An editorial calendar is more than just a scheduling document. It holds a lot of information that you can use to better understand the performance of your campaigns. Understanding how to navigate an editorial calendar, however, is essential for success. We explore this concept below by answering:
How often you should update your editorial calendar
How to use your calendar to plan future content
Why performance metrics should be included in every calendar
Does your organization follow an inbound marketing strategy of creating content to draw potential buyers to your website? It’s one of the most effective forms of marketing, and one that we recommend. But there are tools that you can use to make your job of creating and organizing this content much easier.
One tool? An editorial calendar.
Whether this is your first time in a content creation role or you’ve been around the block a time or two, having an editorial calendar is essential to tracking and managing your content marketing efforts.
What is an editorial calendar?
Simply put, an editorial calendar is a document that organizes and manages content in one, centralized location.
We recommend using Google Sheets to format your calendar, but the concept of the document—regardless of the format—is to maintain a list of all content that you produce. This should include content that has already been published, content that is in progress, and content that is planned for the future.
But that’s not all an editorial calendar can do. In fact, with the proper management, your editorial calendar can serve as the launching point for future content and sustained growth overall.
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How do you manage an editorial calendar?
So, given the importance of an editorial calendar: How exactly should you manage one? What tips or steps should you take to understand where, how, and why certain aspects of content can be optimized?
To answer these questions, we spoke to Tim Stobierski, the Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Pepperland, who highlighted some of the most important factors to remember in the following tips.
1. Regularly update your editorial calendar.
Perhaps the most obvious (and certainly the most logical) tip for managing an editorial calendar is to regularly update it. Seems simple enough, but content creators can fall into the habit of using their editorial calendar as more of a planning document than an actual calendar document.
How Often Should You Update Your Editorial Calendar?
While every content team may have different deadlines and criteria to include in their campaigns, it’s generally a good idea to update an editorial calendar under the following criteria:
At Least Once a Week
Ideally you should log into your editorial calendar at least once a week. For best practice, it makes the most sense to do this at the beginning of the week, as Tim explains.
“I typically log into our editorial calendar every Monday, so I can take a look at what’s scheduled for the current week and orient myself to what’s in progress or upcoming.”
Every Time a New Piece of Content Goes Live
You should also update your editorial calendar every time a new piece of content is added to your website. This not only helps to ensure the latest uploads are included in the editorial calendar, but also helps facilitate a smooth publishing process as well.
“As soon as something goes live, I’ll update it in the editorial calendar as part of the publishing process,” says Tim. “I’ll double-check and update the publish date, make sure the published URL is placed in the calendar, and change the status for that piece of content as well.”
These two simple, but critical steps are essential to keeping an up-to-date editorial calendar that reflects any and all changes made during a content marketing campaign.
Maximize your Content with our FREE Editorial Calendar Template
If content is not prioritized with regular weekly updates, or whenever new content is published, the success of the entire campaign could be jeopardized.
Think of this as a domino effect. If content creators fail to regularly update their editorial calendars, missed deadlines become more likely, leading to delays and time wasted, which could otherwise be spent building traffic and rankings on search engines.
2. Use your existing editorial calendar to plan for future content.
Regardless of the results from your most recent content push, there’s always room to grow. When planning future content, the best place to start your research lies within your current content.
“Go into your editorial calendar and use different filters to segment and audit your content,” says Tim. “Look at your topic cluster and review all related topics and ask: Did we cover all materials related to our topics? Do we need to circle back and fill any gaps? What other questions might we be able to address with content that a potential customer would find value from?”
If you do find significant gaps in your content, that would be a great place to start with a new content push. However, what happens if you don’t find any gaps?
“If you covered everything in your previous content push, take a look at what needs to be refreshed in the next quarter,” says Tim. “Was there anything time-sensitive that needs to be refreshed? It might be a good idea to start planning for those articles now, especially if they are some of your top performers. The last thing you want is to suddenly lose a lot of traffic because a previous top performer is now suddenly outdated.”
Essentially, the gaps in your previous content should provide a roadmap for future campaigns. And, by conducting audits on a quarterly basis, you can help alleviate any potential stress or challenges when publishing future content as well.
3. Overlay performance data to identify optimizations.
Layering performance metrics into your editorial calendar is a great way to keep stakeholders engaged.
That’s because decision makers within your organization will likely want a tangible understanding of how content has performed over time. In other words, they want to know if their investment is gaining any return.
Tim explains a commonly used tool for Pepperland Marketing’s content efforts.
“We’ll layer in some performance data by syncing our calendars with Google Search Console,” says Tim. “We use that to identify optimization targets because it allows us to see how a particular piece of content has performed over-time. It also makes it really easy to point to successes and say, ‘Okay great, it’s working.’”
Remember, it’s extremely rare for a fresh piece of content to immediately populate at the top of a search results page after publishing. That’s why tools like Google Search Console can help determine the peaks and valleys (or both) for content. Evaluating those metrics involves a balancing act between what has, or hasn’t been working and understanding the reason behind either result.
“If content originally performed well, but slowly lost ground, we know something has changed and we could go back and optimize it,” says Tim. “On the other hand if content was performing poorly but then started to improve on its own, we might want to take a look and see why and determine if there’s anything we can do to strengthen that.”
Need a recommendation for some other online tools your content team can leverage to find performance metrics? Here are a few of our favorites:
- SEM Rush
- MOZ Keyword Explorer
- Google Analytics
- Buzz Sumo
Manage your Editorial Calendar to Promote Success
As you can see, an editorial calendar is more than just a simple spreadsheets with columns, rows, and cells. It’s the blueprint for current content, roadmap for future content, and reference guide for previously published content.
And, when managed correctly, an editorial calendar can be a powerful tool for driving website traffic, generating leads, and building a stronger ROI overall.
Does your content need a boost? Partnering with content marketing specialists can help. An organization that specializes in content marketing or inbound marketing can help your business grow exponentially through their expertise and network of resources.
Contact us to find out how content can help boost your operations and revenue goals.