By now, you probably know that content is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy.
The problem with content is when companies put too much emphasis on the number of blog posts, rather than the value of the information inside.
Assaulting your readers with a barrage of meaningless posts each day won’t drive more traffic to your site.
When people search the internet, they aren’t really looking for products or services.
They’re looking for solutions to their problems.
Long-form content that provides answers will be more useful, which resonates with customers and earns you higher search engine rankings for increased visibility.
More than 70% of marketers claim content is very or extremely important to their marketing strategy.
However, only 27% rate their efforts as very or extremely successful.
Why is that?
The answer is simple: Crafting quality content is harder than it seems.
Any business can crank out a host of mediocre, uninspired blog posts. But quality content doesn’t just fall off a conveyor belt in an assembly line.
One way you can develop content that engages readers and serves as an invaluable resource is by creating pillar content.
Exactly what is pillar content?
Pillar content is content that establishes your reputation as an authority in your industry, builds trust among your audience, and generates sales for optimal business success.
Let’s learn how.
What is Pillar Content?
Pillar content is significantly informative content that provides invaluable knowledge about a particular subject. It can be separated into sub-topics that continue to provide readers with additional information.
Not only does this article outline and explain the key points of the guidelines. It also teaches people WHY they need content, a critical factor in the buying decisions surrounding content.
This pillar piece brings value to readers through its main subject (Google’s guidelines) as well as the cluster content (why content is necessary), all while earning high search listing placement.
That’s the sole purpose of pillar content.
Pillar content stands out from similar content and is engaging, reliable, or helpful to your readers.
It allows you to:
Eliminate Redundancy: Comprehensive content prevents repetition of material throughout your site.
Plan Future Content: Pillar content can lead to sub-topics within that category.
Connect the Dots: Link within your own content to provide helpful resources to your audience.
Since pillar content provides a well-researched, authoritative piece that links to offshoot sub-pages, it’s extremely effective for SEO.
It not only provides tons of content to align with keyword searches and relevancy.
It also links to other expert sources and expands reach exponentially.
All of this positions your brand as an authority on a specific topic, building trust and loyalty among your audience and leading to a higher conversion rate.
Because it’s so in-depth, pillar content tends to be among your site’s best material.
You know that old adage, “Put your best foot forward”?
That’s what pillar content does. For that reason, it’s typically where you’ll direct new visitors.
But pillar content is evergreen, so it also has a long shelf life.
It’s authoritative information about a topic that will continually gain interest. Visitors will check it out (and other sites may link to it) long after it’s been posted.
With continual updates, edits, and maintenance, it will always be meaningful and relevant.
Pillar content can consist of anything from infographics and videos to blog posts and articles.
It’s simply a way to support foundational content for a specific niche.
When executed well, it can be timeless, continually useful for readers, and eternally gain you higher search engine rankings.
Why Should You Use Pillar Pages?
There are two main reasons pillar pages should be part of your marketing strategy.
First, they help you organize your content so readers can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
Let’s face it. People love convenience, and there’s very little that’s more convenient than pillar pages.
They provide a one-stop shop for all of the important information users are looking for online.
It’s like digging for treasure and finding a gold mine. ⛏
But businesses also have a lot to gain from pillar content, and that brings us to the second reason you should use pillar content.
From a marketing perspective, pillar content is also a gold mine, but for SEO.
Pillar pages help your SEO efforts in several ways.
1. Cut Through the Clutter
To provide the most consistent, relevant, and useful results to its users, Google likes to know exactly what’s happening with your website’s content.
When Google sees your articles link back to pillar content that all relates to the same subject, it’s clear what that subject is and Google understands how to rank your pages.
Not only does this help clarify your website’s relevance for Google’s search engine guidelines. But the more your website mentions a certain subject, the better you’ll rank for that subject in particular.
Organization isn’t just beneficial for Google.
It also helps readers navigate your site and effectively consume all of your content, providing a better user experience.
This, incidentally, also helps boost your search engine rankings.
Pillar content helps you cut through the clutter of all the information Google has to crawl and helps to place you in a more prominent ranking position.
2. Develop More Quality Content
With a word count of 2,000 to 5,000, pillar pages are longer than a typical blog post, so they create tons of content for search engines to scan.
The shared research that goes into a single piece of pillar content allows future pieces to sprout from that topic, which creates even more content for SEO.
Pillar content can become video scripts, individual blog articles, and social media posts.
Since pillar content is so thorough, it takes dedicated research to develop it.
This results in more high-quality, comprehensive messaging with focus points aligned throughout the piece.
3. Drive Traffic to Your Site
Because pillar pages are so rich with quality content, they offer lots of opportunities for strategic keyword placement, so people will naturally be directed to your site.
This not only results in an increase in traffic.
It provides chances to remarket to an audience who, for whatever reason, may not have engaged long enough to convert.
You can send retargeted ads or links to other pillar pages they might find useful.
These efforts drive traffic to your site and give you another chance to entice prospects to become customers.
4. Increase Engagement
When you publish lots of comprehensive content on your site that resonates with readers, they’ll be tempted to binge-read your material.
