SEO: How to Choose Cornerstone ContentJanuary 11, 2021 10:36 am | Published by Next Horizon
Recently updated on August 8th, 2022
Cornerstone content should be a key aspect of your SEO strategy, as it helps search engines understand your website. Knowing how to choose and create cornerstone content can help search engines like Google, Bing, and Baidu index your website faster and with better results.
Think of the internet as a massive filing system. Each search engine is tasked with discovering and storing, or “indexing,” new content – web pages, blog posts, etc. Every time you search for something online, that search engine’s massive filing system must then sift through its database and deliver relevant search results.
So, how do you expect search engines to navigate your content when you haven’t taken the steps to lay a solid foundation? Let’s explore how to create cornerstone content that will help clue search engines into what your website’s all about!
What Is Cornerstone Content?
Cornerstone content is the heart of your website. The term refers to the long-form posts or pages on your website that showcase your expertise on a given topic. Cornerstone Content forms the foundation of your site structure, and your content marketing strategy.
Building out cornerstone content helps you rank for competitive keywords and search terms. If you write often about a certain topic, you need to tell search engines which is the most important. If you don’t, you risk keyword cannibalization and competing against yourself to rank.
How to Create Cornerstone Content
When creating cornerstone content, keep in mind that those posts or pages should be comprehensive. It doesn’t matter whether they are posts or pages, as long as it’s timeless, easy to find on your website, and informative. Cornerstone content should be linked in the main menu, or easy to find on the homepage.
Marking a random blog post or page as cornerstone content will not help.
Give this page the attention it deserves! Since this is your topic’s time to shine, you should include enough text for search engines to crawl the site and get a true snapshot of what the page is talking about. Aim for at least 900 words for cornerstone content.
Repeat your keyword many times without keyword stuffing. Then, point other relevant blog posts or pages to your cornerstone content. The more links that lead to this page, the more search engines will understand that this is a page of importance.
Cornerstone Content Quick Tips:
- Can be a post or page, but should contain at least 900 words.
- Choose a focus keyword and use it as often, but as naturally as possible.
- Funnel other relevant blog posts on your site to the foundational topic with internal links.
- Include cornerstone articles on your homepage or in the main menu.
How to Choose Cornerstone Content
If you skipped this step when building out your site structure, how should you choose which pages or posts to select as cornerstone content? And how do you know if that is the right type of content to choose?
When deciding which articles to select as cornerstone content on a preexisting site, consider this:
- Which posts or pages do you want to direct visitors to?
- What posts or pages are already performing well in search results?
Cornerstone content should build your credibility by teaching visitors about a topic, or talking about your brand. Follow these steps to turn some of your existing articles into show-stopping, SEO-friendly cornerstone content!
Step 1: Keywords
Think about the keywords and phrases that you want to be known for, or found by. Use this list to conduct keyword research, then select your head and long-tail keywords.
Your cornerstone content should have a “head” keyword that makes sense with the post topic. A head keyword is a short-tail, competitive term. The non-cornerstone content posts on your website, or cluster topics, should have long-tail keywords with low competition. Those posts or pages will act as topic clusters, and funnel visitors to the relevant cornerstone page.
If your site does not have a solid keyword selected for your cornerstone article, you’ll need to do some tweaking. To find a relevant keyword for your cornerstone article, think about which keywords you are trying to rank for given that topic. Make sure that you are choosing a keyword or phrase that people are using to search for your content.
Step 2: Choose the right post
Sure, all of your website posts and pages are important. But you won’t do any good by marking all of your posts as cornerstone content. You need a content strategy in order to choose the right post!
Use Google Analytics to find which posts or pages are your breadwinners. If you don’t know how to do that, check out this article about how to find the content that is working for you, and how to remove outdated content.
In the GA dashboard, toggle your date range filters to make sure that you get an accurate snapshot of your performance over time. The web pages and posts that are consistently bringing in traffic are good indications for cornerstone content.
Step 3: Rewrite the article
You may or may not have to do this step, but if you’ve had to focus a new keyword, then you’ll be rewriting the post. Expand on your topic, make it timeless, thread in your chosen keyword, and use proper formatting for SEO blogs to help search engines index the URL faster.
Step 4: Map your cluster topics
Once you’ve beefed up your cornerstone content article, you should revisit your other blogs. Take inventory of all of your current blog posts and jot down which posts should point to what cornerstone content article.
Your other blog posts should be optimized for long-tail variants of the chosen head keyword. Use the keyword research you conducted when searching for the cornerstone article keyword, and filter those cluster topic keywords and key phrases into your other pages.
Your short-form cluster topic posts should funnel users to your new and improved cornerstone content article!
Mark Cornerstone Content
The way in which you mark cornerstone content on your website will vary depending on your content management system (CMS), and your preference. But if you’re a WordPress user, you’ll want to install the Yoast SEO plugin.
The Yoast SEO plugin is a powerful and user-friendly SEO tool that enables users to mark their content as cornerstone content, along with a wealth of other SEO must-do’s. Installing the Yoast SEO plugin will empower you to set a focus keyword, analyze your content and internal linking structure, input custom meta titles and meta descriptions, among other things.
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