The 5-Minute Trick for Better Traffic, SEO, and Subscribers

Blogs are great resources. They let you publish high-quality content quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively.

The problem is, the default functionality of blogging software makes it easy to show what’s new — but hard to show off the depth of what you’ve done over time.

Blogging excels at presenting new content, but fails at aggregating old content in a way that works for people and search engines.

So what can you do? How can you help both people and search engines find your content efficiently?

Create some solid cornerstone content. If you’ve read Brian Clark’s new SEO copywriting report, you know how important this type of content is to attracting links and ranking for the terms that are central to your site.

If you haven’t read Brian’s report, you should to get the full picture. But for now, it’s enough to know that a page hosting cornerstone content helps readers by pulling all of your content about a specific topic together in one place.

In other words, each cornerstone page is a home for related content. If you want an example before I continue, check out Landing Pages or Copywriting 101 in the “resources” sidebar to the left of this post.

Cornerstone pages let you highlight your most important archived content. They also help you attract links, get subscribers, and increase traffic.

Keep reading to find out how.

1. Cornerstone pages are great targets for link-building campaigns

Remember, links matter first and foremost with search rankings. But complete, in-depth content on the topics you want people to find you for is important, too.

When you group similar content into a home on a single page, you’ll have a keyword dense page which will rank in search engines when you build links to it.

Sticking with the Copyblogger examples, do you think they chose phrases like “landing pages” and “SEO copywriting” by accident?

Absolutely not. These are two popular keyword phrases that the Copyblogger crew wanted to rank well for in Google. And sure enough, they do.

I know what you’re thinking. Copyblogger is a large site. They don’t need to focus on building links to each page, because they will gain links naturally over time.

(Never mind the fact that, like every blog, Copyblogger started with no links and just one subscriber — which in this case was Brian.)

That’s why cornerstone pages are even more important for new bloggers. These resource-rich pages are perfect for you to link when you do guest posts on other blogs. They’ll help you rank for specific keyword phrases and help you find new readers.

2. Cornerstone pages help you get subscribers

People listen to authority figures. Brian also wrote a complete report on authority: why you want it, what it will do for you, and how to get it. People also tend to bookmark, share, and reference authoritative content.

Cornerstone content is authoritative because it demonstrates your knowledge around a specific topic. And if it’s genuinely useful, people won’t hesitate to go further with your content, such as subscribing to your blog or signing up for an email newsletter.

Does this strategy really work?

Yes. How do you think Copyblogger became one of the top blogs?

Scroll through the left sidebar and you’ll see all of the Copyblogger resources. Most of these are cornerstone pages, grouping several pieces of valuable content with a call to action to subscribe to the blog.

3. Cornerstone pages are shareable

Since each piece of cornerstone content helps people address a specific need, they often remember it.

For example, any time someone asks me how to write a great blog headline, there’s one resource that comes to mind . . . the Headline Writing series here on Copyblogger.

Even though I first read it almost three years ago, I still refer back to it every time I need some inspiration.

Whenever anyone asks me how to write a headline, I send them to this resource because of how helpful and complete it is. I don’t have to send them to five different sites, just one simple URL that’s easy to share.

How do you create cornerstone content?

There are two ways.

One, you can start from scratch and write a blog series with the main goal of turning it into cornerstone content.

This is a great way to kick off a blog, or to give your blog a boost. But if you’ve been blogging for a while, there’s a faster way to benefit from this strategy . . . without doing extensive content development.

Let me explain.

You probably have blog categories, right? Take a look through some of your more important categories. What if you hand-picked some of those category-specific articles and grouped them onto a cornerstone page? It would be easy, right?

Now what would make this content effective?

First, you’d want to do some basic keyword research to make sure you’re targeting a keyword phrase that makes sense.

Then you’ll want to write a snappy, informative introduction that builds desire for your content, using smart SEO copywriting to make it search engine-friendly.

And finally, you fill out the page with links to content you already have on your site. It’s that simple.

