Getting started with content strategy planning doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple plan can produce spectacular results, as we’ll soon see. A simple plan done well is better than a sophisticated one executed poorly.
In this beginner’s guide to building content plans in MarketMuse, we’ll look at:
- The value of a content plan
- One-page plans
- Intent mismatches
- Leveraging dedicates forums and communities
- Using research and your own creativity
Why Make Content Plans?
When we discuss content plans, we’re not talking about using an editorial calendar to determine when to publish content. Before you can determine when to post something, you need to decide what content you are going to create or optimize. It is this decision-making process to which the term content plan refers.
There are several reasons to make a content plan. Your organization may have a business challenge you’re trying to solve with content. Some common examples include:
- Growing organic traffic and revenue from organic traffic
- Building a brand through thought leadership
- Fueling lead generation
Content plans can also help a content strategist map the content universe – to get a better understanding:
- What does your organization want to be known for?
- What are your customers and visitors looking for?
- What is the competition targeting?
Lastly, a content plan can help organize your content marketing around topics, marketing initiatives, content calendars.
There are a lot of ways to surface both quick-win opportunities and more substantial topic clusters in MarketMuse Suite, with no outside tools. Content planning can be as elaborate or as simple as you need it to be.
These tactics do not require any use of outside tools other than occasional Google searches and simply looking at your organization’s site. While your strategy and planning efforts may benefit from other tools, for the sake of simplicity, this blog post focuses exclusively on what you can do in MarketMuse Suite. In most cases, that’s all you need.
What is a One-Page Plan?
A One-Page Plan is a way of using pages that already rank well in organic search and which Google has determined to be “about” a lot of topics. We use it to surface opportunities to build clusters of content around it. It’s one of the most straightforward methodologies you can use in MarketMuse Suite to create a content plan with a strong chance of success.
Why is this type of content plan most likely to succeed?
By building cluster content around an already-authoritative page, that content has a higher likelihood of ranking well shortly after publication. Plus, creating cluster content around an authoritative page helps cement that page’s standing on page one of the SERP.
How to Make a One-Page Plan
In the MarketMuse Suite Inventory, locate one page that is already doing well. These content items are generally on page one of the Pages section of the Inventory and are usually at the top of the list.
An easy way to find a page that’s doing well is to look for those that MarketMuse has identified as “High Authority” or “Power Page.” A filter can be set up to find these pages and saved re-use at a later date. Furthermore, these pages usually have high Opportunity Scores, for which you can also set up a filter.
Whatever method you choose, you will find that the pages in this list frequently rank for a large number of topics, providing for numerous content opportunities.
How to Know if You’ve Found a Good Page for a One-Page Plan
If you open a page in MarketMuse Suite and it looks like this one, you’ve likely found a good starting point for a one-page plan.
There are a lot of closely Related Topics and adjacent related topics you add to a plan that builds out the original page’s cluster. Look for different intents you can service with new content.
Before you add any topic to your plan, do a quick search to see if there are any other pages ranking for that topic. The simplest way is to search the Topic Inventory.
There are a number of metrics provided for each topic in the Topic Inventory. What we’re interested in right now is whether there’s a top related page that’s ranking better for this term than our original page. If so, then check to see whether that page should be optimized or new content created.
Start adding your desired related topics to your plan. Click on the three dots near the topic you want to add and choose “Add to Plan.”
At this point, you need to choose between content optimization or content creation. If the topic can be easily worked into the current page, and it aligns with its intent, then keep the Report Type as “Optimize.” Otherwise, change the Report Type to “Create.”
At this point, you can also select the plan to which you will add these items, or create a new plan if you wish.
What Is an Intent Mismatch?
An intent mismatch occurs when a page is ranking for a topic or user intent that it’s not actually about. Generally, these are pages that are ranking decently for a query, but because they don’t accurately fulfill the user’s intent, they can’t break through to be a consistent top-ranking page.
Exploiting intent mismatches can be one of the easiest ways to find topics that have a high chance of ranking well quickly. If search engines are already connecting your site to a given topic, creating content optimized for that topic (it satisfies the user intent) should be an easy opportunity for ranking content.
Intent Mismatch Examples
There are a lot of ways to find intent mismatches in MarketMuse Suite. You can look at Pages or Topics, filter by a topic or section of the site, and run down the list to see if any mismatches exist. I find it easier to locate these in the Topics section of MarketMuse Suite.
Below are some examples where you’ll see some overlap between the content and the topic, but they aren’t exactly touching on the same thing.
This post on search intent mismatch dives deeper into the issue of intent and how to identify these discrepancies.
Leveraging Dedicated Forums and Communities
Do you have your own forum or community with pages that rank highly in SERPs for given queries? Use MarketMuse Suite to find those instances and create content on those topics.
Community or user-generated content can be very valuable but of variable quality and comprehensiveness. You can piggyback off of this authority and high ranking by creating content on those topics for which you control the quality and messaging.
In doing so, your pages will supplant the forum posts in the rankings as the more authoritative piece on the topic, given that your domain is already ranking well. In the Pages section of the Inventory, select the URL filter, and enter the unique part of the forum or community URL. Applying the filter will restrict the results to only showing forum pages.
Note that when adding these topics to Plans and ordering briefs, they should be set to Create Briefs. No one wants to – or has the ability to – optimize a forum post.
In the example above, we can see some good content ideas from forum posts that are ranking well for strong informational topics.
Using the Research Application and Your Own Creativity
The Research Application is a powerful way to learn what it means to be “about” a given topic. When you enter a focus topic and receive a list of related topics, you’re getting a picture of the nuances and dimensions of that topic.
You can use this information to surface new topics and come up with ideas for content that targets related concepts, building out the cluster around the focus topic. This process requires some creativity and the ability to think to a higher level of abstraction, as opposed to just reading the list and trying to force those related topics into content items on a 1-to-1 basis.
If you find some related topics that would be helpful building blocks for a cluster, you can select them and add them to the inventory directly from Research. Don’t forget to look into the variants of each related topic for more possibilities.
The best content plans solve problems and are tied to business outcomes. However, it needs to be created, keeping in mind the resources available to execute the plan.
Building a plan that requires far more resources than available often results in zero implementation. So if your organization typically publishes weekly blog posts, don’t create a plan that requires a daily cadence.
Be data-driven but not data-dependent. Although content and search engine optimization have become very much data-driven, there is still a significant creative aspect.
Just because keywords don’t appear in MarketMuse or any other software, it doesn’t mean those user intents don’t exist. Ahrefs published a study showing that 92% of all queries receive fewer than ten searches per month. Those will likely not appear in any keyword tool.
Focus more on intent and covering a topic comprehensively and answering questions users might have. Keyword search volume is an illusion and shouldn’t be the only data point you use to make content decisions. If you get stuck, ask yourself if the problem really is that you don’t have enough data. Are you sure you’re getting the most out of the data you do have?