To many people, the world "content" means nothing more than written words: sales copy, blog posts, etc. However, the word “content” has an extremely broad definition, covering everything from videos and pictures to interactive assets. Unlike typical 500-word blog posts, pillar content genuinely benefits the Internet and is something that Google would proudly showcase at the top of their listings.
If you’re not getting the results you want from content marketing, these tips will help you develop pillar content that will dominate the SERPs.
Optimize for People, Not Search Engines
Search engine optimization is still primarily about backlinks. While the method of acquiring them, and the types of backlinks that drive results have changed, the fundamentals are the same: natural linking from quality websites will always prevail. If you produce pillar content that does the job, you will find it easy to acquire links from authoritative websites without even trying. In fact, content that really works will attract links naturally through sharing and referencing alone.
Treat Writing Like Citizen Journalism
In order to produce pillar content, you must use every resource available to you, and then improve/build upon the information. Try to break news rather than curate it by conducting your own research instead of rehashing information from other sources. Real pillar content is at the top of the pile, beating all other resources within its niche. If somebody else has produced content that you can’t compete with, look for a new topic altogether.
Stop Focusing on Keywords
Search marketers tend to forget that Google’s number-one priority is to rank websites based on their relevancy and quality. Their algorithm is so advanced that it doesn’t even need keywords to determine which articles deserve the top placements. In fact, according to MDG Advertising, 18 percent of all number-one listings don’t even contain the target search term within the body text. So stop focusing on keywords and start focusing on what really matters: content and context.
Consider the Design Elements
After the March 2017 Fred update, Google started placing more and more emphasis on digital analytics. While metrics meant little in the past, traffic counts, bounce rate and pages viewed are now important SEO factors that should not be ignored. Producing quality content may be the biggest aspect of the content marketing process, but it must also be well designed. Bullet points, graphics, page breaks and white space are all important elements to take into consideration.
Promote Pillar Content on Social Media
How much emphasis Google places on social media is hotly debated. However, even if there aren’t any direct SEO benefits, sharing your work can still provide plenty of indirect benefits. Getting influential thought leaders to endorse your content will not only provide exposure, but will turn you into an authority figure. This could give you a very powerful platform to build upon.
The only way to survive in the cutthroat digital domain is to follow the rules. Fortunately, pillar content is fool proof. Cheating will only get you disqualified, so always strive to make an active contribution and earn your place in the SERPs. While it can take time, eventually you will be rewarded.
Founder of online small business community EKing, a co-founder of national enterprise campaign DigitalTraining Britain