Pillar Articles, Pillar Pages, Cornerstone Content – you may have heard of at least one of these terms, but what is all the fuss about?
We have looked into the reasons why long-form content (in its many names and guises) has become so popular in recent times.
In the past (before Google Panda and Hummingbird changed the SEO landscape) keyword stuffed, heavily-optimised articles could rank highly on the search engine results’ pages. If you use outdated tactics like this today, you risk ruining your business.
When Google’s Panda algorithm update went live in 2011, it decimated the search rankings of many websites that published low quality content. In 2013, Google announced Hummingbird, which ushered in a new era of conversational search and Latent Semantic Indexing.
What is Latent Semantic Indexing?
Have you ever noticed how a page can rank highly in Google search results’ pages, without even mentioning the term it ranks for in its content? Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a method employed by Google to analyse relationships between different words and topics, to serve more accurate search results.
It is now possible with LSI to discuss enough relevant words and phrases related to a specific keyword in your content, without including the keyword itself, in order to be seen by Google as relevant for a search term.
While this is all great to know, for terms with any sort of competition, including relevant terms won’t be enough to rank. External and internal links still have a huge influence on your search engine rankings and will do for the foreseeable future.
While we won’t be discussing inbound links, adding outbound links to relevant authoritative sources has been shown to have a positive effect on search engine rankings.
User experience has now become a fundamental part of Google’s machine learning algorithms. Factors like bounce rate, time on page, number of pages visited etc. all influence your page’s (and site’s) ability to rank highly on the search results’ pages.
This particularly affects pages that are already ranking on the first page of Google results because of their other merits, such as site authority and linking. If your page isn’t engaging, you’ll quickly notice a decrease in initial rankings.
What does this have to do with long-form content?
These insights into the power of using LSI keywords, strategic linking and a good user experience (UX) go a long way towards explaining why long-form content (be they Pillar Articles, Pillar Pages or Cornerstone Content) have become so popular.
Why does long-form content work?
High-quality, inter-linked, long-form content can often be seen ranking on the first page of Google search results because it appeals to visitors and Google’s modern algorithms.
A well-written, long-form (rather than short-form) article will naturally increase the time a visitor spends on your website. According to Wikipedia, a person’s reading speed (for comprehension) ranges from around 200 to 400 words per minute. On this basis alone, the benefits of creating long-form content for your legal firm are obvious.
Some would go as far as saying that the elements discussed above are the natural consequences of creating a well-thought-out piece of content. If you have researched a topic thoroughly, it can be argued that your content should naturally contain LSI keywords and improve user experience (bounce rate, time on page, number of pages viewed etc.). These are fair points and go a long way to explaining why longer content pieces have become popular.
Different types of long-form content
HubSpot users will probably be aware of their ‘Pillar Page’ concept. This involves creating long-form articles, giving an overview of a large topic and then linking out to your shorter articles that provide more detail. This then provides opportunities to also link back to the large Pillar Page, where appropriate, in the shorter articles.
HubSpot’s idea is very similar to the very broad ‘Pillar Article’ concept. The difference being that Pillar Articles are often created as extremely detailed, stand-alone, long-form pieces full of LSI keywords and phrases, as well as being optimised for specific keyword phrases and variations. There is much crossover between the two concepts. Many would say they use the same principle.
Users of Yoast’s SEO plugin may be aware of their ‘Cornerstone Content’ option. This again is a similar concept to that of the Pillar Article or Pillar Page – with Yoast’s own branding of course! If you select this option when optimising content using Yoast, the plugin will suggest linking to this Cornerstone Content more regularly than ‘normal’ content.
Whatever name you give to the specific type of long-form content, rest assured they all help to do much the same things. They can help optimise your key pages so they rank for a range of terms related to a topic. They can improve user experience and in turn, your search results position.
Should my firm invest in long-form content creation?
The simple answer is yes! If nothing else, long-form content helps to establish you as an authority on an issue. It enables you to link to your other relevant content and to establish trust.
Using well-crafted, long-form content can improve your website’s rankings and is more likely to attract valuable links from respected sources.
Why let Solve Legal Marketing create your content?
At Solve Legal Marketing we are experts in creating engaging content. As publishers of the respected industry news websites Today’s Conveyancer and Today’s Wills & Probate, our legal content writing experts are perfectly positioned to produce long-form, inter-linked content for your organisation or company.