The structure of your site is not only important for search engines, but also for your users. Over time, as your site grows, this structure becomes even more important. The way you keep that structure organized and intact is by creating what SEOs call cornerstone content. In this post, we explain what cornerstone content is and how to write awesome cornerstone articles for your website.
What is cornerstone content?
Cornerstone content is the most important content you write on your website. These are the pages and/or posts you choose to optimize for your most important head and mid-tail keywords. They are the ones you want ranking in the search engines above all other posts and pages on your site.
In order to keep that content ranking in the search results, it must:
- Be relevant and kept up-to-date
- Reflect the mission and vision of your brand
- Be well-written and optimized
- Be linked to in your other related blog posts
- Serve as a complete information “hub” for that particular topic
What kind of content makes for a solid cornerstone post?
Cornerstone articles should be informative, designed to explain to your readers everything they need to know about a particular topic. That means these cornerstone posts will naturally need to be longer than most of the other content you’ve written on your blog (at least 900 words). It also means you will need to do some research to make sure you have accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive information for your readers. The plus side to this is that longer texts rank more easily in Google than shorter ones!
When thinking of ideas for a cornerstone article, focus on the field around your business. Do you sell handmade clothing? Write about all the fabrics people can choose from when cutting their own cloth patterns. Are you a tour guide? Write a guide for packing a suitcase for a trip overseas. The possibilities here are endless! Think about what applies to your business, and start planning out that content!
Let’s say you own a bakery. For one of your cornerstone articles, you could create an ultimate guide to cake decorating. You could talk briefly about the importance of having the best possible ingredients, explain how to make awesome frosting, and share essential decorating tips. From this main post, you could then link to other smaller articles that dive into more detail about the different aspects of cake decorating that you talk about in your cornerstone.
Don’t try to sell anything
One more thing: even though you may want to write great cornerstone content to convince people to buy your products, don’t do it. Cornerstone content should, first and foremost, inform your readers and show them that they can trust you as an expert on the topic. Instead, use your smaller blog posts to talk about particular products or services you want to highlight.
How to write great cornerstone content
1. Decide on a keyword
If you have conducted thorough keyword research, you should have a decent list of keywords you want the pages on your site to rank for. Take a look at your head and mid-tail keywords, and select one that you think fits the topic of the cornerstone post you want to write. Using our bakery example, we would probably choose to optimize our post for the keyphrase [guide to cake decorating].
Make sure the words you choose to optimize for are words your audience is using! Otherwise, you won’t get any traffic to your site.
2. Plan out your cornerstone
Planning is essential with a post this comprehensive and important. Create an outline so you have an idea of the topics you need to address and in what order you should discuss them. Once you have a framework in place, you can start with the writing process.
3. Write first, then optimize it
Sit down and write your cornerstone. Remember, this article should cover all the information that is relevant to the topic you’ve chosen to write about. While you will want to optimize it for the search engines eventually, this is not the time to worry about that. Use this step as an opportunity to get all your thoughts about the topic written down. You can always edit and optimize after you finish your rough draft.
4. Optimize other posts for long tail keywords
Once that cornerstone is written and ready to go, take some time to write and/or optimize your other smaller blog posts about similar topics to your cornerstone. You should optimize these smaller posts for long tail variants of the keyword you optimized your cornerstone for. Going back to our same example: if our head keyword is [guide to cake decorating], some long tail variants could be [cake decorating supplies for beginners], [cake decorating ideas for kids’ birthdays], or [cake decorating classes for adults].
5. Linking everything together
Once you’ve optimized all your posts for the right keywords, you want to link them together. Every time Google crawls your site, it follows links. And it takes note of how many links go to and come from each page on your website. Pages with more links coming to them are more important than pages only receiving one or two links; those are the pages Google will rank in the search results. If all the pages on your site have the same amount of links (or none at all), Google can’t tell what is important or what deserves to rank. So it won’t rank any of them.
In your cornerstone, link out to the smaller posts. And make sure each of those smaller posts has a link to your cornerstone. Google will see all these links going to your cornerstone and understand that it is more important. That it should be the page that ranks in the search results.
Where should you put these articles on your site?
Your cornerstone articles should be relatively easy to find on your site, within a few clicks. If it makes sense to include them in your navigation menu or feature them on your homepage, do so. Just be careful about too much clutter. This will only confuse visitors and lead to people bouncing off your website back to Google.
Don’t forget to promote your cornerstones
Like you would with any other blog posts on your website, make sure you share your cornerstone on your social media profiles. You can also send out your new post in an email, to let your audience know it’s out there. Yet another option is to reach out to other people who have written about this topic and ask if they would mind sharing it with their followers. You might even want to offer to write a guest post on the topic, linking back to your cornerstone article.
Whatever you do, don’t just publish it and let it sit there unnoticed! You should be proud of this content and should want as many people to find it as possible!
Your cornerstone posts are those articles on your site that you want to rank in the search results. They should receive the most attention, so they can be the most complete, the most well-written, and the most authoritative.
Follow the steps in this article to help you write amazing, valuable cornerstone content. Put the effort in now to do this right. It will pay off in the long-run – trust us!