Now get to work. If you focus, you can get your first cornerstone page posted in 30 minutes. And of course, the next time you write a guest post, make sure you link to your new cornerstone content page using the appropriate keywords as anchor text (Brian’s new report gives an example of this).

How about you? Using any terrific cornerstone content on your own blog? Let us know where to find it in the comments.

About the Author: Derek recently launched the blog Social Triggers. Check it out to learn how to use human psychology to get traffic, sales, and subscribers. Also, don’t miss out on his cornerstone content page, Online Sales 101.

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Comments

  1. As always, a great in depth piece with practical advice I can implement straight away.

    Am bookmarking this for when I create my cornerstone content.

    Thanks Derek!

  2. Derek, I’m glad you brought up categories. I’ve seen bloggers rely on their category links as their Content Landing Page, but I don’t think this is effective as creating an actual Content Landing “page.” And I’m sure the SEO juice isn’t as strong either.

    I’d like to hear you, Brian, and Pearson weigh in on this.

  3. Shane, simply linking to a category is not nearly as effective or useful to the reader. No outside webmaster is going to be impressed enough to link to a category page, and having a category rank for a keyword phrase in Google is lame for searchers. Basically it’s a lazy, ineffective, and unprofessional practice.

  4. Great post. I’m looking forward to digging into my blog and creating cornerstone content.

    Thanks su much.

  5. @Brian, I knew you had stated this in the past somewhere, and I’m glad you said it again now so I can bop these people over the head with your comment. Thanks.

  6. Hey Derek,

    This is a lot of great information. I’m gonna have to re-read this and take notes. By grouping similar post to a specific keyword does give the search engines reasons to perhaps create a silo on your blog or site.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  7. Okay, I decided to stay away from the comments debates, and I will, but I can’t resist this topic, since it involves my own work. I promise I’ll still keep my nose out of the controversial topics :)

    [begin shameless plug]

    The Trailmeme for WordPress plugin developed by my team, which we showed off a bit at recent WordCamps in San Francisco and Toronto, was designed to solve exactly this problem: highlighting quality old content in ‘cornerstone’ ways. It does so by allowing you to quickly create ‘trails’ and display them as visual trail maps. Here’s an example

    I’ve been using it on my own blog for the last 6 months, and the data shows it strongly drives content along trails, toward cornerstone content.

    While we haven’t yet solved the problems of effectively bringing an SEO angle into this, or allowing you to put landing-page copy on, those are things we are working hard on.

    So… the plugin isn’t ready for prime-time use by marketing oriented blogs yet, but we are looking for savvy users to test drive the beta and help us figure out what else is needed to turn TM4WP into a killer ‘cornerstone content’ plugin (alongside SEO tools of course).

    If anyone is interested, please contact me.

    [end shameless plug]

    Venkat

  8. Thanks for the great post Derek. We’ve been meaning to do some cornerstone content, but I think the problem I had was trying to decide where to start. Apparently I was putting the cart before the horse and not, as you suggest, looking at the great related content we already have and then creating a keyword-focused cornerstone to pull it all together. I think this will finally get me off the schneid.

    Randy
    @marketitwrite

  9. I love the idea of a cornerstone page. I’ve been writing “how-to” articles for beginning bloggers and this is a great way of pulling them together so they’re easy to find.

  10. @Venkat, that looks very cool, thanks. :) As it stands now, it looks like it would provide a good experience for readers for content that the blogger doesn’t organize into a cornerstone landing page. Seems to me like it would be a good addition to “curated” pages created by hand.

  11. Thanks for the push. I have had this as a to-do in my head for a few weeks now. Obviously I need to get it done!

  12. Derek,

    Great twist on a practice that well all need to get better at. I think that your audience will do a lot of voting as well, on which pieces will be the most successful, and should go on the cornerstone page.

    Once you get your top visited posts, you can re-work them later for even more SEO power, with keywords thrown in, changes in headline, etc.

