How To Create Cornerstone Content That Google Loves Imagine
How to create cornerstone content that Google loves Imagine with me for a second . . . someone has just arrived at your website, and this person has no idea what you’re talking about. And this is an important visitor.
Pretend further that this single visitor could make the difference between success and failure for your business. She has no time to waste poking around your site trying to figure out what you’re all about, so she immediately picks up the phone and calls you, demanding an explanation.
What do you tell her?
You’d probably give her essential information about how you understand her problem, options for solving the problem, examples of how you can help, and explanations of why you perfectly meet her needs, right? And I’m betting you’d want to explain it in the most compelling fashion you could, given what’s riding on the deal.
In a nutshell, that’s what Google wants you to do with the content on your site.
When trying to rank well for the central topics your site is built around, creating cornerstone content is your best bet. Whether it’s extended tutorials about keyword research, content marketing, or copywriting, a unique frequently asked questions page, or an inspirational mission statement, this content serves a vital function in creating a relevant, compelling, and useful cornerstone that provides your site with a solid foundation for search optimization and usability.
A cornerstone is something that is basic, essential, indispensable, and the chief foundation upon which something is built. It’s what people need to know to make use of your website and do business with you. And when approached in a strategic fashion, this content can rank extremely well in search engines. The key is creating compelling content that’s worth linking to, and then finding a way to get the word out.
Here’s a 5-step strategy that I’ve found useful when developing cornerstone content and getting it to rank well in search engines.
Taking into account what we know about keyword research, choose the most appropriate keyword phrase for your content. In other words, what is the relevant question that searchers are asking that your content and business solution answer?
Will answering that question aid a visitor to your site in getting the most out of the experience? Are enough people asking that question to make ambitiously answering it worthwhile? Then you have to make sure that search engines think your content is actually about that keyword or combination of keywords. We’ll get to that shortly.
2. Title Tags and Headline
No one in the SEO field disputes the importance of using your targeted keyword phrase in your title tag. Search engines want to offer relevant results, so those results should prominently reflect the words the searcher is using in the title of the page.
But remember also, the title tag is a headline. You want to speak back to the prospective reader in her own chosen words. Plus, you want to wrap those words in a compelling headline structure that promises to answer the exact question the searcher is asking with the query.
And finally, writing a killer keyword-enhanced headline makes it more likely that someone will simply use your title to link back to you. Since link anchor text is a significant component of search engine algorithms, putting the right keywords into your headline can give your content a significant boost.
Can a 500-word article rank well for a competitive search term all by itself?
But if you have a newer website trying to rank for a competitive search term, you’ll need links from other authoritative sources to make it happen. That means your content has to be impressive, both in quality and scope.
Develop an awesome multi-part tutorial. Write an inspirational manifesto. Answer the question so much better and more comprehensively than the competition does, and chances are much better that your effort becomes worth linking to and your search results improve dramatically.
4. Content Landing Page
If you’re going to be ambitious in scope with your content, it makes sense to make things easy on the reader from a usability standpoint. A content landing page is designed to instantly communicate what’s going on to the visitor as soon as they arrive, and also acts as a table of contents (via links to each part of the tutorial) that increases clarity.
Here are some of the benefits of the content landing page approach:
- Retention: Keeping a reader from hitting the back button is crucial to just about every aspect of successful cornerstone content. You can’t score a reader, customer, or link if the benefit of the resource is not quickly communicated.
- Bookmarks and Sharing: When presented with a highly beneficial (if somewhat overwhelming) multi-part resource, the first impulse is often to bookmark the page for a return visit. When that bookmarking occurs at a social site like Delicious, it can lead to long-term traffic. And don’t forget that sharing killer content is a sign of social media status among influencers. Content landing pages help you score the bookmark and prompt that sharing impulse at a glance.
- Links: Likewise, a visiting blogger or webmaster might be instantly impressed with your work, and link to you based on the benefits and scope communicated by the landing page itself. The quicker you can impress a potential link source, the easier you’re making it for them to follow through.
- Optimization: Optimizing on-page copy will boost your ranking after attracting those links, so a landing page is a key benefit. It’s a lot quicker and easier to optimize a content landing page than your undivided 5,000-word opus.
5. Related Content
You may have noticed that I’ve used the word “website” throughout this report, rather than blog. However, I would never try to undertake this strategy without having a blog involved.
Search engines favor websites that have a lot of relevant, frequently-updated content, and they also like a lot of general link authority. Given the ease-of-publishing blogging provides, it’s smart to use blog software to manage all that content. And given that active blogging allows for constant participation in the social media space, it’s a critical way to build general site authority via links, delve into specific and related topics, and to reference your cornerstone content.
Put a link to your essential content in your site sidebar. And if you’ve focused on the right topics, you’ll naturally keep cross-referencing your cornerstone content and link to it from your future content as well.
Don’t go overboard, but do provide context when discussing advanced topics that require an understanding of the basics. Never assume that everyone is aware of your cornerstone resource or understands the basics. Periodically linking to your cornerstone content lets it find new readers — and fresh links.
The Two Huge Benefits Cornerstone Content Provides
The first goal of cornerstone content is usefulness and relevancy to the website visitor, no matter how they arrive. The second goal is to make that content so compelling and comprehensive that people are willing – no, make that excited – to link to it.
If you focus strategically on these two goals, this whole search engine thing tends to get a lot easier. Since attracting links is so important, in the next section we’ll look at ways to proactively get the word out about your cornerstone content.