Cornerstone content does the same thing for your website that a physical cornerstone does for a building structure. It keeps everything aligned and in the right place.
According to Wikipedia:
“The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.”
So how does that translate to a website?
Your cornerstone content determines the strength of your site. It affects your SEO, your traffic, your subscriptions, and your sales. When you have cornerstone content, your job gets easier.
What is Cornerstone Content?
Sometimes referred to as pillar content, cornerstone content is fundamental to your topic and doesn’t change much or often.
You’ll find cornerstone content on a page, which is there for the long haul, rather than a post, which is generally time sensitive.
Your cornerstone content must be useful and relevant.
Your cornerstone content should also include key phrases you want to rank well for.
Cornerstone content shares these characteristics, according to Copyblogger:
- It makes an excellent target for link-building campaigns
- It helps you get subscribers
- It’s shareable
Your cornerstone content should include your best, most in-depth writing. These are the pages you’ll send readers to from links in email and social media.
How Many Topics Should You Include in Your Cornerstone Content?
That depends on your niche, of course, and the products and services you offer.
A holistic health site might include three: brain health, fitness, and nutrition.
Copyblogger lists eight cornerstone content areas. Amazon had 16, last time I checked. For your web-writing site, you’ll likely have three to five cornerstone content areas.
What’s on a Cornerstone Content Page?
There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for what to include on your cornerstone content page. You’ll find pages that:
- Explain the fundamentals of the topic
- Ask for opt-ins
- Show a video or stream an audio
- List related articles and posts
- Offer a product (free or paid)
- Offer a service
Or do any combination of the above.
Copyblogger’s Brian Clark suggests that you think of a cornerstone content page as the “home” for all that related content on the topic.
For example, take a look at this page from Copyblogger.
The page is all about content marketing. It’s an in-demand topic, and it’s clear that the page provides — and links to — valuable content.It’s set up like a landing page, with a single column design at the top to direct what the reader is encouraged to read. Here’s how the Copyblogger cornerstone content page is set up:
- At the top is a broad topic headline “Content Marketing,” then a short paragraph leads you to a video.
- Below the video, you find more text.
- Then images, with short blurbs of informative text under each.
- Then you scroll to an invitation to download a series of e-books when you register for the free membership site.
- And finally, following the e-books are recent blog posts.
Or how about this page on Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn writing site? Joanna has four cornerstone content areas: writing, marketing, self-publishing, and entrepreneur.
The page, titled How to Publish a Book, links to dozens of posts she’s written on those topics.
Pat Flynn runs a blog called Smart Passive Income, which includes five areas of cornerstone content. Check out the Social Media page.
It includes a discussion of how and why to use social media for blogging, then lists a dozen relevant links on the topic.
Cornerstone content pages tend to be longer and more robust than the average blog page or article on your site. It’s not a rule or a requirement, but it’s common.
Why You Should Use Cornerstone Content on Your Own Site
It Helps with Organization and Navigation
The first rule of website design is to make it easy for your readers to find what they’re looking for — ideally in three clicks or fewer.
While researching this article, I was surprised to find more than one successful, well-known copywriter who has not organized his site this way.
If you’re a certified SEO copywriter who offers SEO copywriting to your clients, wouldn’t it make sense to create some pillar content around that key phrase?
Your page might include a description of what SEO copywriting is, describe the certification process, and then link to other pages or posts on your site that discuss SEO copywriting. You could include an opt-in for an e-book you’ve written on the subject, or a video where you show SEO stats before and after.
The page will attract traffic (and new clients), you’ll rank better for your keyword, and your email list will grow. Because your content is highly relevant, others will link to the page as well.
It Helps You Decide on Fresh Topics to Add
If your site is based on cornerstone content, it’s easy to decide what to write about. Just pick the cornerstone content area, and start your keyword search.
Building your site around cornerstone content also helps you avoid side trips and digressions. If you’re just itching to write about something that doesn’t mesh with your cornerstones, maybe you should find someplace else to publish it.
It Helps with SEO
Every article or blog post you write on your cornerstone content subject enhances your Google rankings and establishes you as more of an expert.
When your site is new, you might start out ranking well for long-tail keywords. Eventually you’ll own the short keywords for your topic. Just Google “cornerstone content” and see what comes up — the top two spots are held by Copyblogger.
Do you think that happened by accident?
The third spot is an article by Joost de Valk. In case you don’t know him, he’s an SEO expert and the creator of the WordPress SEO plugin. In this article, he cites — you guessed it — Copyblogger.
“Adding that keyword to the title of every page is not going to help. Nor is writing 200 articles about it without one central article to link all those articles to. You need one single page that is the center of the content about that topic. One ‘hub’ page, if you will.”
Create a keyword-dense page by putting related content together. When you create links to that page, you’ll rank better for the keyword.
Why Your Clients Should Use Cornerstone Content
Your clients should use cornerstone content for the same reasons you do — it enhances site navigation, it boosts SEO and traffic, and establishes expertise.
After you’ve created cornerstone content hubs for your site, you’ll be able to approach your clients with experience, data, and statistics. Creating cornerstone content for them will help them, and help your business.