What is content planning?

Imagine two different people have identical blogs. They both target the same keywords and they both decide to write an article optimized for it. They both build identical links.

But one of them ranks for more sets of keywords, pulls in more long-tail traffic, and gets 5x more traffic than the other.

How is this possible?

In the next few lessons, Iʼm going to go over one of the most important strategies in this course.

Theyʼre called Pillar Keywords, and Pillar Posts.

Theyʼre the essential components that form the difference between a site that gets thousands of visitors per month – and a site that gets hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors per month.

Itʼs a SEO tactic that I use that allows my pages to generate tons more traffic than any of my competitors.

The best part is: everything is strategically planned. Nothing happens by accident.

It doesnʼt matter if you have a blog, business website, niche site, or ecommerce site. By incorporating Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts into your content strategy, you can significantly magnify your traffic.

Whatʼs the difference between Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts?

Pillar Keywords happen during your keyword research phase.

Itʼs essentially a keyword research strategy.

Pillar Posts are the actual articles that you create using your Pillar Keywords.     

This might sound a little confusing now but bear with me. Itʼll all make sense in a minute when I go through them both.

What is a Pillar Keyword?

Essentially, it’s the process of intentionally ranking for every variation of your keyword through proper planning.

This is one of the biggest areas where I do things differently with my blog building and SEO.

I remember when I started my first blog, I learned from really well-known bloggers in the space.

One of the times I had my “aha” moment was when even they were surprised by how they started ranking for things they never even targeted.

Their main keyword jumped to the first page, and they would say, “What’s interesting is that I’m also ranking for X, Y, and Z and I wasn’t even targeting them.”

They ranked for these terms by accident.

By targeting a major keyword, creating a high-quality resource around it, and building a bunch of good links, they got to #1 for their main keyword.

However, because it was a high-quality resource with a lot of good links, they started ranking for other keywords. By having some of the words in their title, headings, URL, or body of the post, they were targeting them without even knowing it.

And they probably could have done it for even more keywords had they done the appropriate research.

That’s what Pillar Keyword setup is.

Even today, people are taught to target a single keyword and build their

page around it. They ignore the fact that if they build up enough authority to the page to rank for their keyword, they probably could have ranked for a handful of others in the process if they just targeted them in some way.

A powerful strategy of content posting.

After seeing that, I started experimenting with it.

And now… it’s a MAJOR part of my blogging and SEO strategy. In fact, I would NEVER create a blog where I donʼt use Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts as my main content strategy.

It literally multiplies your overall traffic potential with the same amount of work.

This is the reason my main blog jumped up in traffic all of a sudden.

Gaining enough authority that your site jumps to #1 for the biggest keyword is a big boost in traffic. If you’re targeting pretty much every keyword with that post, they’ll all rise to the first page and the traffic boost is ENORMOUS.

Your page will get so much more traffic without having had to do any extra work for it.

It’s all just a result of smart planning.And Iʼm going to show you exactly how itʼs done.

Here’s how to create your pillar keywords

I’m going to use Potty Training for this example again because there are a lot of keywords I can work with to illustrate the steps.

I’ll go step-by-step through this because this process is very important for you to learn.

If you master this strategy, your blogs will grow to a whole different level than it used to.

Traffic is multiple times greater in the long run than if you did the same amount of work without utilizing this strategy, so make sure you read through it and understand it entirely.

It all starts during your keyword research phase.

If you remember just a minute ago, we inputted some seed keywords into the Keyword Planner.

First, let’s take a look at the keywords brought back from Google’s Keyword Planner.

So here’s the first page of results. Just to note again: If you don’t have a paid Google Adwords account, you won’t be able to use Google’s Keyword Planner. Use Ahref instead to get the same results.

Below are the seed keywords that we searched for.

And here are some of the suggestions that Google Keyword Planner brought back.
There are 800 results in total, and I can’t post them all here so I’ll do my best to forge an example with what’s on the first page.

It should be more than enough. Iʼll usually only go through 3 to 5 pages.

So let’s go ahead and start forming our first Pillar Keyword.

Organize the list

First, I’ll take the biggest keyword I want to target and list out all the relevant keywords that are DIRECTLY related to it.

What do I mean by this?

