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Cornerstone Content for Beginners: An Introduction

December 20, 2023

Hi there! You're here because you recently came across the phrase "cornerstone content" and no idea what that means. Don't worry, we've got you covered.

Cornerstone content is the foundational content on your site that ranks well in search engines and brings in the most traffic. It's the pillar that supports your content marketing strategy.

Creating amazing cornerstone content may seem daunting, but follow our guide and you'll be churning out traffic-driving content in no time. Let's get started!

What Is Cornerstone Content?

Cornerstone content refers to the most important content on your website. It's the content that establishes your authority, builds trust, and keeps visitors engaged. This foundational content should be informative, comprehensive, and optimized for search engines.

The 3 Types of Cornerstone Content

There are 3 main types of cornerstone content:

  1. About Pages: These provide an overview of your business, products, and services. They build credibility by showcasing your expertise and experience. Make sure your about page is keyword-optimized, with details on your mission, values, and team.
  2. Service or Product Pages: These go in-depth on what you offer. Include images, videos, specs, and benefits. Share what makes your offerings unique to boost your competitive advantage. Provide social proof through reviews and testimonials from happy clients.
  3. Resource Pages: These share valuable information for your target audience. Things like blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, tutorials, and FAQ pages. The goal is to educate and build trust. Choose topics you know inside and out, and pack each resource full of insights.

The Purpose and Benefits of Cornerstone Content

Cornerstone content serves as the foundation for any content marketing strategy. It establishes your expertise and authority in your industry. The benefits of creating cornerstone content are huge:

Builds trust and credibility

By publishing in-depth, comprehensive content on topics important to your target audience, you establish yourself as a reputable source of information. Readers come to see you as an expert in your field.

Improves search engine optimization

Cornerstone content like blog posts, ebooks, and video tutorials contain keywords and related terms that search engines love. This helps your content rank higher in search results, which means more traffic and exposure for your business.

Generates leads and sales

Valuable content that solves your audience's problems or answers their questions is a great way to generate interest in your company and convert readers into leads or customers. Offering the content in exchange for contact information is an easy lead generation tactic.

Can be repurposed

Create cornerstone content once, then repurpose it into multiple formats to reach more people. Turn a blog post into an ebook, webinar, video, or podcast episode. Republish evergreen content when it's still relevant. Repurposing content saves time while maximizing your efforts.

In summary, make cornerstone content a priority in your content marketing strategy. The investment in creating useful, in-depth content will pay off through increased traffic, brand awareness, leads, and sales. Your audience will thank you for it, and your business will thrive as a result.

Optimizing Cornerstone Content for SEO

To rank well in search engines for your cornerstone content, you need to optimize it for SEO (search engine optimization). SEO helps search engines like Google understand what your content is about so they can deliver it to people searching for related topics.

Photo by Yazid N on Unsplash

Keywords

Focus on using important "keywords" — the words and phrases people would search for to find your content. For example, if your cornerstone content is "A Beginner's Guide to Crochet", your keywords might be things like:

  • Crochet for beginners
  • Learn to crochet
  • Crochet tutorial
  • How to crochet

Use these keywords in your:

  • Page title
  • Section headings
  • First paragraph
  • Scattered throughout the content in a natural way

Internal Linking

Link to other related content on your site. This helps search engines determine the topic of your content and connects readers to more of your useful information.

Headings

Use headings to break up your content into logical sections. Start with an H1 heading for your title, then use H2 and H3 headings for main sections and subsections. Your page title and headings should contain keywords when possible.

Media

Include images, photos, videos or infographics in your content. Media makes your content more engaging and search engines can analyze it to better understand your topic. Use "alt text" descriptions on images that also contain keywords.

Pro Tip: Generate unique images to your style and preference using Hypotenuse's AI image generator.

Mobile-Friendly

Ensure your content displays well on mobile devices. Most traffic comes from mobile users, so if your content isn't optimized for small screens, you'll miss out on search traffic and reader engagement.

Length

Aim for pillar content over 1,000 words. Longer, in-depth content ranks better in search and provides more value to readers. Break up text with plenty of headings, images and lists to make it easy to navigate.

Following these tips will set your cornerstone content up for success in search rankings and make it as useful a resource as possible for your readers. Keep optimizing and improving your content over time for the best results.

Examples of Effective Cornerstone Content

Cornerstone content comes in many forms. Here are a few of the most effective types:

Blog posts

Long-form blog posts, around 1,500 to 3,000 words, are ideal for cornerstone content. They allow you to dive deep into a topic, build authority, and rank well in search engines. Focus on pillars in your industry or common questions from your audience. Interview industry experts or do original research to provide value.

