You can only have one Flagship. But you can have several Cornerstones.
Flagship Content helps you to rank well in Google and be seen as a leading expert. You can then cherry pick the best jobs and charge premium prices.
What content do you need to catapult your business ahead of the competition? A great place to start is your blog, portfolio, case studies, testimonials and FAQs.
But if you really want to be seen as an expert you’ll need your own take on a big idea.
Flagship Content covers one topic, your site’s most important topic. You can have several categories of Cornerstone Content and each category can cover a different topic. Your cornerstone content topics could be sub topics of your main flagship content.
This combination of flagship content and cornerstone content can help you rank well in Google, even for difficult search terms.
The graphic below will help explain what I mean. Your flagship content page could be your homepage. The hub or home page for each of your cornerstone content categories is a blog category page. Each blog category contains blog posts.
If your whole site revolves around a specific topic, this site structure can help you rank well in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPS).
In this example, the homepage is built around the site’s most important, and most difficult to rank for keyword string.
Flagship, pillar, and cornerstone content are different ways to organise your website’s important articles. Each has a unique job:
Flagship Content: This is your top-tier content that shows you’re an expert in your field. It’s like the star of your website and covers an important topic your customers care about.
Pillar Content: Pillar content acts like the main hub, giving an overview of a broad topic and guiding visitors to more specific articles.
Cornerstone Content: These articles go deep into specific topics, providing lots of details and answering specific questions within your niche.
In simple terms, think of flagship as the star, pillar as the main guide, and cornerstone as the expert answerer on your website. Each serves a special role in making your content strategy strong.
Flagship Content is a valuable resource on your website.
Flagship Content provides a way for people to find your website initially. It’s the reason why people return to your website. And it’s the reason why people recommend your website to their friends.
Types of flagship content
Your flagship content could be…
- A useful PDF to download.
- A video that makes a complicated task easy.
- A quiz, checklist or cheat sheet that helps people follow every step in a process.
- Your flagship content could be a category of blog posts that is especially useful to your readers.
This quote comes directly from Chris Garrett’s e-book Killer Flagship Content…
“As busy web users we want…”
- One trusted resource.
- That fully answers the question.
- In language we understand.
- In a place we can easily find.
Is flagship content cornerstone content?
No, but it’s very similar. The difference is that you only have one flagship but you can have several cornerstones.
A fleet only has one flagship, it carries the commanding admiral. A retail chain may have many stores, but it only has one flagship store. The New York store for instance.
A shopping mall has more than one cornerstone. Most buildings have at least four corners and four cornerstones. Each corner could have an anchor store. But right in the middle you would find the flagship store.
An example of what I mean
Imagine a shopping mall with four corners. On each corner you’ll find a large anchor store…
- John Lewis
- Marks & Spencer
But right in the middle you find the flagship store, Harrods for instance.
I don’t go to shopping malls, so my analogy might be a bit wonky. But I hope you get the picture.
You have several cornerstones but you only have one flagship.
How do you build flagship content?
You could have a single page to serve as your flagship content. But more commonly, you’ll have a category of content.
Your flagship content will be made from…
- One central hub or category homepage.
- Many posts written about that one topic and saved in that category.
- Links from each post to the hub page.
- Links from the hub page to each post.
A flagship is backed up by a fleet of smaller ships
Your flagship content is based around one page on your website. But this main page of flagship content is supported or backed backed up by many other posts in that category.
Does all of your content revolve around a central theme?
If it does, you could build your homepage around your website’s main topic, your flagship content topic. Then write blog categories about all of the sub topics related to your main flagship topic.
It would look something like this…
Why you’ll need more than one page if you want to rank well on Google
You want your page to rank number one on Google, but you have a lot of competition. For a popular search term there are thousands of other websites trying to beat you to the top spot.
A single web page may not be enough to win you a number one ranking on Google’s search results. Especially for a valuable search term.
A hub page and spoke pages (posts)
The hub page or category homepage is your flagship content. The blog posts in that category provide more information on your flagship content’s topic or subject.
You’re providing one central resource, an overview page, with more details available on other pages if needed
The hub or category homepage of your flagship content provides an overview of the subject or topic. But if the reader wants to dig deeper or find out more about any aspect of the subject, they can. Because you’ve peppered the page with links to more detailed information about this central subject.
The reader can immediately see this is a central resource, or central hub, of information
The reader starts on the hub page and drills down to the specific element or sub topic that interests them.
There’s a WordPress plugin that helps you create flagship or cornerstone content
Yost SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugins. It prompts you to add things like a page title and description that will help with your rank in Google.
Yoast’s cornerstone page analysis
Using Yoast SEO plugin is easy. The plugin analyses your page and tells you if you’ve missed any important elements. For instance if you added an image to your page but didn’t include alt text, Yoast reminds you to add it.
If you enable the cornerstone content option in Yoast SEO plugin. The plugin will analyse your page more strictly than it would for a normal page. This strict page analysis gives you a better chance at ranking well in Google. Even for competitive keywords.
Useful resources when writing flagship content and cornerstone content
Chris Garrett’s original PDF article
In 2007 Chris Garrett wrote an article titled Killer Flagship Content, how to create and promote truly compelling blog resources. This post (now a PDF) was the first time I read about the concept of flagship content.
Yoast’s SEO plugin for WordPress
Yoast SEO has a cornerstone content option that helps you optimize your flagship content and cornerstone content hub pages. Yoast SEO is an excellent way to learn about SEO. If you’re writing web pages or blog posts Yoast SEO plugin is a great help.
Philip Gledhill’s beginner’s guide to Flagship content and cornerstone content
I wrote a comprehensive guide on my main site showing newbies how cornerstone or flagship content works. This post includes small info-graphics and a video, as a result it’s a good place to start.
Copyblogger’s cornerstone content category archive page
The Copyblogger website has a whole category of posts about cornerstone content.
Real world examples of flagship content
I hope the examples below will give you a good idea of how this works.
Gill Andrews checklists and cheat sheets
Gill’s website contains many examples that could be considered cornerstone or flagship content. As a result her site is a treasure trove of advice and information for small service businesses.
Good website content delivers several benefits.
- Web surfers find Gill’s site, because Google loves good content.
- They join her newsletter in order to download her PDFs.
- They tell their friends about the excellent resources available on Gills site.
Ian Brody’s 21 word email
Ian’s website has several pieces of content we could learn from. But the simplest is his short and simple way to get new work from old customers. His 21 word email really does work and it doesn’t take long to put into action.
Copyblogger’s 14 free ebooks
At one time Copyblogger promoted this heavily, the my.copyblogger.com free membership website. 14 free e-books may seem like a lot of content to give away for free, but Copyblogger has been producing good content for thirteen years or more. This tactic got a lot of people not only to sign up for their newsletter, but to tell their friends about the Copyblogger website too.