How to create your x10 pillar page
Do you remember in childhood cartoons (Scooby-Doo was a particular culprit), when characters would be walking or running and the background kept repeating itself every few steps?
Ladder...portholes...door. Ladder...portholes...door. Ladder...portholes...door.
It was a cheap and quick way for cartoonists to create the illusion of movement, without having to paint new scenery – and no doubt they hoped children wouldn’t notice the ‘wraparound background’ (but we always did).
Average, mediocre and rushed content has this effect. I bet you can’t remember the specifics of a single Scooby-Doo storyline, just that there was always a creepy setting, a host of shifty characters, a villain in disguise, a comical chase, and a big reveal at the end to unveil the friendly janitor/scientist/ranger from the start of the story was the mastermind behind the crime the whole time (and “would have got away with it if it weren’t for those pesky kids”).
Unfortunately, this is how your content could end up appearing in searches over time. The internet is so overcrowded with blog posts, articles and other web pages that even the quality stuff ends up getting lost, blending into similar articles and the particular points fade from reader's’ memories. HubSpot explains this in more detail:
“A lot of marketers will create more and more content (in a bid to rank higher in Google). Unfortunately, creating larger volumes of the same underperforming content will often result in the same underwhelming results… In fact, adding more content to a poor existing site architecture can make it even harder for Google to find and rank your content.” – HubSpot
The last thing any of us wants is to for our content to end up like those Scooby-Doo cartoons, following a well-tested formula. That’s why x10 content has come into play – content where the aim is to be ten times better than any other content out there on the same topic: anything less simply won’t do.
Your pillar page is a great place to house this super-charged, high-powered content and, with our guidance, you’ll soon be able to make a start: the x10 pillar page is the Scooby Snack of content creation.
What is a x10 pillar page?
This style of pillar page is similar to an ungated ebook and the more widely used of the two styles (the other being the resource pillar page). The content is owned almost entirely by the creator (there might be a few images, infographics or videos that have come from elsewhere and need addressing). It is an opportunity to deep dive into a core topic e.g. The Beginner’s Guide to Illustration. The reason it’s called ‘x10’ is that you need to be asking yourself ‘How can I create something ten times better than what anyone else is currently doing and try to stand out?"
Here, Rand Fishkin from Whiteboard Friday explains in more detail:
In order to know if your content is better than other people’s, you need to be out there looking at what already exists:
- Subscribe to mailing lists of competitors – can you write more engagingly than them?
- Read as many blog posts as you can – are they all formatted the same repetitive way?
- Do keyword research – who is appearing high up in search results for your keywords?
As Impulse Creative explains:
“Most recently, Google and other search giants switched up the algorithm to make search smarter and more intuitive. Now, instead of using the keyword equivalent of a sniper rifle like blogs, content marketers need to start using value-powered keyword grenades, also known as pillar pages.” – Impulse Creative
The x10 checklist
If you can answer yes to any of the above points then you’ve got the skills to start creating some fabulous content for your x10 pillar page. In order to work methodically through your page, we’ve created a handy checklist for you to tick off, to see whether your content is meeting the mark for superiority. It’s your chance to show your competitors how it’s done, stand out to your target audience and take a step forward as a real authority.
Have you dotted your Is, crossed your Ts and created truly original content? This needs to come from your team and your team alone: no copy and paste jobs. X10 content is original and considered, well researched and direct. Get to the point, and teach the reader about your topic: show them who’s the pro and always cite your sources – it’ll make you more credible. Google's two most important factors for rank are high-quality content and relevant links.
You need to build trust between you and the reader. If you do this, they’ll keep coming back to you and soon you’ll be their main source of information. In time, they’ll become far more likely to buy from you. Do all the hard work for them: research, research, research and put it into accessible, charming graphs, charts, infographics and stats that will help them.
