5 Steps for Building a SEO-proof Content Calendar

Frank Isca
Posted by Frank Isca on October 26, 2016


Do you feel as if SEO is an ever-moving target of unknown best practices and rules, that are constantly changing with each Google algorithm update? You're not alone. But there is a solution to securing long-term SEO stability if you're willing to put in the work.

We continue to see updates and expert insights that prove Google is putting more and more emphasis on truly unique and valuable content, that is aimed at actually helping the reader. Versus some form of click-bait designed to sell something or bogus content trying to trick ranking algorithms—to get a spammy website at the top of the search rankings. So if you're still trying easy SEO hacks and tricks for quick boosts in search rankings, stop now and save yourself the heartache.

Assuming your company has made the decision to be dedicated to blogging, to share your team's wealth of knowledge on various topics relevant to your target audience, here's how you can build a SEO-proof content calendar that ensures you get the most leverage from these efforts by getting found in organic search results.

1. Define Who Your Audience Is

The core of inbound marketing and creating remarkable content is knowing who your audience is. This starts with having a clear definition of who your target personas are and being selective on only targeting the most important ones.

It's natural to want to reach a wide audience, but if you focus on a specific set of target personas, you'll be surprised how attractive that will make your company. If you're only competing as a generalist, you'll always face more competition than if you specialize.

In search, specialization around topics and search terms that you can truly own will expedite the rate at which you drive traffic to your website. In time, Google will also start to recognize your specialization and mark your site as a credible source for content in a specific niche. This is when your SEO efforts will really begin to take off.

2. Focus on Awareness Stage Topics

Something we often see with our clients is the desire to want to write product- or service-specific content that falls within the Consideration Stage of the inbound marketing buyer's journey. This is great content if you already have an engaged audience that needs to be progressed to the next stage, but if you're looking to grow your website traffic and overall audience, your main focus should be on what we call "Awareness Stage" topics.

Awareness Stage content is aimed at helping your target persona(s) as they're doing educational research to more clearly understand, frame, and give a name to their problem or main question they're looking to get answers on. This form of content typically results in higher website traffic opportunities if you can secure high search rankings. So although you don't want to completely ignore Consideration or Decision Stage content, consider experimenting with a heavier focus on Awareness Stage content in your editorial calendar mix, especially if you have yet to reach a website traffic goal.

3. Be Selective With Your Target Keywords

The concept of researching and targeting specific keywords has always been synomous with the practice of SEO. How to properly use these target keywords has definitely changed though.

It starts with being selective and very targeted on the most relevant keyword phrases, versus just picking the highest volume keywords. You'll learn that by using a smaller list of target phrases and then finding ways to make them more longtail (3 to 4 words in length), you'll see quicker results as far as improved search rankings and stability in these rankings.

Working from your refined list of target keyword phrases here's what you should do next:

  • Organize them into separate content theme buckets, based on the different content topic categories that you cover on your blog. You'll benefit from being focused with your topic categories too.
  • Compile additional variations for keyword phrases that you can make more longtail. For example, if one of your target keywords is "pipe fabrication", the longtail variations could be "pipe fabrication for petrochemical plants", "pipe fabrication best practices", and "industrial pipe fabrication" to name just a few.
  • Begin to naturally leverage these keywords when writing and publishing new content. The golden rule is to ALWAYS write for the user first. Forget the days of writing in the mindset of what search engines are looking for. If it feels awkward trying to squeeze a specific keyword into your blog headline use a different variation of that phrase.
  • Use one target keyword in your blog headline, incorporate that same phrase or variation in the blog intro, and if it feels natural you can repeat that phrase throughout the article. Just don't do it in every sentence! 
  • Don't forget your meta description. Although this description is said to not have on-page SEO impact, it does help inform the user what your article is about when they see it on a search results page. So leveraging your target keyword here helps reaffirm your content is relevant to their search. For more on this topic be sure to read our article for tips on writing meta descriptions.

4. Provide Unique & Helpful Content

Even if you follow all of the above steps perfectly, but fall short in the category of actually creating unique & helpful content, you'll fail. In order to secure top search rankings for your target keywords you need to deserve to be there. 

This starts with offering a unique perspective that's more thorough, informative and helpful than the other content that already exists on that topic or that's currently outranking you. Don't just rehash the same content. This step takes work and dedication, but if you want to rank first you need to be the best source of content for that topic. By taking this approach, readers will stay on the page longer, share it on social media, link to it, and possibly even comment on your article. These are all signals that tell Google and other search engines you must be a credible source of content on that topic, and their algorithm will begin to put you first. See how that works?

Not every article you publish needs to be a novel but there is proof that long-form content often ranks at a much higher level, and secures a lot of Google's top search results. According to a recent Google search rankings study from Backlinko, the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words. So although your typical articles might be 600-800 words, which can still rank well, consider taking on a 1,800-2,000 word long-form article every quarter depending on your blogging frequency and specific goals.

5. Maintain Quality & Consistency

One of the biggest challenges for any company (or anyone really) who makes the decision to launch a blog is maintaining a high level of content and cosistent publishing schedule.

Ways to address these pitfall areas are:

  • Assemble a dedicated team of writers from your company that you can rely on to share their thought leadership and meet deadlines. If some people are better on camera, consider doing video blogs. If others do better being interviewed and having an initial draft written for them, go that route.

  • If you and/or your team don't have capacity to write at least one new article each week consider hiring an agency partner or freelancer, or hiring an on-staff writer.

  • Create a documented content calendar so you can plan ahead for the weeks ahead, versus realizing the day of your publish date that you don't have anything in the queue.

  • Decide on a realistic publishing frequency and stick to it! Oftentimes less is more if the quality is better and consistently published every week.

  • Pay attention to blog performance to get a sense on the topics that are resonating with your readers and gaining traction from organic search.

If You've Never Created a Content Calendar Before...

As you can see from the steps I've provided above, there's a lot of strategy involved in aligning your content calendar with the SEO constraints of today. If you've never built a successful, traffic-generating blog before, then more likely than not, you need help to get started. A great place to start is to get a complete picture of what you'll need to make your blog a hit. Click below for more!

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Topics: Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing

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