First off, if you haven’t already set up your Yoast SEO plugin yet then go do that first. You can refer to The Ultimate Guide to Yoast SEO.
Now, go to Posts>Add New. Scroll down until you see the Yoast SEO Meta Box. Have a close look at the box, you will see a checkbox that says “This article is cornerstone content”
Wondering what that could be? I did too.
Then I did some research and learning and eventually, I have come to know what it is, not just that I have also found out how this can help your SEO.
So, you won’t have to do your part of research anymore.
On today’s post, I will tell you what exactly cornerstone contents are and how you can use them to boost your SEO.
What is Cornerstone content?
According to Google dictionary, “cornerstone means – a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls.”
That indeed what Cornerstone content does for your blog. It gives your blog the much-needed foundation. Walls are no doubt strong but the stone that joins them together is stronger.
Same way, you might not always create a masterpiece every time you start to move your fingers. That is why it is important to connect your not so good posts with the best posts on your blog to keep them alive.
Let me make it simple for you.
Let’s take NeilPatel.com as an example.
I am presuming you know who is Neil Patel, if not then just know, Neil Patel is known for his Online Marketing skills. I would say, he is one of the masterminds in Online Marketing. Go here>> to find out more about him.
Coming back to our topic…
You don’t always see articles written by Neil Patel on Google every time you type something related to Online marketing or SEO.
Wondering why? after all, he is one of the best in content marketing.
There are only two reasons I can think of.
First, either Neil has never written anything on the topic you were searching for. Or second, Neil never had a masterpiece written on that topic you were looking for.
There’s one more possibility, probably Neil hasn’t optimized the posts written on that topic you were looking for. But being an expert in Digital marketing, I don’t think he would ever make that mistake.
So, for the sake of this example, let’s consider the second option is the case here.
Then how does Neil get traffics from the Search engine to the blog posts written on the topic you were looking for?
Coz you have already searched for it on Google and couldn’t find anything from his blog.
Before telling you that let me Google “Online marketing”.
Seeing the screenshot of the search I just did?
The first result you see is a post written by Neil Patel on his blog.
Now look closely. What do you see?
Exactly, it says, it’s a step by step guide to online marketing. If you click on the link and go inside and count the words you will realize it’s a huge article written on the topic – Online Marketing; it has more than 4000 words in it.
Similarly, if you type in “Content Marketing”. Google will present you with another guide (in 2nd or 3rd position) from Neil Patel, written on the topic – Content Marketing.
Now, go to Google again and type in “how to start a blog”. You won’t see any results from Neil Patel on the first page.
Does it mean Neil hasn’t written anything about blogging?
No, it only means, as per Google the article/articles Neil wrote about starting a blog is not that valuable to the users as the other results you see in the SERP.
In other words, people haven’t engaged with those contents as much as they did with the others you see on the first page.
But, Neil still gets traffic to those posts. He is probably not getting the direct referral from Google or other search engines to those posts but he is still getting indirect traffics to them.
That’s where cornerstone contents come into the picture.
Neil Patel has twelve guides on twelve different topics on his blog. And all are extensive.
Those are the cornerstone contents he has on his blog. And he gets most of his search engine traffics through them.
Neil made it very easy for anyone who lands on his blog to spot those 12 guides along with the most popular posts on his blog by putting a simple widget on the sidebar.
That way he can always redirect some of the search engines traffics he gets, if not all, to those other guides and posts on his blog.
So, the takeaway point from the example above is, you don’t always have to create a masterpiece to get organic search traffics to your blog.
Sometimes, it is ok to have less than perfect contents on your blog, as long as it makes sense and helps at least a few of your readers. All you need is a few flagship contents to back them up.
Which contents on your blog should be cornerstone contents?
Your cornerstone contents should be the most important, well-written, authoritative and extensive ones in your niche.
In a nutshell, they should be well-researched, clear, informative, frequently-updated and totally up to date contents that people would want to link back.
Cornerstone contents should also be the contents that are created around the main idea of your blog.