I’ll list all the keywords that are related to each other where ranking for one of them will pretty much mean I can rank for the others.

They’re just worded slightly differently.

For example, tips for potty training, potty training, and how to start potty training all fall under the same topic.

They ALL mean the same thing. Remember when we learned about search intent?

They all have the same search intent. Anyone who searches for any of those keywords are ALL looking for the same information.

The only difference is the wording.

Each individual keyword gets a good amount of searches per month.

Things from the list that arenʼt related are: potty training pants and potty training toilet seat.

They fall under the same topic of potty training, but they donʼt have the same meaning. Someone who types in potty training pants isnʼt looking for a tutorial on how to potty train their child. They’re looking to buy pants.

So here’s the organized list of all keywords directly related to “potty training”.

potty training – 74,000
potty training tips – 14,800
how to potty train – 8,100
tips for potty training – 880
tips on potty training – 720
how to start potty training – 2,400
when to start potty training – 8,100
when to potty train – 3,600
potty training boys – 18,100
potty training tips for boys – 2,900
potty training girls – 9,900
potty training tips for girls 1,600
potty training for boys – 1,600
tips for potty training girls – 720
tips for potty training boys – 390
how to potty train a boy – 9,900
how to potty train a girl – 6,600
toddler potty training – 720
potty training toddlers – 480
baby potty training – 1,000

All of these keywords are related searches that have the same MEANING:

tips about potty training. Everything else from the list that means something else, I didnʼt add it in.

We can target all of these through a SINGLE PAGE, and that’s 166,510 searches per month. That’s just calculating using the keywords presented on the first page.

If we were to add up every little keyword, it would get closer to 200,000 searches per month.

REMEMBER: This is only counting the keywords listed in Google’s

Keyword Planner. It’s not considering ANY long tail traffic, so the actual traffic numbers will be MUCH higher.

The long-tail traffic I’m talking about are people who will search random queries related to our keyword like “I have a baby boy and I want to start potty training him how”.

Results of using this strategy.

People today are trained to look at that list and choose one keyword.

Maybe they’ll choose a keyword based around potty training girls. It’s a good keyword that gets around 20,000 searches per month if you add up all the variables.

But look at what we did here. By taking the biggest keywords and combining them together, we put our page in a position to rank for ALL OF THEM instead of just one of them.

This magnifies the results of your link building efforts.

Instead of… “Hey Iʼm finally ranking #1 for my keyword. Thatʼs a pleasant bump in traffic.”

Itʼs more like… “OMG Iʼm ranking for EVERYTHING. Iʼve become the authority for this topic no matter how you input your search query, and my traffic just exploded to a whole new level.”

And thatʼs not an exaggeration. Thatʼs literally the difference Iʼve experienced between sites where Iʼve used Pillar Keywords and sites where I didnʼt.

In addition, our page is going to so much more jam-packed with information and provide value to our readers. It’s a monster and we’ll learn how to create content for these types of post in the next lesson in what I like to call Pillar Posts. Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts are the pillars of my blogging strategy – hence the name.

This is what I mean when I say the biggest blogs don’t rely on single keywords to determine their success. I say that a lot, and people always look at me with confused looks.

Even if it takes a long time to rank #1 for a competitive keyword like “potty training” this article will bring in a TON of long-tail traffic long before you even reach the first page.

Remember, we’re creating a valuable long-term authority blog. It may not rank for all of these right away, but as we continue to build out our blogs out and do proper link building, it will.

And when it does, it will be more traffic than you’ve ever seen from any of your older blogs.

Formatting the meta around our Pillar Keywords

Youʼre probably wondering…How do we even target all of them? Are we mentioning them in our content? Are we creating a massive 100 word title?!

It starts with the title and description elements.

Title tags and descriptions are often used on search engine results pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page, and are important both for SEO and social sharing.

Title tags are one of the most crucial components of SEO and are given a lot of weight by Google in terms of how you rank, and for which keywords you rank for.

Now let’s learn how to create one with the Pillar Keyword strategy!

Writing Our Title and Description for this Monster Post

So now comes the part of smartly targeting all of these keywords so that… ranking for one of them = ranking for all of them.

What we’re trying to do is make sure that we’re targeting every single one of those keywords in the list we made within our site’s Title and Description.

