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As SEOs, we hear much advice about what makes content rank well. Sometimes it’s in the form of an oft-repeated quote like “content is king,” and sometimes, it comes in the form of specific criteria like “provide comprehensive answers to your users’ questions.”
Content is indeed king – we can start by saying that. On the other hand, there’s a ton of content out there, and while it may be “king,” not all content is created equal. That can pose a challenge because you’ll need to find a way to make your content stand out, which means you must identify your unique value proposition (UVP). You can then use that UVP to shape the content you develop across your site.
A content pillar is a sort of “theme” that unifies the material you develop on your site. Another name for them is “themes,” but we’re going to use the term “pillars” here because it implies more permanence than a theme does. Most of us have multiple pages where we discuss topics with similar information. Still, if you have many pages about one specific subject, you probably have many content pillars. If your site is in an extremely narrow niche, this might be the case – something like “e-cigarettes” or “sunscreen with aloe.” There’s nothing wrong with this, and you might be able to write an entire book on a handful of pages if your site covers a topic like this. The written word isn’t the only content you can provide – video and audio content can also be extremely useful for attracting links. You could develop podcasts that focus on specific topics or create video interviews with experts to put together a library of resources.
First, figure out what topics you’ve already covered on your site. That might take some digging through past content, but there’s also a more straightforward way: look at the pages where you’re getting the most traffic. Most of the time, those pages will be where you’ve got content that’s most closely related to what people are searching for on search engines. So if we look at a site like Backlinko and head over to the blog, we can see they’ve written extensively about link building:
If we click through and see the site’s most popular content on this subject, we can see that Brian has covered topics ranging from “how to build links” to “why link building is dead.” With this information, you can develop new content ideas based on people’s preferences. You have a good idea of the topics your site already covers, and you can take that knowledge and build on it.
When you’ve done your research and started identifying content pillars for your site, it’s time to translate that into links. First, look for people who have written about related topics and build relationships. Then, when you’re ready to approach them with a guest post opportunity, ask if they’d be interested in your pillar or providing their expertise on the topic. When we head back over to Brian’s site, he has a great resource on link building that’s filled with information on this topic. And when looking at that page, we can see that there are plenty of people who would be interested in linking to it:
Brian has linked some excellent resources for learning more about link building. If you were looking to inquire about linking to his page, you might consider reaching out to the people Brian has linked to and asking for a link in return.
Building relationships with other site owners is one of the essential ingredients when you’re looking for links. It’s much easier to get someone to link to your page if they think highly of you, so make sure you make building those connections part of your link-building strategy.
Of course, simply asking for a link isn’t the only way to benefit from content pillars and relationships. When you offer valuable information in your outreach emails and include an idea about how you could work together, there’s a good chance people might want to help you out without any link request at all.
Content pillars are a great way to ensure your site covers all of its bases. You can identify these themes by looking at popular pages and relationships with other site owners, then use that information when promoting your content or reaching out for links.
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