Cornerstone content is essential to driving traffic to your website and enticing visitors to stay and learn more about your industry, expertise, and business. Developing cornerstone content is arguably the first priority in a well-planned digital marketing strategy.
What is cornerstone content?
As a cornerstone in a building supports the framework around it, cornerstone content is the foundation of your website. This content drives the target audience(s) you identify to your website. It is the primary focus of your site and it defines the purpose of your business. It can be created in various formats including text, as well as video, infographics, and images that are surrounded by text.
If first-time visitors spend an hour on your site, your cornerstone content is what you want them to read or view. Creating this content gives your business the opportunity to attract, impress, and educate visitors, and to earn their trust in your voice(s) as an industry authority. Once your business earns this trust, you will have the opportunity to “nurture” your new prospects, engage with them, and guide them through the customer journey.
Aims and objectives
When developing cornerstone content, include three primary goals:
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Google and other search engines share a common mission to organize all the information on the web and to deliver the most useful information. To do this effectively, they establish criteria to determine what is relevant. Among these criteria are keyword usage, length and comprehensiveness of content, and links from other websites.
- Build authority: If your newest prospects could quickly realize the depth and breadth of your organizational expertise, would they want to buy your products and services? Of course they would. Cornerstone content enables you to establish this authority by educating visitors on the topics that matter to them, and helping them solve problems in their lives or businesses.
- Develop loyalty: Think about the websites that you visit regularly for news or business information. How did you progress from a first-time visitor to a weekly or daily visitor? Though you consciously made the choices to watch a video or read an article, you were aided by the site’s internal linking strategy. One piece of content led you to another, and another. A web page linked to a blog post, which provided a link to download a whitepaper or an ebook. In the process, you learned to trust the website as an authority. Generating loyalty with your prospects begins with determining the many paths site visitors can take, starting from your cornerstone content.
Steps and best practices
- Define the core topics that are most important to your primary audience. To distinguish between core and ancillary topics, I recommend using a graph or flowchart to show how your core topics branch out into subtopics. Your core topics are your most broad content areas, from which more specific content can be developed.
- Do keyword research on the words and phrases that Google users enter to arrive at your website or competitive sites. You can use keyword research tools to determine which words and phrases will generate organic traffic. Moz and Google Keyword Planner require a subscription. Wordstream has a free and a paid service. Keyword Tool is another free service. Keep in mind that cornerstone content should rank for the short, general keywords, while the supporting content will rank for longer, more specific terms, known as keyword phrases.
- Build a content calendar around your core topics and keywords, in a variety of formats, beginning with long form content. Longform text content is comprehensive and authoritative, using the keywords and phrases you have selected. Start out with web pages written as comprehensive guides to your subject matter. If you are launching a website, you should aim to have three or four pieces of long form content on the site to start, which should cover most of your core topics.
- Delegate writing assignments to internal subject matter experts (SMEs) and/or to professional copywriters. If your SMEs have the time and ability to write proficiently, assign long form articles and web pages on specified topics. If not, hire a professional freelance copywriter to work collaboratively with your SMEs or on their own in developing this content.
- Repurpose content in a variety of formats. As we covered in a recent post, entitled Repurposing Content Is Key to Creative Marketing, this is a great way to maximize your content creation resources. With creativity, you can easily turn long form web pages into whitepapers and ebooks, blog posts into YouTube videos, and website content snippets into social posts.
- Develop internal navigation pathways by interconnecting cornerstone content with other site content. This step is something that you will do gradually, as you produce more content. Your cornerstone content will spur content ideas for subtopics. Once you address these in supporting content, relate them back to your cornerstone content.
- Promote your cornerstone content through a variety of marketing channels. Use LinkedIn to market your content to the most relevant audiences. LinkedIn is especially useful for B2B marketing. Use Facebook and Twitter for written content, and Instagram and Pinterest for visual content. If you have a database of customers and prospects, email them a visual along with a short blurb, or combine articles in an e-newsletter. The promotional opportunities are endless. Offline, your salespeople can promote the educational value of your website to their contacts.
As your digital marketing strategies progress, your cornerstone content will support everything you do. Invest heavily in creating quality cornerstone content and follow these steps toward developing a resourceful, authoritative web presence.
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About the Author
Alan Margulis is an accomplished copywriter with two decades of experience in content marketing, nurture stream, and direct response writing. He has done extensive work in a wide range of industries, from software and academia to staffing and entrepreneurial.