What is Cornerstone Content (and Why Your Site Needs It)

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Think of your website as the solid power girl band of the 90s – the Spice Girls. Let’s take a closer look at the fab five. What do we see? Five strong, individual characters who stuck to their brand for nearly a decade. The Spice Girls are a marketer’s dream. So what does 90s girl power have to do with cornerstone content?

What you will learn

  • What cornerstone content means
  • How to find your 3-5 cornerstone posts
  • What do to with those posts

What is cornerstone content?

The Spice Girls would not have had this success without their high kicking, girl-power brand. Their look, power stance, speeches, and songs are all entwined in this brand and their niche. If we take a look at their successful hits – Wannabe (zig a zig ah), Mama, 2 Become 1, etc we can see that they define the band and the brand.

These number 1 chart songs are the Spice Girls’ cornerstone content. They are instantly recognisable. Your site should have around 3-5 cornerstone articles which are based on the main themes of your website, instantly recognisable as your brand. Think of cornerstone content as an umbrella post or a hub article which links out to lots of other articles on your site.

Finding your own cornerstone content

Try using a copy of our cornerstone content spreadsheet (which you can access here) map your cornerstone articles to the related articles on your site. This sheet will help you keep track of what you need to link to.

Task 1

Take a blank piece of paper and write the name of your website in the middle of a mind map/spider diagram. Now open your spreadsheet of articles (if you don’t have one I recommend creating this now, super useful for when you start to seriously kick your SEO game up a notch and also for when you start to introduce affiliates to your website). Next, study your articles and answer these questions:

  1. What are the main themes?
  2. At a party, a new friend asks what your site is about – what are the main 3-5 topics you cover?
  3. What do you want users to take away from your website?

Basically, which posts most define your brand?

Case study example

  • Website: Savored Journeys (Laura’s main travel site)
  • Main themes: Food, drink and travel
  • Cornerstone content: How to plan a food trip / Best foodie destinations around the world (etc)
  • Why? These posts are extremely informative, accurate and up-to-date. The site also has some authority on these posts which helps her with keyword competition

Task 2

On the paper, draw an arrow from your website title and identify the first topic (like Laura’s topic of food). Do the same for all of your main topics. For each topic, identify which articles have already written, what you need to do to improve them, and which articles you still need to create.

Now, identify which keywords you are attempting to rank for in each cornerstone article. If you have not begun your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy yet, feel free to skip this section, but we highly recommend that you don’t put off SEO any longer. Your competitors are already seeing success.

Don’t get left behind.

Don’t believe us? Check out this thread in our Make Traffic Happen Facebook support group (it’s free to join!)

In Laura’s example of Best Foodie Destinations Around the World, she has created a large, broad article on those destinations. Within this post she links to other articles that she has on her website already which are related to this cornerstone article. Examples of articles she links to are

  • Thai Cooking Classes
  • Peruvian Food
  • Copenhagen Food Tour
  • Borough Market in London
  • And many many more (you can read the cornerstone article here)

Cornerstone content – internal links

What are internal links?

Internal linking is when you highlight anchor text and add a ‘do follow‘ link (URL) to that text. It has to be ‘do follow’ to allow the link juice to flow between the posts. The link already exists on your website, it is old content, which you have already published – this makes it an internal link.

Now that you’ve identified your cornerstone content, you need to make it work for you. You want internally link to articles that exist on your website already (like Laura did linking to the Thai Cooking Class) and also link back to that cornerstone article.

In Laura’s case, she would link to Thai Cooking Classes from Best Foodie Destinations then link back from Best Foodie Destinations to Thai Cooking Classes.

Find your related articles

Task 3 – There are three ways to do this: 

  1. Look at your spreadsheet of articles and identify which articles discuss similar content. In Laura’s example, she may include links to content about food tours, best recipes, and where to eat posts. Add this information to the corresponding cornerstone article of your mind map.
  2. Go to All Posts in WordPress and select a related category (e.g Scotland,). Note that this only works if you use categories. This is my preferred method.
  3. The final way is Laura’s preferred method, which is just to use the search option of your site and type in a theme or topic, then sort through what your search pulls up.

Whatever way you go for, add the related posts to the cornerstone article in your mind map. Do this for every cornerstone post.

Task 4

Put in the internal links. You want to link to your cornerstone post from each of these similar articles and also link back from your cornerstone.

Task 5 (optional)

Why not make them stand out with clear Call to Actions (CTAs) using coloured boxes? Click here for easy instructions on how to do this without using a plugin.

Read more: Like this style of teaching? Download the first chapter of our eBook for free 

Let Yoast help you organise

Yoast is a great guidance (it is not God), and free, plugin for SEO (you can read here why we don’t believe in making every light green). One section we particularly like is the option to tick if a specific post is a cornerstone article. This will help you identify which posts you feel most identify your brand and niche.