They’ll want to find answers to as many of their questions as possible.
The more quality content you host on your page, the more time people will spend on your site.
Since visitors won’t be bailing out to find information elsewhere, you’ll see lower bounce rates.
(Incidentally, that’s the fourth most important ranking factor for SERPs.)
By serving as a valuable resource for readers, you provide a positive experience that is rewarded with prominent search engine rankings.
With some dedicated time and effort, you can create pillar content that will resonate with readers and help boost sales growth and set you on a path for continued success.
4 Common Types of Pillar Content
Pillar content can deliver invaluable information in lots of ways.
There are two important things to keep in mind when creating your content:
How can you most effectively cover your subject matter?
How would your audience prefer to consume the information?
Information that teaches someone how to do something should be presented differently than a piece that explains a general concept.
Some information is better processed as in-depth paragraphs, some as skimmable bullet points.
As you plan your content, here are four common types of pillar content to consider.
1. “What is” Pillar
The internet has empowered people to be constant learners.
At the touch of a button, people can conduct their own research on any number of topics.
A frequently searched phrase is “What is ____”.
If someone hears a word they don’t know or a product they don’t understand, they simply type this phrase into a search box to find out more.
Pillar content can address this trend by giving a detailed explanation about a subject.
Thus, “What is” pillar content is a helpful stand-alone resource that takes people to other pages with useful content. It also helps you to craft a page that aligns with a popular interest, something people have heard about in the news or from friends and want to explore further.
If you can generate a sense of your subject’s importance, you can generate organic traffic to your page.
2. “How-to” Pillar
When a reader finds a “how-to” page, they expect to learn how to accomplish a goal.
These pillar pages are great for creating content that specifically addresses your audience’s needs.
Do some research and find out what it is your readers want to learn.
Then, create authoritative content that delivers tutorials, illustrations, and step-by-step instructions to break down the information into digestible content that’s easy to understand.
3. Guide Pillar
One way to deliver authoritative content is through guides.
People who are new to a concept are drawn to beginners’ guides, because they know those pieces will contain basic information that educates them from start to finish.
A more seasoned audience appreciates definitive guides that fine tune the knowledge they already have.
Either way, guides serve as a destination for readers looking for comprehensive information on a given topic.
A guide that’s well developed and timely can attract lots of attention and drive traffic to your site.
More importantly, it helps to nurture your prospects and turn them into customers.
4. “Best-of” Pillar
Not all educational content is best delivered as a full, comprehensive guide.
Besides, search engines are inundated with ultimate guides.
Set yourself apart from the competition by creating a roundup of the best facts, tips, and techniques surrounding your subject.
Use this information to build pillar content that provides a helpful overview highlighting key points readers should know.
Through bullet points and categorical lists, readers see at a glance that they can quickly skim your content until they find a point that resonates with them.
Because “best-of” content is easy to scan and more manageable than a full-on guide, people see it as less of a time investment and are more likely to check it out.
Creating Pillar Content That Drives Traffic: Easy as 1-2-3
With some careful strategy, pillar content can be extremely effective in driving traffic to your website. Here are three main concepts to keep in mind when developing pillar content that pulls in leads.
1. Know Your Audience
All of the content you create should, ultimately, be for your audience’s benefit.
Sure, your motives may be to drive traffic and generate revenue, but none of that will happen if you don’t write content that your audience wants to read.
That’s why knowing your audience is a must.
Different buyers have different needs, and your content should reflect that.
To start, look at demographics. Gender, age, and general motivators can tell you a lot about your audience personas.
But that’s not the most important information. Look at more qualitative details, like:
What questions are they asking?
What pain points can your content alleviate?
Based on previous behavior, what content has resonated with them in the past?
Once you have a better understanding of who your audience is, you need to find out how to best meet their needs with pillar content.
You might rely on your own experiences to determine what content has been helpful for you, and what might be applicable to your audience.
Next, head to social media. 3.96 billion people have a social media account, so it’s a great source of audience insight.
Monitor discussions and shared content to see what people are saying about your brand, your products, and your competitors.
When you understand their search intent, you can create pillar content that answers their specific questions and solves their particular problems.
2. Research Keywords
An important detail to know about your audience is the words and phrases they’re using to search for your products.
This information is helpful for pillar content for two reasons.
First, it tells you what keywords to target in your content to help boost your search engine rankings and generate brand awareness.
Second, it helps you quickly and easily link to future cluster posts that focus on those topics.
Learn from their experiences. There’s nothing wrong with pulling inspiration from what other people are doing.
Keep an eye on social media networks to see what people are saying about your competitors.
If people are sharing other companies’ pillar content, see what topics are resonating with people.
This candid information can help shape your own content strategy and lead you to create content that audiences are eager to see.
What is Pillar Content Strategy? 5 Steps to Creating Pillar Content Google is Sure to Reward
Now that you understand what it takes to create solid pillar content, how do you go about actually doing it?
You wouldn’t start out on a road trip without mapping out your journey, right?
It’s the same for crafting killer pillar content.
Before you dive in, map out a plan to guide you to your destination.
