I wrote a couple of pillar articles recently about how to start a brand new WordPress blog and how to maintain it. After writing these two pillar articles, I wanted to talk about writing these types of articles. I want to address what they are and when is the right time to write them. I was thinking about the power that these articles have due to their length and ability to touch upon so many topics at once. Then you could just link your sections to your other relevant articles that go into more detail. I am very excited to see how well these articles perform on the search engines because this a test on how well long articles that are around 3,000 words at the time that they were published. Let us start with what a pillar article is and talk about why they are important and when to write one.
What is a Pillar Article?
A pillar article is basically a reference to a pillar or column. A pillar is very long and is used to support buildings. In a building, you have a floor and a ceiling. Pillars are used to support the ceiling and prevent it from falling to the ground. In order for pillars to support the weight of a heavy ceiling, it needs to be very strong and you will need several pillars evenly spaced and spread across the building. This is the same concept with a blog. The more pillar articles that you have, the more content that your blog has. This content supports your blog as it gives more content for both search engines and users. Pillar articles also connect your articles together due to the depth of topics covered. So as you can see, pillar articles are very strong and powerful in keeping your blog up as it grows and becomes heavier with more people coming to your website and being added to search engines.
Why Should You Write Pillar Articles?
I would like to expand from the previous section about why you should write pillar articles for your blog. Think about a blog that just has articles in insolation. All of these topics are related but there is no linking between them. When your blog becomes popular, people will trust your opinion more. When you build this trust with your users, they are more likely to read more of your articles. You need to have a way for users to easily find similar articles without having to look around your website.
Link Your Articles Together and Make Them Easier to Find
So what you should do is link article A to article B if they are related to the same subject. This is better than just relying on a navigation menu that organizes your articles into categories. Why is that? The reason why is because when your users are deep into your article, they are likely to be at the middle or bottom of your page. When users are looking for more of your articles, they will have to scroll back to the top and click on your categories to find more. I am a firm believer that you need to reduce the steps involved to finding more of your content. You will make it easier for your users to find your articles if you link between them inside your articles. This improves the user experience, which Google likes and helps with your rankings.
Use Jump Anchors in Your Links and Open New Articles in a New Tab
Whenever I talk about linking your articles together, I make sure to bring up the point that you need to use jump anchors with the hashtag (#) at the end of your links. This table of contents plugin in WordPress can also create jump anchors for you. I talk a bit more about using anchors to link your articles together in my blog maintenance article. Since pillar articles should link to more detailed articles in some of their sections, you should always remember to use anchors. They send users directly to that section of the article. Also, open your other articles in a new browser tab so that your users do not lose their place in their current article.
When Should You Write a Pillar Article
For me, I think that pillar articles should be written when you have some detailed articles already published to link to. This will improve the strength of your pillar article because people can just click on a link to your detailed articles if users want to learn more. This is why I used the analogy of the building being supported with pillars. Linking your pillar articles with more detailed ones that go into depth of your pillar sections gives them more strength to make the pillars stronger. So this is the strategy that I use because you are basically writing a pillar article that becomes even longer when you link to your detailed articles. You can even go to your detailed sections and link back to your pillar article. So link in both directions because people will visit your website depending on where they find you on Google. People might find you with article A and others with article B. You can use the Path Exploration Report in Google Analytics to see what page people enter your website from Google. You can then see where the path of their clicks as they flow through your articles. So this is why you should prioritize your best performing articles and link articles in both directions. This also gives you an opportunity to update your articles and add more content to them when you link them together.
Write the Pieces of Your Pillar Article Individually First, Then Link Them
So I mentioned already about creating individual articles that go in-depth about one particular subject before writing a pillar article. How many individual detailed articles do we need before you can write a pillar article? Plan it out, think of what kind of pillar article you can write based on what articles you already have.
Outline Your Pillar Articles and Center Your Individual Articles Around Them
If you start to outline your pillar article in Google Docs with your headings and sub-headings for your various sections, will you know. Try to use your pillar article outline as an opportunity to see how thorough you are in covering various topics in your niche. You might come up with some new ideas that you have not expressed in individual articles. This is the great thing about you writing your own blog. You can always detail them in your pillar article and if you write an individual article later, you can just link to it. In other words, do not wait forever to write your articles because all of the pieces are not in place. There is no right or wrong when it comes to blogging. If your content is good, both Google and people will know. What makes blogging so fun is that your uses will let you know what they want to read from you. This is why I have stressed the point of reviewing your Google Search Console traffic regularly. Your impressions give you precious keyword ideas for new article topics and tell you which pages showed up the most on the search engine.
