How To: Create a Content Plan for SEO & Social
Creating high quality content for a brand website is always one of the most neglected tasks for businesses. Too often, content has been rushed to get the website live but never refreshed. Alternatively, many sites boast news and blog sections that are rarely updated and have simply become press release archives. Content remains the life blood of any site – it will define how customers perceive your brand and it will persuade them whether they should convert on your site or elsewhere. With that in mind, as part of our content planning and creation services, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to build a great content plan:
Why bother with a content plan?
For SEO, content remains one of the most important ranking factors for ranking highly in Google. If you site has remained static for several years and hasn’t been updated, Google may decide the information on their is out of date and irrelevant. A site that shows it’s being regularly updated, gaining organic links back to articles, being shared across social media and leveraging internal links, will likely fare better.
For Social, without a content plan, your activity will likely just be random noise without any objective or purpose. A strong content plan for Social Media identifies the needs of an audience, explores their interests and marries them with your own business objectives. Supplementing your tweets and Facebook posts with engaging, useful and creative content ensures it carries more credibility and usefulness with your users.
What is a content plan?
A content plan is very simply an organised calendar of proposed content ideas for you (or your agency) to create. It provides you with a foundation to work from and think about what content you want to produce. Secondly, by organising it in a calendar format, you can then begin to align various content themes to seasonality. For example, a Gift Guide might be better suited just before Christmas rather than February!
, a good content plan goes further than being just a list of ideas and timings. A robust content plan should not only align to seasonal events, but to your keyword strategy and seasonality around search volume. It should look to break down into distinguishable themes that each have their own objectives and audiences. Is your content meant to garner thought leadership or is it simply to drive traffic to a sale?
What is content?
Content is a term often thrown about casually by those in the marketing industry, but really it encompasses a huge variety of ways a user or customer consumes information. Traditionally, content is most often associated with old fashioned web copy. However, it’s important to distinguish this is just one variety of content and each type of content has it’s advantages and disadvantages as listed below:
|Web copy||Standard web copy that might be placed on category or product pages||Strong ranking signal and necessary for search engine optimisation, conversion and user experience. Relatively straight forward to create with a good copywriter||Easy to over complicate by creating too much and not having consistency in tone of voice or brand. Writing in huge batches can be arduous.|
|Blog content||Mix of imagery and web copy that sits on a Blog||Allows brands to be casual and friendly with their audience as tone of voice shouldn’t be too formal. A good way to drive traffic from social media and also links for SEO.||Needs to be regular and purposeful in execution. Success of blogs is reliant on building up a decent bank of content and reputation for the blog over time.|
|Social Media content||Mix of text, images, micro-videos, polls, curated content||Usually short in length to produce and can allow you to ensure your Social channels have a wide breadth of variety and are engaging. Allows brands to be more familiar and personal in tone of voice.||Can be time consuming to collate together and ensure content is relevant to the audience. Always risk the wrath of Social Media is content is posted at inappropriate times.|
|Video||Either highly edited/production value video, or quick home-made footage to be shared on site or on social||Visually more engaging than copy and if executed correctly can generate incredibly brand awareness. Ideal for targeting growing mobile usage and can be repurposed for usage on site.||Can be costly and time consuming to produce dependent on quality. Requires a strong and creative idea to execute – many brands do video just for the sake of doing so and get little results back.|
|Infographics||A creative graphic that presents information or data in a highly visual manner||Suitable for condensing what could be boring/dull data or information and representing it in a more creative fashion||Requires decent creative execution and the industry has become a little over-saturated in recent years with infographics. Not responsive for mobile devices.|
|HTML5 / Data Visualisation||Upgrade to the flat infographic, this uses HTML5 to create interactive and engaging web content that is responsive||Responsive to mobile and tablet devices, this can be a great way to present data or information in an interactive and engaging manner to users. Can garner decent links for SEO purposes when executed correctly.||Requires front end and sometimes back end development, as well as creative, to implement. Can be costly and take time.|
|Whitepaper||Usually academic information or research outlined in a traditional academic format||Useful manner for presenting research/data you want to be taken seriously. Helps promote thought leadership among industry leaders and if the data is unique/original, could create a big talk point around your brand||Requires intensive research and an original thought process to get right. Whitepapers typically need to unearth something new or unseen for them to carry any weight.|
|Podcasts||Audio recordings in a radio show format discussing a specific topic, usually with guests||Can be created fairly cheaply and are a good way of creating a loyal audience over time as well as thought leadership. Works well for targeting commuter audiences.||Requires strong preparation for content and guests and needs to be delivered in an engaging and consistent manner. Can be time consuming to organise.|
|Live Streaming Video||Just that – live video broadcasted over the internet||Emergent technology – allows brands/publishers to be more realtime and creative with their content. Bridges gap with online and offline and works well with Social, PR and SEO.||Can come across as unprofessional if not executed correctly. Needs a purpose – nobody wants to watch a live stream of your water cooler.|
What should I create my content plan in?