Follow these five steps to create pillar content that will resonate with your audience and appeal to search engines.
Step 1: Decide on Your Subject Matter and Cluster Content
Think about all of the topics for which you’d like to rank and be known.
Then, from those ideas, choose a topic, or head term, that receives a lot of searches each month.
The head term should be broad enough to have plenty to write about in cluster posts, but not so overarching that its content is meaningless.
A quality head term should:
Support your company’s products.
Be a term searched for by your audience.
Align with your content development efforts.
Remember, the ultimate goal of your pillar content is to convert prospects to customers.
If you’ve looked at keywords and competitors’ pages and still aren’t sure where to turn for topic ideas, there are two tools you might consider.
Google’s Keywords Everywhere Plug-In: Type keywords into the Google search bar and see their monthly search volume. For optimal results, choose phrases with a minimum of 2,500 monthly searches.
Ubersuggest: When you enter keywords into the search bar, you’ll gain insights like popular keywords, top traffic pages, links, and shares on social media.
Both of these tools can give you helpful insights and inspire ideas for effective pillar and cluster content subjects.
Once you’ve got your pillar content head term figured out, start thinking about your cluster content.
Cluster content supports your head term and helps explain subcategories within your main subject in more detail.
Cluster content is typically material you post on a weekly basis, like videos and blog posts.
You can have anywhere from a dozen to thousands of possible cluster content articles.
Their purpose is to provide readers with the most beneficial information based on what others found to be useful.
When determining potential subtopic ideas, think of terms as a question. After all, that’s how people typically search for information online.
Cluster content subtopics should also receive high monthly search volume. For best results, aim for somewhere between 10 and 400.
Side note: The great thing about pillar content is that you’re not limited to one topic.
If, as you’re writing, you see an opportunity for another subject, create separate in-depth blog posts and simply link them back to your pillar page.
This way, you’re creating more content for search engines to rank, and you’re providing even more valuable information for your readers. It’s a win-win!
Step 2: Create Killer Content
Armed with topic ideas and keyword suggestions, you’re now ready to begin crafting some really stellar content.
The beauty of pillar content is that you can either start from scratch, or you can take old blog posts, dust them off, and combine them into something new and fantastic.
However you go about it, be sure to write with SEO in mind to maximize your ranking opportunities and gain more visibility and brand awareness.
Remember, pillar content is authoritative content.
This means it’s thorough, engaging, and so useful that people are driven to save your page, read it again and again, and share it with others.
To achieve this goal, here’s a general outline to follow when building your article:
Eye-Catching Headline: This is the first impression people will have of your content. Make sure it entices them to keep reading.
Intriguing Hook: The article should begin with an interesting fact, a timely current events issue, or a catchy anecdote. Something that will resonate with readers and pique their interest to propel them deeper into your article.
Compelling Story: A well-written article can be just as fascinating as a high-quality book. Storytelling techniques can help connect you with your audience to keep their attention through the very last word.
Organized Structure: Help guide your readers’ journey with headers, images, paragraph breaks, and bullet points. Nobody wants to wade through a block of 4,000-word content.
Use Stats: Pillar content is rooted in research. Use hard facts and give them credibility with links to your resources.
Include a CTA: Every pillar content piece should drive the reader to take action. Whether it’s registering for emails or signing up for a lead magnet, tell your audience what their next steps should be.
Chances are, your first draft will not be the article you actually post.
Take a step back, assess your work, and ask yourself the following questions:
Is this comprehensive enough?
Does it meet my audience’s needs and exceed their expectations?
Is this more valuable than what my competitors are delivering?
Allow yourself several revisions. Do some copy editing. Tighten up wording. Double-check those facts.
Remember, pillar content is your opportunity to put your best foot forward.
Wow your readers with content that they can’t wait to spread around like confetti. 🎆
Need inspiration for fantastic blogs? Get our free guide here!
Step 3: Create Links Everywhere
Links are pillar content’s super power.
They allow you to literally connect the dots for your reader, providing as much useful content under one overarching topic as possible.
Any time your website references that topic, the page should direct people back to the pillar content.
It doesn’t matter if it’s old content or new, or if it’s technically beyond the pillar’s cluster subtopic.
As long as the information is relevant to the article and provides useful resources to your readers, you should link to it in the pillar content (and vice versa).
These links not only help your readers gain more insight.
They help search engines paint a clearer picture of your site’s content and its relevancy for users who are searching for those subjects.
This will boost your rankings, leading to higher visibility and increased traffic to your site.
Step 4: Shout It from the Rooftops
It can take a long time for pillar content to begin ranking on search engines.
Move the process along by promoting the heck out of your articles.
Include it in your email campaigns, on social media with Facebook ads, and as part of your prospect onboarding process.
After all, it’s invaluable information about a topic they’re interested in and is presented in a comprehensive way.
You might even consider doing some paid advertising to get the word out initially.
Once your content begins to rank, you’ll begin receiving quality traffic and free qualified leads.
A little money up-front might be worth it in the long run.
But the most obvious place to promote your pillar content is on your website itself.
