If you dabble in search engine optimisation or regularly add content to your site (as you should be), you might have heard or seen the phrase “cornerstone content” thrown around.
But what exactly does it mean, and what implications does it have for your organic results?
Here’s a hypothetical situation: let’s say you had an extremely important customer interested in your business, brand or site. You could only show them a single page of your website to convince them to make a purchase - what do you show them?
Ideally, every single page should be good enough to do this! Realistically however, not everybody has the time to go over every single page - not to mention, there are some pages which are just more important to your business. You wouldn’t show off your “contact us” page, after all!
That’s where cornerstone content comes in.
Like the name suggests, this type of content forms the basis of your entire website. Whether it’s a description page for your flagship product, an inspiring vision statement or a page with your successful projects, this is the content that best encapsulates the value you offer and forms a “hub” for the other content on your site.
You’d best believe it has a huge role to play in search engine optimisation!
What type of content should I use as cornerstone content?
The best you have!
It should go without saying that this type of content needs to be very well written (if it isn’t, go back and rewrite it until it is!)
More importantly however, this type of content needs to project the best image possible. That means your content should be:
- Convey your authority and knowledge
- Well-written and readable
- Something visitors want to read
How does cornerstone content fit into my digital strategy?
Cornerstone content is a B-I-G deal when planning your content strategy.
Cornerstone pages are more than a way to put on your best face - if your site is a bicycle wheel, cornerstone content forms the hub, with the spokes linking
to your other related pages.
Ideally, your cornerstone pages should be the type of pages that can easily branch out into different subtopics and conversations. From there, you can
easily insert internal links (links to your other pages) and send readers down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Content marketing is about more than just improving your Google rankings (although it certainly does that too). It’s about providing a great customer experience
and convincing customers that your business is one they can trust… and that translates directly into conversions.
Needless to say, inserting links and creating pages that complement and fit into your cornerstones should be your number one priority when writing cornerstone
That said, it still influences your SEO...
...Because it keeps people on your site!
While there’s disagreement over whether bounce rate is a ranking factor for SEO, time spent on your siteis.
Long story short, Google interprets people sticking around on your site as a sign that your site has good content. And that makes it much more likely to
pop up in search results, meaning better search engine optimisation.
Choosing pages that are informative and compelling and linking to equally-compelling supporting pages encourages customers to stick around. Not to mention, if people are clicking through to other pages, those pages are more likely to start ranking too!
Other tips for effective cornerstone content
Tip 1: It’s all about building links
One major ranking factor that Google uses when determining which pages are most credible (and therefore, better results) is the amount of people clicking on that page. Not only does this increase the ranking of the linked page, but it also increases the credibility of your site overall, making Google more likely to prioritise pages from your site.
For an example of how it works, look no further than Wikipedia. As everybody’s go-to site for information, countless sites and blogs link to it - most
people who visit are guilty of clicking at least a handful of other links while there, dragging out their visit even longer.
And in Google’s eyes, that many people can’t be wrong!
Google applies the same principle to your site as well. So naturally, you’ll want your cornerstone content to be the most linked-to pages on your website:
- More links means more people clicking on your cornerstone pages
- More people clicking on your cornerstones increases the odds of those pages being picked up by Google
- And since your cornerstone pages will (ideally) link to many other subtopics, the pages for those subtopics will rank higher as well
Our advice? Create content around your cornerstones!
If you maintain a blog alongside your site, you’ll want to insert plenty of links to your cornerstone pages. Try writing blogs that tackle the subject
matter of your cornerstone content, with links to the relevant cornerstone page as well.
Tip 2: Make your cornerstones easily accessible
One common quirk of human nature that marketers have exploited for decades is the power of accessibility - that’s just one of the reasons why calls-to-action like “buy now” buttons or McDonald’s asking whether you’d like fries are so effective!
If you want our advice, you’ll need to make your cornerstone content easily accessible at all times.
Links to your cornerstones should be one of the first things visitors see when they hit your main page. Additionally, it’s a good idea to ensure cornerstones
are prominently placed along your website’s navigation toolbar for users to access no matter where they are on your site.
It’s also a good idea to try fit internal links to your cornerstone content in other pages on your site. Not only does it improve accessibility, but it
can also increases how well your cornerstone pages rank!
Tip 3: Don’t re-use keywords
If you want the best outcomes for your business’ organic strategy, you’ll need to make sure you don’t recycle the same keywords for different pages.
Let’s say you maintain a blog alongside your site (if you don’t, you should start). You’ll want to make sure you don’t reuse keywords reserved for your
cornerstone content too often, lest you cause confusion.
After all, if Google sees two articles targeting the same keywords from the same site, how is it meant to choose a result to display?
Fortunately, most hosting platforms have tools that allow you to designate cornerstone content. Just tick the little box and Google will know to prioritise your cornerstone content in the event of a keyword conflict - all you have to do is remember to check it!
Tip #4: Make sure all elements of your core business have their own cornerstone page
If you want your website to rank for certain search terms, you’ll need to make sure you create cornerstone pages for those terms.
First, you’ll need to start by creating a list of your core products and services or what you want to focus on. For example, an electrician might want to focus on performing home rewirings, appliance installation and home security
Next, compile a list of keywords related to your core business. Some of your products and services might be searchable using a mix of different search terms - make sure you consider similar terms and homonyms.
Once you have your keywords, determine whether each keyword needs its own page or if some can be merged together.
And finally, create and optimise your cornerstone pages!
Tip #5: Never use blogs or “essential” business pages as cornerstone content
The difference between a blog post and a web page is a bit like the difference between a torch and a floodlight: one is an intense, highly focused beam while the other lights a broad area.
Take a guess at which one’s which!
Blogs are an essential part of any content marketing strategy. And while it’s possible to write blogs that cover a topic generally, the majority of your blog content will be diving into specific topics. For example, if you are a mechanic, it’s a lot easier to build out from “van repairs” than “hubcap replacement!”
Even if you’re a fantastic writer and create a mindblowing post about hubcaps, the topic is just too inherently narrow to serve as a cornerstone page.
If you want our advice, your cornerstone pages should be broad and cover a range of topics. Cornerstones are hubs and it’s a lot easier to branch out from
a broad page about plumbing services than a page about specific pipe replacement techniques.
It’s also a good idea to avoid using “essential” pages as cornerstones. That means your homepage, about us, contact page etcetera should never be used as cornerstone content. Not to mention, they’re just not all that compelling!
Cornerstone content is invaluable
Cornerstone content is important for SEO, not to mention securing conversions for your business. It is the - wait for it - cornerstone of your entire content strategy, and when done properly, can elevate your SEO and content strategies from middling to amazing.
If you’re keen on improving your digital strategies, cornerstone content is just one of the many strategies you can employ to secure more awareness, leads and sales (and if you need a bit of help, you can always ask for a little bit of help!)
Keen on enhancing your digital strategies with effective cornerstone content? Request a call to learn more about our content and other digital services and how we can help your business.