The Importance of Cornerstone Content for SEO and Website Success
Whether you are new to blogging or a seasoned veteran, it is important to create cornerstone content that helps identify you as an expert on your topic, leads your audience to all of the various options you have for them, and helps your SEO rankings.
IE 359: The Importance of Cornerstone Content for SEO and Website Success with Meg Casebolt
Meg is the founder of Love At First Search where she helps online entrepreneurs to show up in search results including Google, YouTube, Podcasts, etc.
She has a podcast called Social Slowdown.
She doesn’t try to get as much traffic as possible.
Instead, she focuses on ensuring that the best traffic is targeted; people who will join your email list, buy your digital products, and hire you to do consulting/coaching for them.
What is cornerstone content?
Cornerstone content is a foundational part of your website that helps your SEO ranking and also helps identify you and your services to your target audience.
The metaphor that Meg uses to describe cornerstone content comes from her craft blogging background.
Every piece of content you create, every podcast episode, every YouTube video, and every blog post can be compared to a “granny square.”
For those of you who may not quilt or crochet, those are the small squares that make up a quilt, blanket, or other project.
When you make a “granny square,” you are creating something that stands alone but you are also creating something that can be put together with other pieces to create a larger that is greater than the sum of its parts.
When you do that with the content you create in your business, that is cornerstone content.
This is especially important for Google optimization and showing up in search results that may be too difficult for a stand-alone blog post to rank for.
For example, as a food blogger, you may have a blog post about soy sauce alternatives. You have another blog post about Worcestershire alternatives or other cooking alternatives.
Each of those blog posts will rank for those specific alternatives.
You can also create a cornerstone guide that tells all the replacements you have around the kitchen that you can use as alternatives.
Once people find that longer post that links all of the other things you have created together, you can ask if they want that as a PDF to save and get their email address.
This is a fantastic way to use content for podcasters. If you have great positioning, you are talking about the same type of content with different people.
You can use all of the interviews around a specific topic to create a blog post and then rank for that specific topic.
Meg’s podcast talks about mental health and social media.
She created a cornerstone blog that included all of the therapist interviews about social media and mental health.
She took snippets and excerpts of those conversations and included links back to the blog posts, podcasts, and show notes for those episodes.
That one post now ranks for terms specifically about that overall topic while each episode ranks more for the subject it discusses, social anxiety, for example.
By building your content into larger content and then linking it back to the things you have already created, you can become an expert on a much larger topic instead of just one specific blog post.
This can be like a spider web. You want to catch them and then have everything interlinked so they get caught on your website and will continue to look through and understand better what your business offers and how you can solve their problems.
Just like Alice and Wonderland, you need to get them into Wonderland and then they can go down the rabbit hole and as deep as they want to.
Even if you already have all of the content in various places on your website, you can compile it in one location to make it easier for your audience to consume.
Why is cornerstone content important for SEO?
SEO is about the first discovery of your website. By creating cornerstone content, you can rank for certain terms and show the depth of your knowledge on a topic.
How do I create effective cornerstone content?
The key to cornerstone content is both the search intent of what people need the content to do and determining what you want your audience to do once they arrive.
For example, an intuitive eating coach has a 10-episode podcast series about the cornerstone pieces and principles of intuitive eating.
She took each of those episodes and their specific show notes and she made a cornerstone guide of “Intuitive Eating 101.”
Once she interlinked the 10 episodes and their show notes together that post gets an additional boost on every one of those show notes by adding the guide to the topic on each episode.
When people get to her website, they can read or listen to her informative content. The PDF is a lead magnet that grows the email list which can later be used to let them know about new episodes that come out.
You can create links to your guide so people can sign up with their email address on every one of those posts.
If you have a product or service that comes along in the sales sequence, you will be able to email them about your products and services.
Sometimes, you will not need to create anything new once you have created the cornerstone content. Occasionally, you can use the content you already have in your emails or other information you have.
You can turn that information into a blog post and/or a cornerstone guide.
You may have already created building blocks in your business that just need to be converted into blog posts.
