Keyword Research is critical to filling your Content Calendar. This research helps you find topics to write about that are related to your niche. It also enables you to drive the correct kind and quantity of traffic to your blog. I want to share some of the best tips I have discovered in my blogging experiment in hopes that it will help you be successful. Grab some coffee ☕️, and let’s get into it!
Pssst… This is one of the jobs you should eventually outsource. Check my Outsourcing Guide for jobs you can and should outsource.
What is a Content Calendar? And its benefits?
Have you ever wished that you knew what you were going to write about before you had to write it? What if you knew the title of your next article, the keywords you should focus on, or the day you should try to release it? There is good news! Those are some of the problems a Content Calendar solves!
It is a schedule of sorts that keeps your creation on track. Each piece of content described on the calendar will provide everything you need, or that your team needs, to write content for your blog. There are several benefits to having a Content Calendar planned with Keyword Research. Let’s explore some of them.
Never scramble for topics
We have all been there! You understand to stay relevant with Google requires a constant flow of new content related to your niche. Yet every time you go to write that next piece or have your team write it, you are plagued with last-minute research tasks, which ultimately delay that new content from coming out on time.
You scramble to determine the content cap you need to fill with this new article. The pressure makes you rush your “gap research,” which impacts the benefits you might see from filling that gap. Even after you dash to find a topic, you struggle to meet your release deadline by cutting corners in your writing. In the end, the piece not only comes out lower quality, but you also miss out on some of the benefits it would have given your blog if it had been given the proper time.
Writing the article is not the only job. You require an SEO sweep to ensure you are targeting keywords that will help draw eyes to your blog. Images are needed to bring your article to life, which requires design efforts. There might be editing and fact-checking that needs to happen before publishing your new content. How about the backlinks in the post that link to affiliate offers that generate income?
With a content calendar, time is planned for each meaningful task.
The preliminary research needed to find the topic and keywords is already done for you. This work was done without a time crunch, so the quality and accuracy are top-notch. An effort was also put in to come up with a title and maybe even the headings so that writing the content is as simple as making a few paragraphs for each key point.
Your SEO focus is pre-handled because of the Keyword Research. A second sweep on this takes practically no time. Your designer can create infographics for you while the article is written because the key points are already laid out. Fact-checking can be done in tandem with writing. Editing will be a cinch because the content’s topical information is already planned. The most profitable affiliate links will already be researched and can be easily added as a last-minute touch-up.
Frantic scrambling becomes a thing of the past. You or your team are prepared with all the information you need to create the perfect content. Everyone knows what tasks they are working on, the topics for those tasks, and what the timeline is. Your whole operation runs like a well-oiled machine! You can spend your time working on other important parts of your blog, like a Sales Funnel.
Pssst… If you want more details about implementing a Sales Funnel, check out my guide to Sales Funnels. There are some excellent tips in there and some valuable external resources.
Ease your SEO strategy
By doing your Keyword Research ahead of time, your SEO sweeps become a cinch. The SEO expert on your team will complete their tasks with less time crunch. Usually, this yields better-quality keywords with more accurate research. Typically, this means you will get more benefits from the work long-term.
With your SEO tasks completed more efficiently, your overall SEO strategy will be able to flourish. Other components of a complete SEO plan will get more attention. This will make your overall SEO strategy provide more benefit to your blog.
Complete SEO strategies have many components that work together for the best results!
For instance, more focus can be placed on your audience and their intent. Extra attention can be given to the critical parts of your Sales Funnel, like lead magnets. With an audience having higher purchase intent being driven to your blog, you will undoubtedly generate more income.
More time can be spent analyzing your traffic, traffic sources, and general analytics. You can understand where your audience is coming from, what they are looking for, where they are going, and how they interact with your content. Typically extra focus here will optimize the user path through your Sales Funnel, again meaning more income.
Time can be dedicated to Technical SEO, like the structure & size of your pages, the schema information you provide to crawlers, the actual indexing & crawling process, and other highly technical parts of holistic SEO. These items are all critical to reaching the top of the SERPs, and focusing on them will yield benefits in that direction.
Having a Keyword Research powered Content Calendar will afford you this shift in focus of your SEO. It will guide you to a complete SEO strategy, leading to faster growth and more income.
