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How to Write a Great Email Signature [+ Professional Examples]

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How to Write a Great Email Signature [+ Professional Examples]

Around the globe, more than 300 emails are sent and received each day, on average. That’s 300 opportunities to market yourself and your business in those individual emails you send.

A lot of people treat their email signatures like an afterthought, which is a big missed opportunity. Those signatures are a chance for you to make it clear who you are, make it easy for people to reach you, and give people a place to go to find out more — either about you, about your business, or about something you’re working on.

So, if you’re just putting your name and a point or two of contact information in your signature, you’re not taking full advantage of the opportunity to connect and engage with the people you’re emailing. So what exactly should go in your signature?

1. First and Last Name

Just like with snail mail correspondence, your name should always be included so that the recipient of your message knows who it was from. This manifests in the email signature, often as the first line of text.

2. Affiliation Info (Such as Job Title and Department)

Closely following your name should be your affiliation information. Your affiliations could include your job title, your company or organization, and/or even your department. Your name should eventually be its own draw, of course, as you build a relationship with the recipient, but providing this information provides more context about the conversation and your role in it.

In addition, affiliating yourself with a larger organization lends you more credibility, especially if it’s a recognizable organization. This helps you get the attention of your readers so they take your message seriously.

3. Secondary Contact Information

Secondary contact information is important, too, so that the recipient knows how else to contact you. Secondary information might include phone, fax, or any other method of communication you want to emphasize. In situations where you don’t want to cough up your direct line, you could take this opportunity to promote your personal website — a passive way to open the lines of communication without flooding yourself with outreach if you don’t want it.

4. Social Profile Icons

Your social media presence is a major part of your personal brand because it helps you gain a following in your space and shows people what you care about. You can tell a lot about a person by what they post and how they portray themselves.

That’s why it’s a great idea to include links to your social media pages in your email signature. It not only reinforces your personal brand, but it also helps people find new ways to contact and follow you.

Even better? It can help drive traffic to your online content if you’re posting links to that content on social media. So if you do include social icons in your signature, make sure you’re keeping your social profiles up-to-date and chock full of interesting, relevant content. (In other words, if you haven’t tweeted in six months, you may want to leave Twitter out.)

Why use social media icons instead of simply text links? Because icons are more easily recognizable for folks skimming your signature — and they’ll stand out from the rest of the text in there. According to research from NeoMam Studios, visuals shown in color increase a person’s willingness to read the rest of the content by 80%. That’s a huge advantage. Plus, icons are big space-savers in a place where you might be packing a lot of information.

Even if you have a presence on a lot of social media sites, though, try to cap the number of icons to five or six. Focus on the accounts that matter most to growing your business or building your personal brand.

If you do include a lot of social media icons, at least try to cut back on the other content if possible so your design isn’t too busy. Check out the example below, made using HubSpot’s Email Signature Generator.

What to include in an email signature: social profile icons

5. Call to Action

One of the smartest things you can do in your email signature is include a call-to-action. The best email signature CTAs are simple, up-to-date, non-pushy, and in line with your email style, making them appear more like post-script, and less like a sales pitch. Choose a CTA that aligns with one of your current business goals, and update it when those goals change. Here’s an example of a HubSpotter’s email signature that includes a CTA for the HubSpot Podcast Network:HubSpot Podcast Network CTA in a Professional Email Signature

6. Booking Links

If you find yourself emailing back and forth with colleagues and clients who want to book meetings with you, make it easy for them by including a link to book your calendar right in your email signature. Here’s an example from our own Bryan Lowry, below.

There are many tools out there that’ll help people book appointments. Bryan from the example above uses HubSpot’s shareable personalized booking link. If you’re a HubSpot Sales customer, you can share your personalized meeting link with anyone who you want to book a meeting with and let them choose from your available times. If you want, you can make it so the HubSpot CRM automatically creates a new contact record for anyone who books a meeting if one doesn’t already exist.

If you aren’t a HubSpot customer, one great meeting tool is Calendly, which is free for Basic and lets you integrate your Google or Office 365 calendar. If you’re looking for a Calendly alternative, YouCanBook.me is another booking tool that goes for $7 per calendar per month.

7. Industry Disclaimer or Legal Requirements

Some industries such as legal, financial, and insurance have specific guidelines on email usage and etiquette to protect private information from being transmitted. For this reason, you may want to look into what regulations your industry has in place and include a disclaimer in your signature about email transmissions. Mail-Signatures offers a number of email disclaimer examples, including this one:

“The content of this email is confidential and intended for the recipient specified in the message only. It is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message with any third party, without a written consent of the sender. If you received this message by mistake, please reply to this message and follow with its deletion, so that we can ensure such a mistake does not occur in the future.”

