Aug 17th, 2019

How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing

By now, you’re probably aware of the potential value of content marketing. However, content marketing needs to be done correctly to deliver real results to your business. With the right planning, you can create a strategy that will increase traffic to your website, improve your conversation rates and ultimately boost your bottom line – for the long term.

The trick is – instead of posting blogs randomly to target keywords, you should create an editorial calendar.

By creating an editorial calendar, you can better target specific customers and ensure all your articles are unique while solving a different problem or responding to a different query. You can also plan the publishing of your blog posts and the coordination of your marketing across various channels.

If you want to maximise your website’s readership, aligning your email, blog and social media campaigns comes highly recommended.

Understanding how to create an effective editorial calendar means getting to grips with SEO, your customers’ queries and topic research. Fortunately, editorial calendars that work can be developed in a matter of minutes using our step-by-step method.

Begin with an Editorial Calendar Template

The primary reason for investing your time into developing a content calendar is to establish an actionable strategy to executive various content marketing efforts. By planning ahead, you’ll reduce the risk of forgetting about publishing or missing opportunities to build relationships with readers.

Having a clear schedule also makes life-stress free for almost all parties involved in working on your editorial calendar. Such parties include:

  • Content writers
  • SEO strategists
  • Editors
  • Graphic designers

Rather than life at work being a rushed effort based on spur of the moment ideas, an editorial calendar can keep your creative team on track by showing them deadlines and roles.

  • Top tip for work organisation

We recommend using a project management tool to coordinate your tasks and employees. HubSpot has a decent social media content calendar that lets you colour-code tasks and assign deadlines.

You can also use Google Calendar to collaborate on tasks with multiple users at the same time.

Project management tools like Trello and Basecamp have features such as comments, milestones and more.

If you want to use your CMS to create an editorial calendar, WordPress has a variety of Plugins, such as CoSchedule (which requires a paid subscription). Editorial Calendar is another WordPress plugin which is free and simple but functional.

Research Your Blog Categories

Now that you’ve found a template and project management system that works for your business, it’s time to start creating your editorial calendar, which requires a little research. First, you need to think about the topics your content will cover.

A crucial aspect of content marketing is covering enough topics to get readers excited for more content.

You shouldn’t attempt to appeal to everybody in each of your articles – that could deter readers, decrease your conversation rates and prove disastrous for your organic search ranking.

You should aim to operate within a clearly defined, well-researched and highly targeted niche or niches, enabling you to create content with a clear purpose.

When thinking about blog categories, consider aspects such as search intent and sales funnel. What does the reader want to get from your content? How do you then encourage them to interact with your content to dive deeper into the sales process?

You should remember that when somebody first interacts with your content, they might not even be close to purchasing a product. Therefore, your blogs should encourage readers to subscribe and read more content.

Create articles that address the needs of your prospects at their point in the buyer’s journey, and you’ll have the chance to form a relationship that could ultimately lead to a sale.

With regards to stages in the buyer’s journey, here’s what you need to know about search intent:

  • Informational content

This concerns the discovery stage of the buyer’s journey. At this stage, the user isn’t ready to purchase a service or product – they’re just weighing up their options and need information. Optimise your blogs for keywords such as ‘how to’ in this type of content.

  • Transactional content

At this stage of the journey, the reader is ready to buy. They’re searching for phrases that focus on ‘reviews,’ ‘pricing,’ ‘discounts,’ ‘where can I find,’ etc.

When thinking of topics, start with high-level topics and then subcategories. This will give you the ability to carry out comprehensive keyword research and plan blog plans with clear aims in mind.

Carry out Keyword Research

The third and perhaps most crucial aspect of creating your editorial calendar is performing keyword research – you need to know how your customers are trying to find you. Usually, the focus of an editorial calendar is to plan blog content (though you can do much more than that). Nevertheless, when creating your blog strategy, you’ll need to know which keywords to target in order to maximise traffic to your website via organic search.

First, you should brainstorm the types of terms you’d assume your customers search for. Type them into Google to find automated suggestions in the search bar and related suggestions near the footer. After creating a comprehensive list of search phrases, refine your list by using a keyword research tool.

You can use a keyword research tool to determine the difficulty of ranking for keywords and which competitors currently rank the best for them. You can also find statistics such as search volumes and monthly trends. Understanding your customers’ queries, seasonal search trends and ranking difficulty can help you create a blog plan that will generate as many leads as possible.

When thinking of keywords, consider:

  • Keyword relevance

Decide whether a keyword is genuinely relevant to your specific target customer segments. If a phrase is too vague, think about how you could modify it to boost its relevancy.

  • Keyword difficulty

Until you’re a well-known company with a great deal of online visibility, trust and authority, you might want to stick to targeting low-difficulty keywords. Use a tool like Ahrefs to find out how many backlinks you might need to rank for your chosen keywords.

