Identifying and narrowing down your firm’s areas of expertise is one of the most important steps to differentiating yourself in the market, and cornerstone content can be a powerful tool in helping establish that.
A recent study showed that 45% of C-suite executives listed thought leadership as influential in their decision to invite a vendor to participate in the RFP process. This same study also noted that 58% of executives said such content directly impacted the awarding of work. With the potential for thought leadership content to play such a crucial role in your organization’s growth, it is important to understand the various areas of content marketing and how cornerstone content specifically can support your organization’s goals.
What is cornerstone content?
Cornerstone content is a central hub or foundational piece of content on your website that centers around your areas of expertise and that you then use as a springboard for creating the rest of your content. The content is foundational to who you are and demonstrates that your firm is an expert in its field. It is not a substitute for content marketing but a specific strategy within it. Your cornerstone content pieces are your core pieces of content and guide the rest of your content marketing.
How does cornerstone content work?
While you’d like to think that each of your blog posts, eBooks or videos have equal levels of importance on your site, they shouldn’t! You should have a few foundational pieces of content that draw your audience to your website through best SEO practices, that speak to the core of your business, and that establish you as a thought leader in the industry. Those central pieces of content should be what you spend the most time perfecting, by keeping them up to date and regularly optimizing them for search. Videos, articles, blog posts, eBooks, infographics, and webinars are all possible formats of cornerstone content.
Once you have identified your core thought leadership areas, you can then create the rest of your content around those foundational pieces. Break the areas down into smaller, more focused topics, and create content that adds value to what you’ve established as your cornerstone content. Taking a deeper dive into certain nuances of a topic helps establish you as an expert – especially if you are speaking to topics that no one else is.
One way to build out your content is through an internal linking structure. An example could be a core blog post that contains links to other related content on your site. That related content should hit on different keywords than those in the cornerstone post. Keyword cannibalization occurs when several articles or posts on your site contain the same keywords, and a search engine like Google can’t tell which page is the most relevant. Because you don’t want pages on your website competing against one another, be mindful of using the same keywords too often across multiple posts. Also, to maximize effectiveness with your linking structure, use anchor text–the clickable text that hyperlinks display instead of a URL.
Why does cornerstone content matter?
A Content Marketing Institute study showed that content marketing gets three times the number of leads over paid search advertising. It’s no wonder that in 2019, B2B content marketers are making content creation a top priority. With the amount of content that’s published online on a daily basis, creating pieces that matter should be a primary focus of your overall content marketing strategy. Amidst all of your content, your cornerstone pieces should be the most valuable for your target audience. You want your audience to be pulled in by your cornerstone content when they land on the site and then be encouraged to engage with more of your content. This is why you build the rest of your content around those foundational pieces.
What are the benefits to creating cornerstone content?
There are additional benefits to cornerstone content beyond establishing your organization as an authority in the industry:
- Increases brand awareness: As a part of content marketing, cornerstone content elevates your brand’s profile and informs your target audience of your areas of knowledge and expertise. It also gives prospects insights into their business challenges and needs.
- Creates a great first impression: This content is often the first thing a visitor will read from you, so it introduces them to who you are as an organization. It is crucial to make this first impression count and put your best foot, or content, forward.
- Drives website traffic: Because of its powerful SEO, cornerstone content helps drive visitors to your site, which in turn can lead to greater website conversions, moving a visitor through the sales funnel and on their way to becoming a client.
- Helps with lead generation: According to a 2016 DemandGenReport study, 47% of B2B buyers read 3-5 content pieces prior to engaging with a sales representative. Seeing content related to your organization’s offerings could be the push your website visitors need for them to contact you. Consider including a call to action on the same page as your high-quality content piece to make it easier for a prospect to reach out to you for more information.
- Can be repurposed: Cornerstone content can be reused in contexts outside of a blog or article. The content can become topics your organization speaks about in workshops or repurposed in other channels such as webinars, videos, e-books, etc. to maximize its impact.
- Fits into your overall content marketing strategy: Coupled with analytics, cornerstone content can aid your content marketing strategy by showing which topics are resonating most with your audience. You can then use the insights gleaned to delve deeper into those topics.
Where do I start?
Now that you know more about what cornerstone content is and why it matters, you may be wondering how to get started in creating your own. A good starting place is to identify which industry topics you are the most knowledgeable in and what questions you are most often asked by your clients. This will give you a sense of the topics you can best educate your clients and prospects on. You can also look at trends within your industry and speak to those, especially if there is a topic that not many voices are covering.
Integrate content and strategy
Know that cornerstone content should not be created in a silo. Work with firm leadership to choose topics that are aligned with your organization’s offerings and its growth strategy. Your cornerstone content will be most effective when integrated with your firm’s overarching business strategy and when it guides your content marketing strategy. When all of your business efforts align with each other and work together, your content will better support company-wide goals and propel your firm’s growth.