Creating Cornerstone Content Both Google and Your Audience Will Love
Posted at Oct 19, 2021 8:00:00 AM by Nicholas LeTourneau | Share
Creating content that performs well for both Google and a human audience can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. There are so many great examples of content that ranks well and is well received by users - it’s called cornerstone content.
Cornerstone content is content that is evergreen, covers a topic well, and is both laid out and optimized for search engines. You can type in virtually any query into a search engine and find an example of cornerstone content towards the top of the first page. Creating this content can seem daunting, but in reality, it can be really easy if you follow these simple steps:
4 Things You Can Do to Create Engaging Cornerstone Content
1. Do Your Research
Cornerstone content is easily the most valuable content you could create, but it is also the most time-consuming too. Knowing your customer is central to not only creating the right content but also making sure you aren’t wasting your time.
Using tools like Google Search Console and Analytics can help show you what queries you’re getting to your website and what pages are performing or not performing well but when you leverage it with SEO tools like Moz or SEMRush will give you a pretty clear picture of what your audience likes and dislikes.
You need to find a happy medium between search volume and keyword difficulty when selecting topics and keywords. It might be very tempting to go after keywords that have search volumes in the tens of thousands, but those keywords have a ton of competition and a higher keyword difficulty typically.
Unless your website has a high enough domain authority to compete for high-difficulty keywords, you might be wasting your time targeting those keywords you don’t stand a good chance of ranking for on the first page.
2. Plan Your Content
One of the most important things that you can do when researching keywords and topics is to analyze the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). SERPs are the result pages of the query you typed into the search bar. Knowing what performs well on search engines can do half of the work for you.
Say you are looking for the health benefits of organic honey because you want to write a blog post about the different benefits of certified organic honey. As you type the keyphrase “health benefits of organic honey” you notice that seven of the ten pages on the first page are list-based posts.
This means that the search engine’s algorithm has detected that the average user that is searching for the keyphrase is looking for a numbered list, so you might want to think about incorporating that aspect into your blog post. Taking formatting queues from what is already ranking well lets you know what the search engines like as well as what the searcher intent is behind the keyword.
3. Write the Best You Can
Writing the best you can might sound like dumb advice, but it’s truly the best thing you can do when creating any content but especially cornerstone content. You don’t want to just regurgitate facts from other resources or spout out a bunch of fluff that is keyword rich but content poor. You don’t need to sound like you have your doctorate in English, but you do need to sound trustworthy and like you know what you are talking about.
One easy way to build trust and create engaging content is to actually give the readers something of value. This doesn’t mean you need to give up the 11 herbs and spices that are the secret to your business, but you need to show them why you are the best resource on the internet for what they are looking for and why they’d be smart to choose you over your competition.
Lastly, make sure your copy is as error-free as humanly possible. Everyone makes mistakes, but Google’s crawlers rarely do and the fastest way to ensure your page doesn’t rank is to have it full of spelling errors. Plus, it doesn’t make you seem knowledgeable if you can’t spell things properly or can’t convey your message in a manner that is easily understood. You can lean on external help like Grammarly or Hemmingway to make it as error-free as possible.
4. Optimize and Promote Your Content
Optimizing your content for search engines isn’t as daunting of a task as you might think it is. There are many different intricate things you can do to help boost your rankings for specific pages, but there are several very basic things you can do to help set your piece of content up for SEO success such as:
Put your keyword in the title and meta description
Use H2’s and H3’s to organize your content
Add alt-text to all images or media used that is relevant to the picture
Put internal and external links throughout the content
Add blog schema
You don’t need to be a professional SEO manager to cover the basics yourself, because failing to do these basics can prevent you from ever gaining organic traffic at a sustainable rate.
Once you have optimized everything the best you can, you can publish and begin promoting your content on social media. Having established social channels make promoting content easier, but if you don’t have social media already you can use this as an opportunity to launch these channels.
How Do You Keep Content Fresh?
Now that your brand new piece of cornerstone content has been researched, planned, written, optimized, and promoted on social media you can’t forget one of the most important things that can be done for content that you’ve sunk a lot of time, effort, and resources into - updating it.
The content lifecycle isn’t over after you hit publish and promote it on social media, you need to update it whenever it becomes outdated and to keep in line with whatever the Google algorithm is current so you don’t lose traffic to the page. You can easily monitor this by routinely carrying out content audits, but that is a topic for another post.