    You can think that you have the greatest post or product since slliced bread, but if your audience doesn’t vote for it, then it’s back to the drawing board.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  13. Very interesting post.
    Thanks for the tip on cornerstone pages. Would never have thought about it myself but it makes perfect sense! I’m on it right now… :)

  14. Grouping content huh? HAdnt thought of that. But if I read that correctly maybe pieces of content to form one “but leaving the original pages indexed right?” If so I agree.

  15. @Sonia The eventual goal is to merge the two concepts in a sense. You’d create a trail to organize the entire theme, and put in some custom copy to turn it into a true cornerstone page… have your cake and eat it too. That’s the area where I am looking for beta feedback.

    I’ll share a sneaky secret: I’ve been reading and analyzing your ‘landing page makeover clinic’ series to figure out if there are general rules/principles that can be codified into software. That’s one of our data sources for future design.

    The key problem here is that anything in this department tends to be labor intensive. Technology or good general purpose advice can alleviate labor, but when it is done well, it tends to commoditize what was previously a skill, thus creating a rising tide that floats all boats. My personal holy grail is technology that makes the dull stuff much easier, but leaves you with a creative canvas on which to differentiate yourself.

    I think you guys have achieved that with Scribe for one purpose. Trails do that for another purpose. Now if only landing page/cornerstone pages can be subjected to the same treatment.

    Venkat

  16. @Darren, yep, you leave the original pages right where they are, this is just a new page that links to what’s there already.

    @Venkat That’s a neat approach — I like that idea of combining automation for the boring part but leaving a canvas for the creative work.

  17. Love the idea. This goes on the lengthening list of things to do to my blog. One day, it’ll be a good one. I think.

  18. To everyone, thank you for all the nice comments. I’m glad you found the post helpful.

    @Amy your welcome!

    @Venkat that plugin you mentioned looks pretty awesome… but I’d have to look into it a little bit more before I make any comments on it. Any time you try to automate something… you kind of lose something even if you save time. But I might be missing the point of the plugin so let me take a look!

    @Randy you know, that’s how a lot of people think. They always think they have to do big things to get big things done. However, in blogging, just because you wrote an article 2 years ago… doesn’t mean it’s not useful today. Plus, there’s no reason you can’t include that into a blog series…

    @Joshua you’re actually right on point there. When you have a page that’s already doing well with traffic and search… that’s a prime time for you to include that into a “content series” because it will leverage the link juice of that current page and channel traffic from one post to another, which should increase user retention.

  19. Whoops, one more comment.

    @Brian there is actually “one” scenario where an outside webmaster will link to a category page. It’s when you do enough custom coding that you make your category pages look like cornerstone content pages. I did this on most of my sites because it was automated, but a great living example of this would be Sugarrae’s site:

    http://www.sugarrae.com/category/affiliate-marketing/

  20. that’s freaking awesome, Derek,

    I have never really thought about cornerstone articles/pages, but your post is blowing my mind, and it makes me start creating them now !

    Keep roooooocking !

  21. I’ve recently started reading copyblogger to help me write better copy for our ecommerce sight and blog, and I must say that this post is now one of my favorites. My compliments to you Derek.

  22. Derek, I think what Rae has done is a shining example of how category pages should we done — she’s put the work in to make the category page a truly valuable landing page.

    We need to do that on Copyblogger… want to handle that for us? ;)

    On the other hand, a cornerstone page isn’t about everything you’ve written about a topic displayed in reverse chronological order. It’s selected content, purposefully arranged for the best educational/persuasive impact possible. This is what makes it an authoritative resource worth linking to by a maximum amount of others.

  23. @Alex thanks. You know what’s driving me crazy though? This post should have 5,000 retweets. That’s how useful this strategy is to “all” bloggers. So make sure you tweet it out!

    @Brian sounds like a possibility. shoot me an email and we can chat :-P

  24. Interesting. I thought my categories were cornerstone pages. But, writing a specific cornerstone page makes good sense. Thanks.

  25. Great post Derek,

    I had an idea you would end up where you did. I’m in the process of writing a 7 part series on Short Sales in Brooklyn Real Estate at My Brooklyn Report, and following the great advice here at copyblogger, was intended on making it my cornerstone content.

