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How to Plan Your Editorial Calendar with MarketMuse

Posted by Rebecca Bakken on Jun 7, 2017 11:38:53 AM

editorial calendar.jpg

You know that having up-to-date content on your site is important, and you’re probably well aware that sites with comprehensive topic coverage tend to rank better in SERPs. But whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to re-vamp an existing blog, planning an editorial calendar presents some challenges.

How do you know you’re covering the right topics? What are your sub-topics and how frequently should you be writing about them? How do you ensure that your content marketing strategy doesn’t look like you threw a bunch of stuff at the wall?

Well, friends, let us put your mind at ease: There’s a way to ensure your blog posts are consistent and cover each topic comprehensively, and that your content team has a clear game plan with which to move forward.

A well-planned editorial calendar isn’t just helpful for content creation, but your marketing, sales, and social media teams as well. It tells them the resources that are available (or soon to become available) for them to either promote within social media channels or distribute directly to prospects.

But first, you’ll need to do some ground work.

Establish Categories and Pillar Content

First, you’ll need to determine your blog categories and subcategories. This is an important step in mapping out your content marketing strategy. (If you already know this, you can skip this section.) Most often, this begins with brainstorming, but if you’d like to take a more data-driven approach, begin by entering your site’s main focus topic into the MarketMuse Content Analyzer. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any content yet, because the platform will automate a list of related topics, organized by relevance, as well as the top-ranking pages for that focus topic.

For example, let’s say the focus topic for your site is “SEO.” (You’ll want to choose something with high relevance, but that’s also broad enough to turn out a lot of related and subtopics.)

Here’s a list of all the topics related to SEO:

SEO related topics.png

Of course, you’ll need to use your critical thinking skills to choose which ones will be appropriate categories, and which ones have little or no relevance to you. In this case, you could safely say that Social Media, Keywords, and On-Page SEO are appropriate content categories for your blog.

Also, be sure to look at the keyword variants by clicking the little blue box to the left of each topic. That will give you a list of terms to use when discussing each topic, which is especially helpful if the topics are broad. Mentioning keyword variants is another signal to Google that you’ve covered the topic comprehensively, plus it helps you avoid repetition in content creation, which can resemble keyword stuffing.

Here's a list of all the variants related to "Keywords:"

Keyword related topics.png

Again, not all of these will be relevant to you, but MarketMuse gives you a solid list to start with. For instance, you’ll definitely want to have posts that cover Meta Keywords and Long-Tail Keywords in your Keywords category.

One thing we recommend to all our clients is to establish your Pillar Content. These are your pages that take a deep dive into your most important topics, and to which subsequent content should link. Think of these pieces as the foundation to your blog, and the center of your content marketing strategy. Further down, we'll discuss topic clusters and how they make sense of content creation and mapping.

Audit Current Content

If you have existing content, you’ll want to take inventory. The MarketMuse Site Audit is a site-level solution that identifies the topics you’ve written about, how well you’ve covered them, and how you compare to the competition. It tells you your Topical Breadth Coverage, Absolute Gap Topics, Relative Gap Topics, and Satisfactory Coverage for all terms related to your focus topic. Site Audit also tells you how many titles you have that mention each topic, as well as the volume and competition.

This is a screenshot of our blog, using the focus topic SEO, which isn’t actually our main focus, so it’s OK that we’re seeing some red. But for example’s sake:

Site audit.png

Site Audit shows you clearly where you’re doing well, and where you need to fill in gaps with your content creation. In this case, we’d want to prioritize writing content about On-page SEO to get those numbers in the green. Make a list of the topics that show sub-par coverage, and try to make them a priority on your editorial calendar.

If you want to get more granular with your audit, enter each of your main categories as the Focus Topic and analyze your site to see how well you’ve covered each one and where there are gaps. Topical gaps can be a hidden danger to your rankings, as marketers may not be conscious of how missing content can affect SEO. But we do know that Hummingbird awards sites with comprehensive content coverage, so it's importnat to fill in the gaps.

