Many people usually have the challenge of creating a content calendar, regardless of the period they have in mind. At times, they make it look like a complicated task—but it’s not. You will find that even a simple thing like opening a blank spreadsheet is overwhelming to them.
But, what’s needed in such times is a guide on how to create a content calendar, especially when you’ve never created one—and that’s what we are going to do here.
So what’s a content calendar?
This is a shareable resource, which is used by teams to plan their content creation activity. A content calendar allows you to have a clear picture of how your content will be created within a certain period of time. Here are a few benefits of a content calendar:
- Allows you to have and inter- and cross-department coordination – with a content calendar, you are able to inform everyone in your team about what needs to be published, what time it needs to be published, and where it needs to be published. This reduces the chances of surprises or duplication errors.
- It gives you a clear picture of your content generation – a content calendar allows you to know how your content will be distributed throughout the entire year.
- Create content milestones – with a good content calendar, you will be able to plan your content according to essential dates or key events.
- Identify content gaps – a content calendar allows you to know which content still needs to be created, and with this, you will have plenty of time to create the content in advance.
- Understand your content creation workflow – a good content calendar will ensure that your content is ready within the required time and that it’s published when needed.
The following are 4 steps to follow when creating a content calendar
Come up with content ideas that fit your brand and niche.
To do this, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have an online brand? (Are you serious or casual, professional or fun?)
- Will this content highlight your brand? If so, how will it do that?
- What kind of questions did you have when you were joining your niche? Have you managed to answer these questions?
- What problems do your customers want to be addressed?
- Does your niche experience frequent changes? If so, do you consider yourself to be a trusted source of information about these issues?
If you are searching for content marketing ideas, consider the following:
- A weekly post based on your theme—this is to keep people updated about what’s happening in your industry.
- Creating how-to articles on customer acquisition and retention, marketing, and others.
- Creating how-to videos, webinars with financial advice, recipes, tips, as well as fashion how-tos, among others.
- Case studies
- Writing product-related success stories.
- Writing business-related infographics, press releases, and statistics, among others.
- Travel guides, real estate selling/buying guides, product how-to guides, etc.
Create a content calendar for 3 – 6 months
- You need to schedule your social media content as early in advance—and then add to it as time goes by.
- You can schedule content for significant events like Q&As, webinars, interviews, product releases, and conferences when you have a set date for that.
Check your content before adding it to your content calendar
Here, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your content match your content marketing brand profile?
- With the rise of SMO (social media optimization), does your content encourage people on Facebook to like, share, or comment? Would you share that content personally?
- Is your content captivating and engaging?
Monitor your surroundings
- Avoid depending on your calendar entirely—make sure that you monitor the current trends in your niche and capitalize on news stories.
- Monitor your content analytics – having put something in your content calendar doesn’t mean that it’s cast on a stone. If your content ideas are not working, consider changing or removing them.
- Online marketing is an ever-changing environment, which means you have to monitor your competitors closely. Watch out for their new ideas and strategies.
Now, you have understood how to create a good content calendar. But, how do you create valuable SEO content to go along with the content calendar?
Creating good SEO content
Today, the need for producing quality and valuable SEO content is ever increasing. But, there is one challenge—only close to 51% of those who own sites know what the need to do to create valuable content, attract better clients and leads, as well as have the best Google SERP rankings.
What does the remaining 49% do? Research has revealed that they don’t know how to write good content, and this is the major reason why their SEO strategies are not doing well. Here are 4 SEO mistakes that they are probably making—and there is a possibility that you are making them too.
Misuse of anchor text
This is a common mistake that most people make when creating content. Mostly, their content has similar anchor texts, and this doesn’t add value to the content that they create. Google advises people to have different anchor texts in their content, and also include the name of their businesses to their link. This way, your content will not have similar anchor texts—and that’s what Google is looking for.
Poor user experience
You will never attract the attention of search engines when you fail to put the needs of your visitors into consideration. Giving your users the top priority will allow your site or page to rank better on SERPs. This means you cannot achieve that if your site or web page has a poor user experience.
There is something that both search engines and online users share in common today—they are ever searching for valuable content. This means valuable content is necessary for any website to rank better in SERPs. However, some people tend to use a lot of keywords, with the intention of manipulating search engines and users. What they don’t know is that their website can be penalized for this. So, you should make sure that your keywords appear naturally throughout your content since this is a best practice recognized by Google.
How to create the best SEO content
You should always have your target audience in mind whenever you are creating your SEO content. This means you must use several methods that will be of help to your marketing tactics when you want to improve your content marketing strategies. Also, you should note that content that attracts leads and traffic, as well as highly-ranked content emphasizes more on the reader. This is the reason why your content can rank better when you address the right audience, using the correct writing method.