8. Photo or Logo

An image is a great choice to spice up your email signature. If you want a personal touch so that recipients you’ve never met can associate your name with your face, consider using a professional photo in your signature. Alternatively, you can use the company’s logo to add more brand awareness to the email.

9. Pronouns

While not as common in email signatures and certainly not required, adding your preferred pronouns to your signature is helpful, especially when emailing individuals you’ve never met. It also takes ambiguity away if you have a name perceived as gender-neutral.

Now that you know the elements you should include, what does a great email signature look like? Here are some tips for creating signatures that are helpful and professional, including a few great examples.

1. Emphasize your name, affiliation, and secondary contact information.

As you might guess, your name comes first. Closely following your name, however, should be your affiliation and where else people can reach you.

Your affiliation could mean your job title, your company, your school, or a similar organization that you deem important to your recipients. Your name should eventually be its own draw, of course, but using a more popular brand name — and even its logo — ensures you get the attention of your readers and they take your message seriously.

Secondary contact information is important, too. You might not want to endorse your personal phone number, but you could take this opportunity to promote your personal website — a passive way to open the lines of communication without flooding yourself with outreach you don’t want.

Here’s a sample email signature that hits on all three things described above nicely. Kevin’s first and last name are accompanied by his affiliation with the University of Connecticut. He also promotes his personal website so his recipients have another outlet to see his work and contact him for more information.

Want to create a signature like the one below? Use HubSpot’s Email Signature Generator.

email signature for Kevin McLievie of University of Connecticut generated with HubSpot's Email Signature Generator

2. Keep the colors simple and consistent.

Branding is most effective when it’s consistent — and that includes your email signature. Adding color to your email signature is a nice touch that’ll help it stand out from the rest of your email. But if you do choose to use color, be sure to stick to one or two in addition to dark text.

Use subtle highlights to match your logo or branding, like Brittany Hodak does in her email signature, below. Notice how her social media icons are the same blue hue as the ZinePak logo.

Professional email signature example by Brittany Hodak with multiple colors

3. Use design hierarchy.

Good design is all about presenting your information in an easily digestible manner. Because your email signature is likely more a list of information than it is a compelling story, you’ll want to use hierarchy to direct readers’ eyes to what they should be reading first.

Scale your name up to a larger font so that it attracts the most attention, like you would on a resume. Then, pick and choose information to bold and color based on importance so you can help guide people’s eyes logically through the design.

4. Make links trackable.

So you put a few links in your email signature, including your CTA and your social media icons. But is anyone actually clicking on them?

To figure out whether the links in your signature are actually attracting clicks and making an impact, you’ll want to make those links trackable — just like you would any other link in your emails.

Follow these instructions to easily make a tracking link that helps you attribute traffic to your website to your email signature. From time to time, you might switch up the format of your signature or the wording inside your signature to see what drives the most clicks.

5. Use space dividers.

Although you never want to jam-pack your email signature for too much information, there are ways to fit a lot of text into a compact area like this one without compromising design.

This is helpful for breaking up different types of information, like your name and contact information, your logo, any calls-to-action you have, or even a disclaimer.

Using space dividers within your design, as in the example below, is one great way to do this. You can also use glyph dividers, which is the vertical bar symbol (i.e., |.)

email signature for Evelyn Castiger with a space divider between photo on the left and text on the right

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6. Include an international prefix in your contact number.

If you work with people around the world, don’t forget the prefix for your country’s code when you list your contact phone number. Many people overlook this if they aren’t used to dialing international prefixes themselves, but it’s really helpful for your international colleagues and clients to have it right there. Here’s a list of country codes if you don’t know yours.

Here’s an example from Kit Smith, formerly of Brandwatch, a company that has offices in both the United States and Europe and works with international clients. Including the U.S. country code makes it easier for folks in other countries to reach him by phone.

email signature for kit smith with international country code

7. Make your design mobile-friendly.

According to Truelist, over a third of professionals open emails on their phone making it a prime method of communication for business and professional matters.

The more people who read email on mobile devices, the more you’ll want to keep mobile users top-of-mind when you’re writing emails — including your email signature.

One major way to make your email signature mobile-friendly is to make your signature’s design easy to read and clickable for mobile users. This is where scale becomes really important. Make sure your text is large enough to read on small mobile screens, and that your links and buttons are large enough — and spaced out enough — for folks to tap on with their fingers.

Check out the example below, and note how much space there is between different clickable elements like the social media icons. These are great for tapping with your finger on a mobile screen so that users don’t accidentally tap on the Facebook icon when they meant to go to Twitter.

email signature for tyler adams with padded space between social icons

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8. Use an email signature generator.

