Every day, your potential customers are searching the internet for solutions to their challenges, usually within helpful blog posts and articles. And they’re most likely to focus on the first page of search results, so if you aren’t creating blog content that reflects these search queries, you’re falling behind your competitors.
Instead, build an effective blog editorial calendar that’s optimized based on strategic keyword research, and also ties into your overarching topic cluster strategy.
How do you conduct keyword research with these objectives in mind? We’ve pulled together 6 tips to help you build a content calendar with topics that can reach, engage, and ultimately drive high-quality traffic to your company blog.
1. Start With Your Topic Cluster Strategy
You already understand that targeting relevant keywords isn’t enough these days. Every single idea you have for your content should connect to the topic cluster approach you’ve developed. By starting with your topic cluster strategy, you’re ensuring relevance to your overall business and marketing strategies.
Unfamiliar with the topic cluster approach? Learn more:
Pillar Pages & Topic Clusters 101
4 Steps to Building Content & Keyword Strategies Around Topic Clusters
2. Think “Long-Tail”
Long-tail keywords (typically 4-5 words) are both descriptive and are likely used by prospects to search. You know your company’s products and services better than anyone, so brainstorming long-tail keywords is easy.
Here’s an example. Your company manufacturers medical carts, so long-tail keyword phrases 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 broad keyword “medical carts,” which might yield a high search volume but is extremely difficult to rank for and unlikely to reflect the search queries of potential buyers.
Long-tail keywords tend to have less traffic overall, yet 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 versus 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.
Remember to brainstorm topics with the rest of your sales team, too. Gathering input from many reliable sources gives you a healthy amount of ideas with which to work.
3. Use Keyword Tools for Content Insight
There are a variety of free, user-friendly SEO tools available to help you match your editorial content strategy to what your prospects are searching for, providing you with ranking opportunities.
Want to get insight into what your ideal audience is likely searching for? Try these tools:
- Google Adwords Keywords Planner,
- Google Trends,
- Google Chrome Auto-Fill,
- Google’s “related searches” and “people also search for” features,
- SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool (this may be our favorite!)
The toughest part may be choosing the most helpful one.
4. Establish Levels of Relevancy
So, you’ve taken the list of keywords you created during your initial brainstorming and plugged them into one or more of those keyword tools to find their search volume and additional keyword opportunities. Next, assemble a list of long-tail keywords with at least 10-20 search queries per month and low difficulty, along with head-match keywords for which you’re currently ranking. Equipped with these keywords, you’ll be able to create potential blog topics suited for your ideal audience.
“Levels of Relevancy” is an additional layer of individual keyword metric vetting that buckets your minimum volume and keyword difficulty thresholds based on the type of keyword as it relates to your business. It’s broken into these keywords:
- Core Keywords — these “must wins” are crucial to your business; no minimum search volume, no maximum difficulty
- Relevant Keywords — these can be grouped as >50% of traffic is likely to be qualified to become a lead; set a minimum volume threshold appropriate for your SEO landscape and a maximum difficulty appropriate for your domain authority (for example, more than 50 searches/month, difficulty less than 80)
- Brand Building/TOFU Keywords — these are topics your personas are interested in, but they may not necessarily indicate readiness to convert; set a higher minimum volume threshold appropriate for your SEO landscape and a lower maximum difficulty appropriate for your domain authority (for example, more than 500 searches/month, difficulty less than 70)
5. Turn Keywords into Working Headlines
How far out you build your content calendar largely depends on how frequently you publish on your blog. If you blog once per week, you'll want to nail down 13 blog topics (one for each week of the quarter). Use your keyword research to write working headlines — one for each article you’ll need for the quarter — these are blog articles you’ll add to your calendar in the next step.
Earlier in this article, we imagined that you worked in a company that manufacturers medical carts. You could start with the keyword “custom medical cart design” and form the working headline, “8 Essential Design Features for a Custom Medical Cart.” This targets the portion of your ideal buyer base interested in how medical cart design influences functionality.
As part of this step, look at existing content that ranks high on search engine results pages (SERP) for the chosen keywords. This is crucial to ensure your content both aligns with searcher intent and is better than the competition in order to rank.
6. Build Your Calendar, Review Strategy Quarterly
When it comes time to slot each working headline into your calendar, decide whether you’ll arrange topics by a specific subject each month or if you’ll cover a broader range of topics and mix them up. For example, a 2-part blog topic can be more engaging than an isolated post, but only if it makes sense from a keyword strategy to target two different keyword phrases. Regardless of your content strategy, these 13+ topics should be those you’ve determined are best for search and offer the most value to your prospects.
Every quarter, look at the traffic sources and determine how many views have come from direct traffic, organic search, social media, etc.
- Did specific blog posts see an explosion in traffic from organic search?
- Are there specific keywords within the posts accountable for this increase?
- What’s the relationship between specific keywords and search traffic?
This analysis provides insight to either double down on specific keywords or attack other opportunities. As does your content calendar, your keyword approach evolves over time and gives you the tools needed for future blogging success.
Related: The ABCs of SEO KPIs: What, How, and How Often.
Stay Patient and Continue Refining
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was your keyword-based blog calendar (was it?). Creating a calendar takes careful planning, smart use of keyword tools, input from your sales team, and analysis to help you make adjustments.
These tips help drive high-quality organic traffic to your blog, so be sure to take a strategic approach to each one. This will make a huge difference in driving engagement and distancing yourself from competitors.
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