Ask any builder. You can’t build a house without cornerstones. They’re part of the foundations of a solid building.
In the same way, cornerstone content is an integral part of a successful website. It plays an essential role in creating a booming online business, growing traffic and building awareness.
Cornerstone content is about creating an impression. A big impression. The impression that you are a helpful, reliable, and trustworthy company. An impression that gets people coming back for more, bookmarking your content and sharing it on social media.
Consider your cornerstone content your flagship. The crown jewel in your content strategy. Your Magnus opus. A one-stop-shop for any customer looking for help and guidance.
In short, cornerstone content is important. Here’s how to get it right.
Cornerstone Content Explained: What Exactly is it?
Cornerstone content is the content that makes up the core of your website. It’s your most important and best-performing pages. The ones you want to appear at the top of search rankings.
In general, cornerstone content is pretty long and very comprehensive, covering all the most important facts about your chosen subject.
Your aim is to deliver extensive information and guidance on a particular topic. It should capture exactly what it is your business does—your company mission—and it should also be evergreen, as relevant and valuable next year as it is this year.
Cornerstone content often includes detailed long-form articles such as ‘The Beginners Guide To…’ It could also be an FAQ page. But as well as written content, cornerstone content can also be a series of videos, a database, or a free tool or app.
Whatever form it takes, the goal of cornerstone content is to inform and educate your audience and to allow them to make sense of both you and your website.
When it works, cornerstone content brings in a steady stream of visitors who all have the potential to become leads and customers. It’s designed to target those visitors at the top of the sales funnel—to build awareness rather than getting people to buy immediately.
How Do I Choose Cornerstone Content?
Your cornerstone content should be those pages that a customer needs to read when they first arrive on your website. Which pages are the most important? The most comprehensive?
The essential idea behind cornerstone content is that it’s helpful and informative. It should explain something to your audience. To ensure that it’s comprehensive enough, choose a piece that is more than 900 words long. Longer texts typically perform better.
Also, try to choose a page that is optimised for keywords. It should contain the most competitive or ‘head’ keywords that you’re targeting but not those keywords that are so competitive that you don’t stand a chance.
Once you’ve chosen your articles, you can rewrite them to make sure they’re as engaging, readable, informative, and SEO-friendly as possible.
You want cornerstone content from several different topics within your particular niche. Aim for between 3 and 5. Bigger and more established websites will have more cornerstone pages than smaller sites.
What Are the Different Types of Cornerstone Content?
- A mission statement page – while cornerstone content shouldn’t be about pushing products, for some companies it makes sense to talk about their brand rather than around their brand, explaining what makes them unique. It still counts as essential information for visitors.
- Best performing articles – this can take the form of either a page or a blog post, although pages are preferable because they’re more permanent parts of your website. Posts have a date stamp that can make them feel irrelevant faster.
- E-books – your e-book could feature your products and services, but the emphasis should still be on answering your audience’s most pressing and primary questions. E-books are especially useful in highly technical industries, helping to make dry and inaccessible information more engaging.
- Video tutorials – these can be used to explain an aspect of your product. But any video or audio should have some textual context to ensure it’s comprehensive.
- Landing or ‘start here’ pages – these bring together different pieces of content and help readers orientate themselves. Functioning as a kind of contents page, they communicate everything a customer needs to know as they arrive on your site, reducing the risk of them abandoning.
Can a Homepage Be Cornerstone Content?
A homepage doesn’t generally work as cornerstone content because, unlike cornerstone content, it isn’t designed to help readers or solve a problem. A homepage is an introduction to you and your company. Cornerstone content is more about the reader than it is about you.
However, your homepage should link clearly and directly to all your cornerstone content and your cornerstone content can also link back to your homepage. Once a customer is interested in what you’re saying, they will be more interested in learning about who you are.
Why Are Cornerstone Articles so Important for SEO?
When it comes to popular search terms, ranking well can be nearly impossible. But cornerstone content helps boost site authority by showing that you have content that surpasses that of other sites in terms of quality and scope.
Google wants to send people to content that actually helps them. Its algorithms are designed to filter out short, scrappy, and keyword-stuffed articles and prioritise high-quality, informative, and useful content.
By creating comprehensive and well-written cornerstone content featuring your main keywords—plus ensuring that all other content on your site links back to these cornerstone pieces—you can boost your authority in Google’s eyes and make your site more SEO-friendly.
You are telling Google that this is your most important content and this will improve your rankings.
What Are the Other Benefits of Cornerstone Content?
- Raises brand awareness by demonstrating your expertise in a particular field.
- Establishes your authority and your position as a leader in your industry who can be relied on for high-quality content.
- Makes you seem more trustworthy in the eyes of those customers who find your content useful, growing interest in your products and services.
- Moves people along the sales funnel by first building awareness and then encouraging customers to take action, such as subscribing to an email list.
- Getting links to your website from third parties who have enjoyed it, boosting traffic and helping SEO efforts.
