The term “cornerstone content” has been talked and written about a lot recently although the concept is really not that new. Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, wrote a guide about how to create cornerstone content that Google loves 11 years ago this month.
With Google placing more importance on quality content, many content marketers and SEO specialists are encouraging businesses to create more long-form content (1500 words or more) to help your site stand out as an authority in your niche.
What is cornerstone content
- Is super-helpful information or guidance on topics that are relevant to your area of expertise
- Educates your visitors on the problems you help them solve
- Attracts visitors and helps them navigate the content on your website
- Should align with your business purpose and the main focus of your site
Cornerstone content should be content that makes a great impression on your visitors. You should plan to create three to five cornerstone articles based on the products and/or services you offer. These timeless articles should be published as web pages, not blog posts.
Once you have your cornerstone pages created, you can then plan other content for your site that dives deeper into concepts introduced in the cornerstone articles. This gives you the opportunity to link your blog posts to the cornerstone article, making the cornerstone page a hub of useful information.
Why cornerstone content
Creating content that ranks well is hard enough for most businesses, so it is important to understand the value to your business of creating these long, educational articles. Adding cornerstone content to your website:
- Helps you establish authority: The concept behind cornerstone content is to help establish your site as an authority in your niche, giving more credibility to the rest of your content in your blog.
- Drives better search rankings: Cornerstone content is an important tool for your SEO strategy. Ranking for competitive search terms isn’t easy. By using a cornerstone page incorporating those search terms, you have a better chance at becoming visible when people search for that topic. As your authority increases, so does your search results for major keywords.
- Builds natural links: The comprehensive nature of your cornerstone content makes it an ideal choice when other writers want to link to a source. Short, shallow content will never attract the links your long-form, relevant content can.
- Drives other content ideas: Once you have established the foundation content for your website, you can then pick related, but narrow topics and create blog posts. These blog posts will link back to your cornerstone page, establishing a logical structure for your content.
- Helps visitors find other content on your site: Your cornerstone page acts as the road map to other related content on your website. When visitors find your cornerstone page, it will help them navigate to other valuable content. Plus, this structure also helps search engines better navigate your content, enabling them to index your pages more effectively.
8 Steps to create your cornerstone content
Choosing the right content for your cornerstone page on your website is an important exercise. Don’t just dive into your blog and pull out any content. Determine what would be valuable to visitors who come to your website for the first time. Then put in the time and effort to create a quality piece.
1. Choose your topic
Look for something that people often search for in your area of expertise but are not finding satisfying results. As an example, if you are a professional organizer, you could create a valuable guide on “how to downsize with dignity”. Make the topic something so relevant to those searching, they have no choice but to click on your content page.
2. Choose your format.
Not all content has to be written text. You could choose to create your content in other formats such as an infographic or an app. Use whatever format works for your topic and your target audience. If you want to include video or audio, make sure it is surrounded with some textual content.
3. Research your keywords
We’ve all been taught to select the long tail keywords when we are optimizing our pages and posts. The reason is that we have a better chance to rank higher when the phrase is more specific. However, your cornerstone page needs to focus on the more competitive keywords.
For example, the keyword phrase “internet marketing” gets 40,500 average monthly searches. If I wanted to rank for that phrase, I would write a “guide to internet marketing for small businesses” as a cornerstone page. Then I could link back to that page from many of my blog posts that are written about specific areas of internet marketing.
If you have a new blog, your content calendar could dive deeper into various topics that can link back to your cornerstone page.
4. Check out the competition
The next step is to see what else has been written about your topic. Do a search for your keyword phrase and review what comes up on the first page. For my example above, the prominent results are Neil Patel’s The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing and Copyblogger’s Internet Marketing for Smart People free PDF ebook. Use what you find to help you decide what will make your content be more valuable than what is already there.
5. Write the content
If you have been blogging for a while, you may have content already written that could be combined, updated and published as a cornerstone page. Otherwise you will need to take some time to write the content. For important content like this, you may want to hire a writer to help you. Consider these pages on your website an investment in your business. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action in your cornerstone page.
6. Optimize the content
Implement on-page SEO best practices to ensure your content ranks well. In addition, link your cornerstone page to relevant blog posts. Link your blog posts to your cornerstone page as appropriate.
7. Publish and promote your content
Once you hit publish, promote the content to your email list and on social media. If you’ve spent the time creating this masterpiece, don’t be afraid to tell people about it!
8. Keep it up to date
You now have created a solid cornerstone piece that gains visibility and drives traffic to your website. Continually invest time to keep it fresh and relevant. Update and edit it regularly to ensure that it is a complete, thorough resource that people like and share.
Your business needs to do everything it can to gain online visibility and draw people to your business. When you are more visible to those searching for your products and services, you can attract more quality visitors who are more likely to convert into leads and customers for your business.
Adding cornerstone content to your content marketing strategy can help you do just that.
Will you be writing cornerstone content for your website?