Create a Powerful Pillar Post

Why should I visit your blog? What do you have to offer me that will make my life better, easier, brighter? We all fall in love with our blogs. We love the little space on the internet that we have created, we marvel at the coding we learned to change the background color from gray to a slightly darker gray. We are sure that others must appreciate this work, the thought and energy that went into it.

The truth is harsh. Most people will give your blog 2 seconds before moving on. There are a number of factors besides great content that go into a decision to stick around and dig further into a site, layout and design, calls to action, rhetorical questions, something unexpected to name just a few (we’ll explore these in later posts). However, content is the quickest aspect to identify, test and change if needed. You can tell very quickly how social media reacts towards it, how often it is shared, and how much traffic it brings to your blog.

What is a Pillar Post?

A Pillar Post is the best content you have that feeds the burning desires of your target audience. It is what ideally you would want every reader to see first, to hook them and get them interested in what you are writing, the ideas you are advancing. Over the course of the life of your blog you will write a lot of content, hundreds if not thousands of posts. Within this gold mine you need to have a few posts that orient the reader to what you are all about, that provides structure, answers questions and like a good pillar holds up the mine from collapsing.

6 Characteristics of a Powerful Pillar Post

  1.    It should be evergreen content. This means that the information in it does not go out of date. It doesn’t matter if someone finds it today, tomorrow or in 1 year. The message will still be relevant, useful and shareable.
  2.    It should be relevant to your site and reflect the core values of your story and mission. People might love a “best wordpress plugins for travelers” but if your main topic is Family Travel than it will confuse your readers and the message of your site. It will also lack the authority you have built up in your niche. A better use of your time would be something like “5 Tips to Travel with Kids” or “10 Reasons Children Make Travel Better.”
  3.    It should be scanable (yes I just invented a word). Breaking up posts with headers and sections is good blogging practice in general, but with Pillar posts it’s even more important. Readers should be able to grasp the meaning, sections and how it will help then in just a few seconds. They are more likely to read or at least skip to the sections they are interested in if you make it easy on their weary internet eyes. List posts make very good pillar posts for this reason
  4.       It should answer a question or a need. A post that provides value to a reader, or solves a problem will be one they are more likely to bookmark and share.
  5.       It should be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly. This goes hand in hand with points 3 and 4. Google loves lists and sections as it can determine what the post is about easier. If you are answering a question or a specific need (i.e. how do I travel with kids?) your post is more likely to come up higher in the rankings. You should have 2-3 keywords and phrases that you want your post to rank highly for (more on how to do this well in future posts). But lay the ground work now and your life will be much easier in the future when we discuss link building and SEO.
  6.    It should be prominent. If you’ve followed 1-5 and you have a rocking post it would be a shame if no one ever saw it other than when you first posted it. Build internal links to it on your site. Promote it consistently throughout the life of your blog. Show it off on your home page with links to pages like “Get Started” “What We’re All About” or continuing with our example “Family Travel 101.”

Pillar Post Examples

I have created pillar posts for both Todd’s Wanderings and for the Travel Blog Challenge that reflect the different focus of each site. For Todd’s Wanderings I concentrated on how to build a lifestyle that allows you to travel the world and get paid for it.

5 Steps to World Travel and Getting Paid to Do What you Love

3 Strategies to Help you Succeed and Travel the World

I also experimented with a more visual appeal with The Happiness Chart as a way to spread my message further and easier.

With the TBC I focused on the two main themes of the site: Building Traffic and Earning Money. You might not have realized it at the time but the 2 pillar posts are:

15 Traffic Building Tips From Some of the Internet’s Most Popular Bloggers

16 Money Making Tips From Some of the World’s Most Popular Bloggers

The fact that I was able to attach so many popular bloggers to both of these posts lends them weight and authority. It also has the added bonus of being flattering to these bloggers so that they have an interest in seeing the posts become popular.

Today’s Homework

Write a Pillar Post

Today your homework is to create a Pillar Post that incorporates as many of the above characteristics as possible. Even if you already have a pillar post your blog can only be strengthened by adding another (or 2 or 3 if you’re feeling ambitious).

Promote the heck out it and then promote it some more at least once a month. Find a place to link to it on your homepage, either from a Favorite Posts list or through a Popular Post link if it’s one of your most popular articles (if you did your homework well it will be!).

Share Your New Pillar Post

To make it easier to keep the conversation going and for new people to join in later I have decided to use the Forums as a way for us to share our work, get advice and hopefully help promote each other even more. Each blog homework will now have its own forum thread!