Think of it this way, if a new reader comes to your blog and read the cornerstone articles you wrote, they should instantly realize what your blog is all about.
That is why it is important that you make sure, your cornerstone articles are accessible from the homepage only. That will not just help the users but also help the search engine to figure out what your blog is all about.
Now that you have understood what cornerstone articles/contents are, next thing you want to do is write a few awesome and extensive articles in your niche and optimize them with the keyword you definitely want to rank for.
What I want to share with you here is, How to optimize your cornerstone articles for SEO?
On-page, SEO is all about the tricks and tweaks you can do on your blog. Like, setting up the Titles, Meta Descriptions, taking care of the H1, H2, and the other heading tags, defining Alt tags for the images on your blog and all.
On the other hand, Off-page SEO are the activities you do outside of your blog; Guest posting, blog commenting, social sharing, social bookmarking, answering questions on websites like Quora & Yahoo Answers, these are some example.
In short, Off-page SEO is all about getting links back to your blog (aka, *backlinks).
Cornerstone articles can help you with both types of SEO.
How to Boost Your SEO with Cornerstone Contents?
First thing first…
Before we go any further,
Step 2: You want to do some keyword research and figure out the most important keyword you would want to rank for.
Now, go ahead, Add New post and write your first cornerstone article. You can start with an extensive guide to something.
Use the keyword/keywords you have decided whenever possible, but be sure to use it naturally, you don’t want to stuff your article with keywords.
Don’t rush! take your time. After all, this is going to be the most important content which will rank your blog high in the search engines, in fact, it is going to be the content which will rank.
Step 3: Once you are done with the huge article, just scroll down (inside the post editor) until you see the Yoast SEO meta box.
Insert your keyword into the Focus keyword box.
Check the box that says,
That’s it. You’re now ready to rock n roll 😉
Just kidding! There are still a few things that need to be done before you submit your post to Google.
You already know what backlinks are. Now, there’s one more type of links in SEO, which we called the Internal links.
Backlinks are the ones that are being pointed to your blog from other blogs, website or any other online resources.
On the other hand, Internal Links are the links that you point from one blog post to another, inside your blog. Refer to the image below for better understanding.
Backlinks are like other people telling the search engines that this post (on your blog) is valuable and would be helpful to the searcher.
And for internal links you are telling the search engines, this post provides the most value to the users.
It’s like you are voting your own posts.
So, more internal links= more votes= high chances of getting seen on the search engines.
Step 4: Link back to your cornerstone article/articles whenever you create a new post which is around the same topic as your cornerstone content.
In short, it should be relevant. If your blog is in multi-niche, you don’t want to link back from each blog post you write. Only link back if it makes sense and you believe it would be relevant to those particular readers who are reading your post.
If you already have written a bunch of blog posts before writing the cornerstone article, go ahead and edit each of those old posts and add a link back to your cornerstone post.
Same way add links back to your other posts from your cornerstone article as well, wherever you believe it will help the readers.
Note: If possible, always use the keyword you’re targeting as the *anchor text for those links.
Let’s move on to the final step before you spread the news, you have written a mind-blowing piece of content.
Step 5: Make sure your cornerstone contents are reachable within a few clicks. If possible, make it accessible from the home page only.
You can put a link on the sidebar, add an image hypertexted to your cornerstone article, even if you like you can add it as a new menu item.
Now, you’re all set.
Just go ahead and start sharing/promoting the stunning piece of content you have just created.
Before I leave you, here are a few things which will help you keep track of your internal linking.
Once everything is done, head over to SEO>Dashboard (presuming you have Yoast SEO installed), click on General.
There you have the Text link counter. Click the button that says, “Count links in your texts“.
Now, it will start to count how many internal links each post on your blog have.
Once the counting is done, go to Posts>All Posts. Here Yoast will show you how many internal links each post has, incoming and outgoing both.
With that note, I will see you soon.
P.S. If you have found the article helpful, please do share it with your friends and family who you believe might benefit from this as well.