Cornerstone content, massive value posts, pillar articles, long-form content - Call them whatever you want! The fact is that it's these kinds of monstrous pieces of content that are going to get you and your blog noticed in 2020, 2021, and darn well beyond that!
In this post, you'll learn how to create cornerstone content that will mesmerize your readers, get folks talking about your blog in every corner of the blogosphere, and help you to skyrocket the growth of your email list.
Think of one single, in-depth article that you recently read and perhaps even linked to from your own blog.
Now think of how many other websites and blogs out there in your niche that have done the same thing.
Great content demands attention, and bloggers will go out of their way to link to any piece of content they feel that provides value. It helps to make their content look great too.
By creating cornerstone content for your own blog, the benefits and rewards are endless:
If, for any reason, you are still confused as to what a piece of cornerstone content is or even looks like, let me explain using a clear context.
A piece of cornerstone content, or often referred to as a pillar article, is simply a page or a blog post created to cover a specific topic in great, great depth and detail.
By great depth, I mean cornerstone content covers literally everything there is to possibly know about a topic.
These massive value posts (MVPs) are lengthy too. They're not your average 800 or even 1,000-word blog posts, they're huge! Try 2,000 words or more!
Heck, I've seen some cornerstone articles to be in excess of 5,000 words in length.
That said, it's not the word count that matters in a piece of cornerstone content, it's how much value it provides.
A 2,000-word blog post that's filled with obvious and generic cr*p doesn't count as a cornerstone article. Anyone can fill a blog post with fluff and call it epic.
Remember, value, value, value.
I must stress that we're talking about 'content,' so that doesn't mean contextual only. A cornerstone article can be made up of different forms of content.
Here are some of the components that make up a cornerstone blog post.
So, if you truly want to create an epic blog post that will blow everything else out of the water, create a cornerstone content for your blog. Create a blog post that aims to solve a single problem for your readers, and tackle it from every possible angle.
I'm sure you're all fired up to go and write a BIG blog post and get it published, but just hold fire until you've read this post, at least.
If you're thinking of putting together a few of these mega-articles for your blog, I think you need to know something important first:
Cornerstone content takes a lot of time, energy, and an incredible amount of research and resources to put together correctly.
You just can't decide that you're going to bash out a massive blog post in an hour or two. That might be possible, but I like to take the time, and I would recommend you do the same.
You're looking at days or even a few weeks. It all depends on how much time you have on your hands. If you're a full-time blogger, then obviously you'll be able to do it much quicker than someone who blogs on a part-time basis.
If you know nothing about the topic you want to create your cornerstone article around, then research and learning are going to take up a lot of your time.
Then there's gathering essential data, collecting statistics, finding case-studies, embedding videos and customizing graphics, and so on.
And all of this must be done before you've even written a single sentence for your post.
If all of the above sounds like too much hard work, then continue on your way to creating mediocre content like every other blogger out there is currently doing, sadly.
But, if you're ready to start creating some truly epic 'traffic magnetic' content for your blog, then read on my friend.
While using the "post" format is great for creating cornerstone blog articles, some bloggers prefer to dedicate the "static page" (WordPress) for creating their flagship content.
One of the reasons for this is because most types of cornerstone articles will not require updating as often as standard blog posts.
"Static pages" are great for creating evergreen content, while "posts' are great for creating time-sensitive content.
That being said, I prefer to use "post" formats as opposed to "static Pages" for almost all my massive value posts.
Finally, before we dive into the steps for creating epic cornerstone content from for your blog, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of creating these kinds of articles for your blog or website.
We've already mentioned a few, but let's dive a little deeper.
There are a few bloggers out there that understand the importance of creating high-value content. One of my favorite bloggers, in fact, is Neil Patel from NeilPatel.com.
Pat Flynn is also renowned for providing massive value posts on his blog too, as well as bloggers like Ashley Faulkes from Madlemmings.
In fact, just check out Ashley's post titled Over 100 Online Business Ideas To Make Your Millions In 2017. You really can't get more epic than that.
Ashley's post is a fine example of a super-charged piece of cornerstone content. His post, to date, has attracted nearly 30k shares on social media!
Many of the articles we publish here on Magnet4Blogging are over 1,500 words in length; some, like this one, are well over 3,000 words long.
But again, it's not all about bulking up the word count that counts (pardon the pun), it's about providing incredible value.
Here are some examples of cornerstone content titles published on our blog:
Blog interviews and expert roundup posts also make for great MVPs.
For a resource roundup post, for example, you could collect links to 50 best articles on the web on a particular topic and title it something like:
"50 Groundbreaking Blog Posts That Profoundly Changed My Life".
The possibilities are endless with cornerstone content articles.
Right, so I think you get the idea of what cornerstone content posts are, how valuable they can be for your blog and the reasons for creating them.
Let's move on.
Let’s now take a look at the steps required for creating an epic piece of cornerstone article that’s going to blast your blog with traffic, send swathes of comments and backlinks to your blog, and flood the social network sites with your post shares.
Well, maybe not quite that dramatic.
I know that this might sound like obvious advice, but seriously, you really have to know who you are writing for to make your pillar posts work well.
If you have a loyal following for your blog already, and you honestly understand your reader's needs and wants, then you'll know exactly what your readers will respond to content-wise.
If you're just starting out and trying to build a community for your blog, ensure you're doing everything you can to learn what your readers are looking for from your content.
Learn as much as you can. Find out what they love most about your blog and reading your content. Try and identify some of their problems. Ask questions, invite a few of your readers in for a chat. You can do this by creating a Livestream. Do whatever it takes.
