pillaring is a great way to drive more traffic to key places on the your site.
Content Pillaring Tools
You can use the tool BuzzSumo, to see exactly how many readers your pillar drove to your site, which converts to real leads and real revenue-drivers. It’s a great way to understand what business value your content has.
Other helpful tools include Contently which is a software company that helps brands create and manage content while connecting with freelance writers, photographers, videographers, and more. If you are short on time or have limited internal resources, this is the perfect way to connect with content creators.
Once your content is complete, Grammarly makes it easy to ensure it is in posting condition. Their proofreading and plagiarism detecting software check content against more than 250 grammar rules.
In conclusion, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words (ish) could be worth dozens of pieces of content.