Again, here is the list of keywords we had selected earlier.
potty training – 74,000
potty training tips – 14,800
how to potty train – 8,100
tips for potty training – 880
tips on potty training – 720
how to start potty training – 2,400
when to start potty training – 8,100
when to potty train – 3,600
potty training boys – 18,100
potty training tips for boys – 2,900
potty training girls – 9,900
potty training tips for girls 1,600
potty training for boys – 1,600
tips for potty training girls – 720
tips for potty training boys – 390
how to potty train a boy – 9,900
how to potty train a girl – 6,600
toddler potty training – 720
potty training toddlers – 480
baby potty training – 1,000

Try and find one keyword from our list where that title isn’t relevant.

Theyʼre all targeted in one way or another.

This is easier than it might look. All it takes is some creativity and a bit of practice.

You’ll have to play around with the title and descriptions a bit to get it just right.           

I’m pretty happy with this one.

IMPORTANT: Donʼt make this mistake

A lot of people are mistaking pillar keywords and pillar posts as something where you stuff every keyword into the article.

Each Pillar Keyword and Pillar Post must be its own specific topic, and all the keywords you target should have the same meaning as each other.

Letʼs move onto Pillar Posts

So now you saw how I do keyword research for my biggest keywords.

They’re the only ones I pay this much attention to because they’re the ones that have the ability to drive substantial amounts of traffic to our site.

I normally try to create at least 2-3 of these Pillar Posts at the start of a blog.

Meaning… when I start a new blog, Iʼll always start things off by crafting 2 or 3 Pillar Keywords and then creating the Pillar Posts for them.

Only 2 or 3?!

Yes. As you can see, we’re targeting a large number of keywords here. And the MINIMUM total search volume Iʼm looking for out of these Pillar Keywords is 50,000.

2 or 3 pieces of content might seem like a really small number, but in reality, theyʼre targeting hundreds of thousands in search volume.

The content for these types of posts also takes a long time to put together (which we’ll get into next).

2 to 3 is enough for the beginning. You can do more if you prefer, but I like to add in smaller posts (what I like to call inner pages and will be discussed later) targeting long-tail keywords after I get just 2 to 3 of these published.

Follow along

During your keyword research stage, put together 2 of these posts first. We’re not going to write the content just yet.

Just do what I did above. List out the related keywords and try to target all of them within your site’s title and description.

Formatting Your Pillar Posts

These are the top 5 things I make sure to have in each of my Pillar Posts:

1.It must be over 2,000 words long

Long-form articles above 2,000 words do very well in Google, and theyʼve been proven to get more links and a higher number of social shares.

But I donʼt just try and fill up the word-count.

If you read my next couple of points, youʼll find itʼs near impossible to create Pillar Posts that arenʼt at least 2,000 words.

2.Each sub-topic must be in-depth

A single paragraph isnʼt enough. Obviously, some sub-topics will inevitably be shorter than others simply due to the scope of the topic.

What I mean is… donʼt just slack off and think a few sentences of explanation are enough.

Really dive into the points and use examples whenever you can to illustrate your point.

For example, letʼs say that I was writing the Pillar Post for my potty training Pillar Keyword, and I had a subtopic titled, “Differences between potty training a boy and a girl”.

I would dive deeply into it. I would not only list all the differences but explain why using sources.

Which brings me to my next criteria…

3.Sources must be used and linked to fromwithin the article

People still feel icky about linking out to external sites. I love linking out to credible sites that support what I say, or where people can get more information from.

On the contrary, I love reading articles with a bunch of sources, and external links where I can read more.

No, you wonʼt lose “link juice” just because you link out to helpful articles. In my opinion, it helps your rankings by linking out.

Linking out to sources adds more credibility to your own articles, and people feel more comfortable trusting the things you state.

I still cringe when I see people trying to rank articles with zero links besides a single Wikipedia link at the end.

Donʼt just randomly link out to Wikipedia.

That seems to be a common trend.

“Oh, linking out to credible sources help my rankings? Letʼs see if thereʼs a Wikipedia article I can link to…”

Instead, link to other articles that youʼve used for your research.

