It is getting harder and harder to keep up with the competition and succeed in this world of online blogs.
With so many bloggers uploading quality and interesting articles on millions of web pages, you really can’t avoid asking – How to be noticed online?
What can I do to attract viewers, make my blog stand out, and potentially make me some money?
Well, here is where the importance of cornerstone content in SEO comes into play.
What is the cornerstone content?
The first time I heard the phrase “cornerstone content” was a few years ago when I was starting my first blog. I purchased a domain, finished setting up a nice WordPress theme and started writing articles for my website.
So, as I was writing one of the first posts, I noticed a small flag in the corner of the new post page, saying Cornerstone Content. I had no idea what that was, or what a crucial role it played in blogging.
I immediately went online to check it out, and I was so happy that I did.
Cornerstone content articles are the essence of your website.
They are a collection of the well-written, most important articles your site displays.
Setting an article as cornerstone content means telling the engine that it should be ranked higher than other articles.
That discovery helped me to unveil the secret path to online success. However, knowing what cornerstone content is is just the first piece of a very complicated puzzle.
Train your eye to recognise cornerstone content
Before you start working on your websites, try to look at other examples to find inspiration.
For practice, let’s analyse together a website called Movers Development. Can you spot the cornerstone content and its position?
The most important pages are Services and Portfolio since they represent the service that the website offers and the example of previously done work.
Although Services has its own page, you can find Portfolio on the homepage as well.
When a customer visits your website, they will first look for ways to identify if you are a successful company. If you can show him the satisfaction of previous clients, chances are he or she will decide to hire you.
Understanding the structure of the cornerstone content
To help you in putting these pieces of the puzzle together, let me tell you a bit more about the structure of the cornerstone content.
First, ask yourself, how will you know what articles to mark as cornerstone content? What separates these special articles from others?
Well, the primary difference is in the content. As I said above, cornerstone articles should cover the most important topics of your website.
They should be well-written, interesting and instructional, and most of all, they should provide a solution for the reader.
But, how will the user know what article to read if you have 20 articles on the same subject?
Link structure and the position of the cornerstone articles
The best way to explain this is to give you an example.
Since I am a huge photography enthusiast, let’s say that you are writing a blog about photography.
First, you wrote an article about the best lenses for a camera. Then, you have an article about how to maintain your camera and another one about how to take photos at sunset.
On its own, all of these articles provide useful information for the reader.
Now, on top of that, you wrote an awesome article called The Ultimate Guide to photography.
This is the article that has the best and most complete information, and you think it should be the most useful one for your readers.
That is your cornerstone article! That is what you want all of your readers to read when they visit your website.
The best way to accomplish that is to make it visible and easily accessible to your readers. Do not put it somewhere where they will have to click on two or three sub pages to get to it. The best is to display it on the front page.
Another useful advice that will help you in building cornerstone content is link structure. The more articles you have that link to your cornerstone content, the better the rating is on the search engines.
As your website grows, you will slowly write more and more articles that cover the main topic from multiple angles. By creating a pathway of quality links that lead to and from your main articles, you make them visible for all. That is how your website grows over time.
Recommended reading: SEO for Photographers
How to pick the cornerstone articles?
Now that you have learned a bit about cornerstone articles, let’s talk about how to pick them. You should be very careful during this process.
If you make a mistake, you may sabotage yourself, and destroy chances to build a high rank.
Sure, we have established that you should include the most important and well-written articles, but what if you have more of them?
Here is where you have to analyse the size of your website. If you have 50 articles, and 40 of them are marked as the cornerstone, that will not help you much.
On another note, if you have 500 articles but only one marked as the cornerstone, you are missing a chance to promote more posts.
Based on the number of your articles, and the categories of interest you cover, you should slowly build up your cornerstone content.
As the number of posts rises, you add more cornerstone articles. For starters, it is good to have 3 to 5 main articles.
Cornerstone articles optimisation
One of the most important things when it comes to the importance of cornerstone content in SEO is optimisation.
That includes keyword research, link tracking, and much more. Here is where it really pays out to get some assistance from an SEO expert.
Furthermore, one of the best tools to help you with optimising cornerstone content is a backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs. It shows you how many links are leading to and from your cornerstone articles and many many more.
You can further analyse those links to check how important they are. If you think that a certain link that leads to or from your cornerstone article may harm its reputation, remove it immediately.