  • Keyword Intent

Use a mix of keywords that target readers at different stages of the buyer journey. Only aim to target readers at a specific stage of the journey on each blog – you can encourage them to read more of your content to build interest in your services.

  • Keyword volume

Ten real leads are better than 1,000 visitors who bounce from your website. Don’t just target keywords with a high volume – aim for keywords with low search volumes with a high potential for conversion. Any less than ten monthly searches is likely a waste of time, but any more than that could prove profitable.

Create Actionable Briefs for Your Content Assets

At this point, you have a workable editorial calendar tool that allows collaboration, you’ve created the categories you’ll develop content for, and you’ve started researching keywords. You’re well on your way to having a complete editorial calendar which can be adapted as your company evolves.

Now, to maximise the effectiveness of your communications, you ought to create detailed briefs. This is crucial if the editorial calendar developer will not be the content writer.

If you know how you’d like your articles to turn out, you need to communicate this vision with your colleagues. Otherwise, you might get content you didn’t expect, which could cost time and money.

Consider these factors when creating briefs for the items on your editorial calendar:

  • Corresponding blog categories

Assign different colours to your categories so that you can quickly see an overview of how each focus area is fleshing out.

  • Create titles

You might want to give your content writers basic skeletons for the articles they’re required to write. Start with at least a rough title and consider describing which sections of information should be included within each blog.

  • Keywords

If you intend to target primary and secondary keywords in your blogs, tell your writers beforehand. That way, it’ll be easier for them to use the keywords naturally instead of trying to force them in after writing the article.

  • Source material

If you have client data or useful references, pass them along to your writers so they can inject such information into your content.

  • Competitor articles

Always encourage your writers to read the articles that currently have the leading positions on the search engine results pages for your target keywords. The aim of your writer is to write higher quality content than the competition.

Coordinate Your Marketing Efforts

While you might be creating an editorial calendar to plan and develop your blog strategy for organic search purposes, it’s smart to think about the other ways in which you use your new marketing process.

In reality, no marketing effort or campaign should operate independently. Your blogs, social media, email campaigns and perhaps even webinar strategies should align.

Whether they’re related to your unique content creation ideas, you should think about:

  • Social media posts

You should encourage followers to read, share and comment on your content by posting on a variety of social media platforms every time you publish.

  • Social ads

Social media platforms allow you to create highly targeted advertisements which often bring a high return on investment. This may be especially useful if you’ve yet to establish a strong online presence.

  • Email marketing

The more subscribers you have, the more people that are guaranteed to read a lot of your new content. Even emailing the titles of your blogs per month to your subscribers can get you a few more readers and potentially more leads.

  • Webinars

Not all companies have the time or resources to host webinars, but they can be a highly effective way for you to demonstrate knowledge and authority in your industry. If you do plan to host webinars, draw attention to them in your content.

Final Tips

Now that you know how to go about creating a simple but effective editorial calendar, here are a few useful pointers to keep in mind. They’ll help avoid mistakes that could cost you time, effort and customers.

  • Decide how often you want to publish. Create a timeline you’ll stick to. We recommend starting out at once or twice a week, or once every two weeks.
  • Remember to vary the length of your blogs. Some readers want in-depth blogs while others want quick answers.
  • Perform keyword research regularly because trends change often. You can adapt the target keywords within your article briefs accordingly.
  • Don’t just aim for high-volume search terms. Low-volume search terms can be easy to rank for and often have high conversion rates.
  • Don’t stop. Keep publishing blogs to remain a force to be reckoned with online. One primary reason for creating an editorial calendar is to help you stay on top of digital marketing.

Need Help Creating Your Editorial Calendar?

By following the steps above and remembering all the tips, you can truly create a content calendar that’s likely to be more profitable for your business than your current content strategy in under an hour. First, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with a host of SEO tools and work with a team of professionals experienced in keyword research, brief development and market research.

If you don’t have a strategy or creative department and would rather hire a virtual company to handle such tasks to mitigate the risk to your business while maximising the chances of success, we hope to hear from you.

At Smart Traffic, we’re a leading SEO agency in Sydney, specialising in PPC, content creation, social media advertising and all other aspects of digital marketing. Utilising our years of experience, knowledge of the industry and proven track record of success, we can create, manage and execute your editorial calendar, and we guarantee results.

If you’d like to book a site audit, learn more about our services or discuss content calendars in more detail, we welcome you to contact our team of SEO experts on 02 8205 3133.

About the author

Michael Holder

A specialist in Google Ads, and with a wide range of SEO skills and experience, Michael has a particular interest in Local SEO strategies for small to medium sized businesses. When Michael is not working hard increasing conversions for clients Paid Advertising campaigns he enjoys traveling, dining out and watching Formula 1 and football.