What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

Imagine for a second that a really important visitor has arrived on your website. And I mean REALLY important – someone who could mean the difference between success and failure for your business. But this person has no idea what you do, and no time to go poking around your website, reading all of your different pages and blog posts. So instead, they pick up the phone and demand to know what you do. What do you tell them?

 

Odds are, you’ll explain by giving them the essentials of your business, what you do, how you help your customers and why you perfectly meet their needs. Right? And you’ll probably want to put on your best confident tone, and in the most compelling fashion you can, given what riding on this deal.

 

That’s what cornerstone content is, and that’s exactly why you should be creating it.

 

So What Is Cornerstone Content?

 

Going by the dictionary definition (because we love a good dictionary), a cornerstone is: ‘An important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based’. So in the real world, a cornerstone is that really important, critical thing that holds everything together. In the content world, cornerstone has a slightly different meaning. According to Yoast (the go to SEO plugin people), cornerstone content is:

 

“Cornerstone content pieces are those articles on your website you’re most proud of. They reflect your business, communicate your mission and are extremely well written. These are the articles you would like to rank high in the search engines. Cornerstone articles are usually explainers; these articles combine insights from different blog posts.”

 

So basically, a cornerstone article is a long, meaty piece of content that explains what your business does and how it helps your customers. It’s your flagship piece of content to direct people who are new to your business to. It could be a tutorial, an article about the benefits of the thing you do, or just a walkthrough of how to do something. We’ve written some great ones for clients about how to set up certain kinds of businesses, how to write cashflow forecasts and more. Whatever it is, your cornerstone content should cover something that’s basic, essential, indispensable and the main foundation of all that you do.

 

It’s as simple as that. Pour what you do, why you do it and why it benefits your customers onto a page, and you’ve got yourself some bona fide cornerstone content.

 

Why Should I Write Cornerstone Content?

 

If you’re coming from an SEO perspective because Google really wants you to write it! In fact, if you’re using WordPress or any other mainstream website, there is a little check box on the post pages that you can tick to say, ‘this is cornerstone content’. Clicking that makes it an actual page in itself – not just another blog post – and signals to Google that you are invested in your website and providing information. It also helps you with your keywords. It can be hard to rank for some of the more popular search terms, and cornerstone content helps you be more competitive online. Marking such an article as cornerstone means you are signalling to Google which of your articles is most important, and help it understand where to place you in the rankings. It also provides you with an internal linking system – yet another way of boosting your SEO.

 

If you’re coming from a user’s perspective – it’s all about giving information. Potential buyers want to know as much about you as they can before they contact you, and it’s your job to provide that information. Cornerstone content allows you to really explore the issues your services solve and explain things to your customers. This means not focussing on getting people to buy your products and services – that’s what your web pages are for. It should be focussing on providing information and solving problems. If you’re willing to give out information for free, you will see huge results.

 

Every business should have at least one piece of cornerstone content on their website. One essential page that explains the single most common issues your clients face, and provide them with the solutions and information they need. But it can be a really, really time-consuming thing to write. Your average piece of cornerstone content is between 1000 and 6000 words long, which is a significant time investment in terms of writing. Many business owners are too busy running their business to actually create it. That’s where I come in. I work with businesses to create those essential cornerstone pieces for them, so that they can spend their valuable time doing their job, and still see the benefits of cornerstone content. For more information, you can view our packages here or get in touch. 

 

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7 Reasons Your Business Should Be Blogging

7 Reasons Your Business Should Be Blogging

Every business should be blogging.

 

There really isn’t a question about it anymore. Blogging isn’t some new-fangled form of marketing with no proof behind it. They’re been around a fair while, and they’re here to stay. By now, all the savvy businesses are blogging regularly about what they do, and many others are hovering on the fence, not sure whether they can keep up with the commitment. But if you’re one of the few who doesn’t see the value in it, I have 9 reasons you should be giving blogging the old college try.

 

  1. 60% Of Marketers Say Blogs Are Their Top Inbound Marketing Priority

 

Creating blog content is becoming more and more important, as marketing companies realise it is fuel for everything they do. Without a solid bank of content, there is nothing to share on social media, nothing to hook in readers and make them click on newsletter links, and nothing to fall back on when they’re talking about their business. Blogs are the foundation of any solid marketing strategy.

 

  1. 80% Of Companies Consider Their Blogs ‘Useful’, ‘Important’ Or ‘Critical’

 

Blog content isn’t just useful for social media. Your blogs are a way of communicating with your prospects and your clients, and a way of sharing ideas, information and yes, even selling to them. That’s why so many people think they are important. For some businesses, content is the lifeblood that keeps them going, while in others it’s a convenient marketing tool that backs up everything they say in their other messaging.