Prevent duplicate content
Ideally, each new article should drive new audience members to your blog. Users want to find the information they seek without resistance or confusion. You can avoid this confusion, and potential frustration, by ensuring you do not duplicate content.
With duplicate content, the SERPs for your pages might become incorrectly prioritized. When users are not brought directly to the content they need, they can get frustrated or even angry. In the best-case scenario, the user bounces from your site (usually considered a negative). A worst-case scenario could be a user so mad that they report your blog to the search engine, which could lead to delisting. A high bounce rate lowers your SERPs, meaning less traffic.
Duplicate content can damage your domain authority and user rapport.
Domain authority can also be impacted. Flooding your blog with the same content will make it confusing for Search Engines to understand which page is the correct resource. This confusion extends to your potential backlinkers because they might also be confused about which content should be linked.
With a Content Calendar, preventing duplicate content becomes effortless. You will have a complete record of which content was published, what keywords were used, and when it was published. When planning future content: you can reference this list of topics and keywords. This will help you avoid any overlap. Having a calendar will enable you to bypass the “duplicate content” trap, but it will help you reach more new audience members and cover more related topics they search for.
Increase publishing frequency
With a Content Calendar, you will see improved execution speed and publishing frequency potential. Doing this Keyword Research ahead of time makes the various tasks on your blog run smoothly. The people doing the work will be able to manage their time more efficiently because they know what to work on.
With the team moving faster, you will see higher productivity and higher-quality work. Less ad-hoc coordination will be required for each team member to make progress. Fewer interruptions translate to more focused work time. More focus usually results in a faster pace of work or better work. Either result can be a big boon for the growth of your blog.
Solid content generated at a faster pace will increase your visibility on SERPs.
Search engines weight publishing time as a high-ranking factor for some types of content. Content produced more recently will usually have a higher ranking in the results. Therefore, to gain higher SERPs, publishing more frequently will get the most bang for your buck. With a small team, that might be impossible without a Content Calendar or sufficient Keyword Research.
Spot content gaps faster
Content Gaps are missed opportunities for your blog. A gap usually means plenty of users searching for things related to your blog, but they are not being directed to it because you are not ranking for their search terms. With a Content Calendar, you can more easily spot these gaps!
As mentioned before, with this calendar done correctly, you will have a list that can be referenced during all phases of your blog. It contains all the titles and keywords you have used in the past. This “starting list” of keywords will make finding similar searches effortless.
Filling Content Gaps can drive more qualified audience members to your blog.
Throw some of them into the Ahrefs Keyword Generator tool to find more potential topics to write about. Each new keyword could give you access to more customers looking for products like yours. With more eyes on your blog, there is more opportunity to sell a high-value item to the masses, meaning more income.
Organize your team
A Content Calendar helps you organize your team. Your team should be able to glance at the calendar and quickly understand what tasks they have today and in the coming days. Typically, you will not have to micromanage them to keep them on task because they have line items they can reference.
Teams stay on task when they can reference a Content Calendar for scheduling.
The highest productivity hits come from employees who lack direction or are given under-specified tasks. With Keyword Research built into your Content Calendar, you can solve both problems. Employees will know what to work on and have all the information they need to do that work. They will spend less time flailing and more time working.
Pssst… Whether you outsource your writing or do it yourself, you still need a writing tool to help make the content the best. Check out my suggestion of the best writing tool out there.
An organized team will produce higher-quality work. That next-level content will catapult you to the top of SERPs. Having higher SERPs means you have more traffic. An increase in visitors means you have higher income potential!
9+ Keyword Research tips for a Content Calendar
Starting my blog has been a learning experience. My research has included several different sources, each giving me a new tip to incorporate into my workflow. With the melting pot of information, I now understand several tips I wish I had known from the beginning. I truly believe these tips can help most people running a blog, and I hope they help you too!
Let’s start with some places to find keywords.
1. Keyword Research: Wikipedia
When many people suggest where to find keywords, there is a fantastic source that most overlook. Wikipedia is an excellent resource that is already organized for human consumption! Think about it for a moment. When you read an article on Wikipedia, it is usually covering one broad topic. Now think about how that page is organized.
Near the top of the content, you see a Table of Contents. Look at the TOC, and you will see several “focus topics” directly related to the main topic. Each has a sub-heading dedicated to them, with its own mini-post embedded. Guess what?
Those sub-headings can sometimes be keywords!
