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How to Determine Your Content Pillars

Date published: December 18, 2023
Last updated: February 20, 2024

Content pillars are a great way to organize and centralize your content creation. They provide focus and synergy to your content marketing strategy by unifying your content behind a select series of themes that are central to your brand.

While pillars are popular, they can be overwhelming to pull together. How many pillars should you make? What topics should you choose? How long should each pillar be?

Let’s go over a few pillar post examples to help understand how to determine your content pillars before you pour all of the time, effort, and resources into making them.

Pillar Power: Using Pillars to Revolutionize Content Strategy

Let’s start with a quick reminder of why pillars are so important for a successful content marketing strategy. A pillar is an extensive resource that covers a key theme of your brand. 

The primary pillar itself covers this theme holistically but not necessarily in detail. Instead, it serves as a central focal point for that overarching topic within your brand’s marketing assets and resources.

How Do You Organize Content Pillars?

Pillars should never stand on their own. On the contrary, they should be at the center of a cluster of content that relates to the same key topic. This pillar and cluster strategy is a key part of building an effective content pillar strategy.

The pillar cluster model surrounds pillar content with a variety of sub-pillars and smaller articles that flesh out the subject in greater detail. These should connect with one another using internal linking strategies, and everything should link back to the primary pillar at some point.

From there, content marketing teams can create things like email and social media content that support, link back to, and tie into the pillar. The end result is a tight-knit group of content assets that vary in size and scope while simultaneously focusing on a key theme for your brand.

Pillar strategy breakdown showing how you can determine your content pillars

How Many Content Pillars Do You Need?

As you build a content pillar strategy, one common question is how many content pillars you need. Should you make one main pillar for your whole site? Do you need dozens spread across countless topics?

The answer lies in between these extremes. If you focus all of your content on a single pillar, you restrict your marketing message too much. 

At the same time, you shouldn’t make too many pillars. Pillars, with their clustered supporting content, are resource-intensive, elaborate endeavors. They require a lot of time and effort. On top of that, you don’t want to spread your primary messaging too thin by taking on too many themes at once.

With that in mind, it’s wise to aim for around three to four main pillars for a brand. Build each one out with care and maintain it as a central content cluster to boost your brand’s authority and emphasize what makes you unique.

How Long Should a Pillar Page Be?

If you look at content pillar examples, you’ll find that they’re generally long. Really long. How long? Most pillars run at least a few thousand words in length.

Some marketers will recommend a content pillar strategy example with pillar pages that go well past the 10,000-word words. But the truth is, that’s excessive. Realistically, aiming for around 3,000 words per pillar is a good goal.

Focus on briefly covering all of the main topics related to each theme within that 3,000-word resource. From there, you can create shorter sub-pillars (usually around 2,000 words) and blog articles (1,000 words or less) that reinforce and elaborate on your original pillar’s message.

How Do You Determine Your Content Pillars?

If you’re uncertain how to choose your content pillars, here are a few steps to help your team narrow your choices:

  • Start with considering the needs of your target audience.
  • Gauge your industry and consider what unique selling propositions (USPs) make your brand superior to the competition.
  • Review your mission statement and company vision.
  • Think through what topics, services, and themes currently convert well for you.
  • Choose the top three or four things that you want to help your brand to stand out.

If you find that you’re struggling to boil your focus down to a specific number of themes, even with these steps, you may want to find a content marketing agency to help. Working with an experienced third-party content partner early in the development and planning process can ensure that you invest in the best themes for your branded content library from the start.

As you come up with each topic, these become the central 3,000-word pillars for each cluster of content you create. Once you have them set in stone, you can conduct keyword research to flesh out related topics you should cover. Plan out a content calendar, too, and integrate everything with your social media strategy and other content-related efforts.

Determining the Right Pillar Topics For Your Brand

As you size up your content marketing goals, remember to keep pillar pages in mind. From on-site content strategy to social media marketing, the synergy pillar content creates can supercharge your efforts every time you create content. It can keep that content focused on what matters most as you seek to show consumers why your brand is special and can provide uniquely effective solutions to their problems.

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