Posted by Richard in Link Building

Cornerstone Content: 8 Steps to Creating a Linkable Asset

Link building isn’t the easiest thing in the world, in fact that’s why businesses hire companies like us to build links and deliver great search engine optimisation both on and off site. Content has always been king in the SEO world, but with a push towards a more holistic business marketing approach, content is playing a bigger role than ever in building links, establishing authority and delivering value to audiences.

Creating content that people want to shout about, share and subsequently link to isn’t as simple as it seems, but with our eight steps you can craft a linkable asset that your company will be delighted to put their name to, your audience will love and the search engines will approve of.

Step 1: Embrace the power of cornerstone content

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Credit – Moz

Cornerstone content has to be the buzzword of 2017, but still so many people don’t know A) what it is and B) just how powerful it has become.

In short, cornerstone content is an article, blog, infographic or insight that your company is most proud of. These cornerstone pieces act as featured content and will quite often be the first thing that people read when they visit your website for the first time. Cornerstone pieces not only have to be well written, they must also reflect your ethos as a brand. Cornerstone articles are essentially the pieces that you would like to rank high in the search engines and throughout your customer base.

Cornerstone content should provide exceptional value to your target audience, and deliver a foundational or ‘explainer’, evergreen article that cements your status as an industry insider. Use of cornerstone content has been proven to raise brand awareness, bring in relevant site visitors, build natural links, establish trust and loyalty, and feed your funnel (a process that comes in handy when building email lists or using other techniques that aim to convert visitors into customers).

Step 2: Find a topic and format that fits

Now we’re aware just how important cornerstone content is, and the rewards your business could reap as a result of using it, what’s next? Choosing the right topic and format is integral to cornerstone success, and is in fact just as vital as its execution. To find a topic that fits, step into your target audience’s shoes to identify any problems they may have. The very best cornerstone content provides solutions to issues encountered by their target audience.

Don’t rush devising topics, instead take your time getting workers from across your business and your customers involved. Once you’ve identified a suitable topic, target a format that would best deliver what your audience is looking for. There are tons of options, including a long form how-to guide (like this one), video or video series, timeline, map, searchable database, infographic, tool or app. The possibilities are literally endless.

For a few examples of great linkable assets take a look at 50 Interesting facts and stats about Apples users, The Interactive Ear and Google’s How Search Works.

Step 3: Complete your keyword research

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Whilst the key to successful cornerstone content is a topic that is relatively under-covered on the web, ensuring there is a healthy search volume is important, after all, people still need to be interested enough to search for it. There are a number of free keyword tools – including this one from WordStream – that give you all the stats you need to understand whether the search volume of a keyword or phrase is healthy enough to pursue as a cornerstone topic.

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Finding a topic that has a healthy but not impossible search volume is important, whilst analysing who holds the coveted position zero (known more commonly as the featured snippet) will see you identify further opportunity. Some tools also share the related questions that browsers searching for your keyword or phrase are asking, so if you didn’t want to compete for a keyword with a high search volume you could find a lesser used term to focus on.

Step 4: Plan your content

You may have found the perfect topic, identified the best possible format for delivery and pinpointed the most opportune keyword, but this all boils down to nothing if you craft a piece that people don’t want to read. Your cornerstone content should no doubt be of the highest quality. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money hiring professionals who can write, design, develop and promote it if those aren’t your areas of expertise.

Step 5: Create your cornerstone masterpiece

As we’ve mentioned quality is fundamental to cornerstone content success, and it should deliver the very best experience to readers on every level. There are a few things to bear in mind when creating your cornerstone masterpiece:

  • Aim for the ‘wow’ factor when creating your content. Make time to create it, review it and revise it if necessary – perfection shouldn’t be rushed!
  • It’s not just about the words, your cornerstone piece should be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate
  • Incorporate those carefully researched keywords, but remember the more natural keyword incorporation is, the better
  • Show off your expertise! Whether you are outsourcing the development of your content or not, your cornerstone article should be true to your brand and its expertise
  • Don’t be overly sales-y either, you’re there to offer value not ruthlessly push your latest product or service.

Step 6: Optimise your content

Optimisation shouldn’t end at keyword incorporation. There are many steps you can take to optimise your content for SEO, social media and action. For SEO, optimisation should continue with optimised headlines, images and supplementary text (if your chosen format is a video or infographic). Adding social buttons will also make sharing simple for readers, whilst creating images or videos that summarise your content for use on different social media platforms is another worthwhile step.

Step 7: Shout about it!

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Whilst your cornerstone content now has all it needs to sell itself on-page, getting visitors to the page in the first place is of course vital. After all the effort you’ve gone to creating this linkable asset, why wouldn’t you want to promote it? Use email, social media and even a bit of PR to get your content out there to the people who matter.

Step 8: Regularly revisit your article

You may think that now’s the perfect time to sit back and relax – wrong! Cornerstone pieces need work to remain an effective part of your SEO campaign so don’t just push it to one side. Revisit your cornerstone piece every three months to update its content if required (even evergreen topics need bringing up to speed if a new trend hits), ensure the experience it offers is up to scratch (particularly if it is an app or tool), run some CRO tests and, if it’s due for a refresh, jazz up its font, images and layout.

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