How to Make Cornerstone Content Google Can’t Resist
Choose the right topic
Your cornerstone content should solve one of your customer’s biggest problems or answer one of their biggest questions. Has the Internet failed to give them the solutions they want? What makes you equipped to answer or solve these queries?
Make sure your chosen topic has a high volume of keyword searches. You want it to be in high demand.
And we mean really well. This content has to stand out. It has to be eminently readable.
- Craft superb introductions that hook readers instantly.
- Follow a clear and logical structure.
- Use bullet points, headings, and sub-headings to keep it easy to read.
- Consider putting an index at the beginning so readers can jump to the relevant section.
- Include lots of research to back up what you’re saying.
- Stay on subject. The focus, while comprehensive and wide-reaching, both in terms of depth and breadth, should also be to-the-point. Otherwise, you’ll lose readers.
- Remember that you’re trying to solve a problem. Your content should clearly and directly answer a reader’s query.
- Express what makes you special as a brand and articulate your brand voice.
- Avoid coming across as too sales-y. Make it personal and relatable.
Keep it up-to-date
Unfortunately, that means you have to rewrite your cornerstone content regularly. But your efforts will reap rewards. The more up-to-date and current your content is, the higher it will rank.
Make sure all links work and that everything is accurate and relevant. Check the feedback and comments. Are people asking questions that you could include in the content itself? And why not also change up the fonts and images to keep it feeling fresh?
Include your most competitive keywords
Cornerstone content should be optimised for ‘head’ keywords. Use these keywords to inform the structure of your article.
Put the primary keyword in the URL and title but make sure the latter is still catchy and compelling. Use keywords in your image file names too. But keyword stuffing is an absolute no. Ensure it sounds natural and human.
Meanwhile, supporting articles—those that dig deeper into your sub-topics—should rank for long-tail keywords. Then you can link from these articles back to your cornerstone content.
A strong internal linking structure signals to Google that your content is important. This means a linking structure that consistently points back to your cornerstone content, indicating that it’s the most important page and pushing it up in search engine rankings.
Ideally, you should be able to get to your cornerstone article directly from the homepage. Other similar but less important articles should also all link to your cornerstone article.
Backlinks are also important. If you do any guest posting or other outreach content activities, link back to your cornerstone content to boost its authority.
Don’t forget about the visuals
Keep your page visually appealing with lots of images and even videos. But ensure they are mobile-optimised and load quickly. Visitors will be put off if they have to wait around.
Include a subtle call-to-action
The point of cornerstone content is to inform, educate, and inspire—not to sell products. However, you can include a low-key call-to-action at the end of your content. For example, you might encourage them to join an email list, subscribe to your blog, or sign up for a course.
And definitely optimise your page for social. Include buttons at the end of your content so people can share it easily on various platforms.
Promote your content
Most of your views are initially going to come from email and social before they start to trickle in from organic search. This means you need to go out there and promote your content.
Send it to everyone on your email list. Share it on social—and share it multiple times. Focus on those platforms that are most appropriate for your industry. Instagram is great for lifestyle and fitness. Twitter and LinkedIn are great choices for B2B. And Facebook isn’t well suited for older target demographics, with the vast majority of users under the age of 65.
Consider paid social promotion, too, if you really want to see your content pay off.
Optimise your cornerstone strategy with Yoast plugin
One easy way to create a winning piece of cornerstone content is to use the Yoast SEO plugin. The plugin allows you to indicate if a particular article is cornerstone content. It can then help you write a high-ranking article.
First, it gives you feedback on your article in terms of SEO and readability. This will encourage you to write well with short sentences and lots of headings and to mention your keyphrase enough times to boost rankings.
Yoast SEO also has two features to ensure your linking is up to scratch. The Premium plugin has a helpful internal linking tool that suggests that you link to a cornerstone article if relevant, keeping your cornerstone content at the top of the linking hierarchy.
Meanwhile, the text link counter allows you to see how many internal links are on a page, plus how many links other posts feature to that particular page. This way you can ensure your cornerstone content is being linked to sufficiently.
Finally, Yoast SEO Premium also features a ‘stale cornerstone content filter’ so you can see those pages that need updating.
Or set up your cornerstone strategy with a RankMath plugin
RankMath is another useful WordPress plugin for your cornerstone strategy. Using the plugin, you can define a post as cornerstone content using the checkbox ‘This post is a pillar content’ under the focus keyword text box.
Then you can use the RankMath content analysis tools to help push the page up in rankings using competitive keywords. Like Yoast, you can use the keyword analysis to see how optimised your content is for those particular keywords. And, like Yoast, the plugin makes it easy to count the number of internal and external links using the Link Counter.
However, an advantage of RankMath compared to Yoast is that it offers many of the premium features of Yoast for free.
Cornerstone Content: The Final Say
Creating solid cornerstone content is an integral part of any successful content strategy. Cornerstone content is comprehensive, useful, and expresses something essential about who you are. It helps you rank higher for SEO, raises brand awareness, and establishes your authority and credibility.
Choose your cornerstone content wisely, revise it regularly, play the SEO game successfully, perfect its link structure, promote it hard—and you’re on your way to raising the potential of your entire website.