Cornerstone Content Defines Your Digital Foundation

by GingerHippo.

Yoast, an SEO plugin for WordPress, has a check box to define cornerstone content. Most people don’t quite understand what this feature is, or the significance of what it does, so we are going to shed some light on how to use this tool properly. By using this powerful SEO tool, writers have an ability to both define what their most important content is to search engines, but also stop competing with themselves for keyword rankings. Enjoy the article, and let us know what you think.

Cornerstone Content Defined

The definition is as simple as defining the word cornerstone and the functionality of what it does.

cor·ner·stone ˈkôrnərˌstōn
noun- an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.

Well, there you have it. We don’t need to explain this any further, correct? We wouldn’t do that to you. We are going to give examples of companies competing with themselves for ranking, and all kinds of other good stuff.

Without identifying the foundation of your digital footprint, search engines can only be confused.

When NOT To Use Cornerstone Content

Have you ever heard the story of the little boy who cried wolf? We will assume everyone has. If you haven’t, by all means, you can Google it.

The biggest problem we see with copywriters and other content creators, is they feel that every single piece of content they write is building a foundation, which is far from the truth.

Even popular content, which is being shared socially (or even viral content), isn’t necessarily the foundation of your digital footprint. Establishing what your company “should” be known for, is sometimes very different than what is driving people to your website.

But, all traffic is good traffic, right? <shrugs> Sure. Traffic can boost your Alexa ranking, but how many conversions are you getting from the content piece? How many REAL customers are you gaining?

Cornerstone content is meant to be relative content to your business. Relative content drives visitors to the top of the marketing funnel, encourages them to engage, giving you the opportunity to convert. It’s actually that simple.

Identify Your Market Verticals

Use Keyword Planning Tools

Help Search Engines Make Sense Of Your Content

Competing With Yourself For Keyword Rankings

Most companies don’t even realize they are competing with themselves, every single time they produce content. This is one of the biggest areas of improvement we see, when we take on a new client at GingerHippo. Using the picture to the right as an example, let’s discuss how this happens:

1. Companies keep telling the same story, over and over again, expecting a different result. Pete and Repeat went fishing. Pete fell off the boat. Who’s left?

2. Copywriters feel they have created every form of content surrounding their market verticals. This is never true. Generally, we find this to be the case with companies who don’t use a content calendar for planned publishing.

3. A company’s marketing department is subservient to the sales department. When sales rules the roost, a sale needs to happen from every visitor (in their minds), which is counterproductive to nurturing leads. More sales are lost than won with this tactic, because not every visitor is at the decision phase of the marketing funnel when they visit your website.

What Competing With Yourself For Keywords Actually Does

The picture on the left is a tremendous eye opener. Due to diluting their authority for their name, competitors are gaining ground on their name.

By not paying attention to the big picture, a medical aesthetic clinic is gaining ground quickly for their name. This is the worst possible scenario for a company, being their content should justify a #1 ranking organically in search for their name.

NovuHealth is NOT unique, unfortunately. They are merely the example we are using for our article. Let’s talk about how to NOT follow in their footsteps.

Never Use Blind Writing Techniques, And Expect Content To Rank

1. Delineating Your Market Verticals

Regardless of your product or service, there are thousands of different searchable topics to cover. By delineating your verticals AND your products/services, you can plan your content “months” in advance. Don’t believe me? Let me give you an example.

Chia Pet:

Let’s assume we are writing content for Chia Pet, the pottery that we spread chia paste all over a pottery head, water it, and watch it grow. What are the different areas we could create content for, which would draw readers to our website? Can you think of three, or ten, or even hundreds? I bet you can think of 50 topics to write about, in a matter of 10 minutes or less.

Let’s figure out their verticals. Off of the top of my mind, I’m thinking their verticals are pottery, chia seeds, and watering. Using just the three verticals, how many articles could they write for different topics about the construction of their pottery? How many articles could they write discussing different uses for chia? Watering techniques and water quality? Heck, I’m pretty sure they could create a chia pet liquid fertilizer and market the product as an add-on sale, if they produced the right content to build enough value.

Or, they can just keep on showing the 20 year old commercial on television during the holidays. Chu-Chu-Chu-Chia Pet!

2. Use The Right Tools To Determine Your Audience

One of the biggest mistakes we see in the content world, is what we call “writing blind”.

Writing blind is when companies don’t research their content in advance. There are numerous keyword tools available on the market, and while some are free, paid keyword planning tools provide better data. We recommend the platform Ahrefs to everyone, and we aren’t an affiliate of theirs, nor do they ask us to mention them. Their platform allows complete dissection of keywords, backlinks, organic rankings, AND competitor data.

The only complaint we tend to hear about regarding Ahrefs, is their user interface is droll. I’ll take functional over pretty, every day of the week.

3. Help The Search Engines Make Sense Of Your Content

Are we telling you to write content for the search engines instead of the readers? Absolutely NOT! Always write content for the reader, but do so in a way that encourages search engines to promote your content as being the most valuable to read.

What In The Holy Sam Buckets Does That Mean?

If we are writing a piece of content about “Cars”, we are required to write the content in a manner that delineates whether the article is about automobiles or the Disney movie. If our content mentions Steve McQueen or racing, we may confuse the search engines regarding which one we are talking about, and while the content may rank higher at first, it will sink in organic rankings over time, if people aren’t linking to our content.

4. Make Your Content Visually Appealing

In the picture on the left, we are providing an example of ugly content. We need to agree on the absolute fact that people engage more with visually appealing content, than they do with just words.

At GingerHippo, we always recommend giving readers a picture to use as an example of what they are reading, so we can create a desired feeling for a reader. If we are writing an article about juicy cheeseburgers, wouldn’t a picture of a juicy cheeseburger drive the messaging home? If we are writing that same article, but use a picture of a pickle, we probably aren’t going to get the same desired effect.

5. Allow People The Ability To Share Your Work

We pick on the content key holders, who gate their content, A LOT at GingerHippo. Let’s take a moment to imagine that we’ve just created a piece of cornerstone content, which defines the meaning of our company and brand, then force new visitors to give us their name, email, phone number, and an IOU for a potential kidney donation if we need it. Believe it or not, we see this happening more often than not, in our world.

Cornerstone content should never be gated, and should always be extremely easy for readers to share, on the platform of their choice. Notice that all of our articles have a super cool sharing icon for multiple platforms on the left hand side? We don’t have a preference on who sees our content, or where they find it. Neither should you.

It’s Time To Start Writing Cornerstone Content!


Let’s do a quick recap of our article, just to make sure we are tracking on next steps:


  1. Clearly define your market verticals. Make sure the content you are writing as cornerstone content sets an absolute foundation for your brand.
  2. Use keyword planning tools to further define what you are writing, how difficult it is to rank for those keywords, and who you are competing against.
  3. Write valuable content for both the readers AND search engine rankings. Most top 10 front page articles are at least 1200 words in length.
  4. Make your content visually appealing. Add images that create the desired feeling for the reader, for the message you are conveying.
  5. ALWAYS allow people the ability to share cornerstone content. NEVER gate content which defines your core business.
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