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

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Cornerstone content are the posts, or pages, that define our brand and hold our websites up. It is the content that users will read and instantly recognise as the main themes that your business represents and markets. Your website should have around 3-5 cornerstone pieces that link out to other posts on your site, creating a funnel with the cornerstone content at the top.

What you will learn

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

Finding Your Niche

Working out you own cornerstone content can be tricky at first, especially if you don’t have a solid niche.

If you are just starting out in your blogging career, we’re strongly advise spending time brainstorming topics that you really enjoy creating content about and how you can niche down on those themes.

Google rewards sites that are authoritative so it is best to write in depth about a few topics instead of thinly about lots.

It is also much easier to become instantly recognisable as an authority if you choose a niche with low competition.

If you are excelling in your niche you may find it much easier for your cornerstone content to rank on page one of Google.

If you are unsure of what this means, read our beginner’s guide to SEO.

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Finding Your Own Cornerstone Content

Task 1 – Create An Articles Spreadsheet

Open up a new spreadsheet and identify all the posts and pages you’ve ever published.

Although this sounds like a tedious job, it is well worth doing now before you publish anymore content!

Add columns such as category, topic, published date and any notes such as guest post, sponsored content, affiliate post, etc.

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Task 2 – All Posts Topic Analysis

Open the record of articles spreadsheet that you created in task 1.

Next, study your articles and columns and answer these questions:

  1. What are the main themes these posts cover?
  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?

After you’ve conducted this analysis you will hopefully have a better understanding of the posts which 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 3 – Mind Mapping Cornerstone Content

Take a blank piece of paper and write the name of your website in the middle of a mind map/spider diagram.

On the paper, draw an arrow from your website title and identify the first topic, for example, keto food or water sports.

Do the same for all of your main topics.

For each topic:

  • Identify which articles you have already written.
  • What you need to do to improve them.
  • Which articles you still need to create.
  • What cornerstone content post would bring all the posts together.
  • Which keywords you could potentially rank for*

*Depending on your niche it might be quite difficult to rank for your cornerstone posts however it is always worth trying

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Task 4 – Spreadsheet Records

I am a huge fan of admin and organisation so now we’re going to take our mind mapping planning task and consolidate the research in the free Make Traffic Happen cornerstone content planning spreadsheet.

Open up this spreadsheet and create a copy for you to edit and keep forever.

In the first tab, write out the name of the cornerstone content which currently exists on your site or the post that you plan to write.

Task 5 – 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 to internally link to articles that exist on your website already and also link back to that cornerstone article if it makes sense to do so.

Man sitting on sofa using laptop

Now that you know the definition of internal links, it’s time to find them.

Find Related Articles To Interlink

There are three ways to do this: 

  1. Look at your spreadsheet of articles and identify which articles discuss similar content.
  2. Go posts and then the ‘all posts’ section in WordPress and use the search option.
  3. Or, use the category dropdown depending on how you organise your site. See more on categories and tags here.

Example

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

She then links back to the Best Foodie Destinations Around The World article from these posts if it makes sense to do so.

Whatever way you go for, add the related posts to the cornerstone article in your mind map and/or cornerstone planning spreadsheet second column.

Do this for every cornerstone post.

Woman looking at laptop

Task 6 – Clear Call To Actions (CTAs)

Now that you have a plan for your cornerstone content and you know what posts you are interlinking let’s look at ways to make them stand out.

Internal links aren’t just about the link juice flow!

Linking to relevant content can improve user time one site if you effectively tell the reader where to go next.

This is done through clear and compelling Calls to Action (CTA).

Examples include:

  • Act now
  • Read next
  • You may also like
  • Don’t miss

You can also use coloured boxes in WordPress (Gutenberg) like this box or create your own html code to create an outline. You’ll find the code here.

Task 7 – Yoast

Yoast is a free plugin used by many WordPress users to help create sitemaps and other site optimisation tasks on their websites.

They also offer some guidance on SEO at the bottom of posts and pages.

While we don’t agree with their keyword density as we feel it encourages keyword stuffing, we do like some of its features including the option to tick if a post is cornerstone or not.

This will help cornerstone content on your site for future organisation tasks.

Cornerstone Content Yoast

Task 8: 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 which you can create with an easy page builder theme such as Flatsome.

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.

Find out more about linking in our free 4-part SEO course. Sign up here.

4-Part SEO Course Article Call Outs

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 – If 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.

seo-the-easy-way-course-image

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.
    Thanks!

    • 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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