Our sixth learning focuses on cornerstone content. This is related to our second LION learning, since cornerstone content is certainly a great example of a side door.

Shelf life of an article is important. Google actually penalizes content that doesn’t get a lot of traffic. So, that article from 2013 that’s still on your site and getting 5 clicks each month? You might be better off removing it. Unless you can refer to it from a piece of cornerstone content that people refer to regularly.

You want pages that will “compete” on popular keywords and phrases that people are searching on for the type of businesses you represent. Examples include an Events page, a Restaurant Guide, a Real Estate section to your site. I recently did some random Google searches to see the results:

  • Lawn care providers in Racine, WI
  • Summer Camps in Brooklyn, NY
  • Italian food in Red Bank, NJ

The top results came from typical sites – Thumbtack, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List.

Our goal is to get your local publishing site to show up on Page 1 of Google results. Of course, it requires that you do what the review sites do programmatically – and that’s create listicles and cornerstone content in areas you are authoritative. And your articles will be more helpful to consumers since it’s real content written by real people that actually know the community.

Don’t kid yourself – this is extremely important information for your readers. If you believe that the job of journalism is to inform the public, then being able to provide answers to questions about local businesses is pretty high up on the list of things your readers need. Also, your readers will always need to answer these questions, so a page like this will get hits for months (or even years) after publication. The majority of your content has a shelf life of 2-3 days. It’s simply good management of your site to complement your daily stories with cornerstone content. Pick a ratio that works for you. Even if you did 50 daily stories to every one piece of cornerstone content, you’d exponentially increase your cornerstone articles!

Final point – on mobile devices, “near me” searches make up over 50% of all queries. Having cornerstone content that can answer these queries will significantly increase your inbound hits via SEO. Of course, you want your article to show up when somebody searches for “fire on Main St.” But you also want your content to show up when somebody searches for “pizza on Main St.” No reason not to win both results, right?