If you’ve tried all of these steps and you’re still not happy with how your email signature turned out, don’t fret. These digital sign-offs can be tricky to get perfect. Try a free email signature generator to do the heavy lifting for you instead.

Rather than choosing the colors, fonts, and layout yourself, this generator gives you several combinations to choose from. Simply add your information, photos, and links. Then choose your colors. Once you’re satisfied with your email signature, you can add it to your email account right away.

9. Check your new email signature for quality.

Finally, as with any part of an email, make sure your signature looks as good as you think it does by testing it with various email clients. Microsoft Outlook doesn’t recognize background images, for example, so avoid using those. Other email clients don’t load images by default at all.

Best Professional Email Signature

The best professional email signature will be true to who you are both in and outside the workplace. Once you include the basic contact information, the rest of your email signature is a blank canvas for you to share a bit of personality with each professional email you send.

Armed with these email signature best practices, you can create your own signature that aligns with your brand and gives your emails a little extra umph.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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What It Is And How It Works

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What It Is And How It Works

Is a dedicated development team model the right option? Despite seeing several statistics showing how outsourcing helps minimize development costs, you are still determining if it’s the right choice for you.

Well, when it comes to choosing a suitable outsourcing model, one of the essential things is knowing what your requirements are and which model will benefit your business. Choosing the best of the three outsourcing models is a difficult task.

Don’t worry. We are here for you.

This guide will help you decide which model is best for your business. Specifically, we will focus on a “dedicated development team model.” You will know what makes the dedicated team model better than other models. Let’s dig right in!

What is the dedicated development  team model?

Dedicated development team model is a type of business model that outsources software development . Usually, the client and the service provider sign an agreement that provides long-term software specialists. This is one of the most prevalent partnership models with fixed prices.

In the dedicated development team model, the team works on a specific project full-time, reporting directly to the client. The outsourcing company assists clients in recruiting, administrative support, and maintenance. This model works best for long-term projects.

There are many benefits to the dedicated team model, but to make an informed decision, we must also consider the alternatives.

Dedicated development team model vs. Time and Material Model

Another format that is usually compared with a dedicated development model is the time and materials model. In the time and material model, clients pay for the time and effort. This model gives scope for in-depth research, but it doesn’t guarantee the client will work with the same team throughout the project.

The time & frame of this model suits short-term projects and software that doesn’t require regular updates. Both models have their perks.

To conclude, time & frame models are best for short term projects, while the dedicated team model is best for long-term and vague requirements.

When to choose a dedicated team model?

A dedicated development team model can be beneficial for certain types of businesses. Your focus should be to determine if this suits your business type. Here’s, a quick checklist that will reduce your brainstorming :

  • When your business is in the early stages, i.e., a startup,
  • When the scope of work is vague,
  • When working on a complex and long-term project.

This model is perfect if you are one of the businesses that may need to extend the contract further.Lately, we have discussed vague requirements and the liberty to extend the scope. Yes, that’s the most significant advantage of the dedicated team model, but the real question is how this works. To begin with, we will have to know how the dedicated development team model works.

How does the DT management model work?

Dedicated team management is divided into four steps. Read below :

Discovery Phase :

The first and foremost step is to find out the client’s needs. During this discovery phase, the company and client sit down together to discuss requirements, budget, and how to manage the team.

In short, the following things are discussed in the discovery phase:

  • What are the project scopes?
  • What is the required number of team members?
  • Figure out the skills and expertise required in the team.
  • Negotiate the development costs.

Team Set Up

Following that, the company selects team members based on requirements. The number of developers, designers, project managers, and quality assistants depends on the requirements of the client. Companies begin to hire developers based on their requirements and demands. The core member of the team consists of :

The dedicated team’s structure consists of the following members

UX/UI designers

UX/UI designers work to ensure that users have an easy and enjoyable experience while using the software.

Quality assurance specialists

These members monitor, inspect, and propose a measure to improve the software according to the client’s needs.

Projects managers

Managers are responsible for teams productivity and ensure client demands are being fulfilled

DevOps engineers

DevOps engineers are specialists who have a wide range of knowledge of development and operations. This includes coding, infrastructure management, and all necessary methodologies.

Front-end & Backend Developers

Front-end developers design the visual aspect of the website to make it easy to navigate and useful, while back-end developers refer to the structure that helps the website function properly.

Development Phase

The development phase is when the team starts to work on the project. The dedicated development team model is managed by the client’s team, therefore, the client assigns work to team members. The next big task is to establish a communication bridge for regular meetings, reports, and progress.

Besides these developments, they also facilitate the following tasks :

  • Assign tasks and monitor them regularly.
  • Manage costs and taxes.
  • Establish a proper work environment.

In this phase, roles and responsibilities are outlined, and a development plan is created, in house team. Along with that, the team starts to keep track of progress and milestones (e.g., daily calls, reviews of issues and progress, etc.).

