Everyday, potential buyers are searching the Internet to find answers and solutions to their challenges. They’re seeking out helpful blog posts and articles, generally found on the first page of the search results.
If you aren’t creating helpful blog content that reflects these search queries, you’re bound to fall behind your competitors. Therefore, the secret to getting (and staying) ahead of the competition with inbound marketing is to build an effective content calendar reflecting the keywords your prospective buyers are searching.
So how can you take steps to ensure your content is optimized for search? We’ve put together a 5-step process centered around building a content calendar with topics that can reach, engage and ultimately drive high quality traffic to your company blog.
1. Think “Long-Tail” From the Start
You understand your company’s products and services more than anyone else, so this first step of brainstorming long-tail keywords is the easiest. For example, if your company manufacturers medical carts, it’s a good idea to prioritize descriptive, long-tail keywords (typically 4-5 words) that prospects are likely to search.
Keywords such as “custom medical cart manufacturers” and “custom medical cart solutions” are more likely to match the search queries of your ideal buyers than the head-match keyword “medical carts.” These broad keywords might yield a high search volume, but are extremely difficult to rank for and are unlikely to reflect the search queries of potential buyers. While long-tail keywords tend to have less traffic overall, there’s a better chance to rank higher and start to “own” specific, long-tail keywords.
While it’s important to establish a list of brainstormed long-tail keywords best matching potential buyer search queries, this approach will need to be even more refined if you’re blogging once per week vs. daily. With fewer opportunities to build search traffic, you’ll need help from various keyword tools to push your keyword strategy to the next level.
2. Use Keyword Tools for Content Insight
There are a variety of free tools available for quality keyword research, but choosing one is perhaps the most difficult process. StoryBase is one keyword tool built to help generate content ideas from specific keywords. Once you enter a keyword into the search field, StoryBase provides a list of related keywords, questions, and phrases, along with the monthly search volume associated with each keyword. The related questions and phrases are especially helpful for generating blog topics, as they reflect longer-tail search queries of potential buyers. While we’d recommend StoryBase for it’s “questions” feature and content topic ideas in particular, other tools like Google Adwords Keywords Planner, Google Trends, and SEMrush to name a few can lend insight into what your ideal audience is likely searching.
Based on the list of keywords you listed in the initial brainstorming stage, the next step is to plug these suggestions into these keyword tools to find their search volume, as well as additional keyword opportunities. You’ll want to assemble a list of long-tail keywords with at least 10-20 search queries per month and low difficulty, along with head-match keywords you’re currently ranking for. Equipped with these keywords, you’ll be able to create potential blog topics suited for your ideal audience.
3. Work Keywords into Headlines
Assuming you publish content on your company blog once per week, it’s a good idea to establish at least 15-20 working headlines based on your keyword research. Using the medical cart example from earlier, you could start with the keyword “custom medical cart design” and form the working headline, “X Essential Design Features for a Custom Medical Cart.” This would target the portion of your ideal buyer base interested in how medical cart design influences functionality.
In addition to the topics designed through keyword research, you’ll also want to brainstorm working headlines with the rest of your marketing team, since gathering input from many reliable sources will give you a healthy amount of topic ideas to work with.
4. Build Out Your Content Calendar
How far out should you build your content calendar? Well, this largely depends on the frequency of your blogging efforts. If you blog once per week, you'll want to nail down 12 blog topics (one for each week of the quarter), but you should at least double this number if you plan on publishing multiple times per week.
Also decide whether you’d like to arrange topics by a specific subject or theme each month, or if you want to cover a broader range of topics. For example, two part blog topics can be more engaging than an isolated post, as it can keep your audience invested in multiple blog posts per site visit. Regardless of the content stategy you settle on, these 12+ topics should be those you’ve determined are best for search and offer the most value to your prospects.
5. Review Keyword Strategy on Quarterly Basis—
So, you’ve written blog posts for Q1 and have seen mixed blog traffic results. What is your next step? Start by taking a look at the traffic sources and determining how many views are coming from direct traffic, organic search, social media, etc. Did specific blog posts see an explosion in traffic from organic search? Are there specific keywords involved in these posts accountable for this increase? Think about the relationships between specific keywords and search traffic, using this as a measuring stick for future performance.
This analysis will lend you the insight needed to either double down on specific keywords or attack other opportunities. Along with your content calendar, your keyword approach will continue to evolve over time and give you the tools needed for future blogging success.
Stay Patient, Continue Refining
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your keyword-based content calendar. Creating a calendar takes careful planning, work with keyword tools, input from your marketing team, and analysis to help you make future adjustments. These are all essential steps toward driving high quality organic traffic to your blog, so be sure to take a strategic approach to each step. You'll find that these efforts make a huge difference in driving high quality traffic and engagement, and distancing yourself from competitors.