Content is a great way for a website to increase traffic, drive leads, and boost an organization’s outreach overall. However, without the proper organization and structure, it’s unlikely the desired results for your content will ever be achieved.
That’s why we recommend using an editorial calendar to manage content for marketing campaigns. In this article, we detail the key components of an editorial calendar including:
The role it plays in search engine optimization (SEO)
How it can maximize your content planning and distribution process
And ultimately, how it can help generate more traffic and ROI overall
What is an editorial calendar?
An editorial calendar is a document that keeps track of all of your content in one centralized place. Typically, that includes blogs and other promotional materials, such as videos, podcast episodes, and content offers like ebooks.
The document is designed to keep content organized and structured for both editors and content creators, and can even be a resource for members of your sales team who are looking for content which might be helpful in the sales process.
Helpful Resource: What is An Editorial Calendar [And Why You Need One]
What does an editorial calendar look like?
Before you begin the process of creating an editorial calendar, it’s important to remember that in order to be effective, the document needs to keep all information organized, structured, and accessible. If it isn’t, then nobody will use the document, and the effort you spend creating it will be wasted.
For an example of what this document should look like, be sure to download our FREE editorial calendar template to share within your organization.
Free Download – Editorial Calendar Template
Each organization has different challenges unique to their industry, demographics, and consumer needs. However, there are some general guidelines that every organization should follow when creating an editorial calendar, which you’ll find below. But first…
How do you create an SEO driven editorial calendar?
If you want your content to be effective, then it needs to be SEO friendly. This will ensure that it gets found organically through search engines like Google. Below are steps that you can follow before creating content to make sure that you are filling your calendar with search-friendly ideas.
1. Identify your campaign’s theme.
This is the launching point for virtually any and every aspect of your marketing campaign. A theme will influence your keyword research and the kind of content you’ll ultimately create, so make sure you have a good sense of what you want your campaign to focus on.
2. Define your target audience.
Who are you creating content for? Why should they care? Narrow your target audience by creating a persona. This helps establish your content as a valuable “go-to” resource for that specific audience. You’re not trying to attract everyone to your website with your content; you’re trying to attract people who might ultimately be inclined to make a purchase or work with you in some way.
3. Identify and list out your personas most common questions.
Once you’ve identified your personas, focus in on their most common challenges, concerns, and motivations. Use primary and secondary research to identify the things that are keeping them up at night, the language they use to describe their everyday tasks and challenges and some common ways they try to find solutions to their problem.
Interview your customers. If this isn’t an option, ask your sales or customer support teams to start cc’ng you on replies to the emails they receive, or consider monitoring the conversations your prospects and customers are having online through social channels.
Keep a running list of these questions so you can reference it as you brainstorm future blog topics.
4. Create a Shared Editorial Calendar
Once you know who you’ll be targeting and have conducted research to identify their most common questions, objections, and informational needs, you’ll want to create an editorial calendar that can be easily shared and accessed by multiple members of your team.
We recommend a simple Google Docs or Excel spreadsheet for this purpose, and have included a free template to get you started:
5. Conduct keyword research
Keyword research is the art of selecting a keyword that you will optimize your content for. It’s important that you select a keyword that has volume (people are actually searching for it), aligns with the words your target audience (see above) are actually using, and makes sense for your business. When targeting that keyword in your content, it’s important to make sure that the content aligns with the user intent behind that search so that it actually answers the questions and presents the information that the searcher expects to find.
6. Brainstorm topics and headlines.
Once you have a keyword, think about how that keyword aligns with your business, and brainstorm the topic or discussion you want your content to be about. With a keyword or question in mind, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I answer this need in a valuable, insightful way?
- What does the searcher hope to find by clicking on a search result?
- What broader goals or needs may have driven the searcher to look for this particular thing?
By asking yourself these questions it will become much easier to draft an effective topic and title for the article. Then, craft a headline around these answers. This headline should be search friendly (fewer than 55 characters in length) and make it crystal clear what the body of the content is about.
7. Analyze competing content in search results.
What content is currently ranking for the keyword that you’re targeting? By analyzing this competing content, you can glean a number of important details which will inform your own content. How long is the content? What sections do they cover? What images or other assets do they use? How can you make your content better than what exists?
To increase your odds of ranking for the term, your content should provide some unique value, or present information in a uniquely valuable way. For example, if the other top listings are simple blog posts, you might want to create a Slideshare deck or video to accompany your post. Consider adding downloadable tools or templates that will allow your readers to take the information you’ve shared and put it into action.
