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What Content Pillars Can Do for Your Content Strategy

5/17/22

Content Marketing

Tired of playing guessing games when it comes to your content strategy? Not sure if your SEO research or chosen keywords are really doing the most they can for your business? 

We’ve got a content strategy tip that meets your target audience’s content needs and makes it easier to plan, structure, and create your content: Content pillars. They’re your new best friend.

What is a content pillar?

A content pillar is a topic or theme that drives, dictates, and organizes your content. The few content pillars in your content strategy align with your business’s mission and your brand. They’ll also help you define your niche and create content that really speaks to your audience (and helps your biz meet its goals).

You might see content pillars referred to as:

  • Content hubs
  • Content buckets
  • Content clusters
  • Bedrock content
  • Core content

Whatever the term, the idea is all the same. Content pillars guide your content strategy, ensuring that any supporting content outside of the pillar is relevant and links back to it.

Content pillars can make content planning easier, too. If you’re ever scrounging for content ideas or feel like you’re churning out the same old writing, you can refer back to your content pillars and remind yourself why you’re creating all this content in the first place.

Examples of content pillars

What do content pillars actually look like? It depends on the brand and industry. But one business can have three to five topics or themes that drive their content.

For example, if you own an independent bookstore, your content pillars may be new book releases, book recommendations, and fun reader personality quirks. Or, if you owned a fitness studio, your content pillars might be workout tips, women’s health, nutrition, and spotlighting other studio owners or fitness instructors.

How to create content pillars

Ready to start using content pillars in your content strategy? 

Some “experts” might suggest going all in and identifying your core topics first. If you’re completely new to the game — like, you haven’t written any content for your business at all yet — do that first! Otherwise, start with our first step below.

Review your current content

To save you some time and possible writer’s block, audit your current content to pinpoint any content pillars you may have already established. Again, skip this step if you haven’t created any content yet, or if you’re starting completely fresh with a rebrand for your business.

Look at each piece of content and consider details like:

  • What’s the main topic or theme of this content?
  • Is this on-brand?
  • Is this unique on its own or too similar to another piece of content?
  • Can this be optimized or updated?
  • How did this content perform with our audience?

If something is not on brand, a duplicate of another content piece, or go over very well with your audience, decide whether you can update it, shelve it, or archive it. 

The more content you start to audit, the more you’ll notice recurring topics and key themes in your writing. Those will eventually form your content pillars.

Identify your core topics

How can you identify your core topics if you’re starting completely from scratch? Even if you have some ideas from your content audit, you can refine your content pillars by answering the following questions:

  • Who’s your target audience?
  • What’s your brand’s mission?
  • What problem are you solving or what solution are you offering?
  • What are your ideal customers’ pain points?

Take us, for example. Based on our answers to the questions above, you could say our content pillars are content planning tips, content creation tools and strategies, brand voice, and content advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Hot tip: These content pillars can also work at ideas for your keywords. Hello, SEO.

Even some of our blog posts that don’t necessarily “fit in” with the others, like meeting the Uncanny Content team or caring for your mental health, still fall into one of our content buckets. Having a little fun and sharing behind-the-scenes info is part of our brand voice. And good mental health is essential for creating good content (and doing, well, anything else).

Want a different approach to finding your content pillars? Look at the purpose of your content. Maybe you’d rather divide your content that way; for example, to inform, to entertain, to boost engagement, or to build your community.

Map out your other topics

Got your core topics nailed down? Awesome. Now, take each topic and dive a little deeper into the subject. Brainstorm some subtopics that can relate to your core topic. This ensures that all of your content somehow links back to your content pillar.

Let’s jump back to that indie bookstore as an example for a second. This hypothetical bookstore — we’ll call it One More Page — defined their core topics as:

  • new book releases
  • book recommendations
  • fun reader personality quirks

What kind of subtopics could they choose for “book recommendations?” Lots, in fact:

  • “If you liked X, read Y” type recommendations
  • Books by local authors
  • Which books to start with if you’re new to the genre
  • Popular banned books

As a team of bookworms, we could go on, but we’ll stop there. But see what we mean here? Make sure to check what questions your target audience is asking online so you can answer them in your related content, too.

From there, you’ll figure out what format your content will take: blogs, whitepapers, podcast episodes, eBooks, social media posts, infographics, or all of them.

Build a strong foundation for your content strategy

Whether you’re just starting out creating content or you’ve been doing this for ages, it can be super easy to forget your why. What the point of all of it is and how your content relates back to your biz goals.

Finding your content pillars and using them in your content strategy makes it easier to create your content with a purpose, rather than content that doesn’t align with your biz, or content that feels like filler or fluff. 

Content pillars make the content planning process go a little faster too, since you already know your overarching topic or theme. And once you start publishing content that branches back to your content pillars, you’ll build consistency and a strong brand voice, two very important things that help you create a unique, genuine, successful brand and biz.
Need further help with content planning or honing your brand voice? Let us help. Send us a message and let’s chat about your content strategy needs!

Jess Hammons, Uncanny Content Writer and Meme Enthusiast
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