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The Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Best-in-Class SEO-Driven Content Calendar

  • Jessica Day
  • 6 min read
The Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Best-in-Class SEO-Driven Content Calendar

Intro

Standing out online is not just about having an aesthetically-pleasing website with mind-blowingly creative content pieces. If your content isn’t SEO friendly, it won’t rank on search engine result pages. You won’t reach your target audience and won’t get the conversions you want.

The latest numbers indicate that the ROI on SEO marketing can be as high as 12.2 times your overall marketing spend. You can also achieve similar results by adding SEO optimization strategies to your content marketing efforts.

Writing and publishing content with creative visual storytelling is all well and good but you also have to identify your audience and understand which keywords to target.

Luckily, you can tick these boxes with a comprehensive SEO content calendar. Here, we’ll explore how to maximize your content strategies and publishing efforts with a best-in-class SEO-driven content calendar.

Infographic about keyword rankings and content strategy (Image Source: visualcapitalist.com)

What Is a Content Calendar?

A content calendar is a comprehensive timeline that details your brand’s future content initiatives. It’s a master plan document that holds upcoming content pieces in a centralized location.

A content calendar is a map that shows your content team how you plan to write and the frequency you wish to publish blog posts, case studies, social media captions, and other promotional content.

Also known as an editorial calendar, this document offers content creators, editors, and publishers a structure. It allows you to remain organized, stay on track with a posting schedule and can guarantee more traffic.

Why a Content Calendar Is Important

A content calendar offers your team a deliberate system to coordinate its content marketing efforts. It also removes the element of haste, which can lead to content marketing mistakes and a disconnect with your target audience.

By implementing an effective content calendar, it's less likely that you’ll forget about amazing content initiatives. You’ll also have more time to focus on building a relationship with your target audience.

Finally, a content calendar allows your team to stay ahead with its content creation strategies. The significance of this advantage multiplies when your content production efforts include multiple stakeholders:

  • An SEO strategist
  • Content writers
  • Editors and proof-reading experts
  • Graphic designers

How to Build a Best-in-Class SEO-Driven Content Calendar

Wondering how you can maximize the benefits described above? Here’s a robust guide to creating an SEO-driven editorial calendar:

Start With a Content Calendar Template

Because a content calendar involves working with multiple creatives, the go-to is to coordinate team efforts with a project management tool. Also, it’s always better to have a tool that helps you manage your big-picture calendar—a content calendar template.

The ideal content calendar template allows you to see what’s next on the agenda at a glance. A great content calendar template makes assigning dates and deadlines to planned blogs easy. It also provides a bird’s eye view that helps you avoid mistakes such as SEO duplicate content.

A content calendar template should be simple to understand. Perhaps more importantly, it should also be easy to edit, manage, and manipulate to meet your team’s content planning needs.

Start With a Content Calendar Template (Image Source: Asana)

Decide on a Content Campaign Theme

The theme is a crucial starting point for any content marketing campaign. If a content calendar helps your team remain organized and focused, the campaign theme shows the team where to focus its attention. Your theme choice will affect your team’s keyword research strategy and the content pieces you create.

With a theme in mind, you can start to define your target audience. You can answer questions like who you’re making content for and why they need your content. The answer to these questions will help you create content that becomes relevant resources for your target audience.

Create the Right Blog Categories

An SEO-driven content calendar isn’t just about keywords. It also involves making it easy for people to find the content they need. And with Google’s recent algorithm update placing a premium on customer experience data, it’s important to consider search intent, and your sales funnel while creating blog categories.

You should decide on blog categories that allow you to build a progressive relationship with your customer. Most first-time visitors to your website aren’t ready to make a purchase. Therefore, your blog categories should reflect the buyer’s position in the sales funnel.

We recommend creating your blog categories with these search intents in mind:

  • Informational intent: blog categories should target buyers in the consideration stage. These people aren’t ready to make a purchase. They’re on the hunt for information to help them make a buying decision. Think “how-to” blog topics, such as, “how to make a custom email domain.”
  • Transaction intent: these users are ready to make a buying decision. They just need a slight push in the form of pricing guides, product reviews, or discounts.

Decide on your blog categories before you start to toss around topic ideas for your content calendar. These categories should be diverse and strategic enough to move your audience down the sales funnel without a curiosity gap. Even if you already have pre-set blog categories, creating a new SEO content calendar is always a good excuse for an audit.

Create the Right Blog Categories (Image Source: socialmediaexaminer.com)

Time for Keyword Research

A content calendar can help your team manage content in different forms. But the focus is mostly on creating blogs, especially if you want a content calendar to be SEO-driven.

The best way to ensure your blogs generate organic traffic is by allowing keyword research to inform your choice of blog topics. Then, refine those ideas using your preferred keyword research software.

Creating effective SEO blog content without the requisite keyword research is near impossible. You may end up spending valuable hours writing about a hard-to-rank topic.

Say you own a digital marketing agency. Writing a blog about the benefits of reviews may seem like a good idea. But it may not be worth the effort if a quick peek into keyword research reveals a low monthly search volume from your potential audience.

Here’s what you need to remember when deciding on keywords for an SEO content calendar:

  • Relevance: the best keywords are relevant to your target audience without being vague. Consider adding modifiers to make your keywords more specific.
  • Difficulty: latest SEO trends show you can rank for difficult keywords if your website has high SEO authority and trust. Otherwise, it’s better to go for keywords facing less competition.
  • Intent: your list of keywords should appeal to readers at different places in their buyer’s journey.
  • Search volume: any keyword with less than ten monthly searches is not worth your time.

Targeting the right keywords (Image Source: neilpatel.com)

Create Detailed Briefs for Each Content Asset

The next step to ensuring your content calendar does its job is creating a brief. Every planned blog topic needs a brief explaining the content’s purpose and how to create it.

A brief becomes doubly important when the team member behind an editorial calendar isn’t the one creating the content. The mind behind the editorial calendar often has a vision for every piece. If this is you, it’s your job to communicate that vision to the content creator via the brief. Otherwise, you risk ending up with content that looks nothing like you wanted.

Content briefs are a lifesaver for teams that use remote collaboration tools. Without the active supervision that real-life collaboration offers, it can be hard to ensure you’re passing on content requirements clearly. A content brief ensures you’re closing that possible information gap effectively.

Are you wondering how much detail needs to go into the accompanying brief for a blog? The answer to that question often varies from team to team. But, here are some suggestions:

  • Identify the blog category
  • Title
  • Potential information sources
  • Primary and secondary keywords
  • Competing articles
  • Featured images

Create Detailed Briefs for Each Content Asset (Image Source: Unsplash

Decide on a Strategy for Other Mediums

An SEO content calendar’s main focus is often blogging. But that’s not the only way to maximize the structure and organization a content calendar offers.

No content attains its full potential in the marketing world by operating independently. You can only realize the full potential of your content marketing with cross-functional collaboration and cross-promotional efforts across different platforms.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re related to your content marketing efforts. You can always add the following content options to your marketing team’s editorial calendar:

  • Social media ads
  • Email marketing
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • White papers
  • Social media captions and posts

That’s a Date

Learning how to create SEO content means your brand will always get a steady stream of organic traffic that you can potentially convert into a sale. A comprehensive SEO content calendar may be the missing cog in your marketing team’s efforts to increase conversion from search traffic.

The good news is we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to creating an SEO editorial calendar that helps your team churn out great content. Take the first step to simplifying your content approach by following the tips above.

About Author

Jessica Day - Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. She has written for sites such as Pretty Links and Lucky Orange. Here is her LinkedIn.

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Jessica Day

Jessica Day

is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns.

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