Cornerstone content is your business card. Don’t make it greasy.
Give people a good reason to follow you. It seems easy. Doesn’t it?
But if you are a long-time creator, you know that is not true.
Giving people a good reason to follow you is one of the hardest things you need to find out as a creator. But it is also the key to a successful future.
There are many strategies and tips you can use to attract an audience. Some are efficient, and some are awful. Some rely on giving your audience more value. And others are dirty tricks that only pump your numbers without giving you any advantages.
Cornerstone content is one of those efficient strategies that give your audience values and makes it stick with your brand.
But as with most strategies, you have to know how to write cornerstone content to get the most out of it. And if you don’t, you may waste most of your time. So let’s try to understand what cornerstone content is.
What is cornerstone content?
According to Jesse Willms, cornerstone content is the central piece of your blog. More in general, it is the piece of content upon which you build your strategy. And it doesn’t have to be a written piece. It can relate to any content, from blog articles to videos or infographics.
Your cornerstone content defines part of your brand identity. And it helps you build the authority you want to spread throughout your audience. So it has to contain both your vision and enough information that makes you gain their trust.
Usually, these pieces evolve with your identity and target. And even if you are approaching only one niche, you can build many cornerstone contents to address each of your targets. So here is a simple guide on how to write cornerstone content and three reasons why it matters.
How to create cornerstone content
Creating cornerstone content is not that hard. But you need to follow strict guidelines, or you will waste time making a piece of work nobody will ever read.
According to many content marketing strategies, the path to creating efficient cornerstone content has, on average, five steps:
- Pick a target and one of its main problems.
- Make a list of solutions for that problem.
- Create the content and give it a title that resembles realistic research.
- Guide your audience throughout your other pieces of content.
- Review your content regularly to add new links or extend it with further options.
1 — Pick a target and a problem.
If you are a creator, you may already have a niche and one or multiple audience personas. So if you want to write cornerstone content that gets views, pick one target from your audience personas and find a recurring problem you want to solve for them.
Changing perspective is an ability that can help you find the correct problems to address. So between all of them, it is better to start with something you may have experienced.
Otherwise, study the difficulties your audience encounters in reaching their goals. And decide which of those are worth spending your time on.
2 — Make a list of solutions.
Once you find a specific problem you want to address, you have to provide one or more solutions. Depending on the type of content you want to create, you can pick between two approaches:
- you either give one in-depth solution
- or you write many dealing with the same problem.
Usually, the first choice gives you a chance to show your expertise in a domain, so it will help you gain the trust of your audience. While the second redirects users to another content you already produced or you are planning to create.
Yet if you make a piece that focuses on neither of those two choices, your final product will suffer. Instead of collecting the benefits of both, a hybrid solution could appear weak and messed up. Therefore, avoid it.
Also, from a content marketing perspective, you need to research the best keywords to use in your piece of content. So you can rank your page better and transform your cornerstone content into a doorway for your blog.
3 — Create the content.
You finished the tricky part of the job, and you are now ready to write your cornerstone content. But in this step, you want to be more careful than ever because these pieces will generate the first impressions of most of your viewers. And you don’t want to make a terrible first impression.
To avoid that, you need to show expertise and credibility. And you can do it by following a couple of simple tips:
- Research each of the solutions you are providing and make sure they work.
- If possible, try these options as much as you can, so you can add a personal layer of trust to your piece.
- Make sure to focus on a specific goal. For example, if you want your audience to subscribe to your newsletter, don’t give opt-ins for your products.
- Customize your CTAs to connect with the problem you are trying to solve instead of using a general one.
- Structure the title so it answers a question your audience might realistically search. And use the keyword analysis of the previous step to write a few headlines from which to choose.
And once you figure out everything, create the best content you have ever produced.
4 — Guide your audience.
When creating your fabulous piece of work, you can never forget why you are doing it. You want to build a doorway for your audience to discover your content, get passionate about it, and become recurrent consumers. For this reason, you need to collect two types of links to guide them:
- External links give you value and credibility to your solutions. They show that what you are saying has a foundation, and it isn’t something you invented with little or no results.
- Internal links guide your audience towards the rest of your content. So they can experience your knowledge and become passionate about what you produce. Which does not mean you can link anything in your cornerstone content. Your other pieces should share a common problem, or the spell you are trying to cast on your audience breaks.
Also, if you have a content roadmap or some scheduled pieces for the future, keep track of those links if they can connect with your cornerstone. You don’t have to make all the side content before this fundamental piece, but it helps if you produced at least of few things.
5 — Review your piece.
Sometimes people evolve, and businesses have to follow their audience or the other way around. But change is not avoidable. Sooner or later, you will need to review your cornerstone content and update it.
- You may want to add new links to other content you produced.
- Or you may expand it with new perspectives on the problems you already explained.
- Or you could even cut parts of the cornerstone content that doesn’t align with your mission anymore or has become outdated.
Whatever the reason, pay attention to your cornerstone content more than anything else in your strategy. These pieces attract most of your audience, and outdated information could give people the wrong impression of your work.
3 Reasons why you should write cornerstone content
We talked about how to write cornerstone content a lot, but not so much about its benefits.
If you are a long-time content creator, you may know how searching algorithms work and how they prioritize some types of work compared to others. But if you are a beginner, you may not know the benefits cornerstone content provides you. So here are three reasons why you should write cornerstone content.
- Searching algorithms love long-form content that contains much information and provides in-depth solutions. So you want to have those kinds of pieces in your strategy.
- You increase the possibility that people share your content if it contains complete data and it helps them reach their goals. And high shares result in more views, opportunities, and backlinks to your content.
- You can show off your expertise and build credibility to establish a precedent. So if you made a good impression, every time your audience needs a piece of information related to your niche, they search for your content.
How much cornerstone content should you write?
One last thing many creators doubt when deciding to write cornerstone content is how much they should write. And the answers vary a lot in the content marketing field because it depends on your niche.
There isn’t a limited number of cornerstone content you may want to produce. And there are no penalties if you make many of them, as there are no penalties if you make only a few. But an average of 4 to 6 pieces for a monothematic niche seems to perform best.
First of all, it helps you review and update them with ease. But also because fewer problems make it easier for your audience to categorize you better and understand when they need to search for you.
And if you work on more niches, multiply them by the average to find how many cornerstone pieces to produce.
Cornerstone content is an easy way to increase your reach and content in general. And today, this is one of the most efficient strategies to build organic traffic and backlinks for your blog.
If you write good content, it will get shared. So every time you are planning to write a piece of cornerstone content, take time to research it first, collect every detail you may need, and then make it awesome.
Give it more attention than any other piece because this is your business card. And if it feels greasy, nobody will touch it.
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Cover photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.