Take a good look at your blog, especially if it’s a business blog. What are you writing about the most? News about your company’s products and services, or generously helping and guiding people? Your content is now more important than ever – and creating awesome core content will help you with both SEO and sales.

Building trust and traffic: How to create useful core contentImage credit: jackeliine

What is core content?

In Sweden we say “kärt barn har många namn” (“a loved child has many names”), and that certainly fits here… I choose to call it your core content, but you’ll find the same (or similar) concept under many other names.

“There are several terms for the type of content we’re talking about. Yaro Starak – who I believe originally came up with the concept – calls this content a ‘pillar article.’

Brian Clark over at Copyblogger refers to this type of content as Cornerstone Content. Chris Garrett calls it Flagship Content. If I were trying to get credit for this type of content, the name that I would use would be Tent Pole Content.

Whatever name you’re using doesn’t matter – you’ll know the type of content when you see it.”

(Source: “How Bloggers Can Create Pillar Articles – Part 1″)

The 3 most common names for this type of content seem to be cornerstone, pillar or flagship content, but it’s all the same thing: your most important pieces of content – the foundation that the rest of your content is built upon.

“A cornerstone is something that is basic, essential, indispensable, and the chief foundation upon which something is built.

It’s what people need to know to make use of your website and do business with you.”

(Source: “How to Create Cornerstone Content That Google Loves”)

This type of core content should reflect the main topic (or topics) you want to be known for. It should show the main expertise you want your customers to hire you for (creating relevant core content is a great way to attract your favorite customers).

Your core articles should be useful for a long time

Your main core content should be “evergreen”, i.e. be as relevant in a year or more as it is now. If that means you have to come back and update it, then do it.

For example: a blog post about an event on a specific date wouldn’t be evergreen core content, but rather a supporting blog post to your core topic. See the difference?

One core topic, but in different categories

For this website, the core content is about technical seo and content marketing. This doesn’t mean I have to publish all the content under only those two categories.

As you can see, I’m using multiple categories (and tags) related to my core content, and categorize/tag the different articles according to where they fit in best. Don’t let your category structure restrict the topics you write about.

What should your core content be about?

How do you figure out what your most important content should be? Let’s start with the basics:

  1. Think about what your core business is. Let’s pretend you’re selling travel packages for Spain.
  2. What do you talk about the most with your clients? Maybe your clients always ask you for the best restaurants for their destination. (just make sure the topic/topics you choose are in line with your core business, and what you want to be known for)
  3. Who is your target market? Are you selling to backpackers, honeymoon couples, or people interested in sustainable tourism? Make sure you know.

For example, now you’ve come to the conclusion that your target audience is people between the ages of 30-50, they’re travelling to Spain on holiday and usually stay 1-2 weeks. Their main interest is food, mainly restaurants and events focused on local food. This fits in with your business, because you can offer tickets and additional arrangements for certain cities in Spain. Good, now what?

Step 1: brainstorming ideas

Before you start writing and publishing as much as you can about your core topics, first create an outline and a plan (aka content marketing strategy). This step is what turns random, stressful writing into a relaxed and structured marketing plan. Spend some time on this, it’s well worth it.

  • What’s the main topic?
  • Can you make a series about it (like chapters of a book)?
  • How can it be published (blog posts, videos, white paper, newsletter, etc)?
  • What’s the purpose of the content (conversions, awareness, etc)?
  • Who should write it?
  • When should it be published (use an editorial calendar)?

For a travel agency focused on Spain, with customers especially interested in food, this is how you can think:

  • Main topic? Food in Spain
  • Series? Food festivals throughout the year, reviews of restaurants in different cities (opportunity for multiple series and guest bloggers), book reviews about Spanish food, etc.
  • Content format? For example food festivals: videos of the events, written blog post with facts (where to get tickets etc), photo albums on Flickr.com (or your own website gallery), downloadable pdf with festival calendar for the year, create a newsletter segment where you send regular info about Spain, etc.
  • etc…you get the point. Combine the above with keyword research, and you’ll have a winning formula for traffic and trust.

Step 2: prioritize and schedule your content pieces

When I work according to the above outline, I usually come out with so many ideas that I don’t know when I’ll get time to create each piece of content. The solution is to prioritize and schedule with the help of a content calendar (aka editorial calendar). Look at the next 12 months, and schedule each piece of content for a certain date.

Using the example of food in Spain, if you have plans to publish content about a Christmas food market in Madrid…then November or December would be better than January for that article, right?

If your plan is to publish one new piece per week, there’s only 52 items you can schedule. Make sure you don’t schedule all your videos in one month, or all your tutorials in one month. Look at the types of content you want to create, and space them out throughout the year.

So, you see, this way you can easily schedule new and useful content for your website a whole year in advance.

Step 3: do the work!

You probably won’t see any major impact after the first (or even second) published item, but keep going. The key is to be consistent and stick to your plan (and re-evaluate on a regular basis).

If you’re extra energetic (or if you outsource your writing), you can even create most of the content well in advance and use the scheduled publishing function for your blog.

I dare to promise you that if you do it right, and you do it consistently according to your well-planned strategy, you will feel the impact within 6 months (most likely sooner, depending on your current audience, SEO, online network, etc). Start today, and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Have you heard about this kind of thinking around your content before? If you haven’t, did this blog post help you grasp the concept? If you’ve tried this concept before, do you have any tips to share? Let me know in the comments below.