They’ve researched your topic – say, caring for guinea pigs – so don’t give them a pillar page which only talks about the care of, for example, llamas. Make sure every word, video and image of your content is useful to your target audience. Give them tips they can modify and use straight away: you need to cover plenty of inside tips about things they won’t already know.
No-one wants to read a solid 3000 words of unbroken text – even if your reader is a Lord of the Rings nut and you’ve written a whole pillar page about the fall of Gollum. Make your content digestible, fascinating, packed full of new quirky insights – teach them new things they can share with their friends and own followers. Make people want to read your stuff.
The power of excellent content is that it is something that will stay with the audience long after reading it. Think about the last TV show, film, article or podcast you loved – how much did you think about it afterwards? How many people did you tell about it? That’s because it was remarkable – it challenged you and got you thinking and talking, it didn’t just cement a load of ideas you already had.
What’s the key problem your audience has? Styling their hair? Strengthening their golf swing? Growing their business? Whatever it is, your job is to help them solve problems. Offer accurate information, top tips and hints to try that they might not have come across before, even some resources – break everything down into small, manageable bitesize chunks and readers will keep coming back for more.
You don’t want the reader to finish reading your pillar page only to say “that’s nice” and get back to their Sudoku. You want to spur them into action. They should feel inspired to jump out of their chair and go and try something they’ve never done before. If you choose your words carefully, using positive and emotive language, you could affect the behaviour of your audience: now that’s powerful.
Evoking a response from your reader is essential. No-one ever mobilised into action after reading something they found mediocre. Write content that inspires a range of emotions. If readers have an emotional reaction to your content, they are more likely to share it, giving you wider reach. Be controversial (but not for the sake of it), challenge perceptions, and use real stories to get to the heart of your readers.
Your pillar page should be a joy to read; not only because it’s correctly punctuated and nicely laid out with plenty of white space, bulletpoints and images, but because it’s a genuinely fulfilling. It might be funny, have a light and friendly tone, and use digestible short sentences. Use rhetorical questions to draw the reader in and make it clear they’re learning throughout the page – show they’re making progress as they read on and they’ll feel pleased with themselves, creating a warm glow.
Like a good novel, an excellent x10 pillar page needs to be full of unexpected twists and turns. Include activities to get them taking part – interactive sections, such as quizzes or a quick task, jolt the reader away from reading and into applying mode. Include fascinating videos, thought-provoking quotes from respected people in your industry or conduct your own surveys to present unlikely data they won’t have seen before.
Why bother with a x10 pillar page?
There are some really important reasons you need to be considering a x10 pillar page for your website, as SalesHub explores:
“While the quantity of content online has dramatically increased over the past decade, the quality has not. Most of the content out there is not adding much new information or fresh perspectives on a particular topic, so Google adjusted. With each algorithm change, it promoted sites that proved their authority and the relevance of their content while giving less credibility to generic and unoriginal content and poorly organized websites.” – SalesHub
You can’t afford not to. You get to put your own content front and centre stage – that’s pretty exciting. Not only does this mean you are established as an authority on your topic, but it means you aren’t in danger of plagiarising anyone else’s work. Google loves original, organised content, so if you’re creating a x10 pillar page, there should be plenty for search engines to adore about your website. It's time to unmuddle your content chaos.
There’s nothing quite like the sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve created a large amount of super duper content from scratch. Using all your contacts, interviewing relevant people, including some of your own photography or videos – it’s a time to feel really proud of everything you’ve accomplished and relieved it won’t get lost in the ‘wraparound background’ of everyone else’s noisy, disparate content. Yours is safely published all in one place with a methodical, proven system of organisation.
Creating 3000+ words of original, well-researched, well-crafted content will take time – especially if you don’t have a dedicated writer on your team. If you’ve got some content you can re-purpose, such as an e-book, then this could help you to get started. We hope you’ll agree the rewards of x10 pillar content far outweigh the challenges – use our checklist to keep you on track for creating fabulous content and aim for the stars!
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