Once the team is set up , the main task is to keep up with the progress and manage the process well. After completion of  software, it is  released to the client’s end-users for testing, deployment, etc.

Well , the role of outsourcing companies doesn’t end here.

In the dedicated development team model, work continues; clients still need to update and improve in design, structure, and features. The client and the outsourcing company sign contracts that let them extend work boundaries.

Besides this, the client also gets access to all the insidious work. Such as  clients can monitor teams and management and all the other management systems.

Conclusion

To sum up , Dedicated development team model can be beneficial for businesses looking to build apps or software at a reasonable cost with minimal effort required on their part, especially if you have a small budget for your project.

Besides, you must explore your requirements and needs and then decide which model is suitable for you.

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Looking for a Content Marketing Job? Follow This Advice To Get Noticed

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Looking for a Content Marketing Job? Follow This Advice To Get Noticed

Does anyone enjoy job hunting regardless of the circumstances?

But if you’ve recently lost your content marketing job or fear the ax might fall soon, you feel pressure to do it – and like you have no time to waste.

The good news is that excellent content marketing jobs are available for the taking (or the making if you’re entrepreneurially minded.)

To rise in the challenge you didn’t want, you must condense years of knowledge, skills, and experience into compelling materials to attract a new employer. Then you must get your carefully crafted profiles in front of recruiters. The key to success for both steps involves standing out from all the other candidates competing for the role you want.

In a recent Ask the #CMWorld Community livestream, Work It Daily’s J.T. O’Donnell and TogetHER Digital’s Amy Vaughan shared what today’s recruiters want and the disruptive ways to get on their radar.

Take a disruptive approach to find your next #ContentMarketing job, says @JTODonnell and @CafeScribbler via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

You can watch the conversation or scroll down to read the highlights of their productive chat.

Take time to grieve, but don’t wallow

The Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale puts job loss among the top 10 stressful life events. When headlines fill the news about massive tech and media company layoffs, corporate hiring freezes, AI replacing creators’ jobs, and a slowing economy, a job loss can feel downright paralyzing.

Ignoring those feelings won’t make them go away and might make it more challenging to focus on finding your next job.

That’s why J.T. recommends taking some time to grieve before you begin a job search. “It’s an unexpected loss. You need to feel it and go through the emotions,” she says.

But don’t get so lost in your misery that you miss a new role that might pop up. “In my experience, people often end up in a new position and say, ‘This turned out better than I expected. I would’ve never come across this opportunity if this change wasn’t forced upon me,’” J.T. says. “Know that a lot of other people have ended up on the better side of it and get ready to move forward.”

Update your job search tools – and how you use them

First, revisit your resume and LinkedIn profiles. You need to ensure they’re updated, consistent, and precisely targeted to the roles you’re considering.

If it’s been a while since you last looked for work, you may need to relearn the rules of a productive job search.

For example, while application tracking systems (ATS) have been around since the 1990s, their time-saving features have made recruiters more reliant on digital tools in recent years. In fact, a 2018 study found nearly 99% of Fortune 500 companies use them. Advanced functionality has improved the software’s ability to create more accurate candidate profiles and match them to applicants’ work history details.

Optimizing your resume with keywords in the job description is essential to getting your resume discovered by potential employers.

Optimize your resume with keywords in the job description to get your resume discovered through digital application systems (and employers), says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

You also need to know formatting and information trends to make it past the digital gatekeepers. Your resume should be easily skimmable, results-focused, and tailored to the role in the application.

In a related discussion on CMI’s Slack channel, Headstart Copywriting’s Susan Varty shared a resume template that follows modern digital processes and trends.

The template structure, as shown in the image below, separates information into clear sections. She also details what to write in each section:

  • About: Here, you’ll introduce yourself, mention the role you’re interested in, and describe your qualifications in a relevant way.
  • Career highlights: These should be active statements that summarize the accomplishments you’re most proud of, so recruiters can skim the copy and understand who you are and what you can offer.
  • Work experience: Rather than list the roles you’ve played, use this section to describe how your work has helped previous employers achieve their business goals.

Click to download

J.T. also recommends updating your LinkedIn profile to ensure it aligns with what appears on your resume. “Recruiters pay attention to the resume and LinkedIn work history section. The information that appears there should be identical. Otherwise, they may be confused about which version is accurate,” she explains.

The information that appears on your resume should be identical to your work history section on @LinkedIn, says @JTODonnell via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Stand out with a disruptive job search approach

Amy says recruiters will read resumes – and cover letters – that make it to their desks, but they spend only a few seconds on each.

You can’t expect to compete based on skills alone. But demonstrating your personal motivation to do the job for that employer can give you an advantage, J.T. says.

