Rank with that cornerstone content!

Cornerstone articles are those posts that are most important to you. The ones you really want to rank with. The posts that make people come back to your site or buy your stuff. But how do you get those cornerstone articles to end up high in the search engines? How do you get the most out of your cornerstone articles?

To rank with these articles, you need to make sure they’re the best articles you can write. You also need a kickass internal linking structure. Luckily, Yoast is there to help! In this post, I’ll explain just what cornerstone content is and how to rank with these articles! Are you struggling with implementing cornerstone content? Check out how Yoast SEO can help you with your cornerstone strategy!

What not to do when trying to rank

Before we cover what to do, let’s first briefly discuss what not to do, and how ranking works. Without a doubt the most common question we are asked is: “how do I make my site rank for keyword X?”. What most people don’t realize, is that they’re asking the wrong question. You see, sites don’t rank: individual pages rank. If you want to rank for a particular keyword or keyphrase, you’ll need to determine which post or page you want to rank for that particular keyword.

Adding that keyword to the title of every page is not helpful; you should use a focus keyphrase only once. What also won’t work is writing 200 articles around variations of a keyphrase, without one central article linking them all together. You need one single page that is the center of the content about that topic – a “hub” page, if you will. That’s where cornerstone content comes in. But how do you make sure your cornerstone content articles start ranking in the search engines?

How to rank with your cornerstone content?

Create awesome content

Your cornerstone content will need to be 100% awesome in every way. You need to think about keyword research, headlines, awesome content and more. Not sure where to begin? Check out our detailed post on what type of article cornerstone content should be.

Read more: How the Yoast SEO cornerstone analysis helps you create your best articles »

Now go ahead and create that post or page on your site. Take your time, as this is going to be the content that’ll make you rank, but not just that, it’s going to be the content that ranks. Which means real people are going to read it as well, and you need to convert those people. So, think about search engines by all means, but think even more about the visitors who will end up reading that page – and give them something valuable.

Which keywords to target with cornerstone articles?

Your cornerstone articles should be optimized for your most ‘head’ or most competitive keywords. Of course, you should still be realistic when determining these head keywords. But, your internal linking structure will help your cornerstone pages rank (more on that below), which is why these articles should aim to rank for your most competitive keywords.

Positioning that new cornerstone content on your site

Now let’s talk about where to place that content on your site. Important content deserves a place within your core site structure, not a news item or blog post drifting around somewhere. It should be easily found in a few clicks.

This also means you should not create other pages within your site that target the exact same keyword! And you really don’t have to, as there are many ways to use keyword variations for these other pages and use these in your site structure.

Build a great internal linking structure

Like external links, internal links are very important for SEO. If you want your cornerstone content to rank well, your site structure needs to be impeccable. Google considers the articles that have most internal links pointing towards them the most important content on your website. That’s why you need to make sure your cornerstones get most internal links. These are the ones you want to rank with!

When you’re adding links to your cornerstones, use the keyword you’re targeting as the anchor text for that link, if possible. But most importantly, link from within the content. Don’t just add some site-wide sidebar/footer links. The reason for this is simple: links from within content are way more valuable than links from sidebars.

In addition to that, you need to make sure that you’re linking to your cornerstones from pages that actually are related. Contextual links are the ones that’ll help you rank. Adding hand-picked, relevant links that are useful for someone visiting your website, is the best way of achieving this. Automation will not give you quality results. That means that building a decent linking strategy is a lot of work, especially if your site is large.

Finding internal links in Google

You can use Google to find relevant internal links. The easiest way to figure out which pages Google thinks are relevant for your keyphrase is a ‘site:’ search in Google. So if I were to try and find the most important page for our local SEO plugin within yoast.com, I’d search for:

site:yoast.com local seo plugin

If you do this for a keyphrase on your site, you’ll probably find quite a few pages. Edit each of those pages and add a link to your new cornerstone content. As you can imagine, this can be a lot of work!

Boosting your internal linking structure with Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO has two features to help you work on a great internal linking structure for your cornerstones. The text link counter and the internal linking tool (Premium). Both will make it a lot easier to work on that perfect site structure for your cornerstones.

The text link counter shows you how many incoming and outgoing internal links a post or page has, so you can keep an eye on the amount of internal links your cornerstone article gets.