8. Research linking opportunities.
Attracting links to your content from other websites and domains is an excellent way of gaining authority and improving your rankings in search—but it can be hard! That’s why you should identify influencers or other sites who might be willing to link to your content once it’s published.
Getting other reputable websites or social influencers to link back to your content or share with their own audiences can be a great way to beat these odds and rank faster, while attracting new readers through the influencer’s own audience along the way.
Who are the influencers who typically share and have an interest in this type of content? What are some creative ways that you can reach out and build a relationship with these individuals, so that when you have a new article to share you can get it on their radar?
What sites link to the articles already ranking for the keywords you wish to target? How can you get them to link to your article as well?
Once you’ve conducted your research, you may consider contacting them to let them know about your new article. Below is a simple template to give you inspiration:
Hey [Influencer Name],
I came across your article on [ARTICLE TOPIC HERE], and found it super helpful. I noticed in the article you referenced [link to currently ranking blog post], which I agree is a great resource.
We recently created a similar post that goes into an even greater level of depth by [explain why your article provides greater value than the one they already link to]. If you think it’s helpful, maybe that’s something you could share with your audience or potentially link to in a blog post?
If not – not worries, just thought it might be helpful. I look forward to reading more of your content!
If you’re lucky, they’ll link to your blog post or possibly share through their social channels. If you obtain a new link, you’ll be one step closer to getting your post to rank. Congrats! If they do nothing, at least you’ve tried.
What goes into an editorial calendar?
Now that you know all of the details about your content—the keyword it’s targeting, the headline, the campaign, the person, etc.—you can backfill it into your editorial calendar. Before you continue reading, we recommend you download a copy of our template here and follow along. This is where you’ll keep track of your content efforts by filling in each row.
The topics may vary depending on your industry and campaign goals, however, these categories provide a general outlook for an effective, transparent calendar.
- Targeted Keyword – What is the keyword you want this article to rank organically? Reference other competing, high ranking articles to help with your keyword research.
- Blog Article/Title Idea – What is the working blog post headline for the targeted keyword?
- Supported product, service, or division – What does this content support? Who is the article intended for?
- Campaign Name – What campaign is this content for?
- Journey Stage – This correlates to the stage of the journey your prospect is currently on (awareness, consideration, decision). Typically, content in the awareness stage focuses on answering questions, while consideration stage content compares options, and decision stage content focuses on providing solutions for your persona’s challenges.
- Author – Who is writing the content?
- Editor – Who will be editing the content?
- Stakeholder – This is the person who will sign-off on the content and review when it’s done. The stakeholder can also be a point of reference for an author if they have any questions when writing the content itself.
- Published As – Whose name will the article be published under?
- Draft Deadline – This is the draft due date for the author.
- Publish Date – What is the date the blog post will go live on the website? We typically recommend alloting two weeks between the draft date and publish dates to review edits or make changes. It should be noted, however, that your team should determine a cadence that works best for reviewing content in your campaign.
- Last Modified Date – This field will reflect the dates when you made changes to content, as edits will often need to be made to blog posts, especially for posts highlighting annual events.
- Status – Simply denotes whether something is planned, in-progress, in-review, etc.
- Published URL – Indicates where your blog post will live on the website once it’s posted. This also makes it easy for your marketing team to find and/or search for.
- Targeted Persona – Who is the person this content is geared towards? The targeted persona depends on what questions are being answered, who’s asking them, and the general language of the post.
- Content Offer – For a blogging campaign to be effective, we recommend that each blog post is paired with a content offer. Simply put, this is a piece of content we believe the targeted persona would want to download. The strategy here is that by offering something behind a gate or form on your website, you can prompt the reader to identify themselves with their contact information, at which point you can begin to specifically market to them. Some examples of content offers could include e-books, checklists, worksheets, guides. The more closely aligned your content offer is to the campaign and to the focus of the blog post, the more likely it will lead to conversions.
- Notes – Any and all relevant information during the planning stage can be placed in this column.
Maximize Your Content Marketing Efforts with an Editorial Calendar
By downloading our editorial calendar template, you can be well on your way to scheduling blog posts that are calculated, structured, and measurable. The purpose of an editorial calendar is to work as a central hub for all of your content efforts.
On a weekly basis, revisit the calendar to update progress on the posts you’ve identified. On a monthly or quarterly basis, you’ll want to regroup with the broader team to identify new topics.
Over time, you’ll develop a knack for what type of content will both rank best and resonate well with your readers.
Now go on and get started!