  26. This takes too much work. Making good content? C’mon, I just want my readers.

  27. @Chris that’s why you should just reuse your old content :-P

  28. Some real gems in this blog post… Never heard cornerstone content explained like this. I do feel that putting-out top quality content in this way, leads to more social proof and increased authority in your market. Thanks for sharing ;)

  29. Derek,

    I totally agree. I have looked into blog creation in great depth and you have hit it right on the button.

    I had never thought of it in your concept but it is definitely the same ideas as I have in my head.

    I think your readers will really appreciate knowing this.

  30. One thing I really like about how Derek frames this is that it’s SIMPLE. In the time it takes you to do a Twitter run and check your stats (again), you can get this done and actually start improving those stats.

  31. I take two approaches to highlighting cornerstone content on my blog.

    1. I use the Popularity Contest plugin and widget to highlight the posts that people read most often (which may lead to a “rich get richer” effect for some of those posts, as subsequent readers follow the social proof);

    2. I use the Organize Series plugin and widget for when I have some in-depth content that hangs together as a group of posts.

    Derek’s approach makes a lot of sense, though. I’ll have to have a scan through and see if there’s anything that’s not already a series that can be highlighted by his method.

  32. I love the idea. I’ve listed a lot of our blog articles on one page, by topic.

    Now I’m going to go ahead and create some new landing pages on more specific topics which can become new articles.

    Thanks for the tips!

  33. Derek,

    This is exactly what I need to do! I have plenty of fairly juicy content.

    I’m following you’re advice, and I’ll share it with you over at the Third T…

    From one hammer to another, you kicked some butt on this post, Derek!

    The Franchise King®

  34. Derek, I found this article so informative. I only wonder if would fall into the category of duplicate content, which Google might penalize? I also wonder what’s the difference between this and use a popular posts plugin as was suggested above?

    Thanks much.

  35. @Sandra, the content isn’t duplicated, you just link to it. No penalty for that — in fact, quite the opposite.

    If you take a look at the resources sidebar to the left (for example Headline Writing) you’ll see exactly what Derek’s referring to. The difference between this and using a plugin is that you decide what your most important content is. You hand pick the posts you think will be most valuable for your readers.

  36. @Sandra

    You hand-pick the best ones… or you even let the readers determine the best posts because you can see which posts are the best ones on a certain topic based on traffic.

    You can then just give these “best posts” a home on your website, which people happen to call “cornerstone content pages.”

  37. Cornerstone content is a great idea. I was thinking you could compile the blog posts into an e-book like structure and offer it as a download on your blog… but in my mind, to offer it as a download would mean you’d want a lot of good content on your blog so that there’s a reason to keep coming back.

  38. Looking at my blog, I have an obvious starting point – the tags in my tag cloud. The ones in large type are instant candidates for cornerstone-hood.

    Also instant candidates for products, which you could link from your cornerstone page, of course. Ranging from “I’ve compiled these into a PDF so you don’t have to” for free or very cheap, to “I’ve built a whole new level on top of these posts, here’s how I go far beyond what you can read right here for free.”

  39. Connerstone… mmm never heard before…

    Im bookmark this article. I’ll trying to practice this.

    Thanks Derek for your great posting.

  40. Derek it was a good article. This will help me to gain more links and subscribers. Looking forward for your next article.

    Keep up posting more useful article. Good luck Derek. Thanks :)

  41. Hi Derek,
    Great article. I love Copyblogger – always such fresh and useful tips. I’d been thinking of setting up separate pages on my blog based on some of the categories and re-posting the articles there, but I see now it makes more sense to create the page and set up links to each post within the blog. Thanks so much!

  42. Hi guys,

    It is great to know that cornerstone content gets you traffic and subscribers. Thanks for sharing.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  43. Great advice, I am going to implement it on my blog. My thanks.

  44. Hey Derek,
    I had a look at my blog and decided how I want to organize the cornerstone pages – but I have one question. How do I get the Cornerstone Pages to show up in the margin on my blog? Help!