Finding the best opportunities where you can convey that motivation requires a disruptive job search. The technique helps you discover a relevant connection between your passions and career intentions and communicate it to employers who stand to benefit.

The more intentional and storified approach should work well for content marketers because you’re well-equipped to follow it. It also circumvents the gatekeeping systems by giving you a more relatable connection to prospective employers.

Take a more intentional and storified approach in your #ContentMarketing job search, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

J.T. summarizes the disruptive job search process:

  • Pinpoint the work you’re most passionate about: Think carefully about the kinds of work you want to do, not just where you might want to do it. What lights you up? What do people come to you specifically for? This will be the centering principle for your candidate story.
  • Create a bucket list of company targets: Don’t just apply for any and every role that matches your skills and interests. Research companies to find 10 to 20 that would genuinely benefit from your unique perspectives and specialized focus.
  • Get clear on why you want to work for each company: Hearing that they’re a great place to work and offer great benefits isn’t enough to prove you understand the business and its goals. What is it about them that you’ve come to learn is different and special?
  • Make a personal connection: Think about what you can bring to the role at the company. Be specific about your knowledge of what they do, who their customers are, and how you can contribute to the business outcomes you know they want to achieve.
  • Craft the details into a cover letter: Once you’ve outlined your relevant connection points, you can put those details into a cover letter that speaks to your unique understanding of the business and the distinct value you can contribute. “When you can get that story into someone’s hands at an organization, you’ll be amazed at what can happen,” J.T. says.

(Net)work your story into a job

“People need to meet you and see continuity in what you say and do. That can’t always happen unless they get that chance to meet you in person,” Amy says.

Networking can feel one-sided and awkward when you’re under pressure to find a new role. But you can make it more productive with these tips from J.T. and Amy:

1. Turn on LinkedIn creator mode

J.T. points out that LinkedIn has pivoted itself into a creator tool. Use it to prove the points you would discuss in a cover letter and attract the right attention.

Activating creator mode on your profile tells LinkedIn’s algorithm to note (and share with others) the content you share. It also gives access to additional tools that can extend your reach.

Here’s how to turn creator mode on:

  • Click the Me icon in the nav bar at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  • Click View Profile.
  • Scroll down to the Resources section of your profile. If it shows “Creator mode: Off,” switch it to on.

Click Next on the Creator mode preview pop-up window.

  • Add up to 5 topics (hashtags) to indicate what you post about the most.
  • Click Done.

2. Create and share relevant content on your feed

Think about your specialization areas and speak about them regularly in your LinkedIn feed. Creating new content (or reposting your content on other platforms) on those subjects helps prove your expertise.

You can also curate and add commentary to third-party news, articles, videos, and other relevant stories. It shows you’re in touch with what’s happening in that space and have something of value to add to the conversation.

Be sure to post consistently – J.T. recommends at least once a day – to build an audience of followers.

3. Use hashtags responsibly

Using the right hashtags on your LinkedIn content can introduce your content to people who aren’t in your network. But, Amy points out, it can also help you tap into a hidden job market – roles that don’t get posted but have recruiters looking to fill them.

She explains recruiters may take this approach when they have a great opportunity that would attract a lot of candidate interest and don’t want to get bombarded with applicants.

4. Incorporate personal passions into your work persona

Attracting an audience with your thought leadership content can help you rank higher on LinkedIn searches and gain the attention of more recruiters. But since just about any job applicant can position themselves as an expert, Amy suggests taking an extra step to stand out from the pack: Cultivate a personality brand.

If you’re a regular CMI reader, you’re probably familiar with the reasons to build a personal brand (and if not, I’d highly recommend reading Ann Gynn’s definitive post on the topic). But, Amy says, a personality brand is a bit different.

As she explains, job searchers often struggle to associate their passions outside of work with the work they want to be known for. But creating stories that tie together those interests can make a person more memorable to recruiters and others who can help advance the job search.

Amy explains what this might look like: “[In my content], I talk a lot about groundedness, nature, and empathetic leadership. To me, those things are all tied together because I like to be very grounded in how I lead and very calm in how I approach difficult work situations. Or maybe you are an endurance athlete, and you can build a connection on how your love of endurance sports goes hand in hand with your strong work ethic.”

The content related to your personality brand can make your networking feel more organic. “If you’re reaching out to people in your network just to get a job, they’re going to sniff that out,” Amy says. But if they know you because you’ve shared a relatable story or something of value, they may be more willing to connect with you and help with your search.

Use your content marketing strengths to prove your value to employers

Losing a job never feels good. But with a more precise job search approach, stories that demonstrate your unique expertise, and ways to create a personal connection, your unemployment status won’t last long.

