The last blog article talked about the Maypole concept as it relates to something called pillar content. Remember that pillar content is a big theme idea that you use to give an expert overview with sub-pillar content taking the big general ideas and getting more detailed about specific parts of it.

After doing the exercises in the MayPole Challenge, you’ve determined what your pillar content concept is and now you want to figure out how to build the clusters with pertinent and relevant information. After all, isn’t anything revolving around your topic pertinent? No.

Building relevant sub-pillars or clusters really starts with your website layout and the categories you tag your content.

Logical Progression of Ideas

Look at these examples of website themes and the clusters of content within them:

Safer Family Alliance is an emergency planning and safety blog, which means its primary theme phrase is “emergency planning and safety.” While anything and everything could be related to that, my key categories are emergency preparation, first aid and CPR, child safety. Each theme is a subtopic to my primary theme.

Single Mommy Tribe is a website devoted to providing single moms with resources, advice and relatable ideas to move forward with their lives. The primary, the overarching theme is single mom parenting. If I think about the primary categories under that theme, they including raising children solo, financial recovery, dating after divorce, and self-care for a single mom.

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What the Real Pillar Is

If you’re looking at those examples and wondering what the real pillar is, you’re on track to really learn how to break down your website to build authoritative content. The overarching theme is not always the pillar to write about or even create. Each of those categories is really where the pillar begins to take shape.

Consider the Single Mommy Tribe website. If I constantly bounce from raising kids, finances, dating, and self-care in my blog topics, I never really give Google the chance to understand where my authority on the topic lies. Google may eventually see this when there is enough content, but that could be months if not years down the road.

Develop Pillar to Win Like Developing Keyword Strategies

When we talk about keyword strategies, we always talk about choosing keywords you can win at, especially when getting started on a new website. We look for ways to get keywords to rank so that Google starts to see that site for a certain domain authority – that authority revolving on specific keywords people search for.

In the same way, Google will start to build your website’s authority when it sees themes in the content that are very focused. You’ve heard it a million times, “there are a bazillion parenting blogs, a gazillion travel blogs, an infinite number of financial blogs.” While all those have overarching themes, you can’t create a pillar to let Google know you are the resource without narrowing it down.

Narrowing Down Themes

If your website is a very narrow topic, to begin with, you don’t need to really narrow things down. For example, if your website is about breastfeeding advice, you won’t have a lot of subcategories in that theme. Your websites overarching topic is the pillar theme.

But in the case of Single Mommy Tribe, there are many ways to narrow the themes down to focus on content. For the sake of the Maypole Challenge, I looked at the keywords that Google began to track and rank me for on the site. Most of what was ranking had to do with getting over bad relationships and toxic ex’s. While this isn’t what I prefer to write about all day, every day, it makes business sense for me to build a pillar around this theme.

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Asking Questions Like Readers

Your readers are looking for something specific when going to Google. You have to think about this when developing the sub-pillar content. My readers, while being single moms, are not just Googling “single moms” most of the time. They have a specific question – even beyond the main topic of getting over bad relationships.

What would those reader’s questions be? That is the start of the sub-pillar content:

  • How do I overcome a toxic relationship?
  • How do you leave an abusive relationship?
  • Is co-parenting possible with a toxic-ex?
  • How long before you date after divorce?

You can see the theme is relevant in each of these questions. These become the sub-pillar content for my pillar content.

Supporting Content in Pillar Pieces

Remember the maypole and how everything ties to the pillar. This means the pillar gives the 30,000-foot overview of the pillar content. For our purposes, this has to be more than 7,500 words, while I prefer over 10,000. The sub-pillars are normal blog pieces that should be between 1,500 to 3,000 words giving a deeper dive of information on pillar ideas.

Essentially you are expanding on them.

How does supporting content fit in?

Supporting content can be fun. It allows you to create a more personal touch with your own stories and voice in things. Remember that the pillar and sub-pillar is your authority. Google and readers need to feel like you know what you are talking about.

Supporting pieces include personal stories, listacles, odd takes and unique perspectives of sub-pillars. The subject matter gets just a little more specific in this area but doesn’t need to be as long, capping at around 1,500 words.

Supporting Content Example

Let’s go back to the Single Mommy Tribe example. The pillar is getting over a bad relationship. One of the sub-pillars is dating after divorce. What types of content pieces would support that? To determine this, I can look to my own experience or once again think about what readers might be thinking.

Here are a few ideas I’ve developed to that sub-pillar:

  • Searching for love
  • Online dating scams
  • Making new guy friends
  • Kids and a new guy

The great thing is that I already have some of this content on the site. So when I begin to develop the bigger content ideas of the pillar and sub-pillars, I’ll already have supporting items to link to.

Linking Pillar

Linking pillar is how you tell Google what your intention is with the content. By linking items within your entire pillar map, you are telling Google that this information is pertinent to each other, has the same and similar keywords and topic theme. As smart as Google is, it does still take direction from content creators regarding the intent they have in content development. Anchor text helps this by using keywords to link out to other topics you have written on relevant to this.

Stay tuned for the next topic….

What to Write First: The Pillar or Sub-pillar