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Guides and tutorials

Creating step-by-step guides and tutorials is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Walk readers through processes, techniques, and skills. Use images and videos to enhance the content when needed. Guides should contain at minimum 1,000 words but can extend up to 5,000 words or more for very detailed topics.

Ebooks

Ebooks are a powerful type of cornerstone content that can be used to capture leads and build your email list. Develop an ebook around a specific topic by compiling and expanding on content from your blog and other resources. Ebooks should be at least 5,000 words to be useful for your audience. Offer the ebook as a free download in exchange for an email signup.

Photo by @felipepelaquim on Unsplash

Infographics

For visual learners, infographics are highly valuable cornerstone content. Gather statistics, facts, and data on an industry topic and design an engaging infographic. Post the infographic on your blog and share it on social media. Infographics get a high volume of shares and backlinks, raising your authority. They do require design skills, so you may need to outsource if you lack experience.

Case studies

Case studies demonstrate how you helped a client achieve results. They establish your credibility and expertise. Interview clients about their challenges, solutions, results, and experience working with you. Share details about your process and highlight key outcomes and metrics. Case studies should be 1,000 to 2,000 words. Publish on your blog and use excerpts in your sales materials.

The types of cornerstone content you develop depends on your skills, resources, and audience needs. Combine different mediums for the best results. Keep your content focused, well-researched, optimized for search, and frequently updated. By becoming a trusted resource through valuable cornerstone content, you'll gain more visibility, authority, and loyalty.

Creating a Cornerstone Content Strategy

A cornerstone content strategy focuses on creating useful, in-depth content that establishes your expertise and authority in your industry. It helps you gain visibility and build trust with your audience.

Focus on your audience’s needs

Think about the questions and concerns your target audience has. What kinds of content would help address those needs? Surveys, interviews, and social media monitoring are useful ways to gain insight into what your audience finds most helpful.

Choose a topic you know well

Select a subject you have expertise in. Your audience will appreciate content that provides real value, so make sure it’s a topic you fully understand. Some ideas include:

  • An introduction to your industry or area of expertise
  • A how-to guide for your product or service
  • Common myths or misconceptions in your field

Provide comprehensive coverage

Go beyond surface-level information to dig deeper. Discuss subtleties, nuances, and exceptions. Consider covering:

  • Definitions and key concepts
  • History and background
  • Pros and cons
  • Examples and case studies
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid them
  • Related topics
  • Resources for further reading

Aim for depth over breadth. The goal is to become a definitive, go-to source on your chosen topic.

With the right topic, audience focus, and promotion strategy, your cornerstone content can become a valuable resource for your audience and an important asset for your business.

How to Identify Cornerstone Content Ideas for Your Brand

How to Find Cornerstone Content Topics

To determine good cornerstone content ideas, put yourself in the mindset of your readers. What are their major pain points or obstacles? What information would be most useful to them? Consider conducting surveys, looking at frequently asked questions, or analyzing social media comments to find out what your audience really wants to know. Some potential cornerstone content topics include:

  • Step-by-step guides or tutorials on your product or service.
  • Comprehensive overviews or introductions to a complex topic.
  • Collections of the most common questions from your audience with answers.
  • Definitive lists of resources, tools, or sources related to your industry or niche.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Once you have some initial topic ideas, ask yourself the following questions to determine if it would make good cornerstone content:

  • Is this content broadly useful and relevant to a large portion of my audience? If not, it may be better suited as supplemental content.
  • Will this content have a long shelf life? Cornerstone content should remain helpful for 6-12 months at a minimum. If the information may go out of date quickly, it is not the best choice.
  • Can I cover this topic in a comprehensive, in-depth way? Cornerstone content should be robust, well-researched overviews of a subject. If you can only skim the surface, look for a topic you can explore fully.
  • Will this content generate interest and links? Strong cornerstone content that provides value to readers is more likely to be shared and linked to by other sites and influencers in your industry.
  • Can this content be repurposed into other formats like video, podcasts or visual assets? Repurposing your cornerstone content allows you to reach more of your audience across platforms. Look for topics that translate well into different mediums.

By asking these key questions, you'll determine which of your ideas have the potential to become powerful cornerstone content for your brand. Crafting informative, in-depth resources on these topics will establish you as an authority, build trust in your audience and provide ongoing value.

Promoting and Distributing Your Cornerstone Content

Once you’ve created your cornerstone content, it’s time to get it in front of your target audience. Promoting and distributing your content is key to establishing yourself as an authority in your field and driving traffic to your website.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Distribute on Social Media

Share your content on all your social media profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Post snippets, quotes, stats, and links to drive readers back to your full piece of content. Engage with anyone who comments to build your audience.

Submit to Industry Publications

Look for industry blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and publications that accept guest contributions or republish content. Pitch them your cornerstone content. Getting featured in an established industry publication exposes you to their audience.

