7 Steps to Creating Cornerstone Content that Google Loves
Cornerstone content is the best, most important article(s) on your website. These are the posts you make to rank high in the search engines and look like the authority you are.
Your goal when writing one of these articles is to provide the best and most complete information on your topic. Your goal isn’t to sell, at least not right away. You want to present yourself and your website as THE authority on your topic, the one readers turn to for solid information and advice.
With the right cornerstone content, you can raise brand awareness and possibly achieve high rankings in the SERPs bringing you free traffic. You build natural links from other pages on your site, from social media channels, and from external sources. You position yourself as an authority in your business and you increase trust in your brand and your products. And you also attract prospects who can be nurtured into new customers
And while these cornerstone content articles are usually long and super informative, and combine insights from other blog posts and sources, don’t be intimidated into thinking it’s beyond your abilities to create this kind of content.
You can do it, and here’s how:
1: Pick Your Topic
Here are three questions to consider when choosing your topic:
Does it align with your business and will it attract your ideal customers? For example, if your niche is stock investing, you’re not going to write a cornerstone article about buying a home.
What would make your customer’s life easier if only someone would explain it in detail? Your ideal customers need to be actively searching for and craving the information you’re going to give them.
Does it interest you? You’re going to be devoting some significant time to researching, writing, and optimizing this content. If the topic bores you, you can still write about it but know that it’s going to be far more difficult than if it’s something you’re excited about.
2: Do Your Research
Hopefully, you know your customer inside and out. You know what they want to know, what keeps them awake at night, and what would improve their lives. Now you’re going to become an expert in this topic.
Talk to existing customers and find out what exactly they want to know about your topic. What are their pain points?
Read posts on the topic, books, interviews, and so forth.
Take copious notes and plan to quote experts and sources whenever you can.
Use your own examples, stats, stories, and experiences when possible, combining what you know with what you gather from other sources.
3: Plan Your Content
You might be writing, “The Complete Guide to ___” or “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about ____” or “How to Achieve ____”.
Once you have the basic plan of what your article will achieve, start outlining your topics and subtopics. You might use a step-by-structure from beginning to end, or a list, or whatever works best for your topic.
4: Now It’s Time to Write
This is no doubt the step that will make some people cringe. If you prefer, you can always outsource the work. Keep in mind that your content needs to be clear and concise without rambling or going off-topic.
It should be genuinely helpful in solving one or more of your customers’ problems. When they finish reading it, their reaction should be, “Wow, this is the best thing I’ve read on this topic. I wonder what else this person offers me?”
Personally, when I read great cornerstone content, I will immediately join that person’s email list so I won’t miss anything else they offer.
Accuracy is essential because it’s your reputation at stake.
Include links from other expert sources.
Build your keywords naturally into your content, without keyword stuffing. You might use software such as Grammarly or Hemingway to make sure your writing is clear and easy to understand. You might also get a couple of people to read your article and look for anything muddled or confusing.
Make sure your article delivers on the promise of the headline, too.
Add eye-catching images and graphics to break up the content and make it look visually appealing. And keep your paragraphs short, much like how this article is written.
5: Optimize Your Article
The hard part is finished and now it’s time to tweak and optimize.
Your primary keyword must be in the URL and title tag, which is also your headline. Ideally, the title should answer an exact question being asked in Google.
Create subheadings that hold keywords, as well as having your keywords throughout your text. This will help readers and search engines alike in recognizing the relevance of your content.
Use alt text in your visual content, use relevant keywords in the image file names, and make sure your page and your images load as fast as possible.
Remember you’re not charging for this content, so do not place it behind any paywall or gate.
Place plenty of internal links on other pages of your website that point to your cornerstone content. This can also help with rankings since Google favors a robust internal linking structure.
You’ve got your masterpiece and now it’s time to tell the world about it. The goal is to reach as many people as possible.
If you have an email list, let them know about your new cornerstone content. Email again to everyone on your list who didn’t open the first email or click the link. Offer an incentive to read it if you need to. You want to start sending some traffic as quickly as possible.
Use your social media accounts to tell your followers about the article. Schedule media posts several times a day for the first couple of days, and then periodically after that. Use personalization whenever possible.
Contact every expert and website you quoted inside your article and let them know about it. Many of them will tell others through social media.
Consider investing in paid promotion as well. You can reach a highly targeted audience this way and use the new traffic to build your email list.
Allow visitors to share your content by adding social media buttons. Highlight especially good quotes from your article and make it one-click easy for people to tweet them, too.
7: Regular Updates
Google loves fresh and highly relevant content, which is why you want to perform regular updates on all of your cornerstone articles.
Include things like new trends, new resources, news, and the latest stats. Make sure everything is still working and relevant, including any links.
If your fonts or layout are looking dated, update them along with photos, charts, and so forth. Also, check to make sure the page is loading quickly and properly.
Just follow these 7 steps and you’ll be able to create cornerstone content that is loved by both the search engines and your readers.