Link to your content from:
Home Page: Since this is the first place people go on your site, it makes sense to promote your content here for increased visibility.
About Page: This is a frequently-visited page, so again, more people will see it.
Current Posts: Link internally within your most popular blog posts.
Sidebar: Feature a list of most-viewed posts on one of your web pages and link to your latest pillar content.
Don’t feel weird about promoting the same content over and over.
After all, this is high-quality, expert-level information you’re providing.
If you’ve done your research and followed this guide, your articles are worth being shared.
They’ll continue to provide value to your readers long after you initially post them.
The more you can get the word out about your content, the more likely you’ll increase readership exponentially and earn higher search listing placement for continued success.
But the ubiquity of Google use is just one reason why SEO is such a better investment than paid advertising. Here are four more reasons why a strong SEO strategy will outperform even the cleverest of advertising.
1. SEO is the Long-Term Game
The internet is an amazing tool, chock full of mind-blowing opportunity … but there’s a catch that a lot of people seem to still not get in 2021.
SEO is that element of time in your work. The longer you focus on producing high-quality, keyword optimized content that attracts and delights your audience, the more you’ll build a presence in the search engines. In turn, the more you’ll land in front of eyeballs as Google rewards you for your hard work.
And when I say long-term, I mean long-term. HubSpot once found that it takes about 400 blog posts before companies saw a significant spike in web traffic.
Where do most people give up?
Somewhere in the 30-40 post range. Nowhere close. 🤦
Consistent quality over time brings success. If I had my own Triangle of Success, it’d look like this:
Organic traffic is traffic to your site resulting from people finding you naturally in the search engines. This means they typed something into Google and your website came up in the results.
Organic traffic is the single most powerful means to get an audience and sales. Bright Edge found that some 53% of all web traffic comes from organic search. According to them, SEO drives 1,000% more traffic than even organic social media.
Likewise, Backlinko once found that the number one result for any Google search averages a CTR of 37.5%.
Even Google notes that the ROI of organic traffic is 5.3 times greater than that of paid advertising.
And before you tell me that SEO doesn’t really work, consider this. According to Ahrefs, 90% of all websites get no organic traffic from Google.
Is that problem with SEO … or is it with your site? 💡
Look at all of these people who are not using SEO correctly (if at all)! Source: Ahrefs
3. People Use Ad Blockers
The second big reason why SEO vs. advertising isn’t an actual argument involves the sheer percentage of your readers who are using ad blockers.
The number has steadily increased in the U.S. over the past five years, from 21% to 27%. If you’re relying on ads to power your brand’s visibility, you’re now missing out on a solid quarter of your audience.
Likewise, as privacy becomes a greater concern for internet users, whole web browsers are springing up that include ad block features. (For example, Brave’s usage stands at a minuscule 25 million users, but it’s a little different story when you consider that total users have doubled in the past year alone.)
Of course, you could force your visitors to turn off their adblockers to view your content … but do you really want to be that site?
Google results with uBlock Origin turned off…
…and Google results with uBlock Origin turned on. See the difference?
4. Everybody Uses Google
Last but not least is the fact that everyone uses Google.
In January 2021, it was found that Google comprises 92% of all web search traffic. In other words, that’s where users search when they need to search for the answer to a question. (The other 10% was a mishmash of specialized search engines.)
Sure, you could rely on Google ads, but you’re again facing the problem of ad blockers hiding your ads from viewers.
Optimizing for Google, however, makes sure that you end up directly in the path of people searching for you.
Without people feeling like you’re trying to sell them something. 🙌
Go Where Your Audience is Looking
There you have it. SEO vs. advertising isn’t even a real debate in 2021 and I’ve covered four big reasons why. From the fact that SEO is a long-term game to the reality that everyone uses Google, hopefully now you can understand just why it’s such a powerful tactic for growing your brand online.
That said, all good SEO requires good content. It’s not enough to optimize your website for the search engine. You still need to produce the best possible content that you can.
If you’ve got your hands full growing your brand, consider adding an expert writer or two to the team.
Think it’s just good content that will land you at the top of Google? Think again.
Google is always looking for ways to improve the results it delivers to searchers. So, to absolutely no one’s surprise, it’s rolling out yet another set of ranking signals that content creators and developers will need to heed.
They’re called Core Web Vitals.
This isn’t even really news. Back in November 2020, Google announced that Core Web Vitals would become ranking signals in May 2021. Since then, we’ve been slowly ticking down to the moment. ⏲️
In other words, if your page loads slowly or doesn’t respond to user actions, it’s now going to negatively affect your SERPs.
That’s a pretty big deal for content creators as well as developers.
Here’s a closer look at what Core Web Vitals are, how the evaluator guidelines are moving steadily toward an emphasis on the page experience, and what content creators can do to improve their Core Web Vitals rankings.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are specific factors Google considers important when determining the quality of the overall user experience your page provides. They consist of three metrics related to loading, interactivity, and visual stability.
You’ll see them respectively referred to with three different acronyms:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). The amount of time it takes to render the largest visible content block. In plain English, that means the time it takes for it to be obvious to your users that the page is loading.
