Do you struggle to come up with authoritative content ideas? Are you to continuously publishing content without the direction of a solid content marketing strategy?
We’re going to break down the basics of cornerstone content and how to go about creating it. We’ll then go over how to use that content to promote your blog, capture leads and come up with amazing blog post ideas.
What is cornerstone content?
If you’ve diligently taken the time to lock down your blog niche, you should be able to break it down into three to five primary topics. The pages you create for these topics, that’s one page per topic, are cornerstone content.
You may have published a few long-form articles on your blog here and there. Heck, every post you publish may be over 2,500 words long. Cornerstone content is different from long-form articles and should be treated as such.
It’s true, cornerstone articles will be longer than the average post you publish on your blog, but it’s their colossal length, the depth at which they cover their topics and sheer importance that make them so different.
Bloggers, especially new bloggers, have always been taught to target noncompetitive keywords on their blogs, and you most certainly should. The problem with this advice is that it all but tells you to avoid the most competitive keywords in your niche. These are the keywords you should create cornerstone content for.
Why is cornerstone content important for your content marketing strategy?
Cornerstone articles are much longer than the average blog post as the keywords they target are typically attached to broad topics that require a much more thorough approach.
While cornerstone content covers multiple topics in one article, they only cover each one briefly. You’ll use blog posts to cover these secondary topics more thoroughly. This is how cornerstone content can help you carve out your content marketing strategy and overall internal link structure.
You identify a small handful of primary topics and publish a long and thorough article for each. You then promote these articles thoroughly on your site and with your email list, link building campaigns and even advertisements.
Next, build your blog out of secondary topics closely related to your cornerstone articles, and create internal links between them. As Google’s search engine bot crawls your website, it’ll follow all of the links leading to your cornerstone articles and crawl and index those pages more thoroughly.
All of this will help your site rank for the most competitive keywords in your niche over time. You’ll also have a blog that will help you rank for less competitive keywords and stay in tune with topics your audience searches for the most.
How to use cornerstone content on your site
Developing your content marketing strategy around cornerstone content starts with creating it. This involves identifying keywords to create this type of content for, then actually creating it.
You should then work hard on promoting each cornerstone article as soon as you create while building your content marketing strategy on the side.
Finding cornerstone content ideas
The easiest and most effective way to find ideas for cornerstone content is to identify the top three to five keywords you’d like your site to rank for. Start by breaking your niche down into three to five primary concepts and finding keywords to represent each of them.
These numbers are just guidelines, by the way. If as few as two concepts or as many as six work better for you, go for it. Just be sure to break your niche down into multiple concepts but not so many that you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin trying to cover too many different topics across your blog at once.
Let’s use a site that covers online marketing as it relates to blogging as an example. This type of blog can be broken down into the following primary topics:
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- SEO marketing
- Social media marketing
- Affiliate marketing
These are the five most important areas of marketing bloggers should concern themselves with. They also represent the primary topics an online marketing blog typically covers.
If you’re having trouble keeping your list light, you may need to reconsider your niche and break it down even further.
Creating cornerstone content
Writing cornerstone articles will be unlike anything you’ve ever done on your site. At the same time, they’re simply longform articles that are much longer than what you’re used to writing, and they should be treated as such.
Determine which topic you came up with is most important, and get to work on it. Start with a simple brainstorming session, and write down everything related to that topic.
Use keyword research and Google to come up with additional topics.
The next few steps involves using these related topics to create an outline and the cornerstone article itself. Your goal is to create a mega guide for each topic, such as “The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Beginners.”
There’s no magic number here in terms of length. All you need to do is create an epic resource on a primary topic in your niche, which, once again, is why these types of articles tend to be longer by nature.
Be sure to create quality images as well. Use tools like Greenshot and FireShot to take screenshots. You can find high-quality attribution-free images at sites like Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash and other stock photo websites. You can also create your own graphics and infographics with tools like Canva and Venngage.
Promoting cornerstone content
You can use much of the same content promotion strategies to market a cornerstone article as you would any other article or your entire brand in general.
The quickest but most expensive way would be to advertise with Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads and Google Adwords. You can also simply share the articles via social media and your email list, but these promotion strategies are far too simple on their own.
Let’s go over a few more effective promotion techniques. Guest posting is a great one to use for cornerstone content. Instead of promoting a product or your domain, request a URL pointing to your cornerstone article to be featured instead.