Take the “Granny squares” you have already made and make them into something larger.
Inside the guide, you can add links and track them so you can see what they are clicking on and purchasing. You don’t always have to create more value.
You can take the work you have already done, consolidate it into something, and package it in a way that people can access it easily. This can then be a long-term asset in your business.
What are the characteristics of high-quality cornerstone content?
Being able to understand the reason that people are coming to your website is important.
What are you an expert on? What do you want to talk about?
Then, create something better than what is already out there.
This will build trust, show what you do, and give them additional information.
You do not need to spend a lot of time copying and pasting the past content into your guides. You can simply give a brief explanation and then a link back to the post where they can find more information.
- Clarity: What is included?
- Table of Contents: People can leap to the navigational point they are at.
- Information: Get people excited about your content so they want to learn everything.
- Lead Magnet or Call to Action: You want to lead your audience to the next step.
Should I update my cornerstone content regularly?
Update your cornerstone content whenever you have new things to say about your topic.
It is good to update all of your content regularly as it helps with search engine optimization.
Are there things that are new to the topic since you created the original blog post? What has changed?
You don’t have to update regularly if it is already very well optimized but you can.
If you do update it and there is a lot of updated content, you can republish it and that will allow Google to view it again differently.
How do you determine if you are going to update your cornerstone content?
You can use Google search console and find new keywords to optimize specific words, rewrite your titles, etc.
You can look at your data and determine the click-through rate, your position, your key terms, the analytic data about how long they are staying on certain pages, and heat mapping tools.
There is no rule that you have to update content in a certain order. You can also just update content as you have something new to say about your topic.
What is the additional value you can add?
Every single thing on your website does not need to be optimized.
What types of content can be considered cornerstone content?
Blogs tend to do well for cornerstone content.
You can do a PDF guide. You can do a “round-up” of your podcast episodes on a certain topic.
If you have certain topics that you have covered, you can create cornerstone content around one topic.
You can use a YouTube playlist or Instagram stories and notice that you seem to gravitate towards a particular subject, you might need to create cornerstone content for that subject.
Create content that is easily accessible.
Your content is the “on-ramp” to bring people in and then is used to help sell your product or service later.
How do I measure the success of my cornerstone content?
Discovery: Are new people finding this?
Ranking: Are you ranking for relevant keywords? Are people clicking through to it? Is the topic something people are interested in?
Behavior: Where are people coming from? If people get to your page, what are they doing? Are they reading it? Are they clicking various links? Which links are they clicking on?
Conversions: Are people taking action? Are people signing up for your email opt-in? Are they clicking on linked sales pages? Are they booking a call to discuss their needs?
You can include more Calls to Action and see how people behave. Based on what people are doing, you can adjust what you are trying to rank for. Use the behaviors as a feedback loop.
You can measure the success of cornerstone content based on the money and time they are willing to invest.
You want to make sure that you are monetizing your content; an eBook, a video course, a workshop, or a summit.
You want something that goes beyond your ad money because you cannot just rely on that.
Cornerstone content lays the foundation to set you apart as an expert on your topic. You are answering their questions along their journey.
You can include value-based links and product-based links. You can include the next steps and get them into your funnel since you are giving them immense value for free.
This will help them trust you and eventually lead to a sale.
Is there a tech way (in WordPress or other various website types) to mark cornerstone content behind the scenes?
Some plugins give you that ability but it doesn’t change anything for you. It doesn’t change the way Google looks at you.
It is only for your internal use. It can help you figure out what the core topics are that you regularly talk about.
What are the best assets that you have? It will help you create roads that all lead to your cornerstone content or offers.
If you keep every piece of content on your website tied to one search intent, what is the one thing this post would be found for?
If you go on a tangent, create a new blog post, do your keyword research, and link them together.
This is a free guide to help make SEO as accessible as possible. SEO can be more technical and therefore more overwhelming. The SEO Starter Kit defines keyword research, tells you how to get started in it, and helps you make decisions on whether a topic is worth pursuing.