What is Cornerstone Content and Why Do We Do It
What is Cornerstone Content and Why Do We Do It
SEO is constantly changing, so your SEO strategy must change with it. The key piece of content for your site, the content that gives your visitors all the information they need and forms the foundation for the rest of your content, is cornerstone content.
So, what is cornerstone content, and why do we do it?
What is Cornerstone Content?
Cornerstone, as the dictionary defines it, is “an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.” In content marketing, cornerstone content is the long-form content piece that holds everything else together, giving your visitors one stop to address all their needs and direct them to other pertinent information on your site. They reflect your business’s mission, hold well-researched and in-depth information, and as a result, they tend to rank high in search engine listings. In short, cornerstone content is a long-form content piece that explains what your business does or contains a tutorial or guide. Most importantly, cornerstone content is essential and foundational for your business marketing.
Why Do We Do It?
From an SEO perspective, cornerstone content is golden. Cornerstone content is a living document that forms a page on your site, not just a transient blog post, and should be continually updated and expanded to stay current. This signals to Google and other search engines that your website provides useful information.
It also helps with keywords. Ranking for the most popular search terms can be difficult, but writing such an in-depth and detailed article naturally gives you the primary and secondary keywords you need to rank for as well as provides you with the cornerstone of the internal linking strategy that boosts SEO.
Both external and internal links are important for SEO. If you want to rank, the site structure needs to be foolproof. It seems that Google perceives articles with many internal links pointing to them as the most important content found on a website, which is why cornerstone content can provide you with such a strong foundation for your overall SEO strategy.
If it’s done properly, cornerstone content addresses the users’ needs, solves their problems and gives them what they want, which is Google’s main goal when returning results for a search query. It’s not about promotion, selling or aggressive pitches, it’s about providing your visitors with the information they are seeking. From there, they can learn more about what you can do for them with the other pages on your website.
It’s beneficial for each business to have at least one piece of cornerstone content on their website which addresses the broad needs and issues customers usually face and offers valuable information not easily found elsewhere. Unfortunately, this can be a tall order for many businesses, especially in industries with high competition.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Cornerstone Content
Creating unique cornerstone content that’s designed to rank isn’t easy, but you can succeed by following these steps to develop the right cornerstone content for your site:
Step 1: Choosing Your Topic
Start by thinking about your audience. What are their problems? What are their pain points? Of the problems they have, what isn’t being solved by the content available to them? What problems are you qualified to address?
This step can’t be rushed, since it will impact the rest of the decision-making process in developing your content piece. Don’t be afraid to research more, post some questions on social media or ask the rest of your team, since you may find a unique perspective you didn’t see before.
You also want to conduct some research to be sure that you’re not reinventing the wheel. You need to stand out in a sea of the same, so do some searches to see what else is available on that topic and avoid getting lost in the crowd.
Ideally, you’re looking for a point of entry. The best topic for your piece is something that people are currently looking for but are unable to find. Better yet, find a topic that people search for, but can’t find satisfying answers.
Once you find your topic, then think about the format. Many cornerstone content pieces are long-form articles, but you can also use data visualization, a searchable database, a tool or other content type that’s suitable for your topic and audience.
Step 2: Keyword Research
Keyword research can give you the keywords with the search volume, as well as the questions people ask that you could address within your piece.
Step 3: Content Planning
Depending on your current staff and resources, you may want to tackle your cornerstone content in-house. For many businesses, however, this is too much to take on, and the last thing you would want is to waste time, money and effort working on a piece that misses the mark.
With the value and potential of cornerstone content, it’s best left to professionals with an in-depth knowledge of SEO and content marketing. You can still choose the topic and conduct some of the research yourself, but a professional team can take it the extra step to be sure you get all you can for your effort.
Step 4: Content Creation
Finally, we’re at the end stages of creating your cornerstone content. Most of the legwork is done, but there are a few things to keep in mind at this stage:
Quality matters above all else. This is your reputation and your brand, so take the time to fact check and elevate the content as much as possible, leaving adequate time for review and revisions.
Your piece should be both visually appealing and readable. Make it easy to navigate and mobile-friendly to be sure your readers stay on the page.