First Input Delay (FID). The amount of time between when a user interacts with an element on your page – like clicking a link – and when that element actually responds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). The sum total of all layout that which occur unexpectedly over the lifespan of the page. Layout shifts occur when a visual element like an image or heading unexpectedly re-arranges the content around it – such as when you make a browser window larger or smaller.
In other words, Google is now interested in knowing how long your site takes to load, how quickly it responds to a user’s actions, and how well it holds its layout together in the face of different browsers, devices, or screen sizes.
Google then uses numerical measurements to rank each Core Web Vital as “good,” “needs improvement,” or “poor.” The specific thresholds are as follows:
To see how your site is performing, you can now find the metrics tracked in Google Console. Under the Enhancements section, there will be a Web Vitals Report.
The Rise of the Page Experience Ranking Signals
This shift towards page experience represents just one more way in which the internet is pivoting towards an increased emphasis on user experience (UX).
Not that users haven’t been demanding good design and good experiences for ages. In 2021, 75% of all users are basing their opinions on your brand by how easy it is for them to use your site.
Some 80% of them won’t trust you if you deliver a bad one. They’ll run. 🏃♀️
The decision to include Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal is simply a reflection of where things have been headed for a while.
But, I hear you ask, isn’t this an issue for developers? What does this have to do with us? Why do content creators need to care about Core Web Vitals? 🤔
What the Core Web Vitals Mean for Content Creators
We’ve known for a while that written content can be optimized for maximum readability. Things like giant blocks of text, illegible fonts, and badly formatted headings can negate even the most eloquently written content.
However, for a long time, those were overlooked elements with ranking. Google focused highly on content quality – i.e. the quality of the writing itself – and it used to be that those things had minimal impacts on your SERPs. You might have experienced:
Higher bounce rates
Lower time spent on site
Slower page load speeds
Google would notice those, and you’d slip down in rank. But, by and large, you could recover if your keyword usage was on point with the search intent, or if you had robust, authoritative citations.
What the Core Web Vitals now mean is that Google is evaluating your site against a set of criteria before it even receives feedback via user behavior. In other words, you now must pay attention to the user experience you’re creating when your content is created. That means things like:
Paying closer attention to how text flows
Using headings correctly
Properly formatting and coding images or embedded videos
Thoughtfully selecting your font
Putting more consideration into what your buttons say (and where they’re located!)
Whether you insert CTAs onto your page
Whether you use pop-ups to encourage newsletter signups
Core Web Vitals are just one more way that Google is encouraging us to take a holistic view when crafting content for our audience. While they’re quick to point out that good design doesn’t override exceptional content, they do expect that your content and your design complement one another.
In short, content creation is no longer about just the content itself. It’s now about the experience you’re creating with your content. ☝️
The Core Web Vitals are just one out of many signals Google uses to rank your page experience. You should be familiar with others, including mobile-friendliness and HTTPS! Source: Google
How to Improve Your Core Web Vitals (as a Content Creator!)
Google wants us to create exceptional content, but they also want it to be easy to access and use. Bringing the Core Web Vitals online as a ranking signal is expected to shake things up, so make sure you’re ready.
A study in August 2020 suggested less than 15% of all websites out there are capable of passing a Core Web Vitals assessment. 🤯
Whether or not you’re creating your own content (or having experts help you out), here are a few things you can do to improve your Core Web Vitals ahead of the May 2021 update.
1. Get Your Images (and Other Large Elements) Squared Away
It’s been a best practice for a while in content creation to include images or other visual content every 300 words. This helps to break up text and keep your readers engaged.
However, following this advice can also slow down your page load speed if you’re not careful.
So, does that mean that us diligent content creators are out of luck? 🍀
Nah. Google’s got our backs. When reading the LCP definition above, you may have noticed it’s not necessarily the total page loading speed that matters. Instead, it’s the amount of time to load the largest element – which naturally translates to “most” of the page.
A “good” LCP is less than 2.5 seconds. That means your images and other large elements are going to be what slow you down, here. The general best advice around improving both LCP and large element performance include:
Specify attribute sizes for images, videos, and similar elements. This will also lower your CLS score.
Use lazy loading for content below the fold. This allows the page to load as users scroll.
Clean up your CSS. Fewer lines and less redundant formatting will improve load times.
2. Optimize Your Fold
In web design (and content writing), the fold refers to everything that’s visible when the user first loads the page. Once they’ve started scrolling, the content they come across is called “below the fold.”
It’s one of those many terms we’ve borrowed from journalism.
Whether or not the fold is important in content has been a hot debate. Most of it has centered around the rise of long-form web content and the development of infinite scrolling.
Let’s be clear: you don’t need to use the fold on every page. However, effectively using the fold can significantly improve the overall page experience. I recommend you:
Keep elements light, fast, and consistent. Above the fold is a great place for headlines and statements that pop. It’s also a powerful place for CTAs. However, keep these elements light and fast – don’t put anything slow-loading here. That includes fancy fonts!