A good way to do this is:

Letʼs pretend that to research my points for my articleʼs subtopic, “the differences between potty training a boy and girl” I typed that into Google to find some more information about it.

If I see some good information about it, Iʼm going to link to it.

If I see something that could help my readers, Iʼm going to link to it.

For instance, check out this Forbes guide on SEO. Itʼs got links everywhere. They link within their content, which is a great way to link out to sources.

Itʼs under the articleʼs subtopic of “Keyword Research”.

Itʼs not at the end of the article, itʼs at the end of the subtopic. Great organization.

Those arenʼt links to their own pages. Theyʼre external links to articles written by authorities.

If I were interested in learning more, I would love seeing that! And I would immediately credit Forbesʼ article for doing the research for me and showing me a credible resource where I could learn more.

Things like this are awesome, and what you should be doing for your own Pillar Posts.

4.    Use helpful/relevant images

Images arenʼt absolutely necessary, and there are a lot of articles that rank well without any.

But I always prefer using images for my Pillar Posts. Itʼs good practice for SEO and it makes for a lot better user experience.

My favorite places you can get images for free:



Please make sure to read these websites’ terms (check their “License” page) before using any image. At the time I’m writing this, no credit required to be given for using images from any of these two sites. Just find one you like, and add it to your post.

5. Have a clean design, but more importantly: clean formatting

Now this one isnʼt something thatʼs absolutely important either. But if youʼre going to spend all this time and effort on creating something awesome, it helps a TON if you make it look awesome as well.

People, myself included, discredit sites with poor design. Itʼs just the way people are programmed.

This doesnʼt mean that you have to be a professional designer with fancy graphics or anything.

Just go clean and simple.

The important thing to take away from this is to format your Pillar Posts very cleanly.

Make sure your header tags stand out, and not everything is mushed together and hard to read.

Paying just a little bit of attention to making your formatting clean is a small thing you can do that has a great effect.

Wikipedia style formatting

This is a feature that I like to include in my Pillar Posts.

How many times have you searched for something on Google where you would type in what you’re looking for, and “wiki” to find the Wikipedia page?

For me, it’s a lot. Whenever I need to look up information, I find myself searching directly for the wiki.

Why? Because I know Wikipedia’s style of writing and page formatting. It tells me everything I need to know (most of the time) and it covers every important subtopic about it (very in-depth).

Plus, it’s perfectly organized.

As a result, it’s the format I love to create with my own Pillar Posts.

As you’ve seen from our keyword research, a Pillar Post will target the

biggest keywords, and it will target a lot of them at the same time. So our article has to cover those topics extremely in-depth.

The Wikipedia model is the perfect way to format and organize that content.

For more information on how to do on-page SEO like Wikipedia, check out this blog post (that Chris Lee wrote) a while back in the RankXL blog.

Table of Contents with in-page links

Pillar Posts can get very long. For me, it’s always over 2,000 words long, and sometimes much longer depending on the topic.

One of my favorite ways to organize the content on the page is to use a table of contents with in-page links.

It’s one of the best ways to set up your page architecture for easy accessibility to your subtopics.

You can even link to it from an external and it will take you straight to that section.

How to set up in-page links

This requires some basic HTML.

I’ll use the example from Wikipediaʼs page to show you how that one was set up.

The link is set up by using the name tag.

<a name=”seo-marketing-strategy”></a>    

Then, from your table of contents, you add your link, and link it like this: <a href=”#seo-marketing-strategy”>As a marketing strategy</a>    

Clicking on that link would then take you straight to your section.

Creating this type of format isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s a great way to set them up.

Further Clarifications Of Pillar Posts

Pillar Posts are an extremely important part of our strategy. Therefore, I wanted to create another lesson here where I go over some common questions, misconceptions, and examples.

First, some examples.

When most people learn about Pillar Posts, they immediately assume that they MUST build a 10,000-word resource – an ultimate guide type of article.

This is not the case.

Pillar Posts can take many forms.

What type of content you want to create is up to you.

Letʼs go through different examples.

STYLE #1: The Ultimate Guide

Ultimate guides are called ultimate for a reason. Theyʼre the most thorough type of content on the web. Theyʼre usually above 5,000 words long, and can sometimes get up above 20,000+ words long.

These are custom designed pages on your site. They arenʼt your standard blog post.