Each heading might be about a related point to the main topic or focus material for a specific part of it. Both of those categories qualify as excellent additional keywords. What’s more, each heading might have a link to another article dedicated to that related topic. In that linked article, there might be more sub-headings that could be used as keywords!
Let’s see an example of the “Physics” page on Wikipedia.
Looking at the TOC here, we can see several associated topics! Items #1.1 – #1.5 are all Physics eras and could easily be converted into related keywords. Under #5, each of those headings represents foundational physics topics. Even under #5.4, there is a list of branches of Physics! These are all excellent keywords!
This same method can be used for almost any topic out there. Plug your niche topic into Wikipedia and see if you can find some related keywords this way. I bet you do!
2. Keyword Research: Related searches (Google)
I have been searching on Google since it was launched. There have been tons of iterations for the results pages since then. Until recently, when I read this tip elsewhere, I had not contemplated using Google results pages to get more relevant keywords. As it turns out, this is a pretty FIRE way to find quality keywords for your Content Calendar!
Google politely tells you other similar keywords that people are already searching for!
These keywords are found at the bottom of the first page. They manifest as “chips,” each with a related keyword having search traffic. Look at this screenshot for an example:
As you can see, there are several strong keyword suggestions here! Pick the ones you think are relevant to your content and add them to the calendar. Each one deserves additional content dedicated to it because real people are searching for them. These quantifiable searches usually indicate more potential audience members could be routed to your blog. Leverage them to level up your traffic!
Pro-Tip: You can even take each of these, put them back into Google, and find more related keywords! Try this for several layers deep to build out an entire keyword tree. This one tip could build out your keyword list with only a few minutes of effort!
3. Keyword Research: GSC high-impression, low-click
If you have not signed up yet, I highly recommend starting your Google Search Console (GSC) account! It is free and gives you a direct communication line with Google. You can glean valuable information from this tool which can catapult your blog to the upper echelon of search results. Importantly, it can tell you which keywords you are ranking for, and some general stats around those rankings.
Using these stats, you can identify new keywords that deserve their own content!
That’s right! Google tells you, for free, which keywords your pages already rank for, even the ones you did not specifically focus on! You can use these to build out your Content Calendar! The list is comprehensive, possibly containing thousands of keywords for which you rank. To get the most use out of this list, you will want to identify a specific group of these keywords.
In that list, you want to find the keywords that have a low number of clicks and a disproportionately high number of impressions. When you see this pattern in the numbers, it is time to start looking a little closer. Usually, this means your content is high-quality. It typically also means your content is ranking, just not ranking on the first page of results.
This is an opportunity! Writing content focused on this keyword will raise your rank even faster! Let’s look at an example!
First, look at all of the numbers. It seems like many of them are higher than 10%. These keywords are probably first-page ranked. However, if you look at the highlighted one, it comes out to less than 5%. This, on the other hand, is not first-page ranked. As new content is written using “how do blogs make money” as the focus keyword, the rank for that keyword will skyrocket faster.
When I started using this tool, it was amazing to see how quickly I could gather a list of keywords to potentially use. Each item on the list still needed its typical Keyword Research. I still had to rank them from most valuable to least. But this tip cut down my Keyword Research time significantly. Also, I strongly encourage you to explore GSC if you have not already! It has so many powerful tools for understanding how Google sees your site.
4. High-value keywords first
So you have done your Keyword Research. You are almost ready to plug them into a Content Calendar and realize the gains we mentioned earlier. Great! What’s next?
Sort your keywords and focus content around the highest-value ones first!
To do this, we need to figure out how to rank the keywords so they can be sorted. Ranking them depends on your personal preferences and your goals. I will share part of my strategy so you can get an idea of how to do this.
This is an example of preliminary Keyword Research. Here is a quick breakdown of each column:
- Keyword – The potential phrase to use for new content.
- KD – The “Keyword Difficulty” as reported by Ahrefs.
- Volume – The number of monthly searches yielding clicks.
- CPC – The top value for ad placements on searches, as reported by Google Keyword Planner.
- #1-5 Rank DA – The top 5 position Domain Authority rank, reported by Ahrefs.
These columns represent the minimum information you should be gathering for each keyword. Plenty of other values exist which could help your ranking system, but each of these columns should have at least some impact on your decision. For my blog, I take these numbers (mixed with a few others) and calculate a Rank for each.
