New year, new content calendar!
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a valuable content strategy to plan and organize your published content throughout the year. It helps you identify the blog topics that attract your target audience and when you should publish those topics to drive your business growth.
To create a strategic and data-driven content calendar, keyword research is an essential first step to identifying your blog topics’ target keywords and using the monthly search volume of those target keywords to determine the peak traffic months of those keywords when those topics are most in demand.
Identify your blog topics’ target keywords
The goal of a 12-month content calendar is to help you identify when your relevant blog topics/categories are most in demand throughout the year to best attract your target audience.
To determine when your select blog topics/categories are most in demand, first identify the target keywords that drive those relevant blog topics/categories. Historic monthly search volume trends of these target keywords will help you strategically assign a seasonality on the monthly level, as many blog topics/categories are too general to be narrowed down to a peak traffic month(s).
For example, a pet company brand we worked with has a blog with categories such as “Health & Wellness”, “Grooming”, “Pet Safety”, “Pet Ownership”, etc. While these categories are well targeted and relevant to the site’s target audience, they are too broad to be narrowed down to just one peak traffic period in the year (it’s impossible to determine one specific seasonality for all of “health and wellness”).
As such, these general blog categories need to be broken down to the keyword cluster level. Think of your keyword clusters as the legs of a stool that hold up a broader blog category like pillars supporting a larger foundation. Your keyword clusters are the sub-categories that make up a broader category.
To determine your keyword clusters, brainstorm as many sub-categories that make up that larger category. For example, sub-categories such as “dog insurance”, “pet health”, “dog health”, “cat health”, and “canine insurance” (and many, many more) are all sub-categories that are included in “Health & Wellness”.
Once you have listed as many sub-topics/ keyword clusters as possible, you can further break down these keyword clusters to identify the long-tailed keywords that drive those keyword clusters.
Use a keyword research tool such as BrightEdge Instant for keyword ideas and pull as many of those long-tailed keywords (downloaded from BrightEdge Instant as an Excel) and their monthly search volume from over at least the last 12 months .
Once you have downloaded your relevant keywords and their MSV, organize these keywords into their keyword cluster categories (i.e., categorize “dog health advice”, “dog health and wellness”, etc. under your “Dog Health” keyword cluster).
The monthly search volume of these target keywords (that make up your keyword clusters) will help you identify when those keyword cluster are most in demand and to assign a seasonality (peak traffic months) to those keyword cluster topics.
Assign seasonality to your keyword clusters
Now you should have an Excel sheet with your long-tailed keywords, and their month search volumes over at least the past 12 months, organized into their keyword clusters. Convert this data into a PivotTable to view the monthly search volume of your keyword clusters over 12 months and filter the MSV from largest to smallest.
Next, assign seasonality to your keyword clusters. Identify which month(s) have the most search volume within each keyword cluster to find the peak month. Some keyword cluster topics may have the multiple peak traffic months, or the same peak traffic month(s) as other keyword cluster topics – this is perfectly fine as you can use multiple months to illustrate a peak traffic period for and list the keyword cluster topics that share the same peak traffic months together.
Once you have determined the peak traffic months for all your keyword clusters, you can start to fill out your 12-month content calendar with the keyword cluster topics by their peak traffic months. You will end up with a list of blog topic ideas per month for your new year!
Pairing your content planning with keyword research to create a data-driven content calendar is a worthwhile SEO strategy to meet the needs of your target audience. Highlighting and responding to key periods for your brand and audience, such as holiday, events, and promotions, will instantly make your content more engaging and responsive for your target audience.