Want more help with your job search journey? Register to attend TogetHER Digital’s free virtual career fair for women in digital on Feb. 23, 2023. And for more-detailed job search help (including action plans, templates, and examples), J.T. O’Donnell is offering our readers an exclusive $20 discount on Work It Daily’s job search packages. Use code CM20 when you sign up.
Need more guidance to hone your content marketing skills? Enroll in CMI University and get 12-month on-demand access to an extensive curriculum designed to help you do your job more effectively.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Pillar Pages: Why and How You Should Add Them to Your Content Strategy

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Pillar Pages: Why and How You Should Add Them to Your Content Strategy

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

In a recent study, we found that our pillar pages are magnets for links, organic traffic, and newsletter subscribers — especially compared to regular blog posts. Here are the results that both types of SEO content generated over the course of a year:

Do these results mean you should ditch your blog strategy in favor of pillar pages? Not exactly.

Here’s the catch: You really can’t have one without the other, and it all comes down to content mapping. I’ll explain exactly what I mean in this article.

What is a pillar page?

A pillar page is a piece of content that comprehensively covers a broad topic. Pillar page — also sometimes referred to as hub and spoke — content weaves together a wide range of relevant subtopics (spokes), organizes them all in one place (hub), and effectively showcases your subject matter expertise for the broad topic.

Pillar page content should be easy to navigate for readers looking to learn — at a high level — about a particular topic, but should also offer relevant resources for them to dive deeper. 

Example of related resources found on a pillar page.

It’s kind of like the choose-your-own-adventure of content marketing.

Topical authority: why it’s important

When it comes to content creation for SEO and digital marketing, you don’t want to create content around any old topic. Instead, you want to reinforce your brand’s topical authority with every new piece of content you create (be it a blog, a pillar page, an eBook, etc.).

Let’s put it this way: If you’re in the business of selling mechanical keyboards, it doesn’t make sense to publish a blog article about the best recipes for a summer BBQ. Unless you’re recommending that your customers grill and eat their mechanical keyboards, which is (highly) unlikely.

Instead, it’s more helpful to your brand — and your audience — if you cover topics related to mechanical keyboards, like:

  • What is a mechanical keyboard?

  • Mechanical keyboards vs. regular keyboards.

  • Custom mechanical keyboards.

  • How to transition to a mechanical keyboard.

  • Pros and cons of a mechanical keyboard.

By covering as many topics related to mechanical keyboards as possible, you’re building a foundation of informational content that tells search engines: “Hey, I know a lot about mechanical keyboards!”

And the more content you have that starts to rank for important search terms related to mechanical keyboards, the more likely searchers will see you as an authority on the subject. Ideally, they will start coming back to your content when they need to learn more about this specific topic.

Pillar pages + blogs = a match made in content marketing heaven

A well-executed and organized pillar page is one of the best ways to showcase to your audience (and search engines) that you have topical authority in a specific area. Blog posts help you achieve topical authority by allowing you to cover a wide range of relevant subtopics in great detail, and pillar pages organize all of that content into a nice, user-friendly package.

Let’s take a look at this tactic in action.

We built our content marketing guide as a pillar page, which allowed us to cover a slew of subtopics related to the broader topic of content marketing, all in one piece of collateral. 

All of these subtopics are organized into sections on the page, with a hyperlinked table of contents at the top to allow readers to pick and choose exactly what they’d like to learn about:

Then, throughout the page, we offer readers the opportunity to go deeper and learn more about each subtopic by linking to relevant blog content:

What is content mapping?

A pillar page is a great tactic if you’ve got a lot of existing blog content all focused on a particular parent topic. It’s one of our favorite ways at Brafton to repurpose and repromote our blogs.

But you can also create a pillar page with all brand-new content — it’ll just take more research, planning, and production time to complete.

Enter: content mapping.

Content mapping is the process of assessing your target audience, understanding what they are trying to achieve, and helping them along that journey with branded educational and commercial content. Its scope can span the entirety of your content marketing strategy or a single piece of pillar page content.

Why content mapping matters in content marketing

The planning (or content mapping) of a pillar page is just as important as the research done to choose the correct keyword to target for your business.

Pillar pages are kind of like the books of the marketing world. If you were an expert birder, for example, you wouldn’t set out to write a book about bird-watching without doing any research. Especially if you’ve spent a lot of time writing and publishing articles about bird-watching on your blog. You’d want to understand a few things before starting that book, like:

  1. Which of my blog posts generated the most interest from new and returning readers? (i.e. pages with the most new and returning visitors, as seen in your web analytics tool).

  2. Which blogs kept readers coming back for more? (i.e. pages with the most newsletter subscriptions, or the best newsletter subscription rates).

  3. Which blogs did my industry peers find most useful? (i.e. pages with the greatest number of high-quality referring domains and backlinks).

