Many business owners know that timely marketing can work wonders, but all too often work gets in the way and blogging, which is one of the most effective ways of conducting digital marketing on a small budget, becomes reactive, rather than proactive and forward thinking. A simple way to avoid this is to set a strict content marketing calendar and ensure that you are always publishing on set days. Let’s take a look at the basics of setting a content calendar.
Leave Time To Write, Review and Publish
One of the most common mistakes people make is trying to write about a major event as it is happening. As a general rule, you should aim to publish somewhere between a week and a month before something big happens. The bigger the event, the more time you need to plan and create your content, and the sooner you should publish. Many ecommerce businesses start their Christmas campaigns in July, with the aim of having their major Christmas keywords ranking well by November to also catch the Black Friday mayhem in the run up to Christmas.
Major Dates In The UK
As already mentioned, Christmas is the biggest date for many retail business, so in your content planner, set a date around midsummer to start planning your campaign. Take a look at emerging trends, analyse last year’s traffic reports and predict which products will be most popular in the coming festive period – these are the ones to focus on. Start writing blog posts to support these products and introduce festive keywords early.
Following Christmas, some of the most important dates revolve around the school calendar – Easter, Summer Holidays and the three half-terms in February, May and October.
There is now a national day for just about everything, so jump aboard the bandwagon and celebrate the day associated with your business. This can be a good opportunity to share some personalised work images on social media. You don’t have to wait for something relevant to your business either – last year we celebrated National Pizza Day!
The Tax Year
Many businesses plan their purchases around the tax year – some have budgets to fulfil before the accounting year ends, and others wish to reinvest some profits into the company.
Not all content is date specific, but it still needs to be planned. One of the best ways to come up with new content ideas is to brainstorm content. Different departments will come up with fresh new ideas that can be used to create blog posts. Ensure all the best ideas are added to the content calendar – even if it takes 6 months to work through them all, it is better to plan well ahead than to simply forget half the great ideas that come out of a brainstorming session.
An Example Of Strategic Content Planning
An example of content planning is some work done for a health a fitness blog. The fitness industry will always see a surge in traffic in the New Year when millions of people start to look for new ways to get fit and lose weight to fulfil yet another New Year resolution. In December 2013, it was time to look for the perfect article that would attract readers, searchers and hopefully win some links.
Our content manager saw that Gary Barlow was hosting his own show, “Gary Barlow’s Big Ben Bash”, on the BBC to see in the New Year; this seemed like a perfect opportunity. So, the final task of the year was to blog about Gary Barlow. Fortunately, a bit a research revealed that he had lost a lot of weight thanks to a sugar-free diet. While this content did not attract any immediate attention in search, it did win a link from The Guardian two weeks later, in an article about cutting sugar. The referrals from that link alone kept the site busy for many months to come, and the link helped in the long-term SEO campaign.
The trick is to consider what the media will be writing about, and create content that they will find useful when doing their research, while also thinking about what your customers want. The health and fitness site could have written a New Year Resolution article just like every other blog on the web, but taking a more forward thinking approach won a link from TheGuardian – and almost three years later, that Guardian page still sends new referrals daily.
How To Implement
Don’t get caught up on using tech to manage your content planner. While using a shared Google Sheet provides an easy way for everybody to access and add to a planner, if it works better for you to stick post-it notes on a wall planner or make a note in a desk diary, use that method. Post-it notes they are actually very effective and provide a constant visual reminder of what needs to be done. If a tech solution is a must, there are several software options available, such as Kapost, WordPress Editorial Calendar and Trello, to name but a few. We prefer to use a shared Google spreadsheet that can be accessed from anywhere and viewed by the whole team.
For more ideas on what to blog about, watch what your competitors are doing. If you discover some that are writing specific topics throughout the year, there is a good chance they have already made a content plan – there is no reason why you cannot take some ideas from them! How much you blog is up to you, but try to do at least a fortnightly blog post to keep the content on your website fresh, and share it across your social media platforms.
For more advice on planning your business blog content, contact Freelance SEO Essex today – we can help you plan, write and publish your business blog, manage your social media pages and implement paid promotions via AdWords, Facebook and other platforms, all of which will help drive more visitors to your website.