If you’re trying to generate increased organic traffic for your business, you probably already have a blog up and running (and if you don’t, it’s time to start one). Any business that runs a blog knows how difficult it can be to come up with effective topics.
It’s especially difficult to brainstorm topics that will actually help you rank on Google’s results page when you’re rushing to push out content in a time crunch. That’s why planning ahead with a yearly blog content calendar can significantly up your blogging game. You’ll have your topics, keywords, images, rich data and graphics, and internal and external links planned out in advance.
You might think this sounds like a big task – but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. The first step is to make a copy of our FREE blog content calendar template and follow along as we walk you through the steps of creating a year’s worth of blog content.
Keyword and Topic Research
Many people don’t realize that coming up with blog topics is more complex than browsing social media or Pinterest boards to see what other companies are writing about. You need to make sure that the topics you choose aren’t just flashy – you want to ensure that the topics you choose will actually attract your target audience?
So how do you find the right topics? Marketing experts at HubSpot suggest creating topic clusters. Here’s how it works: Think of 5-10 core topics for your blog, and then use data-backed sources to expand on them. When you write your blog posts, you’ll interlink the different articles within each post back to each other.
To come up with your initial 5-10 core topics, you’ll want to do some keyword research. For your blog posts to generate the level of organic traffic you aspire to, you need to make sure that they’re responding to keywords that actually get searched for.
Use a keyword research tool (like Semrush, Moz, or Ubersuggest) to determine how much search volume each of your core keywords is getting. For these core keywords, you want to find ones that have about 1,200 to 6,400 searches per month. Fewer than that may not be worth your time, while more than that may make it impossible for your content to ever rank on Google.
For instance, let’s imagine you have a sports apparel brand that sells exclusively online – in other words, it’s an eCommerce business. You do some research and come up with these main keywords, which you input into your blog content calendar like so:
Once you have your core, or “pillar,” keywords nailed down, you can start generating additional topics for your blog’s content. Some of the ways to find these additional topics include brainstorming, researching the keywords your competitors are targeting, and finding trending topics on Google and social media.
Collect those keywords in the Blog Content Calendar so that you can keep track of them. Once you have a robust list of potential keywords and topics, you’ll want to hone in on them and make them even more specific. Make sure you’re targeting related questions that people search, which will also help you understand searcher intent.
As an illustrative example, take a look at the way the initial topic list of our imaginary tennis eCommerce site grew in size after expanding the search to related keywords that are more specific and easier to rank in.
After you’ve compiled your list of keywords, then you can rank them by difficulty and search volume. You’ll want to find a balance here so that you can target keywords that are frequently searched but that won’t be too difficult for you to rank in.
The keywords you use and the topics you write about will depend on the type(s) of articles you’re attempting to produce as well as the audience you’re trying to reach. Each searcher has a different goal when they type terms into Google. It’s important to understand what searchers are looking for and how you can appropriately target them.
There are four general types of intent when people type search queries into Google. The first type is informational. These searchers are looking for information on a certain topic. Common terms include words like “guide” or “tutorial” and question words like “who” or “how.” Searchers looking for information are perhaps aware of a problem but not sure yet what they’re planning to do.
The next type of intent is navigational. When users input a navigational search term, it’s usually the specific name of a brand, product, or service, like “Restaurant Depot Tool.” These users are at the consideration stage, as they want to know more about a specific product.
Users who search with commercial intent are thinking about a purchase and want to investigate or compare their options. They’re also at the consideration stage and may include terms like “best,” “cheapest,” “top,” or “review.”
The final type of intent is transactional, which means that the searcher wants to purchase something. The query might include words like “buy,” “price,” or “coupon.” This searcher is in the decision stage and is ready to spend.
When you write the articles for your blog, you’ll want to think about the intent of the searchers you’re trying to target. We’ll go through some common article types and the intent types that they correspond to.
A pillar post is a page that covers a general topic in more broad terms. It usually targets a higher volume keyword. As you develop your blog content calendar, you’ll want to think of different subtopics that can link back to the pillar post. Pillar posts are mostly useful for searchers with informational intent.
For instance, if you’re a business in the food and perishables industry, you might write a pillar post that targets the keyword ‘Restaurant Vendors.” Then, you’ll fill out that cluster of posts with additional posts about specific types of restaurant vendors or common questions people might ask about restaurant vendors. Each of those will link back to the pillar post.
A response post is another common type of blog post. This post is written to answer or respond to a specific question. It could be the perfect post to link back to your pillar post and go into more detail on a specific topic. Response posts are helpful to answer the queries of your informational searchers.
