There’s a lot of buzz kicking around the web right now about content calendars. It seems a lot of people either don’t know how to make them or, if they do know how to make them, don’t know how to follow them.
I’ve also noticed that amidst all the content marketing hype, the emphasis on keywords is starting to dwindle. Yes, it’s key today to publish frequently, engage in storytelling, and share content like crazy, but keyword selection and implementation still has its place.
Here’s a simple strategy for creating a keyword-rich content calendar that will not only attract a human audience, but also impress the search engines.
1. Keyword Research
It all starts with keyword research. There is a ton of information on the net about keyword research tactics, so we won’t go to deep into it here.
You can read a great list of keyword research tips here.
The most important thing is to get a complete understanding of all, or most, of the keywords in your niche. Get a handle on the search volume for each keyword, but also the competitiveness of each keyword.
By the end of this stage, you should have a nice long list of keywords in an Excel file with a few different metrics beside each keyword like SEO traffic and SEO competition (at least).
2. Prioritize Your Keywords
Okay, so you have this huge list of words, what do you do with them? Prioritize them. In other words, order them so the best keywords are at the top of the list.
What are the best keywords? The best keywords for you are the ones with high search volume, but low competition.
You’ll probably find a bunch somewhere in the middle since a lot of the high volume keywords will be fairly competitive.
The idea here is that you are targeting keywords that still have enough search volume to make it worth your effort, but they are also attainable in the sense that you have a chance of getting on the first page of Google for the search term.
3. Create Titles around Your Keywords
Brainstorm titles for each keyword. Start at the top of your prioritized list and work your way down. These will be the titles/headlines for you content calendar.
You’ll probably want to create a few titles for each keyword. Then run them by your colleagues or friends and pick the most exciting/interesting ones.
This might seem like the easiest part of the process, but don’t neglect it. Check out this awesome infographic and the part where it says that 80% of people will read your headline and only 20% of people will read the rest of your post. Numbers like that put the importance of your headline in perspective.
4. Schedule Your Titles
Now you need to actually schedule your calendar. Depending on your writing capacity, this could be one blog post every day or it could be one blog post every week.
Usually, the rule here is the more often the better. I think we’ve all learned this from the recent Google updates (Panda and Penguin). Having said that, the same updates also emphasise the need for quality content, not just frequent content, so don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
Look at using other qualified people in your company who can write or look at outsourcing some of your writing.
The schedule should tell you when the content will actually be posted to your blog – it doesn’t mean you have to write the posts in the same fashion. If you have some extra time one week, write a bunch of posts and get them out of the way. Then you just need to post them as you reach their slot in the content calendar.
5. Start Writing!
This is probably the hardest part for most people out there, but it must be done! Get the juices flowing and just start writing.
Type in the headline or keyword you are working on in Google and see what comes up. There will probably be some related articles out there that you can use for ideas and then reference in the actual blog post you are writing.
IMPORTANT: make sure you understand a few things about keyword density. This refers to how often you will mention the keyword in the article. If you mention it too often, it could be viewed as spam by search engines. If you don’t mention it enough, it won’t come up on their radar.
You can find a few tips about keyword density here.