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Step 2: Content Planning

Step 2: Content Planning

Throughout this entire process you’ve (hopefully) been getting ideas for some killer articles to write for your blog.
Hold up -- what if you already have a bunch of articles you worked your hiney off on before you realized keywords were a thing?
If that’s you, then take the time here to go back over those articles and sprinkle keywords in where they make sense. This should be a process similar to the way you sprinkled keywords into your site content. If they are not in your keyword spreadsheet, make sure you check the difficulty on the terms you’re currently using in your articles before you replace them with your new favorites. You don’t want to accidentally replace something that was helping your rank.
If you’re starting from scratch or you finished sprucing up your old articles then it’s time to make a new spreadsheet to plan your content. That spreadsheet will have one article per row and columns for the title, keywords, links and other items.

Let’s talk strategy

There are a bunch of content strategies out there, but two main ideas:
First you can write a bunch of small articles, around 1,500 words each. This is a good strategy for businesses that have a variety of keyword topics, multiple customer personas, or you just don’t have the time to write all your content at once. This is a good strategy for most people just starting out.

The Skyscraper Method

The other option is to use the Skyscraper Method. For this one you write one mammoth article of 10,000 words or more. This method is great for SaaS businesses that have the time to do a bunch of research up front and are focused on a single topic or idea. If after doing your keyword research you came to the conclusion that there was one clear article idea that was massively powerful like Jafar from Aladdin while all the others were basically just the sidekick parrot Iago without the annoying voice then this method is a good way to go.
If you’re going this route, you’re going to be on a journey that lies outside the guidance for this book, but I will leave you with some tips to send you on your way.
    1.
    Plan a backlink campaign. This method will set you up to generate great backlinks thus boosting your ranking.
    2.
    Write smaller supporting articles and link them all to the main article.
    3.
    Promote your main article all over the place.
    4.
    Research the skyscraper SEO strategy. This article is a good place to start.
If this is your mission, I do still recommend you read the next section as it will help you formulate a content plan, though it still needs to be tailored.
Before we get started, a visual might be nice. Here’s an example of a real life content plan.

Adding keywords to your plan

You might think titles come first, but..nope. Go back to your handy dandy keyword groups and pick out 3 keywords per article idea. They should all be high value (meaning low difficulty) and directly related to the main idea of the article.
Make sure you put these in order of priority, with the keyword of the highest value or that is most directly related to the article topic first and the second and third keywords supporting that topic even if the wording is different.
For our example I might plan an article with these keywords:
    1.
    Wedding dance lessons
    2.
    Private dance lessons for couples
    3.
    Compare wedding dance lessons

Article titles

Turning your ideas into titles might be simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The reason this wasn’t the first step is you will need to include your main keyword in your title. Not only does your title need to contain your main keyword, it needs to be catchy.
For ideas on titles, run a Google search to see what other people are using for their titles. Here are a few that I saw:
    1.
    Wedding Dance Lessons Atlanta, GA – Private Couples Lessons
    2.
    Atlanta Dance Lessons & Wedding Dance Instruction - mywedding.com
    3.
    The 5 Best Wedding Dance Lessons Near Me (with Free Estimates)
Looks like most everyone is going with location specific content, yet upon further inspection most of those guys have written about a paragraph.

My title is going to be either

    1.
    How To Find Wedding Dance Lessons For A First Dance You’ll Never Forget
    2.
    An Insider’s Guide to Choosing the Best Wedding Dance Lessons
The first one is good because the keyword is closer to the beginning, but it’s a little long, so it will probably be cut off. The second one is good because it’s catchy, but I might change “An Insider’s” to something else.
Remember, keywords get your article seen on search results, but your title is the thing that earns the clicks. So don’t be afraid to mull it over.

LSI keywords

This is the part of the infomercial where Billy Mays says “But wait there’s more!” As soon as your brain turns to mashed potatoes it’s time to find your LSI keywords. Those are Latent Search Index keywords and you’ve seen them before. They hang out at the bottom of the first page of a google search as “Searches related to…”
Now that you have your three main keywords for your article you should pick out 2 or three LSI keywords to go along with them. There are a few systems you can use to grab these. I like LSI Graph (which is not a graph at all). Plug in your article’s main keyword and choose a few LSI keywords from the list to sprinkle into your writing. Add those to your content spreadsheet and of course check the difficulty if you’re torn between a few.

Resources

I add resources into my content plan, not because I am going to link to them, but for my writer (sometimes that’s me) to reference. Each article is going to require some research and resources will help you flesh out your outline and points to hit. I always add in the current site ranking at the top for my main keyword so I know what I need to beat. I also add any articles that my competitors wrote that were done well so I don’t miss any major talking points.

Links

Any good article should have links of two types, optimized and non-optimized. You should strive for a 50/50 balance as much as possible.
Optimized links are links in which the anchor text (aka. The text that you’re linking to a URL) is the same or very close to one of your keywords.

Here’s an example snippet from my pretend article:

Your first dance as a married couple is one of the most memorable moments that you’ll share not only with your new spouse, but with friends and family. It can be tough to decide, but if you compare wedding dance lessons nearby, you can be sure you’re choosing the right instructor for your budget and schedule as well as your dance style.
What would I link that to? Probably a page on my site that lets people compare dance lessons. If that’s not a thing, I could link this text to an third party article that explains how to compare wedding dance lessons. If your link leads to a third-party article you should make sure it’s not written by a competitor.
Non-optimized links are those that use anchor text that is not one of your keywords. That could be anything from “learn more in this article” to “take the dance style quiz.” Like optimized links it’s awesome if you can link to another article or page on your site (internal link), but if not, linking to a third party source (external link) will do just fine. There is no secret ratio for internal vs external links, but try and have a good mix.
PROTIP: The most important factor in linking is that the page you’re linking to is clearly and directly related to it’s anchor text and that everything is relevant to your overall article topic.
Weighing importance: Cornerstone content
Some articles are going to be more important to your cause than others and that’s the way it should be. Your overall content plan should resemble a pyramid with the home page at the top, cornerstone content just below that, major articles below that, and long-tail keyword content at the bottom. Even if you don’t formally introduce the pyramid into your strategy, you should determine what articles will be your cornerstone content (ie. your most in depth articles on your most essential topics.)
Your internal link structure should follow this pyramid patterns as well with links from the bottom upward and from the top downward.

Putting it all together

Once you have your articles planned out you’ll need to determine the order of the postings. Does one article build on the previous? Is there a topic you visit twice, but in different ways? Are there a few articles you know inside out and could get done with tomorrow? These are some of the things that will help you determine the best order to write and post your content in.
You’ll also want to think about your schedule. Are you able to make a commitment to post one article a week? One a month? Or are you planning to write 10 articles before you launch and put them all up at once and take it from there? The point here is to figure out what you’re going to realistically be able to do and commit to it. You can always change your schedule later, but it kills your opportunity to build a returning reader base if you post 3 articles a month and then take a 6 month hiatus.
Last modified 2yr ago