Cornerstone Content Yoast

Task 6: Add to your homepage

Think of your website as a mountain, the peak is your homepage and it is survival of the fittest to reach that summit! Only the very best, your cornerstone in this instance, will make it to the top.

Add your cornerstone to your homepage via a text link or image link. You will need a static homepage to do this (you can access more information about this step here). By adding it to the homepage not only is there a chance more readers will see it but it also tells Google that it is an important article in the hierarchy of your website.

The link juice flows from the article at the top (homepage) all the way to the articles that it links to.

Hurry the Process Up

It can take Google a while to crawl your website and update its database, so why not help move things along a bit quicker? You can do this by submitting a full sitemap to Google Console or adding your cornerstone post to this link (you can submit up to 500 links in 30 days). We can’t promise that it works 100% of the time and don’t actually use this process often but others do.

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Final task

If you used the mapping method, you can now add your cornerstone articles (and the articles you have linked to) to your spreadsheet! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in our Facebook group, Make Traffic Happen.

Common Questions About Cornerstone Posts

  1. Does it matter if the cornerstone is a page or post?
    No, it can be either. The difference is that a page will not show up in your blogroll if you have a blog page or in RSS if that is switched on and linked to the newsletter. Pages can rank on Google(appear on the first page of Google) like posts do.
  2. Can I use the same keywords for my cornerstone as I do an article that is already on my site?
    This is not advised because you want to try and rank for both posts.
  3. One of my themes is low-calorie recipes – I write about low-calorie recipes does this mean every single one of my articles are my cornerstone posts?
    No, this is not the case. You need to identify your foundation posts, expect to have around 3-5 cornerstones.
  4. Is my homepage my cornerstone article?
    Since your homepage most likely links out to lots of different articles and there is probably a limited amount of text on it, your homepage is not an example of a cornerstone article.

Cornerstone content is one of the main principles in our SEO the Easy Way course. Without cornerstone content, your site will lack the authority it needs to survive.


Cornerstone content is what defines your brand and website. It tells new users and search engines what you believe in and what your website wants to share.  Do not panic if you are feeling overwhelmed by cornerstone content, it is just one tiny area of the YES to SEO challenge and we want to help you make 2019 be your best year yet. Remember to update the next page of your spreadsheet (which you can find here or in your inbox) and ask any questions to our link-minded Make Traffic Happen family in our Facebook group.

Please leave any questions, comments or compliments below. 

12 thoughts on “What is Cornerstone Content (and Why Your Site Needs It)

  1. Bishnu says:

    Yeah.. cornerstone content are really helpful in branding and Identify a perticular brand.. cornerstone content is all about creating relevance of a website.
    Appreciate for your descriptive article..

  2. Ricky says:

    Laura, firstly great post, thanks for putting the time into it. My question is. Say for example i had a fashion blog. Could my cornerstone articles be something like: “womens bags” then the smaller articles be something like “50 womens leather bags that are hot right now” bad example but trying to understand the strategy. Thanks for your time

    • Laura says:

      Hi Ricky. That’s one possible way to do it if you’re planning to write a unique post for each of those categories. I would think it more wise to be more broad than that, but of course it’s up to you. For fashion, you likely focus on 3 or 4 topics. Those topics could form the base of your cornerstone, then the spokes are all the aspects of that topic that you cover.

  3. ramon perry says:

    Thanks for the informative post Laura. I wish I read this before starting my first blog, because I didn’t know what cornerstone content was back then, I’m still going back trying to re-link it all to cornerstone content.
    I’ve just started a second blog, and I’m writing 4 cornerstone articles FIRST. Then it will be super easy to link all the newer articles as they’re written.
    PS love your book SEO the easy way, it’s my blogging bible.

    • Laura says:

      You’re welcome Ramon. I didn’t know about cornerstone content back when I started either, but it has been a very useful technique. Also thrilled to see that you love the book!

  4. Bruna says:

    Hey Gemma, I have a question about internal linking. You said I should link back and forth from the cornerstone post to the smaller articles, but what about linking between these smaller articles? In that case, won’t it confuse Google with which one should have the most authority since they are all linking to each other? I hope it makes sense.

    • Laura says:

      It’s definitely useful to interlink between all of the smaller articles, where it makes sense for the user. It won’t confuse Google. The opposite will occur. Google will be able to crawl your site easier. And it will keep users on the site longer.

  5. Sarah says:

    Thanks Laura – been trying to get my head around Cornerstone Content and this is a great help!

    I have a carpet and upholstery cleaning business with our main services being carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, leather cleaning and rug cleaning. Each of these has it’s own page linking from the homepage. My question is, would these pages be my Cornerstone Content) as they are the core of my business or do I need to look more at my blog posts (how to remove common spills and stains etc)?

    • Laura says:

      Hi Sarah, You could use those pages as the cornerstone content and link to the blog posts that are most important to that category, like how to remove common rug stains, etc. That would be a great way to make sure everything gets linked to and you’re covering all of the important topics within the cornerstone.

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