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What is cornerstone content?

The ideal site looks like a pyramid

Cornerstone content pieces are the most important articles on your website – the pages or posts you want to rank highest in the search engines. They reflect your business, communicate your mission and are extremely well written. Cornerstone articles are usually explainers; relatively long articles combining insights from different blog posts.

This post explains everything you need to know about cornerstone content – or evergreen content as it’s also known. You’ll learn what it is, why it’s important for SEO, how to write this kind of content and how you should link from your posts to your cornerstone articles.

Which articles are my cornerstones?

Choose your cornerstones carefully. Think of the four or five pages you would most like someone to read when they first visit your website. These articles should be the cornerstones of your site. Which articles are most important to you? Which are the most complete and authoritative? You should write cornerstone articles about the keywords you most want to rank for.

The concept is so important that our Yoast SEO plugin includes an option to indicate whether or not an article is cornerstone content. If you mark articles as cornerstone, Yoast SEO can help you build a solid internal linking structure.

Marking your cornerstone articles means you can create a list of them in your post overview, so you can easily work on improving them. And, most importantly, the link suggestion tool in Yoast SEO Premium will give priority to the articles that you mark as cornerstone content, so you’ll never forget to link to your best article on a certain topic if you write about something related.

If your website is enormous, you’ll have more cornerstones than if your website is small. You’ll probably write about more than one topic, so be sure to choose a cornerstone article from each category.

Why are cornerstone articles so important for SEO?

Cornerstone content plays a significant role in any SEO strategy. It can be hard to rank for search terms that are very popular, but a cornerstone approach can help you tackle those competitive search terms. If you write a lot of articles on similar subjects, you need to tell Google which of them is the most important. If you don’t, you’ll be competing with your own content for a place in the search results. Providing the correct internal link structure between your posts tells Google which article is the most important.

Link structure for cornerstones

Cornerstone articles should sit towards the top of your site’s pyramid. Ideally, someone should be able to click straight through from your homepage to your cornerstone articles. Also, all your other posts about similar topics should link back to their cornerstone article. As your site develops you will write tons of new blog posts looking at that topic from other angles, each one linking back to your cornerstone article. This internal linking structure will increase the chance of your cornerstone content articles ranking in Google searches.

For example, I write a lot of different posts about SEO copywriting, each looking at a different aspect of SEO copywriting. The cornerstone article for this topic is the Ultimate Guide to SEO Copywriting, and whenever I write a new post on SEO copywriting, I add a link to that one important cornerstone article.

Optimizing your cornerstones with Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO offers some great tools that help you optimize your cornerstone content, including a text link counter, specific cornerstone content analysis and – in Premium – even internal linking suggestions, in which cornerstone articles get priority over other posts.

Read more: How to set up a cornerstone content strategy with Yoast SEO »

Text link counter

With Yoast SEO you can filter your cornerstone articles in the post overview to see how many internal links a post has pointing to it and how many posts it links to. This text link counter is extremely useful because you can see at a glance if your cornerstone content has enough links from other, related posts:

Cornerstone analysis

If you really want to make your cornerstone articles great, you need specific content analysis for cornerstones. Content marked as cornerstone will be judged more strictly than usual on SEO and readability in the content analysis, as you want this article to be longer, have excellent content, keep the reader’s attention and rank high. Read how this analysis helps you optimize your cornerstones.

Internal linking suggestions

Yoast SEO Premium has an internal linking feature. We analyze what you write and use the most prominent words in your text to determine which articles are related – and therefore which you should link to. Cornerstone articles are treated differently in our calculation of internal linking suggestions because they are more important and have a higher value. To give these articles more prominence, we place the cornerstone articles at the top of the list of the internal linking suggestions. That makes it much easier for you to link to your critical articles.

Content on cornerstone pages

Cornerstone content should always be content pages and can be either a blog post or a page. But whichever they are, you should update them often. Cornerstone articles should be explainers and informative articles, and you should aim to get them to rank for the most competitive keywords.

Cornerstone articles are usually pretty long, covering everything that’s important about a certain topic. That asks quite a lot of your writing skills. Lengthy articles are usually hard to read, especially on a screen, so make sure you use plenty of headings. An index at the beginning of a long cornerstone article is also a great idea.

5 steps to a killer cornerstone approach

Ideally, you should do extensive keyword research, which will help you to produce really awesome, long, informative and beautifully written cornerstone articles. But what if you don’t have that much time? And what if you’ve already written tons of articles? Follow these five steps to make killer cornerstone content.

Step 1: Think about your keywords

You have to decide on the essential keywords you want to rank for. Your cornerstone articles should be optimized for the ‘head’ or most competitive keywords, so be sure to carry out some keyword research.

Step 2: Choose the best post

Go through the posts that are optimized for keywords surrounding the most important keywords. Which post do you think is the best? That’ll be your cornerstone from now on!

Step 3: Rewrite it

Rewrite your cornerstone article. Make it awesome and SEO-friendly. Expand it and make sure it’s totally up to date. And don’t forget to rewrite and expand that article regularly.

Step 4: Optimize your other posts on long tail variants

The other blog posts about similar topics as your cornerstone article should be optimized for long tail variants of the ‘head’ keyword you’re attacking in your cornerstone article.

Step 5: Linking from those tails to your head

You have to tell Google that your new cornerstone article is the most important article on that topic on your site. Don’t forget to link from all the long tail articles to your cornerstone article!

Yoast’s plans for cornerstone content

Site structure is important for SEO. Having a solid site structure means both search engines and visitors can easily navigate your site to find what they want. To help you achieve this, we are continually working on many more features in Yoast SEO that’ll improve the structure of your website.

Keep reading: SEO Copywriting: the complete guide »