  45. Great advice people. I wonder if I will ever be able to write a good enf post for Copyblogger.

    I was thinking of doing this. Making a cornerstone page for a category and redirecting the ‘Category’ URL to that page. Since it is linked from all relevant articles already and has a some social standing?

  46. @King eh, I’m not sure if that’s the best idea. There’s a better way to handle category pages. I linked it earlier in the comment section. Check this out:

    http://www.sugarrae.com/category/affiliate-marketing/

  47. Wow, thanks for linking man! Kinda what I wanted to do but it’s done in proper way :P

    Damn! Where is the facebook like button?

  48. This was a great article, Im implementing this type of content to my Blog. Thankks!

  49. Hi Derek,

    Thanks for the great information, I’m going to have to read it again to make sure I get it and start implementing it on my newly created blog.

    If I’m getting it right, it would be to group the content based on the keywords to categories as opposed to pages right? I was told pages are static and that in order for your blog to be Google friendly the information needs to be categories. Did I get it right? Sorry if it’s a dumb question, I’m new to all this.

    Anna

  50. Dear minion,

    This was an excellent article. My executioner uses a cornerstone when beheading. I know that’s not what you meant, but the idea is the same. A common place to share brains, or err, ideas.

    Your evil overlord,

    – Deceth

  51. It took me a good bit longer than half an hour (mainly because I decided to go for a full-on post including images, not just a brief intro and a collection of links), but my first cornerstone page is in place: Motivation.

    I installed two more plugins to make it work better for me. The Flexi Pages Widget lets me list pages in my sidebar (I can exclude ones I don’t want to show there). This is the answer to Angela Artemis’s question. And the RSS Includes Pages plugin makes sure that my new page turns up in my feed (important, since that goes out automatically to my mailing list, Twitter and elsewhere).

    I wrote the page on the weekend and scheduled it to appear during the week. Both the plugins just Did The Right Thing, and the post auto-appeared in the sidebar and on the feed without my further intervention. Happy!

  52. Mike, Thanks so much for this information. I’m going to download the PlugIns you mentioned. I haven’t done anything yet on the Cornerstone Content – although I wanted to ’cause I wasn’t able to figure it out.

    I really appreciate it.

    Angela

  53. This was a great content, I am interested to implementing this type of content to my Blog. Thanks!

  54. I’ve never heard of cornerstone pages before but I like the idea and will begin implementing them into my blog immediately.

  55. Derek,

    I never appreciated the importance of the cornerstone concept until I read this article. I was looking at it from the point of view of developing content that is valuable to the reader but unique to the blog/website. The beauty of this perspective is you bring together the seo aspects and the importance of getting links back to posts making everything available on a page within a theme or series rich in keywords hopefully.

    And this I think should mean keeping the reader for longer and hopefully achieving a sale. A simple but very effective approach.

    But you already know that to be true thats why you wrote this piece. :-)

    Thanks great work.

  56. Thank you for this article anyone looking to optimize their web site for local search this is a must read.

  57. This web site is really a walk-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you’ll definitely discover it. thanks for the great work waiting for the next

  58. i had looking constantly with this type of new information always its really a good work bookmarked it

  59. This is great I read it once and just came back to it and have even more action points now. You guys rock!

  60. I am a firm believer that if you create valuable content then everything else will fall in place i.e. search engines will rank your page better, readers will find you and so on and so forth. In short, I believe that if you write great content and lots of it then you will ultimately succeed online. I came across this post which has given me new ideas to create content. And I am now going to check out the SEO copy writing report.

  61. Hey Derek,

    I didn’t know that grouping related posts were called “cornerstone pages” but thanks for pointing that out.

    I think that’s a fantastic idea, at first I thought that was the actual idea behind using categories in the first place but with some deeper thinking maybe you are grouping together something that falls of the main category and can build a cornertone page about it.

    At least that’s how I see it.

    And if somebody is not using categories then by all means, this is definitely THE way to showcase it to our readers, thanks.

    Sergio