It's always something new. Google is constantly updating their algorithm which can sometimes leave your company website out in the cold. One day your site is the bee's knees and the next you're barely holding at the #10 spot on the search returns page. Those Google bots can be such know-it-alls!
Have no fear... we’re on top of cornerstone content. Implementing these bad boys into your website will put you back into competition for the #1 spot.
What is a Cornerstone Content Page?
The most widely used content management system, WordPress, gave the concept its name, although you may run into different monikers like “Pillar Pages” in HubSpot. A cornerstone content page is a longer (1000-2000 word), high-value article published on your website that can build traffic, brand awareness and generate leads by increasing your relevance to searchers. It’s called “cornerstone” because it deals with the foundational subject matter that underpins your contribution to your industry. In a word, it’s that handful of topics that you want to get found for when a buyer is doing their research.
The first goal of cornerstone content is to win the battle for a researching audience. Sitting at the top of your sales funnel, it should be free (as opposed to being behind a landing page that requires the reader to give up an email address to access content). In the framework of the Buyer’s Journey, these pages aren’t intended to result in decisions and conversions, although there are plenty of next steps you can bake into them. When done well, cornerstone pages are a “gateway drug” for potential buyers that leads to more time with you- the expert on what they are looking for.
Conversion isn’t nearly as difficult when your website has WAY more relevant information than your competitors’ sites, and you are answering questions they didn’t even know they had!
The second goal of cornerstone content is building a content “architecture” that search algorithms can instantly recognize as relevant to searchers. It’s those Google bots and spiders that are looking for well-linked, well-organized, easily navigable content. Search engines and Google in particular make no secret that their top priority and prime directive is RELEVANCE. The search engine that is able to show searchers the most relevant content to their search phrase, either typed or spoken, is going to win every time. So far Google has beaten the rest of the field by miles with the best, most influential relevance capabilities.
How Much Information are we Talking?
We’re a web design and development / internet marketing company, and we’re telling you this? We could say, “Search algorithms change all the time and we have a proprietary method to make Google like you!”
Well, yes we could, but that’s the point. We’re a lot less relevant to someone who is looking for an internet marketing company to partner with when all we tell them is that we can help, but it’s a secret. We’re betting that you’ll still want our services anyway even if you already know something about how we do it.
Of course there are some trade secrets that we won’t disclose, most of which would bore you to tears, but you get the idea. Err on the side of openness and see your lead generation numbers go up! Your content marketing agency (like United WebWorks) can help you strike a balance.
What are the Benefits of a Cornerstone Content Piece?To sum up- here’s what you get when you produce and publish a content architecture that includes a cornerstone content scheme:
- Higher brand awareness and authority. People trust sites with access to more information.
- Your super-relevant link appears to more searchers and your site visitor numbers go up
- Builds natural link structure that makes for a more organized, helpful user experience
- It automatically feeds your funnel once you get it installed
How to get Started on your Cornerstone Content Plan
Choose the RIGHT content topic. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. What questions are they asking? How do they start their search for what you offer? Balance those ideas with what your company offers that meets their pain points. You should come up with 2 to 5 core concepts for which you want to rank highly on a Google returns page.
You can fire up a simple spreadsheet to keep track of what you’re doing and check your progress as you go. If you have a lot of content on your site already, part of your process will be to link all that content (blogs and such) to the cornerstone pages that address the topic. Think of the cornerstone content as broad-survey hubs and your individual blogs as sub-topical spokes. For example, if you have a cornerstone page on Building Bridges, you might link all those blogs on reinforced concrete, rust damage, engineering and causes of bridge failure to that page.
Find keywords that are ranked appropriately and find a few that work for your content. Use these words or phrases throughout the page. Each one should reflect words and phrases people use when they search for you.
Create the Content
Quality really matters here as Google’s bots are getting better all the time at knowing when an article is easily readable, grammatically correct and engaging. They’re also getting better at matching the intent of the searcher based on data that lies outside an actual search phrase, but there’s not much you can do about that.
Include interesting information. Don’t be skittish about linking to outside sources- it’s meant to be truly helpful to someone collecting information about their pain points and possible solutions.
Do not make the copy sound sales-y! The job of the content is to show that you know how to solve the problem they have with your product or service. Your target is a buying stage that falls well before their decision between the options they find. Just try to be the best option they find!
There are lot of details to this one, but in summary, make sure your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process and keywords are on point. Make sure all links work they way they’re supposed to and that the structure of the article meets the basic standards of good SEO, like including keywords in the alt-tags of the images. If you use WordPress, be sure to mark the checkbox indicating that the page is cornerstone.
Use your Cornerstone Content Wisely
In other words, everywhere you can! Promote pages via social media, email, visible links on your main site home page, etc.
Do regular maintenance (check the analytics regularly to track performance and make changes if it’s low performing. Keep it up to date with the latest developments- definitely add on and delete sections as needed. The only thing worse than no information is outdated or wrong information!
Can I use a blog as cornerstone content?
Best practice for cornerstone pages is to make it a page on your website, so just convert a blog or two into a cornerstone site page. The content going to show up in numerous other ways, for example, promoting it as Call-to-Action on other relevant pages and blogs. Even though it’s accessible and free, you can still use it as an eBook, whitepaper, or offer in exchange for an email address somewhere else on your site.
At the footer of the cornerstone page, offer a downloadable PDF file for them the take and read later. Feature links to your content prominently in your navigation elements and throughout your website.
We find that many of our new clients don’t know that much about the impact that cornerstone pages and internet marketing techniques in general can have on their business. Rightly so- you are focused on what you do best. Let United WebWorks do what we do best- get you found and noticed where your future customers are!
Yes- we can do cornerstone content for you! And we’re more than just content marketing strategy experts. From website creation or redesign to fully orchestrated inbound marketing strategies, we can make your new year even better than this one! Let’s talk- schedule your free consultation now! Content Marketing
Finally, from our office to yours- happy holidays and may your 2019 be a record-breaking year!