The custom design is optional, but it goes a long way in making the ultimate guide feel more special – which usually leads to more links and social shares.

Hereʼs an example:

IWTʼs ultimate guide to personal finance

Link: https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/guides/ultimate-guide-topersonal-finance/part-0/

Ramit Sethi also has been producing a lot of ultimate guide style posts. His posts are beautifully designed with custom design work as well.

If you Google both of these guides, youʼll see that Ramit ranks for in the top 3 for most of the major keywords he’s targeting with these guides.

And they deserve to!

STYLE #2: The Standard Blog Post

A Pillar Post can be a standard blog post.

And the best example of that is on Neil Patelʼs blog.

Link: https://neilpatel.com/what-is-digital-marketing/

If you read through it, youʼll notice that itʼs just a standard blog article format. Itʼs not an ultimate guide, and it doesnʼt have any special custom design.

Heʼs created these pillar posts for all the major topics in internetmarketing. And he links to them from within his blog posts, and in his sidebar:

Thoughts about the 2 different styles

For most of you, the standard blog post format is going to be the option of choice.

Itʼs a lot easier to plan and implement. An ultimate guide takes a very long time to plan and create.

Which one do I prefer?

For me, I prefer to do the standard blog post style for articles under 4000 words and go for an ultimate guide style when itʼs nearing 10,000 words long.

For example, this post was over 10,000 words long, so I decided to give it a little different design for better organization and readability.

Some more examples from around the web

If you need to see a clear example of a Pillar Post, check out these articles by Wikipedia: SEO, tennis, self-defense.

Think about it… Wikipedia stands strong through any Google spam/content quality update. Theyʼre doing things right and always were.

Here are some more examples from other websites.

A few examples of great articles are WPBeginner, CoDrops, and AcquireConvert.

A few examples of massive ultimate guides are QuickSprout, and Moz.

Misconceptions about Pillar Posts

The most common mistake is that people try to include too many different topics into their pillar posts just for the sake of making them “thorough”.

Thatʼs not the correct way to do them.

Each Pillar Keyword and Pillar Post   must be around its own specific

topic. Each new Pillar Post should be based on a different topic/subject.

For clarification, have a look at Neil Patelʼs set of Pillar Posts on his blog:


Each one targets a different topic, like this:


Remember this:

When someone searches for your keyword, theyʼre looking for an answer. The mission of your article is to answer somebodyʼs question completely, and give the best answer in Google.

Adding in irrelevant sub-topics into the article just for the sake of making them longer, or because you think thatʼs the way itʼs supposed to be done, is incorrect.

Use your common sense, and ask yourself if your article is laser-focused on your topic and answers the readerʼs question thoroughly and completely.

Coming next

We went through every step of the process that I go through before a site launch (which just means going live with the site). From niche selection to keyword & competition research to creating our Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts. 

When I launch my sites, I do so with my 2 to 3 Pillar Posts. That’s it. Just 2 or 3 pages of content. Once I do my keyword research, put together my Pillar Keywords, and create my Pillar Posts for them, I launch the site. Nobody’s going to visit your site at this stage. It’s not even going to be indexed in Google. We’ll get to those steps later.

But not everything is complete yet.

Before we’re ready to research, and launch a new site, we need to go over the next module of this course.

How does a Pillar Post get structure into a site so that backlinking efforts are maximized? What is the best way to structure an authority site? How do you plan for growth? What is growth in a niche site?

There are a few key things you have to do for authority blogs that are very different from launching a small blog

These are all things that I’ll be teaching you in the next module, including some pretty neat on-page SEO tricks I like to use.

So when you’re ready, let’s move over to the first lesson of the next module.


Note: Iʼll keep adding to this FAQ as I get more questions on the private Facebook group so if you have any questions, post it on the group.

I canʼt seem to find any high search volume keywords for my niche. What should I do?

When I really canʼt find ANY, then Iʼll move onto another niche to research. Theyʼre not worth pursuing.

UNLESS – the niche is filled with a ton of low competition keywords that get 1000-5000 searches per month.

Even if you become the #1 site in the niche, your traffic and growth potential will be limited. You want your hard work to pay off with floods of traffic, not just a small handful of traffic.

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