 

  1. Once You Write 21-54 Blog Posts, Blog Traffic Generation Increases By Up To 30%

 

It’s true what they (I mean we) say, you’ve got to keep it up! So many companies blog for a little while, and then they run out of time, or motivation, and they stop. 9 times out of 10, they stop before they’ve managed to hit that critical mass of blogs, between 21 and 54. But the thing is, when you have that much content on your site, Google starts to take notice. And that’s when the rankings start to climb, the traffic starts to increase and your blogs can even help with your direct sales. So don’t give up, whatever you do!

 

  1. Small Businesses Who Blog Get 126% More Lead Growth Than Those Who Don’t

 

Small businesses have to fight for every lead and every prospect that comes their way. That takes up a lot of time and energy, and sometimes spreads the owner pretty thing. But one thing that takes up minimal time and provides maximum results is blogging. A regular blog will increase your online visibility and send your lead growth through the ceiling. There’s no downside there.

 

  1. 346 Million People Read Blogs All Over The World

 

People read blogs. You’re reading one now. Blogs are the things that people read to learn, to better themselves, to research and even to kill some time before the day ends. Whatever the reason, 346 million people worldwide read blogs on a regular basis. And if they’re not reading yours, they’re reading your competitors.

 

  1. Websites With A Blog Tend To Have 434% More Indexed Pages

 

Google loves content. And Google indexes all of the pages on your website, and gives them a ranking. So it makes sense that the more content you have, the more pages you have, and therefore the more pages available to be indexed. And the more pages you have indexed with Google, the more likely you are to come up in a search. Blogs are a great way of creating indexable pages for your website without having to constantly update your web copy.

 

  1. Blogs Have Been Rated As One Of The Top Five Most Trusted Sources For Information Online

 

This is what I think is one of the most important reasons for businesses to blog. Blogs are ranked up there as one of the most trusted resources for information on the internet. That means that when people want information, to research products and services, they turn to blogs to find the answers. Blogs allow you to present that information to prospects and convince them that you’re the right person for the job – without being overtly salesy about it.

 

If you’re not blogging yet, you should be. No matter what industry you’re in, there are people out there who want to know about what you do. Rather than assuming no one else in your sector will give them what they want, you need to make sure you are there when they ask those questions. Get yourself out there as a source of information enough, and you will be the first person they think of when they’re ready to buy.

 

But blogging takes time and energy, and a lot of business owners just can’t manage it. That’s ok – that’s what people like us are here for. All we do, all day every day is write blogs for businesses like yours. We help support your marketing efforts, get you found online and provide the information your customers need to make their buying decisions. Our packages start from just £75 a month – so why not give blogging a try? Find out more about our services here, or just give us a call to arrange a chat.

 

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The F Word (And Why Your Content Needs More F’s)

The F Word (And Why Your Content Needs More F’s)

Relax, I’m not here to deliver some big sermon on swearing, or tell you that you need to pump your copy full of expletives in order to be noticed. Nothing like that. Today, I want to talk about a whole different type of ‘F’. You see, people don’t read in straight lines on the internet. They don’t go from left to right, reading every single word in the line before going down to the next line. Instead, we read in a distinct ‘F’ pattern – and you should be using that to design your website and its content.

 

What Is The ‘F‘ Pattern?

 

To sum it up, the ‘F’ pattern is the most common eye scanning pattern of people reading blocks of content online. To go a bit deeper (because you didn’t come here for summaries), it’s how your users read your content. In just a few seconds, their eyes whizz across your content in a distinct F pattern. We know this because there have been studies done using heat mapping, which shows us exactly where readers eyes go, and how long they stay there. Honestly, it’s pretty cool. It’s made up of 3 components:

 

  • Users read in a horizontal movement first across the upper part of the content area. This forms the top bar of the F.

 

  • Next, they scan in a vertical line down the left-hand side of the screen, looking for headings and points of interest in the paragraphs initial few sentences. When they find something they like they read across in a second horizontal movement, typically covering a shorter area than the previous one. This is the second, lower bar of the F.

 

  • Finally, the users scan the content’s left side in another vertical movement and scan across the full lines when they find something interesting, in smaller, off shooting F’s.

 

For more visual people, it looks like this:

 

 

It’s pretty much the ‘go to’ layout choice for text-heavy websites, like blogs and news sites. So if any of your pages are a bit text heavy, then the F pattern is perfect. It’s also the most comfortable layout for Western readers, who have been reading top to bottom, left to right their entire lives.

