Cornerstone Content: What is it and How Does it Work?
Cornerstone content is content that helps to establish your credentials. It builds the authority of your brand by engaging your target audience and adding value to them.
In college or university, reading around a subject is what you do to demonstrate your breadth of knowledge, using a wide range of sources.
Cornerstone content works in much the same way: it highlights your expertise in your chosen subject. It draws different strands of knowledge together to make a coherent series of points.
This content should be interesting and attractive to your readers. It should give them a useful insight into your world and, draw them into your orbit.
Be clear: cornerstone content isn’t a quick fix to make people buy from you. But it can be highly effective as a strategy for building awareness of your brand and your expertise.
As an online content marketing tool, your cornerstone content must be impactful as well as having value. It must attract the reader first, and then keep their attention.
Your cornerstone content must answer the genuine search intent of an online audience.
Why is Search Intent Important?
In cornerstone content, keywords are important in content, to help boost its SEO. But what Google values more is quality and context.
How relevant is your content to your users and what they’re searching for? Will it answer their questions?
There are three categories of search intent for SEO:
- Informational – generic searches by people interested in a specific subject. Google defines these as Know.
- Transactional – searches where people are looking to make a purchase. Google defines these as Do.
- Navigational – searches for a specific brand, product or website. Google defines these as Go.
As an online business, you should be able to use these searches to boost your brand.
How can cornerstone content help you to do this?
Cornerstone content is best suited to informational searches, but if you put it together well, it should support your sales funnel.
You can create a body of content to drive traffic to you. This content acts as a sequential chain of information, which also has a narrative pull.
Storytelling with Cornerstone Content
Brand storytelling involves building narratives to get the attention of your audience.
Storytelling is something that is built into to us, going back to our earliest ancestors. Cave paintings told stories and recorded events.
Telling stories remains a universal aspect of communication, even when the means of communication keep evolving.
Psychologically, the human brain will try to make sense out of content by looking for a story within it.
Cornerstone content allows you to tell that story, adding in key areas of detail and creating a logical sequence of information for your readers.
Full immersion in these various layers of information compels the reader to discover more.
Much internet content offers instant gratification, but well-written cornerstone content can connect with audiences on a deeper level. It gives them a cohesive narrative to engage with.
Cornerstone content can also differentiate you from the competition.
There are thousands of snappy blog posts out there, all looking to get people’s attention. Creating something more substantial can cut through this noise. This helps to elevate your brand and establish your credibility.
The Elements of Storytelling
At a basic level, stories must have a beginning, a middle and an end. But there are also crucial structural elements to stories. These help to make them compelling to read.
These structural elements are:
How do they translate into brand storytelling?
First up is character. The main protagonist of your story, its hero, is NOT your brand. It is your customer or client.
The setting for the narrative is your customer’s world. This could be a business environment, or it might be their own household.
Next comes plot. This should come from the issues the customer is facing. What are they trying to overcome or achieve? What journey will this take them on?
Conflict injects an element of jeopardy into the story. This helps to fix the audience’s attention on the narrative, especially if you can make them identify with the central character.
Resolution completes the narrative. In brand storytelling, this is about highlighting the benefits of what you’re offering the customer, or how it resolves the conflict in the story, to benefit its protagonist.
Putting it All Together
A powerful narrative does not have to be straightforwardly linear. In cornerstone content, you can knit various information strands into your story.
You must, however, draw a clear, logical line between them and your main narrative theme. This enables you to explore a range of your business’s aspects, to enhance the expertise you wish to demonstrate in your content.
An added benefit of incorporating broader but still relevant information into your content is that you can include links to other articles, expanding on the topic.
By building these natural links, you can boost your entire site’s SEO.
Remember: your cornerstone content should include a main narrative, but it can draw on various sources of information to add value to this. Each of these additional sources should have the potential to spark greater interest.
Keep your information relevant to ensure it supports the credibility of your brand and your expertise.
Setting Your Content Objectives
With cornerstone content, you can achieve several objectives at once. This depends on what you choose to include in your material, and how you structure it:
- Attract a fresh audience, by intriguing them, then familiarising them with your brand
- Build more links in your website and increase your search engine rankings
- Refresh older content by giving it a new context
- Create a stand-alone piece that defines your brand values, as a comprehensive reference point for potential prospects and customers.
How Should You Structure Your Cornerstone Content?
Do your keyword research. Your cornerstone content should include at least one keyword phrase to help your search engine rankings.
Keywords should define your area of expertise in the eyes of your audience.
Build your headline around a keyword phrase or keyword, for example:
Cornerstone Content: What is it and How Does it Work?
You will need an SEO title tag, as this will appear in the results on Google’s results.
When writing the main body of your content, you must make sure it’s readable.
Introduce your subject clearly, in a way that will immediately draw people in and keep them reading.
Engage them with your words. Ask them questions, quote figures, statistics and percentages.
Educate readers with your content, and include external links to keep them interested.
Use plenty of sub headlines to break up the body of text and make it easily readable on-screen.
Itemise the points you make using bullet points or numbered lists.
Consider including other media in the body of your cornerstone content, such as images, infographics or videos.
Bring things to a logical conclusion. This should summarise the main points of your text but also point to the future by including a call to action.
Note: a call to action is essential, because you want people reading your cornerstone content to act on it.
What should your call of action encourage them to do?
- Enquire further?
- Subscribe to a newsletter?
- Download an app or other information?
- Start a free trial?
Your call of action should align with your goals, your target audience and your type of business.
Positioning Cornerstone Content
Think of cornerstone content as a hub. It should become a go-to resource for information about the issues your audience is interested in.
Where should you publish your cornerstone content?
Cornerstone content is NOT a normal blog.
It might do some of the same things as a blog, and it certainly should be readable in the same way as a blog is, but it is different.
You want your audience to find it easily and rapidly. If your cornerstone content is a regular blog then it will eventually become just another part of your blog stream.
But if your cornerstone content is a stand-alone page on your site then it will stay fixed in position.
It won’t have a date attached to it. This helps it become it evergreen content.
Cornerstone content is the perfect way of organising and displaying content that you know is important to your target audience.
And you can also use this content as the basis for other blogs, to help drive your audience towards your stand-alone page.
Leveraging the Power of Your Links
You should create links within your cornerstone content to other relevant parts of your website.
These might be specific pages focused on products, services, or blogs exploring different issues.
You should also ensure anyone visiting this other content will find links back to your cornerstone content.
In this way, cornerstone content works as a navigational aid to your website.
Defining Your Audience with Content
Cornerstone content is a filter. It helps to define your audience because it contains a certain depth of knowledge about your field of expertise and activity.
If your content can answer the questions your audience is asking, it will resonate with them, keeping their attention for longer.
Cornerstone content can do more than simply increase footfall to your site. It helps to refine who is landing on your site. And it should encourage these visitors to look for more information from you.
It supports you in creating content that establishes you as an authority in your industry.
Warning: establishing your authority and credibility does NOT mean talking at length about your brand and your products or services.
ALWAYS keep the focus of your cornerstone content on your audience:
What do they care about?
How Can Cornerstone Content Add Value to You?
Make cornerstone content a key part of your SEO strategy.
Strengthen your brand by using content to build your online presence.
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