Preload key resources. Preloading critical assets means that the browser loads elements of the page in the background so they can display faster when the user clicks on the link. Chrome does it automatically, but you should still specify elements to preload to be sure.
Avoid adding new elements here. Make sure new content loads below the fold on all of your pages. This prevents new content from pushing existing content down (dinging your CLS).
Did you know that there are 884 fonts in Google’s font library? That’s 884 options for you to play with while you get that content onto your site. Hurray! Right?
Google Fonts is a tremendously convenient service — but be careful.
Google Fonts are pretty ubiquitous across the web, but their use can and does slow down site loading speed. That’s because the page can’t load until the code fetches the correct files from the Google Fonts server.
While Google Fonts will likely get faster, this is something you’ll want to take into consideration if you’ve got content-heavy pages. Likewise, make sure to:
Opt for browser-supported fonts or make them available as fallbacks. Browser-supported or web-safe fonts are fonts that all browsers and devices support. That means they’ll appear the same across all devices, which will lower your CLS score!
Avoid Google Fonts for content-heavy pages or sites. Even if you’re using lazy loading and leveraging your fold, you’ve still got a lot working against your CLP.
Consider preload or preconnect. A few tricks exist to help speed up the load time of Google Fonts. If you’re bent on using Google Fonts, consider one of these.
4. Audit Your Plugins
As of January 2021, 40% of the websites online were powered by WordPress. And what does WordPress encourage to add more functionality to a site?
Plugins are microservices that add specific features to your site. These typically include things like contact forms, spam filters, or other widgets that display on your page to enrich the visitor experience. Used correctly, they can tremendously improve the overall user experience.
However, they can also have impacts on your LCP and FID scores. Look for plugins…
With overlapping features. Providers like to make their plugins useful and will add new features over time. In general, it’s better to use one plugin for multiple things than multiple plugins which may all do similar things. Less code means faster LCP scores.
That are outdated. Outdated plugins will impact your user’s experience. They may not load correctly, or they may mess up your page (impacting your CLS score). It’s a good idea to do a plugin audit when you do your content audit if you’ve got plugins that are unique to specific pages or content.
An Excellent Experience Needs Expert Content
Google’s Core Web Vitals are writing on the wall… for more than just developers!
Content creators must now focus on the holistic content experience we’re creating and not just the quality of the content itself. For us, that means everything from how we structure our headers to what other rich features we’re introducing into the pages as we configure our content there.
Of course, Google notes that great design won’t cancel out bad content. An excellent user experience still needs excellent content.
If you’ve got your hands full assessing your Core Web Vitals, get an expert writer on your team to take over content creation.
My staff consists of writers from various backgrounds with different levels of expertise who are prepared to put in the research and quality work necessary to post the most up-to-date information for our readers.
With ten years and over 1,300 blog posts under our belt, we have a proven track record of developing a content marketing strategy that works.
There are three main tools I use for discovering and managing my updated blog posts:
Airtable: This collaborative software helps me keep a schedule of blog topics and posts I want to update, identifies who is working on that project, and tracks their progress in our system.
SEMrush: My monthly subscription to this tool helps me discover blog posts ranking in Google that we need to update. Ranking blogs are low-hanging fruit that are already earning you positive results. They should be the first ones you review for updating to boost ROI. SEMrush helps you identify quick wins to build more ROI through WordPress blog post updates.
WordPress Backend: After logging into your WordPress admin account, you’ll have access to the backend of your site. There you can click on an old post and choose “Edit.” Make whatever changes you’d like, then click “Update.” As long as you don’t create a new post and copy and paste from the old post, you won’t break links or lose any comments or shares.
Content writers: Already mentioned in #1, Team, but, worth another mention here. I hire my writers at Express Writers! Our expert blog writers work on all of my content. They are a huge catalyst in helping me get the task of updating old content done.
3. A Process
It takes a well-planned strategy to accurately update your old WordPress blog posts.
Watch my YouTube video to see a visual explanation of the six foundational steps to updating a WordPress blog post for more ROI.
How to Update a WordPress Blog Post for More ROI: 6 Essential Steps
1. Find the Right Content to Update (Audit Your Content)
Auditing your content is really a two-step process:
Use Semrush to identify low-hanging fruit: Not only does this tool help you identify your top three Google rankings and make those blogs consistently better. It can monitor rankings that have declined. When you see which keywords have dropped, those are posts you can optimize to regain a higher position.
Manually explore your blog posts in WordPress by date: Start with the oldest and work your way up to the most current. Remember, updates aren’t just for body text. Think about SEO title, slug, and meta information as well. This is where having a team is crucial. Whether it’s a writer or a content marketer, a human eye for content is your most critical tool and cannot be replaced.
2. Edit and Update Inaccuracies, Typos, and Wording
You need a writer to read through each article, check for any inaccuracies or wording issues, and then identify and make those corrections.
When a blog post contains errors, not only will readers not trust the information…
They also won’t trust your business, which leads to higher bounce rates and lower conversions.
Your writer should also evaluate the formatting of your post.
Is it easy to read? Are paragraph breaks in the right places? Does the layout propel your reader forward, or is it too clunky to wade through?