Make Your Pillar Pieces Detailed and Thorough
The success of your pillar articles will not only depend on the pillar article itself but also its supporting detailed articles. So impress your users with your knowledge and write very detailed and thorough and really showcase what you know. This might require additional research and really thinking hard to get all of the details out. Again, you never have to completely finish your articles when you publish them. You can always go back to your articles and add more. Doing regular research not only ensures that your articles are detailed but also lets you know of current or changing trends in your field. Obsolescence is a fear that we have because our articles might be outdated and no longer relevant. This is why people want to write evergreen content that lasts forever. Again, this depends on your field but if you can relate an ever-changing field to everyday life, then you can still write evergreen content. This really shows your skill because you can take most technical topics and relate them to anyone. You can teach simple life lessons from what you know that people can use and apply to their lives everyday.
Pillar Articles Are Used to Combine Pieces to Express a Central Thought or Opinion
The main point of a pillar article is to combine a lot of different topics in a central one. This central concept is used as an umbrella topic that has several other topics under it. This umbrella term helps illuminate the relationships between each section. This will give your users further insight into your niche because you are also to tie all these topics into an underlying theme. So when you write a pillar article, make sure that the order of the article flows and that the order of each section makes sense. For example, let us say that you are writing a pillar article about building something. The first few sections might involve preparation and setting the stage. So this might include things like what materials you need, any initial considerations, or telling people the right time to build. So these are sections in your pillar article that you will have to talk about first before you actually talk about building. So the order matters when you have such a long article that has steps in it.
If your article does not have steps in it, then the order of your sections do not have to be strict. You are writing the article so you should know if the following sections make sense or not. Shorter articles that do not cover so many topics at once do not have to worry about section order. Since we are writing a pillar article, then this is an important consideration to think about.
Use Your Detailed Pillar Pieces as a Reference to Prevent Duplicate Content
The detailed pieces that you link to from your pillar article can be used as references for detail. One part that I have not mentioned yet in this article is that this prevents you from duplicating existing content present in another article. Make sure that when you link to another article you read that article or section that you are linking to. This just ensures that the article is directly related to what you are linking to.
Try Hard to Not To Repeat and Duplicate Large Portions of Content
Make sure to write copy that flows into your linking article and merely introduces it but not describes it in great detail because you might end up duplicating content and over-repeating yourself. All of the details are in your linking article so there is no need to say it all over again. This is an art because we feel so pressured to write content that we feel the need to repeat the same content over and over just to generate more content. Try really hard not to because you need to link your articles together to tell people and Google that you have more to say about this topic in another article.
You can repeat some content because in a niche, you are bound to say somes things over and over. Basically, do not just take a whole section of an article and just plop it into your pillar. Linking is better because if anything changes, you can just change the linking article and instead of having to change it in your pillar. Besides, your pillar article focuses on being an umbrella, keep it that way. Your detailed pillar pieces have their role. So keep everything straight and do not change an article from its intended purpose to be something else.
The “Issue” With Duplicate Content With Regards to SEO
In the previous section, I talked about not duplicating large portions of content. A few sentences are okay. If you can relate the copy that you are using with how it connects to your pillar, then you can expand upon it. In that case, it makes perfect sense. Many people think that Google will penalize your article if you use repeated content all over your blog. I believe that what really happens is that Google sees the same content across your articles because your niche means that the same concepts re-appear. What I think this means is that you should focus on creating new and unique content that is in your article along with the duplicate content. That is why I said that duplicate content is an “issue”. You just need to make sure that you have something new in the article that has not been said yet. If you have repeated content in there, then you are fine. I would not worry too much about reusing content. I have told you to link your articles together with anchors and new tabs. This is just a critical concept that will appear in any article that needs it.
This article was the result of writing my own pillar articles and wanting to share my experience with you about them. I hope that this helps you in gathering your articles together and unifying them under a central idea. The trick to know if you are ready to write a pillar article is to outline your pillar article first with a title, headings and sub-headings. Look through your article and see if you can combine any of them to link to in your pillar article. If you feel that you need to write some more articles in detail to link to from your pillar article, then do so. This will make your pillar article stronger and your blog overall. Since you are writing more detailed articles to prepare for a pillar, then you are adding more and more content to your blog. So do not rush when writing a pillar article. Of course, you do not need any other articles to link to in order to support your pillar article. You could write pillar articles and not link to anything. However, I already stated the benefits of preparing for a pillar article.