Pillar Content: A More Organized Blog Strategy

content mapping infographic

The last blog I wrote for was a music blog.  I would try my best to stay up to date on new tracks and albums and write about my favorites each week.  It wasn’t hard.  It wasn’t time consuming.  It wasn’t working.

The more I posted, the more traffic I got but as soon as I stopped, the traffic dropped off.  There was no safety net.  I was only as good as my last post which was not a sustainable model for a blog (especially if you’re the only writer).

nicholas tart picture

Nicholas Tart

This time around I wanted to take a more strategic approach to the content I published.  After a little bit of research I came across a post on ‘Income Diary’ from February 2012 by Nicholas Tart called “The Most Advanced Blogging Strategy I’ve Never Shared”.  Tart’s insight into content strategy was genius and something that every blogger, whether just starting out or looking for a new approach should implement.

The concept of Tart’s strategy is relatively simple and something most bloggers will be familiar with.  Basically, if you have designated categories for your posts, you’re halfway there.

At the heart of every blog is a central idea – some kind of thesis that the writer is trying to prove or explain through real world applications and personal experiences.  That central idea can be dissected into a few major categories of content.

For example, I’ve been reading Neil Patel’s QuickSprout blog for about 6 months and I’ve gathered that it’s mostly about Entrepreneurship, SEO, Social Media, Conversion Optimization and Investing.  These categories are what Tart refers to as pillars.  They are the topics that you need to be the authority on.  If you can’t communicate your pillars to your readers, you can’t gain their trust.

Your goal will be to create long-form pages for each one of your pillars.  But my advice to you is don’t let the creation of these pages hold up starting your blog.  Start writing as soon as possible!  After a while you’ll discover your pillars naturally and even the content that should live on their corresponding pages.

Once you’ve developed your pillar content, you can delve into greater detail with what Nicholas Tart calls specialty pages.  Each of these takes a concept touched upon in the pillar content and fleshes it out.  Essentially what you’re trying to create is a web of posts that all link together and lead to the pillar content where you can prove your authority and gain a reader’s trust with your most stellar content.

After the specialty posts, you’re free to create long-tail content that relates to each specialty and pillar page in some way.  Link to your related pages and try to move your readers from a long-tail post to a pillar page where you’ll have a better chance at converting them into a regular, loyal reader.

For a more visual look at this process, here’s an infographic I whipped up using Piktochart.  If you’ve been blogging a while but you haven’t thought about your pillar content or your specialty pages, download this free template to start organizing your content and increasing your authority.  Read Nicholas Tart’s original post about pillar and specialty posts here.

content mapping infographic

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About the author: Scott Taft
Scott Taft loves good writing, good coffee and good music. He currently works at SEER Interactive in Philadelphia but in his spare time he loves blogging about content right here on OG Content. Learn more about Scott Taft here.

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