 

How To Use The F Pattern In Your Content

Prioritize Your Content – When you’re creating a page or post, pick out your 3 most important pieces of information, and make sure they fit into that reading line. Once you’ve identified what you consider important and what your users will be most interested in, it’s simply a matter of making sure they hit those ‘hot spots’.

 

Set Initial Expectations – Your first two paragraphs are the most important – so get your key messages at the top. On pages, make sure your important content is at the top of the page, level with the navigation bar if you can. From there, use the F pattern to place your sub headings and other important areas.

 

Design For Scanning, Not Reading – Too many people write content assuming they’re going to be read word for word. With so many pressures on our time, people tend to speed read most things, which is code for scanning. So rather than hope you’re the exception, design your pages and content for scanning. Start your paragraphs with enticing keywords to catch the attention of time poor readers. Cover only one idea per paragraph, and use bullet points regularly. Make your content as easy to san as possible.

 

Utilise Your Side Bar – Sidebars exist to get users involved on a deeper level. So use it! Feature anything you want users to see in this side bar – such as a list of ‘related articles’, a search function to help people find specific things, or a social media widget.

 

And there you have it. If you want more engagement, you need more F’s. And if you’re not sure how to structure your content to fit that pattern, then call someone who does. At Eleven Eight, we specialise in helping businesses create compelling and engaging content, which means we know a little something about reader psychology! To find out more, just get in touch with us, or book a consultation here.

 

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to drop a few ‘F’ bombs in your content when they’re needed too!

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How To Get Your Blog Ranking On Google

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Google, google, google. There isn’t a day goes by where we aren’t reading something about Google. How to get your website to page 1 is the main one, since occupying that coveted page 1 spot will gain you more clients, more exposure and ultimately, more success. And posting regular content in the form of blogs is a great, low-cost way of getting you there. But it isn’t just as simple as posting some stuff and hoping for the best. So to help you out, we’ve got four ways you can improve your blogs and get them to page 1.

 

Do Your Research

 

Anyone who’s done even a little research will know that Google still likes keywords. And why wouldn’t it? It’s one of the most important signposts Google uses to identify what content should feature in search results. But the most common mistake people make is filling their content with the wrong keywords. Instead of using the keywords you want to be found for, instead look at what people are actually searching for. That might sound like the same thing, but actually, they’re completely different. Use a keyword research tool (Like Google’s keyword planner or SEO Book’s Keyword Tool) and figure out what people are typing into Google to find you. It’s a little bit of effort, yes, but it means that your content will actually start showing up in search results – which is the whole point, right?

 

Produce Good Quality Content

 

When it comes to blogging, it’s not about quantity; it’s about quality. I often come across business owners who want to write a post every single week and make sure it’s splashed everywhere. And that’s great. But the odds are that you won’t get high-quality content churned out in that time frame. So instead of trying to get loads of content out there, focus on producing just a few pieces of high-quality content a month. If you’re not sure what constitutes ‘high-quality’, here are 5 elements to remember:

 

  • Audience focused
  • Trustworthy
  • An authority
  • Offer substantial value
  • Quality control measures

 

What all of that means is that you should be writing good content that your audience actually wants, not being so focussed on stuffing it full of the right key words that you forget people will actually read it. When you’re writing your blog, forget about SEO. Seriously. Don’t worry about algorithms and key words – even though I know that goes against the paragraph above. Instead, write something engaging, interesting and useful to people, and your content will be much more successful. Don’t publish a bunch of shallow, you-focussed content that doesn’t serve anyone.

 

Mix It Up

 

Google is constantly changing its algorithms in tiny ways – always tweaking and improving something. And so should you. More specifically, don’t just write the same length of content, on the same topics over and over again. Variety is the spice of life after all. So create some posts that are just 400 words long – a nice quick read. Make some your average 600-700 word, easy reading posts. And then include some of the meatier, dig-in-deep posts too. This is where a lot of businesses fall down. If you look at studies carried out on Google’s search results, you’ll find that the average first page post is almost 2,000 words long. This is known as ‘cornerstone’ content, and is just as important to your rankings as your regular, shorter pieces.

 

Don’t Forget The Extras

 

Going back to keywords. Your content isn’t the only place you should be including them. When you upload your blog posts, you will be asked to fill in a whole bunch of metadata. And you should be including your keywords here. The most important places to use your keywords include:

 

  • Your title
  • Your URL (which you can customise)
  • Your headings (which are throughout the text)
  • Your alt image tags and image captions

 

As well as throughout your content. Google ranks your page based on the entire content of the page, not just on the bits visible to readers. So don’t neglect it.

