“I have lots of blog content…why isn’t it ranking better?”
“What sorts of content should I be creating?”
“How can I get more mileage out of the content I create?”
We get asked questions like this all the time. Years ago, staffing firms that blogged regularly would consistently outrank their competitors. But these days, blogging is table stakes. If you want to really gain traction and stand out with your content marketing, it’s time to up the ante – and start working a pillar content strategy.
Haley Marketing Project Manager Linda Smith shared this definition in an earlier post:
Pillar content, sometimes referred to as cornerstone content or 10x content, is a substantial and informative piece of content that can be broken into smaller sections or materials. Examples of pillar content include eBooks, long-form article, reports, whitepapers and guides.
First and foremost, pillar content should comprehensively answer one question. It should be relevant and useful to your target website audience and it should be compelling enough that people not only want to download it, but they also want to learn more about what your business has to offer.
The final key element of pillar content is staying power. While the staffing industry is always evolving, pillar content should be as evergreen as possible, or in the case of reports, should hold value for at least the upcoming calendar year.
Why is a pillar content strategy so effective?
- It makes your staffing firm’s content marketing more focused. Any staffing firm can publish random blog posts. A pillar content strategy takes a systematic, disciplined approach to creating high-value content that ranks well in search. As an added benefit, making pillar content part of your marketing plan can help alleviate the strain of planning and producing content.
- It positions you as an expert. The right pillar content can help establish your staffing company as an expert and thought leader in your industry. By offering well-researched insights and practical advice, you can position your firm as both knowledgeable and genuinely interested in helping employers and job seekers. And over time, a strategic approach to content creation will help ensure you become known as an authority on topics that matter most to your target audiences.
- It’s great for SEO. From an SEO (search engine optimization) standpoint, by digging deep into the core topic and subtopics, pillar content is seen as more authoritative, a better user resource, and filled with keywords and search phrases. Over time, you may find that more outside websites link to pillar content and the user engagement statistics (time on page, bounce rate, etc.) are usually much better than shorter content. These factors will help improve search rankings and attract more traffic.
How should your staffing firm work a pillar content strategy?
Choose a topic.
Start by determining which audience you’re writing for: employers or job seekers. Then, brainstorm a list of topics that are at the intersection of:
- The things your audience wants to know. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What challenges do they face? What answers are they seeking? What keeps them up at night?
- The topics you want to be known as an authority on. Consider your services/solutions, position in the market, and brand. What should you be considered the “go-to” expert on?
Ideally, you want to select a topic that has high takeaway value for your audience and makes sense for you to write about.
Once you’ve chosen a topic, set an appropriate scope. A piece of pillar content needs to be broad enough to warrant creating an eBook or long-form article (2,000 words or more), but focused enough to provide an in-depth exploration of the topic. For example, here are a few pillar eBooks we developed for HaleyMail clients to share with their clients and candidates:
- Your Multigenerational Workforce: A Leader’s Guide to Leading, Retaining and Optimizing Employee Performance in 2022
- Great Interviews -> Great Hires: 50+ Questions to Identify A-Level Candidates
- Skip the Sugar: The Modern Manager’s Guide to Providing Feedback Effectively
- The New Rules of Workplace Success: A Digital Etiquette Guide
- Resume Reboot: Get Noticed. Get the Interview. Get Hired!
- Live Your Best Life – as a Temporary Employee
Conduct keyword research.
Once you have chosen a primary topic, use a keyword planner like Google AdWords Keyword Planner to develop a list of keywords (primary and secondary) to include in your content. While you should always write conversationally (and never keyword-stuff your content), using keyword planning tools can help you determine the best subtopics to write about and ensure your content ranks well in search.
Read our “SEO in 2022: New Strategies for Recruiting” eBook to learn more about conducting keyword research.
Break your primary topic into subtopics.
Use what you know about your audience and learn from your keyword research to define the supporting elements of your pillar content. Subtopics, also known as cluster content, should support your main topic and help readers find the answers they need.
Once you’ve reached this point in the process, it’s time to create an outline of your pillar content. Have someone else you trust review the content to make sure it’s logically organized and will achieve your goals.
Gather your research and get writing! If you don’t have the time or desire to write the content yourself:
- Enlist the help of your team. Assign discrete subtopics to individuals on your staff who understand those areas and have proven writing ability.
- Hire copywriting experts who specialize in your industry (yep, we can handle the writing for you!).
Once you’ve produced your primary piece, house it on a pillar page/landing page on your website that sells the value of the content (more on gating content below).
Break your pillar content into smaller pieces.
Convert your long-form piece into smaller, bite-sized pieces based on subtopics. Publish these as a series of interlinked blog posts that drive people over to the main pillar piece of content.
Get more mileage from your pillar content.
Tell the world about it.
You’ve worked hard to create a great piece of pillar content – now you need to get eyeballs on it! Here’s a list of ways to achieve that:
- Use the tactic described above to create a series of interlinked blog posts.
- Create a series of social posts that tease and link to the content. Share these over the course of a few weeks (make sure your whole team shares the posts with their networks, too).
- Promote the piece in your email signature or via your email newsletter.
- Add a CTA fly-in promoting the content to your website to attract attention.
- If the piece is substantial, timely and well-researched, consider promoting it with a press release.
- Share the piece with industry partners, vendors and influencers. Ask for their help in promoting it. (Pro tip: involve these people in the content creation so they have a vested interest in helping you promote it.)
- Rewrite one of the subtopics (i.e., create original content on the same topic) and publish it on The Staffing Stream, LinkedIn or ASA with a link back to the primary pillar content.
Think through where your target audience spends time online and promote your pillar content there.
Repurpose content into a variety of formats.
Blog posts are great, but don’t stop there. Consider all the ways you could repurpose pillar content into other shareable assets (make sure they all drive people back to your main piece of content):
- Convert blog posts to video.
- Pull statistics from throughout the piece and use the data to create an infographic.
- Distill subtopics into salient points and convert those to a slide deck.
- Use the content as the basis for a webinar or live presentation.
- Find a respected podcast with a mutual audience and offer to be a guest (i.e., speak about the pillar content topic).
Consider gating your content.
Although you’ll want to share pillar content directly with your clients and candidates, consider gating your content behind a gated landing page for lead gen (i.e., requiring readers to provide their email address and/or other information in exchange for the content). If you want to go this route:
- Sell the value of your content. Explain what readers will learn. Think WIIFM.
- Keep required form fields to a minimum (anything over 2 or 3 fields will dramatically reduce conversions).
- Drive traffic to the page. Promote the content on your blog, on your website, in your email marketing, on social media and via PPC.
Ready to work a pillar content strategy?
We would love to help! We have a full team of skilled writers, content strategists and digital marketing advisors to help guide, and implement, your content marketing strategy. Contact us today to start a conversation.