Cornerstone pages, in search engine optimization, are also commonly known as hub pages, pillar, or peaks. Regardless of the word used, a cornerstone page is a primary page on your website. They can be main site categories, specific service pages, or articles of high importance that you would want to rank well in search engines. A cornerstone page is a page that other content will refer to via links.
Cornerstone pages as menu items
Most often your cornerstone pages are found in your head menu. Since usually your head menu items are the primary website pages, they are considered cornerstone pages. Think of it this way, if a particular page is so important that you’re willing to use head menu real estate to showcase it, that page is probably quite important to your site.
Search engines view this in the same way. Your menu cornerstone pages hold a special place in on-site SEO. A while ago, the “search engine gods” figured out that the most important pages are internally linked and that those items in the menu are particularly important. Knowing this gives you an upper-hand advantage in being able to instruct a search engine what pages should get the better ranking.
Your cornerstone pages should have the highest page authority because it is where you will want to link outside sites to as well as internally link pages. The best way to determine what a cornerstone page should be is by asking yourself, “Out of all the pages on my website, which ones do I want new users to see first”?
Cornerstone page content
Often, when dealing with service websites where many pages of similar content exist, you should use cornerstone content pages to help guide a search engine in determining what the primary page, that you want preferentially ranked, is.
Let’s use the legal industry as an example. There are several dozen ways to answer questions regarding criminal defense. You wouldn’t want all of them to specifically compete against each other for the search phrase “when should I get a criminal defense lawyer” or “Los Angeles criminal defense attorney”. So, to give weight to these two specific pages, your other blogs should have internal links in the content to these pages. Bonus points for head menu links plus content links.
The thought process the search engine goes through is something like:
“Hey, here are all of these pages on testcriminaldefense.com and they are all about criminal defense and the company exists in Los Angeles. All of these pages reference these two pages about Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys and when someone should get a criminal defense attorney. Since most of the pages link to those pages they must be super important.”
Here’s a not-so-fancy stick figure illustration of what this type of cornerstone content structure:
And another one that illustrates how blog content can be used to support the authority of a cornerstone page. Also, this should remove all doubt that I am not, in any way, a graphic artist! 🙂
Cornerstone pages for eCommerce websites
eCommerce sites usually have a very particular set of issues. First, do you set up your categories as the cornerstone pages or the product themselves? There is no easy answer to this.
Chances are, if your website sells over a few products then you’ll want the product pages to be cornerstone pages. If you have thousands of products then each category should be the cornerstone. You can also always opt for what I would call a multidimensional cornerstone structure. A fancy term for each product being a micro cornerstone page that also supports the larger category.
As you can see, a multidimensional cornerstone structure does require more dedication to content. In the long-run, the time to properly implement this will pay off with better ranking product pages and category pages in the SERPs.
So, what should you use for supporting content?
When it comes to ecommerce, supporting content is widely overlooked. This gives you, the site owner, a distinct advantage. Some content, specific to products, that you can use is:
- Expanded product review pages
- Document page (manuals, fitting guide, etc.)
- Product specific promotional details
- About the manufacturer, linking to a search for the manufacturer which links to the product
- Product’s social IG hashtag embedded into a page
This list goes on. Be creative. It will not only increase your internal link structure but it will also help drive user trust, product awareness, add an additional layer to your unique selling proposition, and increased social marketing efforts. It’s a win all around!
Multilocation cornerstone content structure
Franchises and those businesses with multiple locations also face a unique hurdle with cornerstone pages. The conundrum is in how to increase internal link structures to multiple franchise locations for the same service. There are some options when faced with this scenario.
Option 1. Build up each location page as a cornerstone. Also, build up each service page as a cornerstone. This is probably the easiest and quickest method. Using this method will also allow you to quickly build up authority to each cornerstone page fastest.
Option 2. Build up each location page as a cornerstone. Build up each service page as a supporting cornerstone in a multidimensional cornerstone structure. This option is a bit more time consuming and might require a bit of testing within a particular industry to find the best flow (ie. should the location page support the service or visa versa).
Option 3. Create unique service pages for each location. Build up the location as the cornerstone and have each location specific service page act as supporting cornerstone in a multidimensional cornerstone structure. This takes the most time and effort out of all three options but could also give the greatest return in regards to internal link structuring.
This method will require some creativity in designing the content for each service page if each location offers the same services. You should also expect to take some extra time in building authority to each location and location specific service page. Warning: This strategy takes a long time to do properly. It will pay off greatly in the end but such a long-game may not be suitable for you.
Which option is best?
In the end, the best course of action has more to do with your resources, available time for the project, and the number of locations. If you only have a few locations then Option 1 would most likely give the best benefit for the time spent. A few to a dozen locations will most likely want to use Option 2. If you have up to a couple of dozen locations then Option 3 would be best, although it will take up quite a bit of time to deploy.
Once you get into a couple dozen to possibly hundreds of locations, you will want to utilize a hybrid of Option 1 but add location specific pages such as events, press pages, community pages, etc.
Choices Choices Choices
At the end of the day, the choice of how to implement your cornerstone pages is up to you. One thing that’s certain is that cornerstone pages will help the flow and on-page SEO of your website. There are plenty of creative ways to build up internal link structures for a website. So, get out your notebook and get brainstorming!