Reach Out to Influencers

Build relationships with influencers in your industry by engaging with them on social media, commenting on their content, and promoting their work. Once you’ve established a connection, pitch them your content for a possible mention, share, or backlink to help boost your authority and search rankings.

Start an Email List

Capture visitor emails by offering a lead magnet like a checklist, resource guide or free trial in exchange for their email. Build your list and email subscribers when you publish new cornerstone content. An email list allows you to stay top of mind with your followers.

SEO Optimization

Use SEO to improve your content’s ranking in search results. Choose keyword-rich titles and headings. Include your target keywords in the first 100 words of your content. Use semantic markup like bolding, italics and headings. Get high-quality backlinks to your content. All of these signals tell search engines your content is authoritative and relevant.

Measuring the Performance of Your Cornerstone Content

Once you’ve published your cornerstone content, it’s important to track how it’s performing to make sure it’s achieving your goals. There are a few key metrics you’ll want to measure:

Traffic

The most basic metric is how much traffic the content is driving to your site. Look at pageviews, unique pageviews, and referral sources to see how people are finding the content. Strong cornerstone content should be attracting a steady stream of organic search traffic over time. If traffic seems low, it may need some optimization. You can also promote the content on social media and your email list to boost traffic.

Engagement

See how long people are spending on the page and their bounce rate. High time on page and low bounce rates show that people find the content valuable and engaging. Look for any sections people may be skipping over or exiting from to identify areas for improvement. Engagement metrics are a signal of content quality.

Conversions

The ultimate goal of cornerstone content is to convert readers into customers or subscribers. Track how many people go on to fill out a contact form, make a purchase, or subscribe after reading the content. If conversions seem low, you may need to strengthen your calls-to-action or include more persuasive messaging.

Backlinks

Valuable cornerstone content will earn high-quality backlinks over time as other websites reference and link to it as an authoritative source. Monitor how many sites are linking to your content and the domain authority of those sites. Backlinks pass on link juice and help with search rankings, so more is better. If you’re not seeing many backlinks, you may need to do some outreach to build more.

By regularly checking in on these metrics, you’ll gain insight into how your cornerstone content is performing and be able to make tweaks to continue improving it over time. The key is to be patient — it can take months of promotion and optimization for cornerstone content to reach its full potential. But with continuous attention, it will become a vital long-term asset for your site.

Cornerstone Content FAQs

Cornerstone content refers to the foundational content on your website that establishes your authority, builds trust, and provides value to your readers. It answers common questions people may have about your business, products, or services.

What types of content can be considered cornerstone content?

Cornerstone content includes things like:

  • About Us page: Tells your brand story and establishes your credibility.
  • Services or Products page: Explains what you offer in detail.
  • Blog posts: In-depth, comprehensive posts on topics important to your readers. For example, “The Ultimate Guide to X” or “How to X: A Step-by-Step Tutorial”.
  • FAQ page: Answers frequently asked questions from your readers and customers.
  • Resource pages: Provides helpful tools, worksheets, checklists, or other resources for your readers.

Why is cornerstone content important?

Cornerstone content is important for several reasons:

  • It establishes your expertise and builds trust in your brand. When people land on your site, comprehensive content shows you know your stuff.
  • It ranks well in search engines. In-depth, high-quality content that provides value to readers is loved by Google and other search engines.
  • It brings in organic traffic. Cornerstone content that ranks on page 1 of search results will drive lots of organic traffic to your site from people searching for information on those topics.
  • It encourages links. Other websites will want to link to your amazing cornerstone content resources, which also helps improve your search ranking.
  • It has a long-term impact. While blog posts and social media updates come and go quickly, cornerstone content is evergreen. Its value lasts for a long time.

How do I create effective cornerstone content?

Here are some tips for creating great cornerstone content:

  • Focus on topics important to your target audience. Answer questions they frequently ask or would find most useful.
  • Be extremely thorough and comprehensive. Provide all the details and information someone would need on that topic.
  • Use an informative and authoritative tone. Back up points with data, expert sources, case studies or examples.
  • Include images, diagrams, videos, checklists or other visual elements to engage readers and make information easier to understand.
  • Optimize for search engines. Use keywords in your page titles, headings, content, image names, alt text and metadata.
  • Promote your cornerstone content on social media, in your email newsletter and through guest blogging to increase traffic.
  • Update cornerstone content as needed to keep it accurate and ensure maximum value to readers. But don’t make minor tweaks too often, as this could affect your search rankings.
  • Consider repurposing parts of your cornerstone content

Conclusion

While it may seem like a big investment upfront, creating evergreen content assets that provide value for years to come is one of the smartest things you can do as a content creator. Focus on the topics and questions that you know your audience cares about, do your research, and create amazing resources that provide real value.

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