Updating these details can help create a more useful post that drives your ROI.
3. Check for Outdated Research, Cultural Changes, and 404 Links
Blog posts can become outdated almost as soon as they’re published.
New research findings can disprove previously cited data.
Societal shifts can change the way people discuss certain issues.
Sources you referred people to in the past may have been removed from the internet, resulting in broken links.
By updating data, writing for the present, and maintaining accurate links, Google sees that you’re providing relevant, current information and will be more likely to place you higher in their rankings.
Updating previous blog posts is an easy and impactful way to ensure you’re providing accurate information to your audience, while jumping on these opportunities.
Doing so will return huge dividends for your business.
4. Craft a New Headline
Your article’s headline is your first opportunity to pique your reader’s interest.
Make sure it’s eye-catching and entices them to read more.
It ranks your headline based on how well it appeals to your readers in intellectual, emotional, and spiritual appeal.
The higher your percentage, the more powerful the headline.
Use this number to make adjustments until you’re happy with the outcome.
5. Update the Images and Copy in Your Content
Images are a great way to engage your reader and make your content more memorable.
They help break up the monotony of text blocks, adding visual interest to your material.
Infographics are especially useful, because they take complex information and present it in a way that’s concise and easy to understand. Readers can quickly skim the data, retain the information, and share them easily with their own contacts.
Whether you go with photos, infographics, or even animated GIFs, always remember to be mindful of your website’s load speed. Optimize your images so they don’t bog down load times and keep readers twiddling their thumbs.
25% of users will only wait three seconds for a website to load before bailing out.
Don’t miss out on readers and possible conversions for the sake of a few pretty pictures.
When updating old blog posts, it’s especially important to look at these two things:
Meta title and descriptions: This is what people see about your blog on Google’s search page. It drives readers to click on your article instead of someone else’s, so the more specific your information is, the better. From keywords to geographic location, targeted language also helps Google to rank you higher. Consider using Yoast, a WordPress optimization plugin, to rewrite your meta content. It helps guide you in creating effective meta details that’ll yield great results.
Call-to-Action (CTA): This is what drives conversions. Strategically placed buttons and links should be prominent so readers are led to the next step in their journey. Wording that creates urgency (like “Subscribe today!” and “Contact us now!”) can entice people to act and convert. And that, after all, is your end game.
Consider these blog post bookends carefully when revamping old blog posts.
Make Your WordPress Blog Posts Shine
Now that you know how to update a WordPress blog post, begin building a list of articles you want to revamp, and start assigning them to your writing team.
Soon, you’ll have tons of fresh, new content that readers will love.
This not only builds your relationship with your audience.
It helps Google rank you higher in their listings and drives your ROI.
Ready to build your team? Contact us today to refresh your old WordPress blog posts for more ROI.
Over here in Texas, we just experienced a weather event affectionately nicknamed by locals the “Texas snow-pocalypse,” otherwise known as Winter Storm Uri.
It shook up our state, and left millions without power. Thankfully, we all survived, and now we’re super grateful for the simple things, like a light switch that turns on the light. (First world gratitude!) And de-iced roads. And now that we’re post-event, we can laugh at memes that were all too real for Texans this February, like “What if 2020 is just a trailer of 2021?”
Jokes aside, I’m constantly thankful we run a global, work-from-home team at Express Writers. Most of our talent is in the United States, but we believe talent doesn’t just reside here in the U.S. We believe it’s worldwide. And that’s why our team includes a European writer, and an African copy editor. (Both of whom are amazing at what they do.)
When the power was out in Texas, our team around the world was still working, lights on.
That’s a good thing, because we’re getting ready for 2021 to be an incredible year for our clientele — the top marketers and agencies we serve.
Google searches surged to double over one month last year. From 3.6 billion searches per day, to more than 6.8 billion, a number which still holds strong today.
Here’s a lowdown on what we’re up to this year, and how we plan to make this a great year for YOU, our client.
What’s New at Express Writers — Tied Into Decade-Strong Values
This May, we turn 10 years old.
Our business was started way back in 2011, when I was a new content writer forging my path on the internet.
Like a team of Avengers, but content writers that cared enough to create better content than the average crap posted by the majority of marketers back then on the web.
This would be the skill I would sell our clients at Express Writers.
Boy, little did I know just how badly marketers needed this skill set.
We’ve done it, and we’re continuing to do it.
I’m a big fan of Jim Collins (BHAG, Good to Great, Built to Last). What he documented and witnessed in top corporations that withstood the tests of time revolved around something quite simple.
That simple thing was a core set of values that allowed the corporation to breathe, thrive, evolve, but never change on core beliefs.
He said oftentimes those core values could be counted on one hand.
We have a set of values that hold strong and firm. From there, we pivot and build and launch new offerings, new solutions, hire new writers, on the regular. In fact, you could say something new happens at Express Writers every day, and you wouldn’t be wrong.