The internal linking tool helps you to quickly pick related links to add to your posts and pages. It analyses all of your posts to figure out which articles are related. In the sidebar, you can easily pick articles that are relevant to link to. You can simply drag and drop the links in your article. The articles will be related and contextual because the plugin analyzed the content of all of your posts on prominent words. If you have indicated that your article is a cornerstone article, it will pop up highest, because they are the most important. Make sure to link to these, whenever they pop up.

Promote your cornerstone content

If well-written, your cornerstone content should be something to be proud of! Something that others willingly share and thereby also something that will attract links. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people who have written about related topics: show them what you have created and that it might be worthwhile for their visitors to see. You might even want to offer to write a guest post for them on the topic, linking back to your article.

Conclusion: how to rank with cornerstones?

Your cornerstone articles deserve special attention. They need to be written carefully, to be the most complete and authoritative. They should also be easy to find on your site! Cornerstones need many contextual links pointing towards them to make Google see that they are the most important articles. That’ll make them rank in the search engines. That’ll get them the traffic they’re worthy of!

If you want to learn more about cornerstone content and setting up your site structure, we recommend…

16 Responses to Rank with that cornerstone content!

  1. Kiril Filipov
    Kiril Filipov  • 2 years ago

    This is another great article! Thanks!
    Marieke, I have a burning question related to cornerstone content.

    Do you think that the Post Category page could be transformed into a Cornerstone article?

    When we speak about Category Pages we mostly hear that they are extremely important, they should rank and should be optimized and so on… But not any real advice on how.

    What if instead of the short description with a few contextual links to the most important posts + a posts grid, the Category page contains a lengthy Cornerstone Article?

    Do you think this could work and be beneficial from an SEO perspective?

    Thanks a lot!

    PS: You do not seem to be using categories for your posts in Yoast. Is there any particular reason for this?

  2. info14808
    info14808  • 2 years ago

    Thanks a lot for your post, Marieke!
    Could you please clear one question? I have a website of a local store which has both pages (about us, our products, services, etc.) and blog articles. We know that today few people read long text on website pages (not articles!), right? So while our articles are long and comprehensive, on pages we tend to write a short and essential content next to photos just to arouse interest for visiting our store. I understood that both articles and pages can be cornerstone content. But how can I make my homepage or a page with a description of our products a cornerstone page if it has only 100-200 words? Thank you!

  3. Abdullah Rubel
    Abdullah Rubel  • 2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing awesome tips for cornerstone content. Can you tell me what is the best internal link ratio in cornerstone content?

  4. MSrbija
    MSrbija  • 2 years ago

    Practical post, there are 2-3 spectres that did not mentioned in the post. But all form Yoas are the best, video tips are more usefull than textual. Tnx

  5. Craig
    Craig  • 2 years ago

    Great article, thank you! One question.. for blogs and small to medium-sized sites, do you recommend having only one article as cornerstone? Or is it ok to build several as cornerstone articles? How many is too few or too many? Ooops sorry, I notice this question has already been asked. Anyway, thanks for your brilliant article and helpful tips. Cheers to Yoast.

  6. Bruna
    Bruna  • 2 years ago

    Hi there, is there any difference if a cornerstone is a post or a page? Does one have more SEO value than the other?

  7. Dawn Kole-Bell
    Dawn Kole-Bell  • 2 years ago

    Is there a limit to how many cornerstone pages you should have on a site? Perhaps as a % of your total pages?

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 2 years ago


      There’s not really a percentage. Make sure that your most important content and your main subjects are cornerstone pages; the content that you really want to be found for.

      Good luck,

  8. Arno Fischbacher
    Arno Fischbacher  • 2 years ago

    Always again worth reading and mentioning! Thanks a lot!

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      Glad you liked it :-)

  9. Michele
    Michele  • 2 years ago

    Thanks for the tips! In the cornerstone article itself should we also link to our related internal individual posts or should the links go only one-way?

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      They can go both ways. It is really important to link from all of your tail (less important articles) to that one most important one. But you can also link back from your most important one if that makes sense. In a lot of cases, it will make sense. One of your long tail articles explains something in more detail for example.

  10. Cassandra Maccue
    Cassandra Maccue  • 2 years ago

    Thanks you for great tips. Simply great.

    • Marieke van de Rakt


  11. Josh
    Josh  • 2 years ago

    Yet another great post Marieke.

    Thanks for sharing these valuable tips.


    • Marieke van de Rakt

      thank you!