Here are some things I personally consider when calculating my formula:
- Lower KD usually means it will be easier to rank.
- The lower the average of the Top 5 sites currently ranking, the better.
- A higher volume usually means more traffic, which can be a bonus.
- However, a lower volume means that the users I do get are probably more likely to be buyers.
- A higher CPC means advertisers think searchers will pay for a product, which is better for me.
Converting that into a formula is a bit trickier. I find that breaking it down into smaller parts makes it easier to understand. Here is a possible fully broken down formula:
avg_top_rank = SUM(E2:I2) / 5 kd_divisor = IF(OR(E2 <= 50, F2 <= 50, G2 <= 50, H2 <= 50, I2 <= 50), 100, 50) base_points = 10,000 kd_weight = (50 - (avg_top_rank - 50)) / kd_divisor volume_weight = MIN(C2/7000, 1) cpc_weight = MIN(D2/10, 1) rank = base_points * kd_weight * (volume_weight + cpc_weight) complete_formula: =7000 * ((50-((SUM(E2:I2)/5)-50))/IF(OR(E2<=50,F2<=50,G2<=50,H2<=50,I2<=50), 50, 100)) * (MIN(C2/7000, 1) + MIN(D2/10, 1))
A lot going on, so let’s break it down:
- avg_top_rank – This is the average DA for #1-5 Rank DA values (columns e-i).
- kd_divisor – A KD less than or equal to 50 should get a boost. If there is at least one top-5 DA of less than 50, the ranking will be twice as high as keywords without.
- base_points – I give all keywords 10k starting points.
- kd_weight – This calculation uses kd_divisor to calculate a ratio that promotes lower KD keywords.
- volume_weight – Volume matters but only up to 7k visits. Anything more is superfluous.
- cpc_weight – Generally, higher CPC means higher paying customers. I consider anything more than $10 is overkill.
- rank – This calculates the final Rank value. Notice that volume_weight and cpc_weight are added together here. I am trying to describe that lower volume, but high CPC usually means the searchers are more valuable to my bottom line.
- complete_formula – A copy-paste version of this formula for Google Sheets.
Remember, this formula is an example. It is similar to the one that works for me. Your calculation will probably be different. Maybe you do not put as much stock in CPC value and want it to affect your ranking differently. Or perhaps you want your volume to be uncapped. Some might even think the current top rankers do not matter at all. Feel free to change this to find your perfect ranking.
Once you have that ranking, it is time to sort your list. Remember you should rank them from best score to worst score. Google Sheets allows you to sort the sheet by any column effortlessly. Here is what my example looks like after sorting:
Keywords near the top should appear earlier on your Content Calendar. Lower keywords should appear later. This example Keyword Research only has ten potential keywords, but yours should probably have more than 100 since you would ideally make a Content Calendar for six months. Regardless you should figure out how to measure each keyword’s value (through a ranking as described above). Focus on the highest-ranking keywords first. They will have the most impact on your blog.
5. Track relevant data on the calendar
I have read many of the Content Calendar articles out there. Most of these posts tell you to do Keyword Research and add an entry on your Content Calendar for the day you want to publish the content. However, you can get more out of your calendar if you put more into it. What does this mean?
Your Content Calendar should provide everything your team needs.
Adding as much information as possible to the Content Calendar keeps your team working at a high velocity. Here are the things I suggest putting on it:
- The Focus Keyword and the Secondary Keyword to write the content around.
- An SEO-friendly title and URL-slug. I like using Rank Math for this.
- Create a Google Doc with a possible heading hierarchy. Add the link to the Content Calendar.
- Be clear about how many words you expect the content to contain.
- Mention the number of internal and external links you expect the article to have.
- Make a time slot for the delivery time of each of these:
- Indicate when writing should be complete.
- Indicate when the infographic design should be complete.
- Indicate when editing of the article should be complete.
- Indicate when the last pass of an SEO audit should be complete.
- If you have a large team, ensure each time slot has the relevant employee’s name.
- Write down contact information for any required external contacts, like experts of guests.
The idea is to make sure that your team has what they need ahead of time. By doing this, you enable them to work quickly but efficiently. They can move fast but maintain a high degree of quality. Here is an example of a Content Calendar that uses this technique:
Notice that each item has an identical color. Each also has a shared prefix “Content #127 -” before the name of the job. Each job has its delivery date. There are even two different jobs sharing a delivery date.
