This post is going to cover a few simple things you can do right now to get your site ranking better using cornerstone content. Maybe I should be a little clearer when talking about ranking and clear up a big misconception. “Sites Don’t Rank”, it’s the “Page Content That Ranks”.
Whether you believe it or not, the days of writing a page/post and placing the keywords in the title and the article then pointing a bunch of keyword links at it are fast becoming obsolete, as of 2017 that concept is now gone. No longer very effective in Google and soon to follow the other search engines for ranking pages/posts.
First let’s talk a little about website architecture, don’t worry I am not going to throw a bunch of boring in your face technical terms at you, just what you need to know to better understand how to effectively use cornerstone content in your web site planning and marketing.
Basically this is exactly what it says, the architecture of your site from the homepage to the way every single page is interlinked throughout the site. This is also the way that people and search engines alike find the content of your site, for people if they find it interesting and helpful they will usually share it and for search engines the same applies when indexing pages.
If you do not have good website architecture this can virtually kill off any chance of getting not only good rankings but any decent traffic or sales. The reason that this can have such an impact on your site pages is this, poor architecture makes it hard for search engines and your potential customers to find what they need from you site. If that happens the potential customer is likely to leave the site resulting in a very high bounce rate which to the search engines is an indication that the site has poor or irrelevant content for that search term.
Creating A Site Using Cornerstone Content
One question we are commonly asked is this, “How Do I Rank My Site For My Preferred Keywords”.
First before we answer that question you may want to know one very important fact, “Sites Don’t Rank But Site Pages/Posts Do” so you can see right now that the question being asked is completely wrong.
So how do you make sure your pages rank for the right keywords? Simply by using what is called cornerstone content.
Cornerstone content is a static page on your site that is very well written about one specific item or term which will then link out to other articles of interest on your site. For us, we use those other articles as posts that create one big hub of tightly related content around the keyword term we want to rank for.
Hopefully that makes sense, to get a better understanding go back to our homepage (opens in a new window) and have a look at the cornerstone content pages we have listed there. You will see six different pages that we believe cover most aspects of our site and services. We have cornerstone pages on Market Research, Web Design, Small Business Marketing, SEO Guidelines, Social Media Engagement and Web Hosting.
Once you get to the page you are going to see how we have written about market research. The way we added value was to write specifically about the topic of the page and then we added links to all relevant content on our site that is related to market research.
Next is linking your cornerstone content so that it gets the highest preference possible from the search engines and the people reading those pages. You should use what we will call your global navigation. This is usually found at the top of your site and is present on every single page of the site.
Internal Site Linking
This is one aspect that not to many people pay very much attention to. What you want to achieve here with the inter linking of your site is to provide a good user experience by making sure that each page that is visited has more relevant content.
A word of warning with internal linking, you can also receive a penalty from Google for over optimising your internal links, keep it relevant and useful to the reader and there should never be an issue.
What this means, if you want to rank a page for a certain search term you need to be very careful that you are not using the same linked keyword (anchor text) each time, you need to use a variety of terms from the primary keyword to long tail and even closely related to get the best results.
We use one simple method for all our internal and external linking, if it does not look natural then don’t do it.
One way to ensure you do not over optimize is by creating a spread sheet and adding the page URL as well as the title and then have separate columns where you can add what pages are linking internally and what anchor text is being used. This will help you identify anything that looks un-natural very fast.
No matter how your site visitors arrive, it’s the goal of cornerstone content to ensure that the page/post they have landed on is useful and totally relevant to their search query. The next goal is to ensure what you have written on the page is compelling and helpful, so much so that the visitor may even want to share or link to it from their own website.
If you have created your content strategy correctly your visitors should be landing on the one page of your site which is the central point for the topic they were searching for, if you like its the topic or content hub. Once on that page they find all the elements discussed above and more including links to the many supporting articles you have on the site you have created.