These questions can be answered by looking through your web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and Moz Pro.

Example of content analysis by top linking domains.

You’d also want to understand what the competition looks like before you spend dozens of hours writing thousands of words to fill a book.

You’d want to answer questions, like:

  1. What do my competitors’ books on bird-watching look like? (i.e. the types of bird-watching subtopics the page 1 results cover).

  2. What does Google think searchers want to see when they search for bird-watching? (i.e. the types of content that are found on page 1 for your target keyword — and surprise! it might not be books).

  3. How long and detailed are my competitors’ books? (i.e. the level of complexity and comprehensiveness of the content ranking on page 1).

These questions can be answered by manually reviewing relevant SERPs and utilizing TF-IDF tools like Clearscope or MarketMuse to understand the breadth of subtopics and types of content ranking on the first page.

Example of manual SERP inspection.
Example of TF-IDF content analysis.

Once you understand which of your content performs best and which content Google and other search engines prefer to rank highly for your target keyword, you can start piecing together a plan for your pillar page.

A note about internal linking

Before we dive into the how-to portion of this piece, we should also acknowledge the importance of internal linking to this whole process.

And I’m not just talking about throwing in a link to a related product/service at the end of the page and calling it a day. The internal linking structure of your pillar page is literally the glue that holds the whole thing together. It helps readers easily navigate to related resources to continue learning from your brand. And it helps search engines understand the relationship between your pillar page content and the additional content you’re highlighting on the page.

But when it comes to internal linking, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Including too many internal links throughout your content can cause a frustrating user experience or look spammy, so use caution and make sure the only internal linking you do on the page is extremely relevant to the parent topic.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve got too many internal links on the page, you can run it through Moz’s On-Page Grader tool, which automatically counts the number of links on your page and flags if you’ve got too many.

Tip: Keep in mind that this tool will count ALL links found on the page, including those in your main navigation and footer, so the “Too Many Links” warning could be a false positive.

As Moz explains: Google recommends you don’t go over 100 internal links per page, because it can dilute the SEO value sent from the pillar page to the linked pages, and it can also make it more challenging for users and crawlers to navigate all of the content.

Two data-led ways to map out content for a pillar page

There are a couple of different ways to approach the construction of this type of content, but they each rely on organic search data to lead the way.

1. Planning a pillar page and related resources (all from scratch)

Let’s pretend you don’t have any prior content created about a particular topic. You’re basically starting from scratch. Let’s also assume the topic you’ve selected is both core and commercially valuable to your business, and that your domain realistically has a chance of ranking on page 1 for that keyword.

Let’s say you’re a pet food company and one of your main products is cat dental treats. Once you’ve determined that this is the exact keyword you want to target (“cat dental treats”), it’s time to start your research.

Step 1: Manually inspect SERP to understand searcher intent

First, we’ll start by manually inspecting the first SERP for this keyword, and answering the following questions:

  1. What types of content are on the first page of results?

  2. Why are people searching for “cat dental treats”?

By answering these two questions in our SERP analysis, we’ll make sure that our plan for creating a pillar page to rank actually makes sense and it’s what searchers want to see on the SERP. We’ll also better understand all the reasons behind why someone might search this keyword (and we can then address those reasons in the content we create).

So let’s answer these questions:

Question 1: What types of content are on the first page of results?

Answer 1: The first SERP includes a variety of product ads, a People Also Ask section, and a selection of organic blogs and product pages.

Types of content found on the SERP for “cat dental treats.”

Question 2: Why are people searching for “cat dental treats”?

Answer 2: From a quick analysis of the SERP, we can deduce that people want to know why and how cat dental treats are important to a cat’s health, and they also want to know which cat dental treats work best. Perhaps most importantly, it’s highly likely that they plan to purchase cat dental treats for their furry companion(s) in the near future.

Step 2: Select related keyword ideas for blog content

Since you don’t just want to create a pillar page for just the primary keyword, you also want to pinpoint a selection of related subtopics to be written as blog content.

For this part of the process, head over to your keyword research tool, plug in your target keyword and (with an eye for topics that you’re well-suited to cover), jot down a list of keywords and phrases.

Here’s our list of potential blog topics:

  • Best cat dental treats.

  • How do cat dental treats work?

  • What to look for in cat dental treats.

  • Do cat dental treats work?

  • Can cat dental treats replace brushing?

  • Vet recommended cat dental treats.

  • Grain-free cat dental treats.

Step 3: Choose subtopics to cover in your pillar page content

Next, you’ll want to review the subtopics mentioned in the top ranking results. While this process can be done manually (by clicking into each result on the SERP and jotting down the topics mentioned), a TF-IDF tool like MarketMuse makes this part of the process much quicker:

These TF-IDF tools analyze the top 10-20 results for your target keyword and automatically present the common subtopics mentioned in each piece. This gives you a very good understanding of what you’ll also need to cover in your piece to compete for a top-ranking spot.

