5 signs you're ready to create a pillar page
by Anna Kaine on 26 September 2018
We’ve all been at dinner parties and found ourselves cornered by someone who just wants to hold forth on a topic. Using you as a sounding board, they take this opportunity to let rip about everything they know on this particular subject, usually leaving you very little chance to contribute: it’s less a conversation, and more a monologue.
My recent experiences of this have included: being sat next to a man at a wedding reception who wanted to tell me about the minutiae of pheasant shooting; a family party where a relative only wanted to regale me with details of her impending divorce; and a christening where I politely listened at length to my friend’s uncle tell me about his various power tools.
When you’re on the receiving end of someone being an “expert” in a topic you take no interest in and didn’t seek out, it can feel like an assault on the senses. BUT (and this is a big but when it comes to pillar content) someone out there is interested in each of these topics (yes, really!) – each of these guests were experts in their field, it just happened that I wasn’t the right audience for them.
We are all experts at something, we just need to ensure the content we create on these topics is accessed by the right people – those people will be endlessly grateful for the help you offer. So while I might not be interested in pheasant shooting, divorce arrangements or power tools, it doesn’t mean I’m not interested in lots of other things. Too often we feel shy about admitting that we are authorities on things, but I promise you – you are.
One of the topics I feel especially excited about (and know a thing or two about) is pillar pages. If you were invited on Mastermind, what would your specialist subject be? Here are just five ways to identify if you’re a bona fide expert – and therefore ready to create your first pillar page.
Do customers, prospects – even friends – seek you out to request your expertise? Are you known as the go-to on a particular topic? Do people bring up this topic with you outside of work hours because they know you’ll be able to answer their queries? Do people act on the advice you offer them?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions then it sounds like you’re already perceived as an expert on your topic. If your opinion is valued amongst those who already know you, imagine how many people you could help if you created more content that could reach more people looking for answers to these questions.
How it helps create a pillar page: If you are already perceived as a pro in this subject, chances are this ‘support group’ you already nurture and help will be keen to promote you and spread the word about your skills and knowledge. This is a base who can offer you testimonials and will promote your pillar page online to others in your field if you ask them.
Is there adequate search volume for the topic you're trying to rank for? If you visit Google Trends, is the number of searches for a particular keyword relating to your expert topic highly searched for? Do you use HubSpot’s Content Strategy tool to gather this keyword information?
If you’re already tracking the popularity of your keywords and related search terms (and even if you’re not) you’ll be able to quickly see how searched for your expert topic is, using these tools. We highly recommend checking your topic’s searchability, just to ensure this isn’t a case of ‘echo chamber’: people outside of your circle really are interested in finding solutions relating to your expertise.
How it helps create a pillar page: Not only will this method (hopefully) give you confidence that your core topic is, indeed, searched for and worthy of its own pillar page on your site, but if you search for other related terms that rank highly, it’ll give you an idea of which sub topics to create content for and link to your pillar page.
Do you already have a wealth of blog posts published on this topic? Do you have an ebook, tutorial videos, a checklist, quizzes or other lead magnets on the topic? Do you have endless bookmarked pages of content other people have written on the topic that you revisit and use regularly?
If you already have high volumes of high-quality, fresh content relating to your topic, this is a brilliant springboard into pillar page writing. Instead of reinventing the wheel, this existing content – even if it’s relatively old now – will be an excellent place to start. Begin by collecting it all together in a folder and reviewing which bits you could repurpose.
How it helps create a pillar page: By splitting your current content into sections (or sub topics) relating to your main subject (core topic) you will find yourself with chapters. There will be gaps and things that need to be updated, but your existing content will give you the skeleton of your pillar page – and lots of useful links to other people’s work that will help your audience, too.
Do you find yourself reading about your topic outside of working hours because you’re genuinely interested in it? Do you want to constantly find out more about your subject? Are you subscribed to groups, forums or blogs related to your expert topic? Do you have random statistics about your topic you can reel off the top of your head?
It’s rare that you become a true expert in something that you don’t genuinely enjoy. Too many people in this world have jobs they don’t love, so stir up some inspiration and show your audience just how switched on you are to your topic, business and sector. No-one wants to read a lengthy piece of content written by someone who is indifferent – show your personality, be funny, be engaging – if you love writing it, they’ll love reading it.
How it helps create a pillar page: Don’t be afraid to show your true interest in and passion for your core subject – it isn’t unprofessional, it’s appealing and your audience will thank you for showing some pizzazz. ‘Nerding out’ to a key topic creates a camaraderie between you and a community for others to join, pass on and engage with – plus, you’ll never resent coming back to your page to add more as it won’t be a chore, but a joy.
Do you enjoy a project and learning new things? Are you happy to commit to an ongoing campaign that might never be completely finished? Can you see yourself editing, changing and revisiting content over time to make it more relevant and pass on new things you’ve learnt and tried in your business?
Pillar pages are breathing, growing entities. They’re never finished. It takes a special kind of mentality to persevere, swap, change and self edit them. It’s one of the best things about pillar pages – that they grow with you and your business. But it can also be one of the frustrating things about them – like a garden, you’re never finished!
How it helps create a pillar page: If you’re constantly learning and developing the way you approach your topic and make decisions based on new information, you’re a true authority. No-one should get stuck in their ways (and no-one wants to follow a know-it-all). Concede that you make errors, change your mind and experiment – based on your own learning – and people will always come back for more of your content.
If you could answer “yes” to most of these points then what are you waiting for? Our own pillar page on pillar pages will help you get started…
...and if you don’t find the answer to your query about pillar pages here or there, it’s probably in the pipeline to be added to our pillar page very soon! Remember: a pillar page is always growing and changing and we like to give ours a regular ‘watering’ and ‘weeding’.