How to Plan 6 Months of Content with One Keyword Database

How to Plan 6 Months of Content with One Keyword Database

Think for a moment about how many hours you spend writing one piece of content.

…Now think about how many hours you spend over the course of 6 months.

It’s a lot of time, isn’t it?

You’ve probably written some great content over the last 6 months. But why did you create that particular content?

Maybe you just love writing about certain topics? More likely, you were writing about specific areas because you wanted to specialize your content in those areas. It could be because you were trying to drive traffic toward purchasing the product which your blog is linked up with, or it may be because you’re an aspiring journalist who wants to be known for certain topics.

Whatever your rationale, you were aiming for content directed at a particular target or particular market. I’m willing to take the gamble on that one.

Well, so were we. We still are. We write about particular interests and areas of the market, and we plan it every step of the way. At Process Street our keyword database makes sure we reach the right people and we’re not wasting our time.

The Benefits of Planning

There are a range of upsides to planning your content approach in advance and creating processes. Most of them should be pretty obvious.

1. Clear strategy.

If you have the aim of reaching customers for your product through the content you write, then you have a strategy. A broad one, maybe, but a strategy nonetheless.

You know who your customers are, what they do, what they like, where they are, what they read. So you can utilise this to target them as closely as you can. Decide which demographic you want to go for and set yourself a target. Maybe you want to be on the front page of Google for a particular keyword? Then set that target and build a strategy around it. Strategy will help you achieve your goals.

2. High productivity.

Effective work can take the same amount of time as ineffective work. One yields results and one does not. Work framed within a clear content marketing strategy is more productive than work which isn’t.

Moreover, if you know what you’re going to write not only today and tomorrow, but in 4 weeks time and in 4 months time then you can stop wasting hours thinking about what the next task will be, and just do it.

We found that our keyword planning meant we had our titles and their relevant keywords all lined up in advance. We also had a library full of relevant links which we had built up over those 6 months of targeting, making it easier to add extra value for our readers.

3. Improved SEO.  

Improving SEO through backlinks is like building a beautiful spider’s web. The difference being that you want to preserve it rather than dust it away.

Linking to your own content has a host of benefits from helping your posts rank, to providing extra information to readers,  to sending potential customers onto higher converting pages. It’s great and we do it.

You also want to be linking offsite to other places and have other places linking back to you. This grows your web and allows you to catch more readers.

The larger your network the more chance you have of Google both noticing you and thinking you’re offering something of value. Which you are. So don’t be shy about it. We write content for others and they write content for us.

How We Gathered Our Keyword Pool

The first step is finding your relevant keywords.

When researching keywords we follow the mantra: “Cast a wide net”. As an avid angler, this has always come naturally to me.

We gathered as many keywords as we could muster to target. These keywords were centred around 5 central themes. The themes were buyer personas, and had been crafted by other members of the company around the available data of who uses the product and what we know about them. As a result of this, we knew that our keywords were backed up by hard performance data rather than just whatever ranks well pulled at random.

The process involves gathering as many keywords as possible and using tools like Keywordtool.io to find variants we could add to our list. Beyond that, we would trawl through Reddit and Quora looking for questions relevant the keywords we were building up to find good examples of long tail keywords.

When you have your mammoth set of keywords, you can use Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs to gather the data on your list. These tools will give you volume and difficulty scores, which are primarily what we work with in our process.

Sorting the Keywords

Our first step was to import all our keywords and their relevant data into Airtable. This handy cloud database lets you fiddle around collaboratively in a spreadsheet layout even with a mountain of data.

Next we wanted to filter our results. Anything which had less than volume 100+ was taken out. Then we took out anything with 90+ difficulty. We followed this with a bit of manual tagging of relevant keywords.

There is a slight art to keyword analysis. If you’re looking to write about cold-calling and one of your overarching keywords was “sales” then a recommended related keyword may have been “discounts”. This might be a high scoring keyword and all the numbers might look great, but no one who’s searching for “discounts” in Google is looking for cold calling scripts.

 

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Sorting the Keywords

Our first step was to import all our keywords and their relevant data into Airtable. This handy cloud database lets you fiddle around collaboratively in a spreadsheet layout even with a mountain of data.

Next we wanted to filter our results. Anything which had less than volume 100+ was taken out. Then we took out anything with 90+ difficulty. We followed this with a bit of manual tagging of relevant keywords.

There is a slight art to keyword analysis. If you’re looking to write about cold-calling and one of your overarching keywords was “sales” then a recommended related keyword may have been “discounts”. This might be a high scoring keyword and all the numbers might look great, but no one who’s searching for “discounts” in Google is looking for cold calling scripts.

Finally, we filtered the list to only show relevant-tagged and sorted it into the top 200.

Those 200 became 6 months worth of content. Planned and prepared in one session.

If you want more information about our internal SEO processes then you can try this Process Street keyword research process which covers a detailed step-by-step of generating your best keywords.

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Saving Valuable Content

One of the specific things we aimed to do when planning this content database was to assist old posts.

We have a series of tried and tested posts floating around online which always seem to drive us traffic. These posts are great for conversions and are still relevant as evergreen content.

The problem with these posts is that they can drop off quite dramatically if you fail to nurture them. One highly popular article of ours was Dropbox vs Google Drive.

This was a consistently high performer but had started to lag. We felt the piece was as relevant as it was when we first published it. To save it we did two main things:

  1. We updated the article. It was originally written in 2014 and there were fresh arguments and features which could be brought to the table. We improved our content.
  2. We drove traffic to it. We promoted the article like a new release and then used our extensive content production off the back of this database to keep the traffic high.

Let’s have a look at some specifics.

Here’s the data from Ahrefs which shows the success the article was having from different keywords related to “Dropbox vs Google Drive”.

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Now here’s the slump. It may not look like much, but the difference between being link number 3 and link number 8 on Google in traffic terms is significant. It’s normally the first step in a process of decay.

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Don’t believe how bad this slump can be for traffic? Take a look at the impact of dropping only 5 places.

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So what did we do?

We did everything explained above. We republished the article on February 14th and pointed links at it from our new articles. This gave us our chance to fight back.

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Up, up, and away!

We gave it our initial kick to drive it back to the volume of hits it should be getting.

But you can’t keep promoting an article forever. Posting it to Facebook and Twitter isn’t a daily option. It’s unprofessional to spam your customers and followers like that.

The long term method for continuing the climb is to drive traffic from other links, future articles on your page and others.

Here’s a zoomed out history of the ups and downs of Dropbox vs Google Drive.

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As you can see, we managed to pretty quickly return to rank number 3.

But what you might also see is that the days following our initial promotion are not as strong as the days at the beginning of the chart.

If that was to continue, it would be possible for the article to slip once again; undoing all our hard work.

Is that what happened? Did we lose our momentum and watch the article slip away into obscurity?

What does it look like?

Now we are ranking number 1  and also receiving a featured snippet (number 0). It feels good to be back.

Give it a Try

If you want to repeat the same successes, think of your overall categories, informed probably by your buyer personas. Build a beautiful big list of keywords. Research them. Rank them. Then build your titles and throw them into a calendar for the team to start working on.

Watch your links fly up Google as the 6 months go by.


This post was written by Benjamin Brandall who is the head of content marketing at process.st. You can connect with Benajmin on his personal blog or on Twitter @benjbrandall.

Brian Jensen
I’m a self proclaimed “searchaholic.” I provide direction that assists my company and our clients with increases in qualified traffic, thought leadership, brand visibility and awareness and audience growth. I have a passion for marketing, music and technology.
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