Clicking on each item brings up the details page. The details contain vital information about the article which we discussed earlier. We can see the “writing” item is assigned to @eapoe. Each task for this content has a similar assignment.
In this example, I use Google Calendar. There are many tools for creating a Content Calendar (note to self: make a post about the best tools). Read about them and try them if you like. My example is only meant to demonstrate that even commonplace free tools can be used. As long as you can add all the vital information, whichever app you choose should suffice.
6. Have team meetings
Imagine you have a great team. Everyone is at the top of their field. Their skill levels mean they work quickly and efficiently. Yet they always seem to be stumbling to complete things on time. When you talk to them, most indicate they feel under-informed on the whole timeline. They also indicate they frequently think they have more time than they actually do. Some say they cannot find the information they need to complete the tasks.
That was me at more than one previous job. You solve this through communication. A good start is putting as much information as possible on your Content Calendar, as I mentioned earlier in #6. Another good step is to have frequent team meetings to get everyone on the same page. You could also invest a little bit of money into a corporate chat app, like Slack.
The most important thing is to communicate.
Ensure that all team members know what they are working on. Also, ensure team members who rely on each other’s work can coordinate to unblock each other. Encourage communication on the team and there will be a productivity increase.
My teams typically prefer a weekly Zoom meeting and daily chat updates. This offers a balance between communication and productivity time. Too many meetings can be bad. Having them sparingly is a good policy. Nobody likes a micromanager.
7. Quality > Quantity
One or Two well-written, link-rich, infographic-littered, SEO-optimized posts a week are preferred to ten grammatically incorrect, anchor-less, image-barren, keyword-less articles, at least from Google’s perspective. Google wants to promote content that users find valuable.
Google wants your content to link to other content, contain information related to your keywords, have graphical information in the form of pictures, and have incoming links from other sites. Users, on the other hand, want to see content that they can understand. When you have poorly written, low-quality content, users feel like they cannot trust you. Without user trust, there will be fewer incoming links and fewer incoming users.
It is equally important to impress your users as compared to impressing Google.
Remember, those people will be your customers. Customers interact with businesses they trust. Trust is what keeps loyal customers too. Build that trust through quality content, accurate information, and valuable products that solve their problems. Build a community that people like enough to tell others about.
8. Audit your calendar monthly
A Content Calendar is meant to be a guide and a rough schedule to keep everyone on track. It also needs to be flexible. Life is happening all around us. Things change daily. Because of this, your Content Calendar is more like a living document. It should be able to change.
Anything can change in six months!
Maybe a new software is released, rendering some of your planned content obsolete. What if a world event happened that fundamentally affected your niche? Perhaps you discover some new keywords that are relevant to your content. Maybe someone invented something which creates a new branch of your content.
Even if none of these things happen, your Content Calendar deserves an audit. There could be new opportunities out there for your content. You will never know about those opportunities unless you dedicate time to an audit.
9. Have evergreen content on-deck
No Content Calendar is complete without backup content. Teams are made up of humans. Humans have lives, and nobody’s life is perfect. The unexpected happens more often than we care to admit. When it does, your Content Calendar timeline can fall behind.
Your team might miss some delivery dates. Your users might complain because they expect new content to be released regularly. Without people working on the content, there is no way you can distribute anything new. Or can you?
The most important thing is to keep some unpublished content ready to publish.
Always having some backup, evergreen content ready to publish will ensure you can continuously release content, even while mishaps afflict your team. I have seen this keep an audience engaged time and time again. Of course, the evergreen content should be relevant to your niche. It still needs to have the same high-quality writing and infographics. It still requires proper Keyword Research.
Having content on deck for release is vital to maintaining an ongoing stream of new information for your users to consume. Users grow to expect new content, especially if they enjoy it. Keeping them engaged is imperative to push them down your Sales Funnel. The more hooked they are, the more income they will generate for you.
We reviewed the benefits you can reap from creating a Content Calendar using solid Keyword Research as a foundation. I shared some tips that could ease the pains of creating that calendar. You might have also gained some insight into keeping your team productive.
Combining these tips with your existing knowledge could give you the upper hand when managing your blog. Gains in SERP rankings and traffic could be realized by incorporating these tips. What will you do next? The choice is yours!