For example, when a client in a specialized industry needs ad copy, and we don’t have the writer yet — we go and headhunt. Hire. Train. We actively pivot to solve content writing problems that our clients have. I lead that initiative, and we never stop — the Content Manager and I put our heads together on reviewing new samples from writers all the time. It takes time, energy, and effort, but it’s what we love doing. Content is our world. And that world is evolving, constantly. If we aren’t ready to meet that evolution, we’ll quickly fall by the wayside. (I firmly believe that.)
Our entire set of services in the Content Shop was born from direct clientele needs. What our clients needed, we produced as a solution. I’ve built internal training for everything we offer, that equips the rare talented writer we do find and hire to learn how to write for all the formats we offer. (Today, at The Content Hacker™, I teach students and now take my training outside just our team. Because everyone in marketing should know how to do content well.)
And offering all of this as a done-for-you service has worked extraordinarily well.
Here are the four biggest updates for us so far in 2021.
1. New Industry-Specialized Writers
Last month (January), we brought in fifteen new writers in these industries:
Marketing (Digital/Social/Content) & Advertising
Health & Medicine/Medical Industries
Law & Legal
This month, we brought in another fifteen in the same industries, to serve as additional writers due to the demand we’re experiencing. We’re also training several of these new hires how to be what we call “all-industry” writers, writers with the ability to deep research and write on industries that are still deep and complicated but not quite law, tech, or finance (which we’ve found requires specific industry experience).
That’s a total of thirty new writers in less than two months! And don’t worry, our old writing team is here and staying strong. You can still request previous writers and receive them. In fact, many of them rely on your repeat client orders for consistent work and income. A big thank you to our repeat clients! ❤️
2. New & Updated Services: Meta Add-On Cost Lowered, Infographics Added
As of early February, our meta description and title writing cost has dropped to $10 instead of $20. The higher price didn’t make sense, if clients were able to order it as an add-on (we originally had it as $20 to protect our team from writing a $10 meta description as a one-off, standalone order — believe it or not, it was happening). Now that we have it as an add-on to our blog and web services in the recently-launched Content Shop, it made sense to drop the price.
Interestingly enough, infographics are making a comeback. (Perhaps it’s better said they never died out… but, they have been increasing in popularity.)
In 2020, more than half (67%) of B2B marketers published original infographics to build their brand. The simple element of adding custom colors into a design that incorporates targeted copy — can increase audience attention span by 82% (ResearchGate).
On our own Write Blog, we design quite a few infographics, and see them consistently rise to the most-linked to posts on our site. With infographic-savvy marketing writers (we’ve written internal training just on how to write infographics), and high-quality Adobe-friendly designers, we now offer full-service infographic creation from start to finish for our white-label agencies and B2C marketers/brands.
3. Client Account UX Issues & Notification Bugs Are Being Solved
We’ve been putting quite a bit of time and investment into having our developer improve minor UX areas in our client account area (shoutout to Julian Espinosa and Justin Staples for thoughtful client feedback that we are putting to good use!). We’ve made the project “Chat” buttons much more noticeable (previously, they were just little bubbles), and added more colors to CTAs and buttons that are important to our clients and their actions around the projects they order.
We’re also currently still fixing issues that came up post-launch around notifications. We are aware of notification issues, and our developer is working on it actively with us.
While we’re solving all the bugs, we recommend that you proactively log into your account once a day to check the Project Chat, which will show a new in-account notification, and your Project Details status, which goes from Pending to Assigned and/or Delivered, depending on progress.
You can also use the green chat widget on our site, powered by Drift, to start a chat with our friendly Client Specialists anytime. Please also use our chat widget or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us if you’re experiencing notification issues. Project update notifications should be hitting your account email regularly, but some clients have reported that this wasn’t happening. We’ve been, and are, proactively fixing it.
4. Exact-Math Word Count & Cost in the Content Shop Now Updated on Every Writing Service
We made another big change this February, which came directly from client pain points we’d heard from a while.
Our exact-math word count choices, which now replace word count ranges on every service in the Content Shop, were built as a direct answer to this question:
Client pain point solved: “Why doesn’t your 19 cents per word cost actually calculate on the 900-1,000 word range? And what of those two word counts am I actually getting, when I order?”
Woot! Now, you’ll see a word amount you can buy, and the math on our word count ranges works out to be exact-math. No more guessing what we’re charging for, or what you’re getting. 19 cents per word on expert content, for example, exactly equals to the cost of any range on that service.
(Wondering what the 19 cents includes? More here: How it Works)
Previous word “ranges:”
Current word count choices, which are more upfront on what you’re getting:
This solves questions we kept getting in two areas:
Writer questions: what range is preferable to the client?
Client questions: what word count am I actually getting?
For example, now when you order 500 words, you’re guaranteed that as a minimum. So, it’s much simpler now to know what you’re ordering when you order our word count ranges. 🎉
Are You Our Partner Yet?
We believe that 2021 more than ever will be the year of the content marketer.
The year our clients — YOU! — need us the most.
If you’ve been thinking about content…
Now is the time.
In 2020, search traffic rose by 3.6 billion searches/day to 6.9 billion/day — still holding steady!
Publishing quality, strategic content generates 67% more leads than not publishing any content.