 

If you don’t know how to do any of this, then don’t worry – you’re not alone. SEO is a complicated business, and frankly, even we don’t know everything there is to know about it. That’s why there are SEO gurus. But we do know how to get blogs to rank well, and use them as a tool to boost your rankings. If you’d like to know how to do that, you can book one of our 90-minute crash course sessions, or get in touch for a consultation. Can’t wait to hear from you!

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Copywriting isn’t a paint-by-numbers process (sorry folks!). There is no secret formula for you to follow to produce magical, compelling copy just by filling in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t formula’s out there that can help you. To give you a...
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4 Benefits To Story Driven Marketing

4 Benefits To Story Driven Marketing

Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept. So in a sense, this blog might just be rehashing old ideas. But here’s the thing. Only the bigger businesses seem to be doing it. Why do you think the John Lewis adverts get such attention every year? Because they tell a story in the space of 1 minute. Something compelling and charming that connects the viewer with the advert from the first few seconds. And guess what? John Lewis’s sales soar after those ad’s air. There’s not any question about it anymore – if you want to make your brand stand out, you need to be telling stories. But in case that wasn’t enough of a reason (and hey, it might not be), I’ve pulled together a few more you for,

 

Why We Crave Stories

 

Here’s a nice, juicy reason to indulge in your fantastical side now and then. Our brains are hard-wired to respond to and crave stories. Seriously. Various neurological studies have proven that our brains are far more engaged by storytelling than cold, hard facts. That’s because when we read straight data, only the language parts of our brains are activated, working to decode the meaning behind it. But what scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap,” for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains but also those devoted to dealing with smells. So when we read a story, it’s not just the language centre of our brain that lights up – all of the other areas of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing the events light up too. When we read stories, they imprint themselves on us, meaning they are easier to remember in the future.

 

As well as being hard-wired to respond to them, our brains are creating their own stories all the time, to fill in the gaps. We spend around a third of our lives daydreaming – our minds constantly looking for distractions. The only time we stop flitting from daydream to daydream is when we have a good story in front of us. So if you want to capture the full attention of your customers, the best way to do it is to give them that story

Show Off Your Personality

In an age where ‘people buy people’, giving your brand a personality is everything. While you may be able to do that in your everyday marketing to some extent, there is nothing like telling a story to shine a light on your brand voice. Your stories could be created by your brand, following your brand voice, or they could be created by your customers – who will share similar values and reinforce your brand personality at every stage. Some businesses we’ve met are worried about letting their personalities come through – but think about that for a second. If your brand ha no personality, then what sets it apart from the rest of the marketplace? What is there to attract customers to you, and not someone else? Never be afraid of putting your personality into your marketing. Tell customers a story, and make sure they hear it in your voice.

 

 Push Your Brand Front And Centre 

 

Some time ago the CEO of Jeep UK (Damien Dally) commented on story telling. “Storytelling in the automotive industry has been key in marketing campaigns for some time, especially since the advent of interactive/social media. This can be something metaphoric, yet simple, like a journey, to something more in-depth, with use of roles and a plot for the more adventurous. Portraying your brand as the protagonist, in either case, is essential.” In other words, storytelling is what links the brand with the story’s values. So whatever story you’re telling, your brand will be intrinsically linked to that message. You could use this to subtly position yourself above the competition, or as the maverick champion of the customer’s values. It’s about standing out, without being complicated about it.

 

 Hit The Emotions

 

Successful stories are successful for just one reason. They make us feel something. Even after we’ve finished reading or hearing them, they have a way of bringing back those feelings when we think about them. Storytelling is the best way to hit an emotional chord with your customers, so get tucked in for Storytime! But one caveat – make sure the stories you’re telling are real, at least for the most part. The last thing you want is to be caught in a fairy-tale lie because you wanted to pull on the old heartstrings. Your customers will see right through it and think less of you for it.

 

 Get Them Hooked

 

If there is one thing the human brain can’t resist, it’s a cliff-hanger. We desperately crave closure, and we always want to know how something ends before we can move on. So it’s really simple – tell them a story that never ends. Use every part of your marketing to keep the story going, and you will keep people’s attention along the way. Always leave them wanting more. And FYI, ‘more’ can manifest itself in any way you can imagine, so switch it up. Don’t let your method become stale and detract from your story. Use a variety of methods to tell your story, and push it out onto as many platforms as possible.

 

At Eleven Eight, we specialise in putting the personality back into your business copy. Through blogs, white papers and even your web copy, we can highlight your brand voice and attract more readers to your website. All you’ve got to do is seal the deal! If you want to know more, come find me in my office, or drop me a line for a chat.