Here are some tips that will help you to create the best SEO content
Address the right target audience using the right keywords
Your content will never reach the intended audience if you don’t use the right keywords when optimizing it. In this case, you will have to use targeted keywords, which are the terms and phrases that your target audience is searching form. Here are some important things for you to note when searching for the targeted keywords:
- Who is your target audience
- The kind of information they are searching for
- Reasons why they need the information
- The keywords they are using when searching for that information
At times, this looks like a challenging task for many people, but it becomes much easier after breaking it into these activities:
- Audience research – here, you should search for the audience that needs your content, as well as where they meet online. Survey the audience, and try to understand their demographics, personal habits, status, as well as preferences.
- Keyword research – use online keyword research tools to search for relevant and valuable keywords related to your niche, as well as the keywords your target audience is actively searching for.
- Topic research – come up with content topics bases on your target keywords, as well as what your target audience is actively searching for.
Improve the readability status of your content
Your SEO content must be readable if you want it to have a better chance of ranking at the top of search engine results pages. Whenever someone visits your page, every feature on the page should encourage them to stay for longer on the page and also to read the content on the page. Also, you should understand that whenever someone stays for long on your page, Google thinks that your page is great, thus improving the chance of the page ranking better.
Moreover, this is an indication that your page is relevant to the search query, and it has answered the users’ search query. This is known as dwell time, or the time taken by a user on a certain page before returning back to the search engine results page. Longer dwell time is a result of Good readability, and this depends on clarity, logic, organization, and simplicity of your content.
Your content must convey the required information in a simple manner for it to be readable. This means, if your content is simple and easy to understand, users will stay for longer, meaning you will have better chances to rank at the top of Google SERPs.
Create valuable and rich content
Today, Google encourages website owners to create rich and valuable content, which answers all the questions users are searching for. This is an important aspect for better ranking opportunities, as Google is putting more emphasis on the quality of the content needed.
Here are 4 tips on creating valuable and rich content:
- Write long-form articles – 1,500 words and above
- Create comprehensive guides
- In addition to doing Google search, also consider using industry publications, JSTOR, or Google Scholar when doing your research
- Use different facets and angles when searching for your topics
Check on the speed of your web pages
The speed of your web pages plays an essential role when it comes to content creation. The last thing you want is to create good content that cannot be accessed due to slow web page loading speeds. Therefore, you should check the loading speeds of your web pages and improve it if it’s slow. Today, users are not patient enough to wait for a page to load.
In fact, research conducted by BBC News showed that half of all online users couldn’t wait for a web page to load if it took more than 3 seconds. Another study released by Nielsen Norman Group showed that most online users leave a web page if it fails to load within 10 – 20 seconds.
According to Skyword, web pages with relevant images attract 94% more audience than those without images. This happens because one reason—people normally notice images and respond to them easily. But, you also need to know that adding high-quality and well-designed images if more effective than adding random stock images.
Using the right images makes your content look more cohesive, professional, and authoritative. This the reason why you should consider investing in high-quality images if you want to improve your SEO tactics.
Optimize your content to show up in featured snippets
Featured snippets are becoming a popular section in search engines where many businesses want to appear, and their popularity continues to increase. A featured snippet appears at the top of the search engine results page after a user keys in a search query. Google allocates featured snippets the first slot on top of the results page—and many businesses are competing to appear in this slot.
The primary reason as to why this section is so competitive is that it assists businesses to get a lot of traffic, especially when they appear in the first position. For your content to show up in this section, you should put the following into consideration:
- Ensure that your content answers all the questions clearly
- Create high quality and valuable content
- Use numbered and bullet lists in your content, and don’t forget to include relevant statistics and data
- Ensure that you create content with logical structure
Become an expert in your niche
Google has started to value authority or expert authorship when creating online content. Recently, Google updated its guidelines governing search quality, and according to Google, you, as the author of the content and your history, play a major role in the quality of your page.
Here is what Google looks at when it comes to reputation evidence:
- First-person experience – here, Google checks whether you are an expert in the niche you are writing for. For instance, how long have you been an SEO expert before you started writing your content?
- What’s your reputation across the internet? – think of things like author bios, reviews, Wikipedia articles, and forum discussions, among others.
So, you should make sure that your site has an About Us page, and your blog has an author bio page. These two sections are essential when it comes to building your online reputation. Also, you should not forget to create a bio whenever you get an opportunity for guest blogging.
Make sure that your research is original
One of the best ways to create valuable and quality SEO content is to ensure that your research is original. Whenever possible, include things like fresh studies, statistics, research, and information in your content. When you do that, you shall be giving other sites an opportunity to link back to your website and cite your research. Also, this is another fantastic way to provide value and quality content to your industry and target audience.