What type of content should a cornerstone article be?

January 31, 2019

Cornerstone content is a crucial aspect of your SEO strategy, as it’ll help you rank for your most competitive keywords. In a nutshell, it means you create a handful of comprehensive, superbly written articles and optimize them for your most important keywords. Then, you link to these awesome articles in other pages and blogs, which focus on long tail keywords. Your internal linking structure shows the search engines that your cornerstones are the most complete, most important articles on your site, which increases their chances to rank significantly.

In this blog post, I’ll tell you a bit more about cornerstone content. What type of content should these pages have? What should you be writing on these pages? And how do you select your cornerstone articles if your site has been around for a while?

What exactly are cornerstone articles?

Cornerstone articles are the most important articles on your website. Their goal is to provide the best and most complete information on a particular topic. They should reflect your business or communicate your mission perfectly. Furthermore, cornerstone articles should be timeless, by which we mean they should retain their relevance. It’s also crucial to keep your cornerstone content free from mistakes and up to date.

Above all, you want your cornerstone articles to rank high in the search engines. Writing great cornerstone content and having a good internal linking strategy will help you achieve that.

Read more: What is Cornerstone Content? »

Type of content for a cornerstone article

What kind of text?

As mentioned before, cornerstone content should be informative, and in an informative text you explain something to your audience. You want your readers to understand more about a topic or you want them to use your information (put theory to practice). Writing a good informative text usually requires a bit of research, to decide on the exact topic and angle. Your cornerstone article, being (one of) the most important on your site, definitely deserves some digging! Want to know more? Read my blog post about text objectives, in which I differentiate between three types of texts.

Example

If you own an online shop selling ballet shoes, a great option is to write a cornerstone content article about the different types of ballet shoes you have to offer. But you could also create a page about the importance of good and well-fitted ballet shoes. Perhaps you could even write an article about the prevention of ballet injuries. Starting to rank on those pages will help you to sell your shoes as well.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but even for an online shop, the cornerstone content should be informative articles. I can imagine it isn’t always easy to think up such an article. But your cornerstone content should not be focused on convincing people to buy your products.
Rather, it should show your customers the uniqueness of your product. You could write about the function of the products you sell, or about something closely related to the products you sell. Cornerstone articles shouldn’t be too ‘salesy’, but using these pages to send people to your products pages is fine.
Cornerstone content should reflect your business or the mission of your business. But taking a slightly broader approach, focusing on the field around your business, could also be a fine strategy to increase your audience and potential buyers.

Post or page?

It doesn’t matter as much whether you put your cornerstone content in a post or on a page, as long as you make sure that it’s timeless, up to date, easy to find on your website and informative. So, a random blog post, or random page floating around your site somewhere won’t do. Give it the attention a page containing important content deserves! And, whichever you pick, we recommend aiming for a post or page containing at least 900 words for cornerstone content. That’s because long texts rank more easily than short text.

Positioning cornerstone content on your site

Your cornerstone articles should be relatively high in your site structure. In most cases, the homepage should link directly to these articles. What’s more: you should make sure that your cornerstone content articles get many internal links from other related blog posts and pages. Search engines consider posts with many internal links to them more important. Think of it like this: big cities have considerably more roads leading towards them than small towns. Those cities are your cornerstones. They should receive most links. The small towns are your posts on more specific topics.

Cornerstone content on an existing site

It’s relatively easy to stick to the theory when you roll out your cornerstone strategy from scratch, thinking in advance about your site’s structure and the keywords you want your cornerstones to target. So, if your site has been around for a while, and you’ve never thought about cornerstone content before, how do you decide what your cornerstone articles are? And, how do you make sure these articles contain the right kind of content?

Well, you probably still have a few articles that do well in search. And you should be able to think of a few articles on your site you’d really want visitors to read to learn more about your site or company. That’s a great start! Follow these five steps to turn some of your articles into killer cornerstone content:

Step 1: Think about your keywords

You have to determine the essential keywords you want to rank for. Make sure you use the words your audience search for. Trying to rank for words nobody uses, won’t do you any good. Your cornerstone articles should be optimized for the most ‘head’ or most competitive keywords you’re aiming for. But try to remain realistic when determining these head keywords.

Keep reading: Keyword research for SEO: the ultimate guide »

Step 2: Choose the best post

Go through the posts or pages that are optimized for keywords closest to your most important, most competitive keywords. Which of them do you think is the best? That’ll be your cornerstone article from now on!

Step 3: Rewrite it

Rewrite your cornerstone article, so it’s awesome and SEO-friendly. Expand it and make sure it’s totally up to date. This article should cover all the information that is relevant to the topic. Also, make sure the article is well written. Reading from a screen is challenging, and cornerstone articles tend to be longer than regular articles. So, you should focus even more on readability. Think about the structure of your text, present topics in a logical order, write clear and short paragraphs. The Yoast SEO cornerstone content analysis will help you write excellent content for your cornerstone articles.

Read on: 5 tips for a readable blog post »

Step 4: Optimize your other posts on long tail variants

Once you’ve chosen and improved your cornerstone content articles, it’s time to pay some attention to the blog posts about similar topics as your cornerstone article. These other blog posts should be optimized for long tail variants of the ‘head’ keyword or keyphrase that your cornerstone article focuses on. So, if the keyphrase of your cornerstone article is ‘well-fitted ballet shoes’, the keyphrases of the other blog posts could be: ‘well-fitted ballet shoes for kids’, ‘best fitting cheap ballet shoes’, ‘fitting classical ballet shoes’ and ‘well-fitted ballet shoes for men’, for example.

Keep on reading: Why you should focus on long tail keywords »

Step 5: Linking from those tails to the head

An important reason to use a cornerstone content approach is to avoid competing with your own content for ranking in Google. That’s why you have to tell Google that your new cornerstone article is the most important one on your site. You can do that by linking from all the long tail articles to your cornerstone article!

The link counter in Yoast SEO helps you with this! You can easily select your cornerstone articles in the post overview and see how often they’re linked to internally. If a cornerstone article gets too little links, you should link to it more often from related articles. With Yoast SEO you can see, at a glance, which of your cornerstones need a bit more attention!

Conclusion: cornerstone content should be the best content!

There you have it: cornerstone content should be high-quality informative content, that reflects your business and/or mission perfectly. It can be either a post or a page, as long as it’s easy to find on your site, and it should be long enough to be exhaustive on a particular topic. If you have already written tons of articles for your site, you can follow our steps to a killer cornerstone strategy!

Want to learn more about cornerstone content and implementing a good cornerstone strategy on your site? Go ahead and check out one of our SEO courses. We have awesome courses on site structure and SEO copywriting that could be just what you need!

Read more: Rank with that cornerstone content! »

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