If you feel that you're in tune with your reader's wants and needs, you can begin creating a content strategy for your cornerstone content.
The next step is to do a little keyword research, however, this isn't always crucial and I'll explain why next.
While I don't usually promote the subject of "creating content for search engines", in order for your content to get found in Google (and other search engines), it's critical you do a little keyword research from time to time.
After all, people use search engines to find solutions to their problems, right?
So, ensure your keyword research tactics takes into consideration what your audience is looking for from your blog, as a solution to whatever problem they might be experiencing.
Use Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, AdWords Keyword Planner, or a keyword research tool like Long Tail Pro (Affiliate link) to help you find, research and determine which keywords or phrases are going to be most relevant to your cornerstone content topic.
There's a comprehensive guide on CopyBlogger that teaches you how to do keyword research properly if you're interested in reading it.
Your cornerstone content needs to be valuable and informative, that's definitely agreed on all sides, right?
But, at the same time, it also needs to be factually accurate.
If you're providing theories or making claims in your content, ensure you back them up with real facts and some evidence at least.
You can do this by researching the topic you want to write about thoroughly.
Learn everything there is to possibly know about the topic before you start writing a single sentence.
Source relevant statistics, facts, and data that you can use in your content as well. Also, make sure your sources are reliable.
Check out this post to help you find and use relevant data and statistics in your blog posts.
Also, don't just add to the noise of what has already been discussed. This is, in fact, very important.
Share your own views and perspectives. Add something new to the subject matter, something that hasn't been talked about before.
As I said at the beginning of this post, writing cornerstone articles takes time and a serious amount of effort on your part.
We're talking about, days, or even weeks, depending on how in-depth you decide to go with your topic.
Don't be in such a hurry to finish writing your cornerstone post just so that you can get something out on your blog to promote.
Here are some additional tips for writing long-form blog posts.
This is a pretty big one since it's what actually makes a cornerstone content what it is.
Massive value posts aren't just made up of blocks of linear text, they're made up of other types of content, as I mentioned earlier.
Make sure you use at least a few of the following in your content -
Images help to break up your content and give your readers some new perspective to focus on, so make them attractive.
Screen captures and infographics can be powerful too. These can help your readers explore deeper into your content and visualize what it is you're trying to teach them.
Graphics also helps you to support your theories, such as video and audio content.
Here's another big one:
As well as sharing your own insights, ideas, techniques, theories, and so on, consider bringing in the minds and perspectives of other credible experts in your niche or industry.
This is a fantastic way and opportunity to not only add even more value to your cornerstone posts but to also boost your article's authority and credibility!
Get them to answer a few questions to put into your cornerstone post. Maybe a few good quotes, or how about doing a mini-interview?
Add outbound links to relevant content and resources that you think could add value to your cornerstone post.
You might have noticed that I've already mentioned several articles that are external to this blog.
Pick sites that have a lot of weight behind them in terms of authority and credibility.
Once you've written your cornerstone content post, and you're happy with the way it is structured and organized.
Once you're happy with all the extra value and resources you've added in the form of links, videos, images, and so forth. And once everything is done and dusted nicely... it's time to start editing the raw stuff and polishing up your cornerstone article.
Editing is refining your post, making it not just good, but super epic for your readers to read, engage with, and take whatever action you want them to take.
This process can take just as much time as writing the post itself.
Here's a little tip which I've probably mentioned a gazillion times already on this blog -
Don't edit your post straight after you've written it.
Take a break, take a very long break actually. Heck, why not even take a day?
Then, come back to it and start your editing and proofreading. I guarantee that you'll end up making more changes than you anticipated you would.
Read it again and again until you're 1,000% satisfied that your cornerstone article reads and sounds not only great but convincing too! But don't get too nit-picky. Sometimes you can get overdo it.
Make use of tools like Grammarly to help you check for spelling and grammatical errors. That's one of my favorite writing tools to use, by the way. I use the pro version, however, you can make do with the free version.
After you've done your first edit, take another break... Maybe sleep on it for one more night.
Go back to it the next day and make your final edit.
If you want to, get someone else to proofread it out loud for you. I know this can feel daunting and awkward at first, but a family member can never go wrong.
Sometimes, I'll get my wife to proofread my posts before I hit the publish button. A second pair of eyes is aways good.
Ask them to provide some real 'productive criticism'. That's if you can take it, of course 🙂
Writing Tip: If you're too quick to get your pillar post published without proofreading it properly, I guarantee you that you'll lose sleep over it, trust me, I know... I've done this many times, published a great post, then gone back to change some of it because I simply wasn't 100% happy with it.
Once everything is in place and you're 1,110% happy with your piece of cornerstone content, optimize it for search engines the best you can, but don't over do it.
For tips on optimizing your blog posts for SEO, click here.
With your proofreading and final edits out of the way. And your post optimized for search engines. Only then should you hit that 'Publish' button', or you might want to schedule your post and sleep on it for one more night.
Once your cornerstone content is live for the whole world to see, you can start the onslaught of promoting it like crazy.
Discover what these 23 pro bloggers do to promote their latest blog post! Check out the post here.
Wow, we've come to the end of the post. I hope you've enjoyed reading it, more importantly, I hope it's inspired you to start writing more cornerstone content articles for your blog.
I want to wish you the very best of luck, and remember, if you need further help or have any questions, please get in touch with me. That's what I'm here for, TO HELP YOU.
Once again, I wish you all the best - Now go and create some truly amazing cornerstone content for your blog.