Map it All Out

Once you’ve established your categories and identified any immediate gaps in coverage, it’s time to map everything out into a neatly organized editorial content calendar. We recommend checking out this post on topic clusters by HubSpot, but here’s the gist:

Topic clusters put your main content (i.e. pillar content) at the center, and your job is to write related content (i.e. subtopics) that links back to it, thus creating a cluster. It’s reader friendly because it keeps all of your content organized and easily points users to additional resources, and it’s SEO friendly because structured internal linking is a key ranking factor.

Now, how you create your clusters may depend on your business strategy and goals. For instance, if you run monthly or seasonal campaigns, it probably makes sense to build your clusters according to that. Also, if you have one particularly prominent product, service, or topic, you may want to write cluster content for that at twice the rate of your subtopics.

Execution all depends on what you’re trying to achieve, and how you’re trying to achieve it. But the advice here is applicable to any site or business that’s trying to establish a content marketing calendar and fill in topical gaps. Once you have all the information you need, choose an editorial calendar template, and fill it in.

Looking at your long-term content marketing plan from a high level will also give you a chance to identify other types of content that can help you reach your goals, as well as the social media promotions you can plan around your content.

Going Beyond Blogs with Your Content Marketing Strategy

You blog posts may (or may not) be the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy, but you’ll want to provide your readers with multiple types of resources, depending on where they are in the customer journey.

Generally speaking, blog posts are a great way to spread awareness of your brand, products, or services. They provide just enough information to pique interest and perhaps lead a potential customer further down the funnel, from awareness to consideration. At this point, they may be thinking about getting in touch with your sales team for a demo, or they may be searching your site for additional content that can tell them more about your products. When they do that searching, you’ll want to be ready.

Start by looking at the editorial calendar you’ve planned out, and identify topics that could be expanded upon with a different form of content. Below are some examples, and ideas on how you can use them:

Infographics. These are essentially blog posts in graphic form, so they’re highly shareable and an excellent way to display data and stats in an easily digestible format. Infographics are social media gold, so be sure to have a distribution plan ready for each one.

Videos. You don’t need to have a production department to make great videos, because platforms like Wistia (a fellow RevUp portfolio company) make it easy for you to produce and distribute high-quality video how-to’s, webinars, and e-courses.

E-Books. If you have topics where a lot of graphs and visuals would be helpful to explain concepts, e-books are definitely in order. These can be downloadable assets, which double as lead collects for your site.

Whitepapers. These are extensive resources that are great to offer as downloadable assets for people who are near the conversion stage in the funnel. They’re also helpful for your sales and marketing departments, because they can distribute them directly to sales prospects.

Case Studies. If you have some great customer success stories that back up the advice you give in a blog posts, write a case study and either link to it in your post or add it as a downloadable CTA.

These are just a few ways to supplement your blog posts and develop a fully fleshed out content marketing strategy.

In addition to having an arsenal of content that can answer any and all of your readers questions - whether they’re just learning about you or they’re ready to hand over their credit card - you’ll want to have instructions in your editorial calendar for social media promotion.

When and Where to Promote Your Content on Social Media

While a great content marketing plan will draw in plenty of organic traffic, do not underestimate the power of social media to drive traffic and conversions, as well as make evangelists out of your readers.

Using your editorial calendar, you can plan out when and where to promote content on social media channels. Have a plan that tells your social team:

  • Which networks each post should be distributed on
  • When to post and at what frequency (e.g. on the day of publishing, and every other day after for a week)
  • Whether you should pay to boost impressions on that posts (include budget and audiences)

Also, don’t simply re-post your blogs. Think about unique content that can be posted with each blog you promote that can create a mini-campaign around it. This includes finding curated content that complements the post, creating contests and quizzes to engage followers, or releasing an infographic that distills the information from your blog.

Include all of this information in your editorial calendar (or create a separate social media editorial calendar if it's starting to look unwieldy) to make it a resource for your whole marketing and sales team. When everything is planned out and everyone is on the same page, you’ll find that you get much more out of your content marketing strategy than just organic traffic.

Your expertly crafted content marketing strategy awaits with MarketMuse. Learn how to use the software to not only plan your content, but craft individual pieces that are topically comprehensive and address user intents. 

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