Editing articles to turn them into cornerstone content
Writing is an everchanging and evolving process. It might happen that you wrote an article without the intention of making it a cornerstone content.
However, it has a lot of viewers. You should use this opportunity, edit it a bit and let it grow your website.
Try to link other important articles to it, but in a subtle way. Do not change too much, because there is a reason why this article is so important.
Nevertheless, with a few small changes, you can improve it over time. You should do the same with other articles you wrote. If you think they are not getting enough attention, try to re-write them.
Furthermore, let me give you one pro tip…
Write every article as though you are writing cornerstone content!
The importance of cornerstone content in SEO
So, with all that’s been said so far about cornerstone content, let me talk about its benefits.
How can cornerstone content improve your website?
Providing quality articles to your readers is certainly great, but how will you benefit from it?
The ultimate goal of your website should be to:
- attract relevant viewers
- raise awareness about your brand
- build natural links
- create a feeling of trust
So, let’s dive a little deeper into these points.
Attracting relevant viewers
The first goal of cornerstone content is to build a growing number of loyal readers. Once you know who your readers are, you have a chance to promote something of value.
For example, if you are a web designer, you might start a blog about web design. Offer useful advice and tips to your readers. Educate them and help them understand the importance of web design.
Next to this, you can promote your services on your blog, and offer quick solutions. Here is where the cornerstone content comes into play. It should target a specific audience, interested in your services.
Building a brand with cornerstone content
Becoming a brand means becoming successful and recognised. If you use cornerstone content in the correct way, you have a great chance of completing this step.
By writing well-composed, informative and useful articles, you are raising awareness about yourself.
Readers will recognise quality and spread words about you. After all, the best way to grow your business is through word of mouth.
If you keep delivering quality and be consistent, your brand will build itself.
The importance of natural links
A major benefit of cornerstone content is that it helps you to build natural links. A natural link is a link that leads to another article of the same or greater value.
If there is one thing that engines like, it is natural links. That is how the rank of your website goes up.
On another hand, bad links will only harm your content.
Be very careful if linking outbound links to your articles, especially if they are cornerstone content. Outbound links lead to another website, and they should be used only if it is beneficial to you.
One of the general rules is never to link to a competitor’s website because you are sending your readers to your competitors.
Furthermore, you should check from time to time if the links you used are still active. Sometimes, the link expires because the website shut down.
If that happens, you have a link that leads to nowhere. In that case, you should replace it immediately.
It is also important to avoid a strategy where you make a deal with someone to link to your website if you will link to his or hers. Engines can see through that scheme, and they will punish you by lowering the rank of your website.
Build a feeling of trust with your readers
The ultimate goal of cornerstone content is to form a bond of trust between you and your readers.
If they develop that sense of security, knowing that you provide good and valid information, they will start to appreciate you more.
Also, if you are consistent with providing quality, you will also build authority in the eyes of your readers. And not only among them but among the competitor websites as well.
Think about it, your goal should be to get to the number one page on Google or other search engines. When that happens, your success is guaranteed.
Building business relationships with cornerstone content
Here is where we up our game for a whole level. When you establish a certain authority and trust among readers and competitors, you put yourself in the centre of all happening.
Your articles have a reputation, and other companies may wish to work with you.
If you know someone who also has a strong and reputable blog, make a connection with them. If your cornerstone content leads to another large website, that is a good thing.
However, it is even better if other large websites lead to your cornerstone content. That is the true validation of your quality.
Cornerstone Content: Learn, experiment, and make it happen!
As you can see, cornerstone articles play an essential role in building a successful website.
By learning about cornerstone content and its strategies, you put yourself on a path of success.
However, you should look at this article only as a beginning in your education. It is just my humble contribution to a vast database of tutorials and guides (like this one from Yoast) about the importance of cornerstone content in SEO.
Do not stop here, it takes a lot of patience and effort to master this art. Have in mind that online technologies go through a process of constantly evolving, and engines are becoming smarter and smarter every day.
And with the level of competition in the field, it becomes harder and harder to make a name for yourself.
With that in mind, learn, experiment, and make it happen!
I’m a UK based freelance SEO consultant and digital marketer and I provide results-driven online consulting and digital marketing services to SMEs. Are you ready to grow in 2020? Get in touch today!