Here’s the list of subtopics we’ll want to cover in this pillar page, based on our MarketMuse data:

Step 4: Create your outline and plan content

Now it’s time to connect the dots from your research. The best way to do this is to start by structuring your pillar page outline, and then going back in and filling in the areas where you want to create supporting blog content.

Here’s an example of what the end result might look like:

H1: The Complete Guide to Cat Dental Treats: For a Fresh-Breath Feline Friend

H2: What are cat dental treats and how do they work?

  • Topics to cover: Cat dental treats
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: How Cat Dental Treats Work (& Why Your Kitty Needs Them)
    Keyword: how do cat dental treats work

H2: What are the benefits of cat dental treats?

  • Topics to cover: Clean teeth, fresh breath
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: Do Cat Dental Treats Really Work? (Here’s What The Experts Say)
    Keyword: do cat dental treats work

H2: Are cat dental treats an acceptable alternative to brushing?

  • Topics to cover: Cats dental health
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: Cat Dental Treats Vs Brushing: Everything You Need To Know
    Keyword: can cat dental treats replace brushing

H2: Do vets recommend using cat dental treats?

  • Topics to cover: Veterinary oral health council
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: Vets Recommend Using Cat Dental Treats — Here’s Why
    Keyword: vet recommended cat dental treats

H2: The best cat dental treats to try

  • Topics to cover: Purina dentalife, Feline greenies, natural ingredients, artificial flavors.
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: 5 Of The Best Cat Dental Treats & Why We Love Them
    Keyword: best cat dental treats
  • Blog post #2 to support section:
    Title: What To Look For In Cat Dental Treats
    Keyword: what to look for in cat dental treats

Creating an outline for a pillar page isn’t easy, but once laid out, it helps us understand the content that needs to be produced to bring the whole thing to life.

Here is our list of content to create (based on our outline):

  1. Pillar page: The Complete Guide to Cat Dental Treats: For a Fresh-Breath Feline Friend

  2. Blog #1: How Cat Dental Treats Work (& Why Your Kitty Needs Them)

  3. Blog #2: Do Cat Dental Treats Really Work? (Here’s What The Experts Say)

  4. Blog #3: Cat Dental Treats Vs Brushing: Everything You Need To Know

  5. Blog #4: Vets Recommend Using Cat Dental Treats — Here’s Why

  6. Blog #5: 5 Of The Best Cat Dental Treats & Why We Love Them

  7. Blog #6: What To Look For In Cat Dental Treats

The best way to tackle this list of content is to create and publish the six blog posts first, then once they are live, you can write the pillar page content, placing hyperlinks to the supporting blog posts directly in the copy.

2. Planning a pillar page from top performing content

For this next method, let’s say you already have a ton of published content about a particular topic, and you’d like to reuse and repromote that content within a pillar page dedicated to that topic.

All of the steps in the previous process apply, but for Step 2 (Select Related Keyword Ideas for Blog Content), do the following:

First, you’ll want to understand which of your existing pieces generates the most interest from your audience. Let’s use our web analytics data for this. In this example, we’ll look at Google Search Console data because it shows the actual search performance of our website content.

Let’s use the topic of “content creation” as our desired pillar page keyword. Search for the query in Google Search Console (choose the “Queries containing” option): 

Pull all of the pages currently generating impressions and clicks from terms containing your topic, placing those with the highest clicks and impressions at the top of your list. Here’s what this might look like: 

As you can see, most of the content we’ve created that also ranks for keywords containing “content creation” is blog content. These will be highly useful as related resources on our pillar page.

Now, go back to your TF-IDF tool and select the subtopics related to “content creation” that you want to cover in your pillar page. Example:

  • Social media content

  • Content creation tool

  • Content creators

  • Content strategy

  • Content creation process

Finally, map your existing blog content to those “content creation” subtopics. The initial mapping may look something like this:

You may not be able to map each blog perfectly to the subtopic you’re covering in your pillar page, but that’s  OK. What’s important is that you’re providing readers with relevant content (where applicable) and that content, as you’ve seen in your Search Console data, is already proven to perform well with your organic search audience.

Pillar page planning templates and resources

Pillar pages take an incredible amount of time and planning to execute, but they are worth every penny.

Here’s an example of the success we saw after producing one of our more recent pillar pages, “How to Rank on Google:”

Growth of referring domains and links to the page since its launch in April 2022.

Here’s a template of the outline used to bring the page to life (and you can use it for your own pillar page). Just make a copy and off you go. Good luck!

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