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Copywriting isn’t a paint-by-numbers process (sorry folks!). There is no secret formula for you to follow to produce magical, compelling copy just by filling in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t formula’s out there that can help you. To give you a...
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Our Top 4 Productivity Apps For Busy Businesses

Our Top 4 Productivity Apps For Busy Businesses

If you’re reading this you’re probably a business owner or someone with aspirations to be one. So I don’t need to tell you just how hectic things can get. You don’t need reminding how challenging it can be to juggle everything within your business at once while still delivering your service. So I won’t. Instead, I wanted to share with you some of the apps we use to keep on top of things. But there are a lot of those, so we’ve picked our favourite 4, 2 of which are tools for any business owner, while the other 2 are more writer specific tools.

Grammarly

At Eleven Eight we spend around 85% of our time writing. So naturally, a writing improvement app is high up on our list. Grammarly is the newest addition to our productive app collection, but it is one of our favourites. Once you install this little package it simply sits in the background of your computer, checking through everything that you write for errors. It’s unobtrusive and simply underlines mistakes in red or green, a lot like Microsoft Word.  Red indicates a spelling problem, while green indicates a grammar issue. If you hover over the underlined word, the software will then suggest corrections, which you can accept or reject in a simple drop down menu. This part is particularly important, because the software is natively American, so it can get a bit funny around some finer points of British grammar. However, this can actually be a good thing – the suggestions keep you on your toes and make you really think about what you are writing and if there is a better way to say it. It also catches things Word would often miss – mainly because it takes content into account and can tell if you have said ad instead of and. Because ad is, in fact, a real word (I checked), Word won’t flag it up as a mistake, but a quick run through Grammarly (it isn’t supported in Word natively yet) will sort it out. We use the free version, but there is also a premium option available.

Insightly 

In the early days of Eleven Eight, when budgets were tight and we were still finding our feet, we kept track of our customers using a spreadsheet. That worked fine, but nearly 3 years on things have changed a bit. If you’d told me 12 months ago that I would be advocating CRM for small businesses and start-ups I’d think you were mad, but it’s an essential tool to help your business grow. We love Insightly, which combines a CRM (customer relationship management) system with project management and business reporting in one free platform. Each of our customers has a profile containing all information about them and their chosen service, with a to-do list attached to each member of our team. It even integrates with our accounting software and Evernote, so we can upload notes from customer meetings right away and get notified if someone has missed their payment. It’s so simple and easy to use, I don’t know why we didn’t use it sooner.

Rescue Time

If you find it hard to keep track of how much time you spend on a project, Rescue Time is perfect for you. Like Grammarly, once you install Rescue Time it will sit in the background on your machine and not really require any interaction. It simply monitors the time you spend using applications or on web pages, and collects the data into an easy to understand dashboard. Here’s one of my days from last week:

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 16.43.38

Apart from a gap in the middle when I had lunch and met with a client, it was a pretty productive day. You can see how much of my time was spent ‘productively’ (in blue), how much was ‘fairly productive’ (the greyish red) and how much was ‘distracting’ (the red). You can assign a category to every activity in the setting bar, and this will help Rescue Time understand your usage patterns. You can also see the times when I was doing certain activities, and in the breakdown you can see what each application or website visited was. You can program it to stop tracking your use at certain times or for whole days – so if you use your computer for personal things it won’t track that. I have mine set to track between 9 and 5.30, and not to track at all over the weekends. I’ve been using this tool for around 5 months now and it has not only helped me understand exactly what I do with my time, but helped me measure time spent on client projects, improve my productivity and understand when I am most likely to become distracted.

Write Or Die

I wanted to sum up with another writing application, but this one is far more fun than the first. Write or Die is an application for Windows and Mac that aims to eliminate writer’s block by providing penalties for procrastinating and rewards for accomplishment. Granted, I haven’t used this application religiously since my university days trying to meet high word counts, but it’s still useful if I’m flagging and need to force myself to write. The concept is simple – if you don’t write, there are consequences. This can be anything from an avalanche of very realistic spiders on your screen to a loud claxon that can only be turned off by typing (a personal favourite). Rewards mode is fairly new, and this provides positive reinforcement when you achieve your goals – from your favourite pictures to a popular song. They have also added stimulus mode, which is great for creative writers. It provides visual and aural stimulus for you as your write, perfect for getting in the right mood. If you do try Write or Die, take it with a pinch of salt – it’s as much of a funny app as a productive one.

And that’s that! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the workings of Eleven Eight. Many of these applications are crucial for us, as even the most committed writers can struggle every now and then. For more information about how we work and what we do, or if you just fancy picking our brains about these apps, please do get in touch and we’ll be happy to chat. We do love it when people call!

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