High-quality backlinks are a major SEO ranking factor, which is why you should also use white-hat link building strategies. Use tools like SEMrush and KWFinder to search for the keyword you’re targeting, find blogs with similar articles, discover the sites that linked to them, and email those sites with a simple request for them to change their links to your article. This works best with outdated and inferior articles.
You can also incorporate an expert roundup in your article and ask each influencer to promote it as soon as it’s published.
Building off of cornerstone content
If you want to clear the path to success for your blog, you need to establish a few goals. This will make it easier for you to map out a content marketing strategy and achieve success even faster.
You can start developing your content marketing strategy as soon as you publish your first cornerstone article. Start with content upgrades you can use in the article itself.
You can then build off of those articles by filling your blog with related topics. Eventually, this road may lead to a few product launches.
Defining your goals
Take some time to come up with a few goals you want to achieve with your content marketing strategy. A solid strategy can help you grow your audience and earn more revenue more effectively than you would if you were to simply publish whichever topics come to mind.
Here are a few goals you can set for yourself:
- Traffic – You don’t need a lot of traffic to succeed, but increasing your blog traffic does give you potential to achieve more of the goals listed below.
- User Engagement – This is why you don’t necessarily need a lot of traffic to succeed. If your site and content are designed to be more engaging, you may actually be able to receive higher conversion rates and sales with a small amount of traffic.
- Email Subscribers – Receive more email sign-ups through the use of lead magnets and strategically-placed opt-in forms.
- Search Engine Rankings – The purpose of cornerstone content is to help your blog rank for the more competitive keywords in your niche, but when you combine these articles with a strong content marketing strategy, you’re more likely to achieve higher rankings overall.
- Product Sales – A content marketing strategy designed to build an audience with valuable free content is a great way to achieve more product sales when product marketing is carefully woven into your content. It can also make future product launches more successful.
- Affiliate Revenue & Sponsorships – If you’re not yet ready to launch products, you can still earn revenue through affiliate marketing and sponsorship deals. Receiving more traffic and higher rankings can increase the amount you earn through these ventures.
- Social Media Following – The blogger outreach and content promotion platforms you use can help you earn a larger following on social media while you grow your blog. This, similar to your email list, gives you a way to communicate directly with a good chunk of your audience, which will help tremendously when you publish new blog posts or launch products.
You can set undefined goals where you simply aim to receive more than you were originally achieving, or you can choose specific numbers to hit. The choice is yours.
Creating content upgrades
Before you start building out your content marketing strategy from the cornerstone content you create, you need a way to prepare those articles for the traffic they’ll receive. Content upgrades offer a wonderful way for you to capture some of that traffic as leads.
Content upgrades are a type of lead magnet tied directly to the article they’re offered on. This means you shouldn’t offer them on other parts of your site as you would with other lead magnets.
Here are a few content upgrades you can offer on cornerstone articles:
- Bonus Content
- Cheat Sheet
- Email Course
- Resource List
- Case Study
- Expert Interview
You should offer multiple types of content upgrades in cornerstone articles since they’re longer than the average blog post and cover a variety of different topics.
Add inline, click-to-reveal and non-intrusive pop-up opt-in forms offering each content upgrade to related sections of the article.
Creating blog posts and other content
Once you have at least one cornerstone article optimized with content upgrades and promotion strategies, start working on the core focus of your content marketing strategy—your blog.
Use your cornerstone articles as a guideline. You likely only covered each secondary topic within the articles briefly, making each one ideal candidates for blog posts. This will allow you to cover each topic in depth while filling your editorial calendar with related topics.
Here are a few examples using the affiliate marketing example from earlier:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Developing a Strong Affiliate Marketing Strategy
- X Affiliate Marketing Strategies to Use On Your Blog in [year]
- Finding Affiliate Programs for Your Blog
- How to Become an Affiliate Marketer in X Easy Steps
- How Product Reviews Can Supercharge Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy
These are all topics the “The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Beginners” cornerstone article should have covered. Adding them to my blog’s editorial calendar gives me the chance to cover them more thoroughly and rank higher for keywords related to affiliate marketing.
There are a few different ways you can round out your content marketing strategy from there, starting with creating lead magnets you can use site-wide and not just on cornerstone pages. These should be broad enough to use on multiple blog posts.
You can also branch out and create other forms of content, such as YouTube videos and a podcast. You don’t even need to come up with new content. You can simply repurpose content you’ve already created and optimize them for audio and video.
Lastly, you should eventually work toward creating your own products and using your blog and cornerstone content to promote them. Courses, books and memberships are the easiest types of products for bloggers to transition into.