Something like Google Sheets or Excel are perfectly fine for quickly putting together a content plan. Google Sheets is a good idea as it will allow multiple users to collaborate and edit the document without needing to keep resaving or create new versions. You can simply hide columns or rows when you’ve passed dates as not to lose what you had planned in – which could be useful for next year.
What should be in the content plan?
This is really up to you and what your objective for the content is, but it shouldn’t just a list of content ideas. Try to breakout either via rows or columns the below elements for each piece of content:
- Date – when do you plan to create, approve and publish the content?
- Calendar alignment – how does this content align to other events in the calendar e.g. seasonal, PR activity, Social plans, Sale periods
- Description – provide a topline description of the content
- Type – what variety of content is it – use our examples above
- Keyword targeting – are you specifically trying to target a keyword set for SEO? We will come to this shortly
- Responsibility – who is creating the content and who is approving it?
- Audience – who is this content for? Feel free to break down into detailed demographic/audience data or perhaps just New/Returning customer
- Channels for distribution – how do you intend to get people to see this content e.g. post on Facebook, email to customers, PR to influencers
- Internal linking opportunities – within the content can you internally link to either past relevant content or pages on the site. This will help SEO value and help you think about how you connect this one content piece to your wider content strategy
- Assets – do you require any specific assets for the content e.g. video, imagery, access to a key-stakeholder in the business
What is calendar alignment?
Calendar alignment is making sure that your plan is aligned to other activity that may be happening in the business or externally. You want to ensure that when your content is published, that is is amplified as much as possible and comes at the right time. Look to match-up content so it launches to seasonal events so that it makes sense to your audience. Utilise keyword research to understand the searching patterns of your customers so that your content drops just at the right time. For example, January is notoriously busy for painting/decorating as many customers go through Christmas spending more time at home, and want to start the new year with a new look. Therefore, ensure your January content (and December) is about providing them with help and inspiration on how to achieve this.
Additionally, work with other teams in your business e.g. Sales, PR, Social, Email and try to align you content to their plans. If you can ensure that your promoting a sale within a piece of content, you may be able to amplify their activity and start to show that your blog post is driving revenue.
What is keyword targeting?
If you’re creating content for SEO purposes then you need to ensure that your content works as hard as possible to reflect what your customer is searching for. There are plenty of Keyword Research tools out there to try, but Google’s own Keyword Planner is free and easy to use. It will help you find out how many searches a keyword is getting so you can best know which keywords to target. It’s important not to focus on just one keyword however, but instead look at the bigger picture. Users search differently and are at different points in the sales funnel, so you need to make sure if you’re selling paint for example, that you target not just “paint” but also something like “black radiator non-glossy paint”. Both long and short tail keywords are important.
Vitally, use something like Google Trends to see when search volume peaks and troughs throughout the year. If you’re launching content when the least amount of people are searching for it, you may be missing a trick. Try to align the timings of content around peaks or in the build up to, so you can make sure it’s timely and relevant to both your customers and search engines. A simple hour using Google Trends to look up peak periods for your core keywords can have a huge impact on the success of your content plan.
But I don’t have time to do all of this!
We can appreciate that the above is fairly resource intensive, but when executed correctly, it can drive significant traffic, improve brand reputation and greatly improve Organic Search performance. If you want some help in either just putting a plan together or perhaps that and the production of all your content, speak to digital marketing consultants like us and we will be able to provide an easy, professional and cost-effective solution without long term contracts.