Cornerstone content for multi-audience sites

What is cornerstone content?

Cornerstone content is the bedrock of a successful SEO strategy and can be a significant benefit to users for navigational purposes and learning journeys. When your site has multiple  core audience segments or personas, cornerstone content pages can become more complex, but are still very effective.

Cornerstone content refers to comprehensive, evergreen pieces that serve multiple purposes:

  • Providing in-depth information on core topics
  • Establishing your website as a reliable, authoritative resource
  • Attracting and retaining visitors
  • Facilitating navigation and discovery by providing a jumping-off from key terms to deeper or persona-specific content

Cornerstone content on sites that serve multiple audiences

What about when a touchpoint caters to diverse audiences, for example:

  • donors, volunteers/contributors, educators, and press for a charitable organization
  • developers, business analysis, and users for a software company
  • clients, advisors, and investors for a financial services company.

Creating separate cornerstone entry points for each group may not be feasible. Instead, you can optimize a single piece or URL to serve multiple audiences effectively. In this case, there are several ways to improve both experience and outcomes.

  • Identify any common ground: Find the key information that appeals to all audiences and make it the focus of your cornerstone content. For example, short concept definitions and any salient data points relevant for all audiences, such as your brand’s connection to the topic.
  • Use clear headings and sections: Structure your content with descriptive headings and sections that cater to each audience’s specific needs.
  • Implement a strategic internal linking structure: Link to audience-specific content from within the cornerstone page to guide users of a specific persona or segment to more relevant and deeper information.
  • Employ targeted calls-to-action (CTAs): Include CTAs tailored to each audience segment to encourage desired actions, such as donating, volunteering, or accessing educational resources.
  • Use automation to restructure and reorient page content and CTAs: This could include
    • showing or hiding content
    • pre-selecting specific items in UX design elements like tabs, accordions, or carousels, and
    • moving some content higher up in the reading or viewing flow (above the fold, in web terms).

But I don’t have the data for personalisation

Users don’t need to be logged in for you to personalise content. You can use several data signals to make a solid guess or even know their persona so that the cornerstone page hits most effectively.

  • Where they came from: On the web, your developers can use something called HTTP_REFERER that can tell you not only what page the user came from but if they came from a Google search, what keywords they entered. This can often tell you the persona in question.
  • Cookies: If the user has been there before, their previous content consumption behaviours can signal their persona.
  • Just ask them: Even the Great and Powerful Google constantly pops up questions to say “Was this suggestion useful”, “Did we get you there today?”, “Which of these topics is most interesting to you?” and more.
    • Simply asking or providing obvious selectors at the top of a page to set the persona can get the job done.
    • Providing a persona way-finding tools in the top-level navigation 

The New York Times allows users to choose the edition of the paper they want to view.

The Raleigh Rescue Mission charitable organisation provides quick persona-related CTAs.

Compass.com uses persona selection at multiple points. This is especially useful for starting a search journey. This is especially useful as everything from that point on is seamlessly personalized without having to pop up anything or direct the user to the CTAs in the nav.

 

By designing your cornerstone content to address the needs of multiple audiences within a single URL, you can provide a comprehensive resource that serves diverse user requirements while streamlining your content creation efforts and improving engagement and conversion rates. 

Key takeaways

  • Cornerstone content is the foundation of your content strategy, providing comprehensive information on core topics.
  • It is essential for users, usability, and SEO, establishing your website as an authoritative and reliable resource.
  • When serving multiple audiences, optimize a single URL by finding common ground, using clear structure, strategic internal linking, and targeted CTAs.
  • By effectively serving multiple audiences with cornerstone content, you can enhance user experience, streamline content creation, and drive meaningful engagement.

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