Cornerstone content: what it is & why you should prioritise it

Last updated Oct 8, 2021

A successful and profitable business website requires consistent care and attention to ensure it continues to attract and convert new customers. An element of your website that should not be ignored is content, and in this article, I will discuss cornerstone content – what it is and why you should prioritise it.

Cornerstone content is one of the most important factors in helping your website rank on search engines and therefore, helping your business be discovered by potential new customers (for free).

It refers to evergreen website content that is specific, informative and relevant to your website’s niche. Often, a page or blog post on your website that is considered cornerstone content will include simple, helpful information for your business’s area of expertise in an easy-to-understand way.

Cornerstone content meaning

To put it simply, cornerstone content is a blog post or page on a subject that people regularly search for, that enables you to position yourself or your business as the go-to on that topic. Cornerstone content comes in many formats, some great examples are how-tos, beginners guides, definitions, FAQs and other types of informational blog posts.

In practice, a blog post titled “The complete beginner’s guide to building your own website” would be cornerstone content for this website, as it would provide simple, helpful information related to my business’s area of specialty – helping people build their own websites.

It’s important to note that not every page or blog post on your website will be typical cornerstone content, sometimes the articles that are most relevant on your site may take you by surprise. Digging into your website analytics to find which pages or posts already bring traffic to your site can help to inform your cornerstone content strategy and show you which posts you can focus on improving or replicating for another product or service.

Why use cornerstone content?

Still not convinced as to why you should focus on writing (or improving) cornerstone content for your website? Here are the two main reasons why you should be using it:

1. Cornerstone content can help improve your SEO, boosting your website’s place in search results and helping to bring more potential customers to your website. Blog posts or articles that are classed as cornerstone content are typically lengthy, full of useful information, informative, and well-linked – all factors that are important for ranking highly on search engines.

2. Ensuring your website is simple to navigate and helpful can be the difference between turning new site visitors into potential customers and losing them to competitor websites. The use of well-thought-out cornerstone content can make a massive impact in informing new website visitors of your expertise, building trust in you or your brand and ultimately converting them into customers.

Which of my posts should be cornerstone content?

There are two factors to consider when decided which blog posts or articles should be cornerstone content on your website:

1. What do your website analytics say?

Unless your website is brand new, you will already have a wealth of information about the pages your site visitors find most helpful and how they find you. Load up Google Analytics and look at: ‘behaviour > site content > all pages’. This tells you which pages are most popular on your website, it’s also worth looking at ‘average time on page’ within this report to see which of your pages engage visitors for the longest. Next load up ‘landing pages’, this will show you what content is bringing visitors to your website.

2. What does your ideal customer want to know?

Open your website and look at it through the eyes of your ideal customer. Imagine they are interested in your niche but have never heard of your business before. Ask yourself, if you didn’t know much about your area of expertise, or were just becoming curious about it, what would you want to know? What information would you be looking for? The blogs and articles that a potential new customer would attempt to find are the definition of cornerstone content – simple, easy to understand, useful content that teaches your website visitors something.

Take a look at your research and make a list of all the posts that will be helpful to your ideal customers. This list may be long, but you don’t need to feel overwhelmed – you can work on building your cornerstone content over time.  Consider what issues will be most interesting for a visitor searching for content in your niche, and select 3 posts from your list to improve or write to begin with. As an example, if you are a yoga teacher who works predominantly with women over 45 an article about the ‘different types of yoga’ or ‘yoga for menopause’ may be good suggestions.

Once you have your 3 posts to write or improve, figure out what keywords to use – this will help with your search engine optimisation. To do this, ask yourself what search someone would do to find your page. What would they google? Once you know what keywords you want to target, focus on using those keywords within your post.

The trick to creating good cornerstone content is ensuring your articles are both helpful and have wide appeal, this way it delivers twofold: bringing more visitors to your site and positioning you as knowledgeable, helping to create trust and convert visitors to customers.

How to rock your cornerstone content

Whilst cornerstone content can come in a variety of formats and therefore there is no one-size-fits-all formula, there are elements that help to create well-performing content that builds trust.

Make sure your cornerstone content ticks these boxes:

  • Valuable – Your cornerstone content should be useful and helpful for your site visitors, giving them everything they need to understand the basics of something (take the article you are reading on cornerstone content right now as an example). If the reader later hears the subject come up in conversation, they should be able to say “I read an article on this the other day, it covers the basics. I’ll share it with you”. Your article gives them the foundations of knowledge.  
  • Easy to understand – As above, cornerstone content is about foundations and basics. It should be simple and clear, even if explaining a complicated issue. Make sure everything is broken down into easy to understand language and use subheadings to simplify your subject matter.
  • Relevant to your business and website – This is important for both your business and your site visitors, cornerstone content should be a starting point for them to dive deeper into learning more about you and your niche. It should link to other parts of your website to help them learn more about your products or services and expand their knowledge to more in-depth concepts.
  • Link to other pages and blogs on your website – When you mention the cornerstone topics in other posts and places, link back to the cornerstone blogs. This will improve your SEO as it means search engine crawlers will interpret them as more important than your other web pages. Every time you write a new post, think about similar posts you have written and link to these. As an example, if you’re writing a post about different types of yoga as a cornerstone piece, make sure you link back to it from blogs like “yoga for beginners”, “what you need to know before your first yoga class” and your “about me – yoga teacher” page.
  • Consistently maintained and updated – Your website needs to be consistently maintained and your cornerstone content is no different. Once written, schedule a review of each article every six months (at least). Use this review to re-read the content and make sure it is easy to understand, as well as updating it with any new information or links. If time allows, include updating website content in your monthly website review.

Conclusion – improve your cornerstone content today

It goes without saying that any subject you are planning to cover in a piece of cornerstone content should be a topic you know very well, or are prepared to get to know very well. Your website’s cornerstone content positions you as an expert in your niche, whilst introducing site visitors to your business.

As discussed in this article, cornerstone content can be either a blog post or a webpage. But whichever format you choose, you need to make sure your content is well written, updated regularly, and targeted towards your chosen keywords. Once you have written new cornerstone content or improved existing cornerstone content, make sure to continually promote and optimise your content. This helpful, informative content will attract new potential customers so you want to make sure it’s not wasted.

Read How to increase your blog traffic: 11 places to share your new blog post if you need some guidance on how to share your new blog posts.

Vicky Etherington

Vicky Etherington has been running her own online marketing agency since 2003, and in 2014 transitioned to working with coaches and therapists to teach them how to create their own client-attracting websites. 

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