Building trust and traffic: How to create useful core content that your customers will love

Posted by on Sep 3, 2012 in Content | 7 comments

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 content

Image 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 (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.


Tess is a location independent Swedish emarketing tigress, and the founder of For the Love of SEO and owner of JoomlaTips. Follow Tess on Twitter: @tessneale / @joomlatips / @fortheloveofseo and Google Plus: Tess Neale


  1. Hi Tess,

    Thanks for a useful and practical blog on content marketing.

    I think your point about content being useful is the most important. Too many web marketers produce content because they think they have to, not with any clear goal or structure. Often content is produced to support SEO keyword targets, instead of being produced for the customer and then optimised to support SEO.

    Another common mistake is to invest in content and then leave it to pasture. Good content has to be reviewed and revisited regularly. It often pays to make small updates & additions to existing high value content, to give both the end user and the search engines a reason to think the content is still relevant.

    As your article suggests, it’s important to do the planning first before any content is produced.


    • Thanks James. :)

      I actually started this website because I found so many business websites just publish either non-useful content or content only about themselves. As a consumer/client I find that it doesn’t show any personality, and doesn’t help me at all (and we’re usually looking for help…don’t we?).

      A bit of a stretch maybe, but having a website is almost like raising a child – the more love and care you give, the better the result in the long-run. Plus, we all think about and plan for the future of our kids…so why don’t we pay as much attention to what will hopefully help with that: doing the right thing for our business (the online version being a more and more important part).

      Love & light,

  2. Great article again, Tess. I couldn’t ask for more timely advice, as I’m starting a new website at the end of the month. It will do me good to keep my core content in mind – although this will be a challenge, because my site will contain three main streams of content. I guess the real problem for me will be: how do I find common denominators that will gather my three streams under a single core principle?

    You continue to write in a way that is both personable and informative. Thank you for building great content on a sometimes chaotic web.

    All the best from Canada!

    • Thanks Dan! :)

      Regarding having 3 streams of content – make sure they are somehow connected, or rather start 3 different sites.

      For example: if you’ll be writing about cars, cupcakes and cats…you would be better off having 3 separate sites.

      Which topics do you have in mind? Lets brainstorm a bit together here. ;)

      Love & light,

      • I’m going to email you.

        • Sorry about my late response here Dan. I’ve received your loooong email and will reply to you as soon as I can. :)

          • You’re the best. Thanks for your detailed reply!

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