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Diggbait, Linkbait, Flagship Content and Authority

In the comments of my How to Get More Bookmarks and Better Links article Lucy Dee asks:

I’m having difficult assessing how “bookmarkable” content is any different from authority content in general. Yes, bookmarkable content is “optimized” and you want to “get a second look” but that’s not far off from pillar content that a good blogger would write otherwise. I guess what I’m missing is, what *distinction* to make it “bookmarkable”? Or is there one at all?

It’s a great question. How do you separate “Authority Content” from “Bookmarkable Content”? Further to that, another question I was asked lately us what is the difference between “Pillar Content” and “Flagship Content”.

First we need to define “Bookmarkable” versus “Authority”.

Authority, Bookmarks and Bait

Content Readers LoveThere is no versus, actually. You can have either, both or neither.

Authority content provides value for the reader in a way that builds the profile of the author, but it is not a given that they will gather bookmarks. Think of Seth Godin, he posts small, thoughtful articles usually. You can read and understand those posts very quickly and do not really ever need to return to them. Over time a blog that consistently puts out such information will grow links steadily, and it will grow a loyal following, but they might not get the big landslide of links that a Flagship article might. You get the love but not necessarily the links and bookmarks.

Along the same lines I could post an article here that is funny, sexy, provocative or offbeat and entertain so much I get a ton of links and bookmarks, but my authority needle will not have shifted a millimeter from where it was before. Diggbait will get you a spike in traffic but not improve your brand or create loyal visitors. Certain types controversial linkbait can get you a ton of links but damage your reputation.

Pillars and Flagships

Now the difference between Pillar Content and Flagship Content. Pillar Content is a phrase coined by Yaro Starak who describes it as:

A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

Again, an article can be both Pillar and Flagship, and that is where the confusion lies, as it is not exactly clear what the difference is.

Pillar ContentThe way I would put it is to picture Pillar Content as being the foundation of your blog. The pillars support the structure. If you launch with a good, strong foundation, everything you build on top of it will also be strengthened. If you are launching a blog about a breed of dogs then you might want to have pillar articles about where to find your puppy, the first few days of dog ownership, training and obedience, feeding, insurance, etc. All good, valuable, useful stuff which over time will contribute greatly to your authority. Yes, if you follow my optimization tips from my previous post you will be able to make it bookmarkable too!

Flagship Content takes the concept a notch further. As well as being valuable, it builds its own momentum and delivers targeted visitors back to you. It works as an ambassador for your blog and for your brand. Flagship Content is content that represents you in the most positive light. It’s an authority builder.

Viral versus Flagship

technorati-favorites-exchange.jpgSomeone asked me if I thought the DoshDosh Technorati Favorites campaign was Flagship Content. While I am sure this did contribute greatly to the massive momentum and success of Makis blog, I think the exchange is viral rather than Flagship. It certainly had the effect of adding authority in the respect of “social proof” (getting into the top favorites places the blog amongst the a-list no matter how sneakily achieved, heh) but it did not directly improve the brand. Maki’s content builds the brand, the favorites exchange created the momentum and awareness.

In fact, proving Yaro’s concept, you could say Maki’s blog is stuffed full of pillar content, you just need to look at the blogs sidebar to see that.

The Content Value Ladder

So in my mind there is:

  1. Filler content – The me-too stuff that many blogs copy and paste from press releases and other blogs.
  2. Good, original content – Anything that delivers on the blogs promise in an original and valuable way
  3. Authority building content - Content that positions the blogger as an authority in the niche
  4. Pillar content – A blogs solid foundation of resource posts and tutorials
  5. Flagship content – Articles and reports that go above and beyond, creating significant value in a way that draws in readers for years to come

Conclusion

Could I be wrong? Certainly, I can’t speak for Yaro! You have to make up your own mind, but that is never a bad thing.

The point is not the definitions but the intentions. How can you consistently create the most compelling, remarkable and viral content that provides significant reader value and builds your brand? If you can answer that it won’t matter what you call it :)

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Comments

  1. Solid points. This is a great way to think about blog/site building over the long term. It opened up some new ideas for me. Thanks.

    Just to say hello, your great guest post over at ProBlogger got me hooked the other day and I’ve added your feed to My Yahoo. Keep up the good work.

  2. Solid points. This is a great way to think about blog/site building over the long term. It opened up some new ideas for me. Thanks.

    Just to say hello, your great guest post over at ProBlogger got me hooked the other day and I’ve added your feed to My Yahoo. Keep up the good work.

  3. Oops. Actually, I got to your site through Vandelay’s weekly links to your bookmarks post. My bad. I’ve read too many blog posts this weekend. Solid stuff nonetheless. Feel free to edit the prior comment as need. Cheers!

  4. Oops. Actually, I got to your site through Vandelay’s weekly links to your bookmarks post. My bad. I’ve read too many blog posts this weekend. Solid stuff nonetheless. Feel free to edit the prior comment as need. Cheers!

  5. Good article and your Content Value Ladder seems about right. So, what kind of post would you say your article is?

  6. Good article and your Content Value Ladder seems about right. So, what kind of post would you say your article is?

  7. A thought provoking post Chris! But I do believe that the blogger who finds the perfect balance between Diggbait, Linkbait, Flagship Content and Authority makes the most out of his blog.

    Then again, no one can say where the ‘perfect’ stands. It differs from niche to niche. Like you said, Seth Godin, harldy publishes pillar content. And it’s good for him as his target is business people who lacks time to commit themselves to experiment the pillar content.

  8. A thought provoking post Chris! But I do believe that the blogger who finds the perfect balance between Diggbait, Linkbait, Flagship Content and Authority makes the most out of his blog.

    Then again, no one can say where the ‘perfect’ stands. It differs from niche to niche. Like you said, Seth Godin, harldy publishes pillar content. And it’s good for him as his target is business people who lacks time to commit themselves to experiment the pillar content.

  9. I think your “content value ladder” is bang on in terms of order, but most “filler” content isn’t literally copy and pasted, its just re-worded without anything new being added.

    Btw I Zoomed it

    :)

  10. I think your “content value ladder” is bang on in terms of order, but most “filler” content isn’t literally copy and pasted, its just re-worded without anything new being added.

    Btw I Zoomed it

    :)

  11. Sounds good to me Chris.

    Honestly I hate labels, but for some reason people like them. It makes it easier to get your head around if it’s not obvious to you in the first place.

    On another note – if you understand a concept well, come up with a cool label for it and say you made it up. It’s a great way to establish fame online as the person who invented the term :-)

  12. Sounds good to me Chris.

    Honestly I hate labels, but for some reason people like them. It makes it easier to get your head around if it’s not obvious to you in the first place.

    On another note – if you understand a concept well, come up with a cool label for it and say you made it up. It’s a great way to establish fame online as the person who invented the term :-)

  13. I teach my students how to write a flagship article that can serve as the basis for their Ebook, speaking appearances and radio/media interviews. This is a great post that I will refer to my students so they can see a slightly different point of view and perspective than I have been teaching.

  14. I teach my students how to write a flagship article that can serve as the basis for their Ebook, speaking appearances and radio/media interviews. This is a great post that I will refer to my students so they can see a slightly different point of view and perspective than I have been teaching.

  15. I found this blog through Sphinn and I must say it looks rather in depth. I shall continue reading your blog for ideas for my own.

    Looks like you got a good thing going here.

  16. I found this blog through Sphinn and I must say it looks rather in depth. I shall continue reading your blog for ideas for my own.

    Looks like you got a good thing going here.