Blog posts written in the comparison style can help searchers who are in the consideration stage compare or contrast two items, types of solutions, etc. An example could be “Best Restaurant Vendor Solutions” or “Top Wholesale Restaurant Vendors.”
You can target searchers in the decision stage with posts in the “vs” style. This is a style that will help searchers narrow down their options from a shortlist. For example, a post on “Sysco vs. Sodexo” might help a restaurant owner in the decision stage decide on their vendor.
You can choose what type of post to write based on the type of searchers that you’re hoping to target. Does this sound difficult? If you decide to outsource your company’s blog writing, you’ll often have a team of highly-qualified SEO experts who can do this step for you.
Here’s another look at our tennis apparel company’s blog content calendar. Now, they’ve turned their keywords into blog titles and decided on the types of articles they would like to write for each topic.
Another key component of coming up with good ideas for your blog content is to research what your competitors offer – and find out how you can edge them out on Google’s search results page. You’ll want to look at the keywords your competitors are targeting and their authoritativeness according to Google’s metrics.
Then you’ll be able to fill in their content gaps and push your content higher. You can also look at your competitors’ posts to optimize your word count. If your primary competitor is pushing out posts of only about 1,000 words, you could aim for blog posts that are 1,500 words long to establish yourself as more authoritative.
That’s the process that our tennis eCommerce store followed as they determined the target word counts they would need in order to rank above the prevailing search results for each keyword.
Images, Graphics, and Rich Data
When you’re planning out your blog content, it’s important to consider what images, graphics, and rich data you want to use in your posts. Blog posts with images sprinkled throughout the text are much more likely to capture a reader’s attention than those that are just a big block of text. Plus, you can add alt text to images that you can use to bolster your SEO efforts too.
In the following example, you can see how our tennis eCommerce business decided on the types of images they wanted to include in each article:
If you choose to include graphics, that can take your content up a notch further. Creating infographics can be extremely helpful to boost your reach, as they’re shared on social media over 3X more frequently than other content types. That’s because they’re easy to read, digestible, and visually appealing (if done right).
Now, let’s touch on rich data. That’s essentially a fancy word for data that’s qualitatively and quantitatively superior. Google prioritizes search results that have rich data included, especially if it’s presented in a visually interesting or interactive manner. Examples include charts, graphs, and tables.
It’s best to use your own data, if you have it, and if you use others’ data, make sure it’s from a reliable source.
Internal and External Links
Internal linking refers to links that go to another page on the same site. For example, you can get from this post to another post on our blog through the internal link in this very sentence! Go ahead, click on it and see how it works.
The purpose of internal linking is to bring traffic to other pages on your site, whether they’re informational or oriented toward lead-generation. Many blog posts end with a call to action that asks readers to fill out a form or provide contact information. That could be one excellent place to include an internal link.
External linking refers to links that land readers on a different website altogether. External links are helpful to Google when it’s trying to determine the quality of your page. When you link to reliable, authoritative sources, that can boost the SERP (search engine results page) ranking of your website, too.
As you plan out your blog content, think ahead to what kinds of internal and external links you may want to include. Curating those links in advance can save you plenty of time and energy down the road.
Putting it all Together
Now that you have a host of article topics to write on, you need to plan out when you’re going to publish them. In your new “Blog Content Calendar”, you’ll be able to write what post you’re going to publish within each day of the year.
If you have more than one branch of topics, e.g. you may have several different articles to write specifically about “women’s tennis shoes,” then you may want to consider bunching those together. This will allow you to internal link within them while they’re fresh in your mind.
Ensure you’re communicating efficiently with everyone involved in the blogging process to ensure you’re;
- Setting realistic expectations as far as the volume of blog posts produced
- Giving enough turnaround time in between articles, according to your team’s output capability
- Giving everyone a good idea of what their tasks look like within this blog content calendar
Outsource Your Blog Writing
For those business owners and marketing teams out there who simply don’t have the resources or time to handle content creation and managing a blog content calendar on their own, it can be a viable option to consider outsourcing blog writing. There are a number of benefits that come with this strategy.
Outsourced blog writing saves you the costs of having to pay the salary and benefits of a full-time content creator employee. Plus, you’ll have a built-in editor and proofreader. When you work with a reputable blog writer like Buzzing Blog, you can count on the highest-quality content as your assigned writer will become the expert on your subject matter.
If this sounds like something that could take your business to the next level, but don’t have the time to do it yourself, consider reaching out to our team today.
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