Double-check your keywords and make sure they occur naturally throughout your content. Ultimately, they should guide your structure and inform each aspect of your piece to maximize your results.
Ensure your content stays on point and works toward your intent. It can be easy to get carried away in the process, so check back often to make sure that your piece still addresses the needs of your audience.
Use your content as an opportunity to showcase your brand voice, your values and your business mission.
Avoid pushy selling or too much promotion, since that can create distrust in your readers instantly. The idea is to be there for them and their needs, not sell your own products and services. If the content is done correctly, your visitors will start searching your site to learn more about your services on their own.
Step 5: Optimization
Cornerstone content is designed to bring in new visitors and showcase your brand. If done correctly, it will be bookmarked and referenced from your readers often, so you want it optimized to be found in an organic search. You also want it to be shareable, so people stumble upon it on social media. Ideally, your site will already be optimized for SEO best practices, so your new content piece can just be worked in. Your primary keyword, which is the one that has the highest volume and relates to your topic, should be included in both the title and the URL.
That said, you want your keyword to be natural, and your content should not be focused on keywords only. People can spot a sell, so find a way to work your keyword in to your title and URL in a way that still entices people to read it.
Your keyword should also appear in the body of your content, but in a way that’s natural. Keyword stuffing isn’t good for many reasons, though you don’t want to avoid it so carefully that your keywords don’t appear at all. It’s a fine line, but a well-written piece on a particular topic will most likely have natural uses of your keywords. This helps you be found by search engines and increases the readability of your content.
Images should be optimized as well, with relevant keywords included in your image file names. It’s also important to be sure that your images load quickly, since readers are more likely to click away from your content if the images slow the page down.
Finally, be sure that your content works well on mobile. Smartphones, tablets and other devices are primarily used for searches, rather than desktop, so you want your page to be readable and easy to navigate on a variety of devices.
As far as sales goes, your content should be informational and neutral above all else, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be optimized for conversion. People may not immediately read your content and click away to buy something, since this is the top of the funnel, but it can still lead to sales in the future. A CTA or pop-up at the end of the content can help your visitors convert in a way that doesn’t interrupt the experience.
You should also cookie your visitors, giving yourself an opportunity to remarket to them in the future. Once they become a fan of your brand and learn a little more about what you have to offer, remarketing ads could be all it takes to turn them into repeat customers.
Step 6: Promotion
If you’re going to put all your effort into a cornerstone content piece, you wouldn’t want to fall short of promoting it properly. It takes a while for content to rank in an organic search, especially for newer brands, so it’s best to promote your content with social media and email to get it in front of the right audience.
With email, a simple email blast that’s dedicated to your content piece and personalized for your audience is enough, but social media takes a bit more work.
You’ll want to promote your content on multiple social media platforms, which means tailoring your social posts, images or format for the intended platform. For instance, videos are great for Facebook, so you may want to consider converting your content to a short video for better traction that leads a user to read the full piece.
Sharing often is important as well, since you want to be sure it gets the maximum exposure. Posts can easily get lost in the shuffle on social media, but sharing your piece ensures that the right eyes have an opportunity to see it.
You can also do paid promotion on social media. This is especially easy with the availability of customized audiences and the relevance algorithm that keeps content with higher engagement in the rotation.
Step 7: Maintenance
After you’ve put in all the work, all you can do is wait. Over time, your content will get more attention, engagement, links and shares, giving you the information you need to track its performance and make adjustments as needed.
For instance, there may be some breakthrough or trend that is relevant to your topic. You can always adjust your piece to reflect these changes and double-check all the information to be sure that it’s accurate and up to date. Generally, your cornerstone content should receive an update once each quarter, at the least, to keep it fresh and relevant.
Get Help From a Professional SEO Agency
Cornerstone content has a lot of promise for boosting your brand’s exposure, but only if it’s done correctly. A lot of time, effort and expense goes into creating cornerstone content that ranks, so why not use a professional SEO agency to ensure your content is the best it can be?
At Optimized Scribes, we have the team to help you keep your business competitive and maximize your SEO gains with quality content that boosts your online presence. Contact us today to learn more about what we have to offer!