By Rachel Markey | April 20, 2021
As we covered in our post about blog best practices, cranking out content that seems intuitively relevant won’t yield the results you’d get from taking a more strategic approach to your content marketing plan. Let’s explore some of the techniques to use when building your blog topic calendar.
Choosing Your Tools
Ideally, you’ll want to use a combination of several tools when conducting keyword research and choosing blog topics. A good content strategist will know how to take insights from several different tools and apply their knowledge of the unique client and industry to identify the perfect angle for a topic that will cut through the noise and strike audiences just right.
Shorttail vs. Longtail Keywords
Before we dive into the specifics of SEO tools, let’s define some keyword terms you’ve likely come across in your research.
- Shorttail Keyword– A one- or two-word phrase. These tend to have higher search volume with less specificity.
- Longtail Keyword– Three- to five-word phrases. These have lower search volume with higher degrees of specificity.
Types of Tools
There are different kinds of keywords, and there are comparatively different kinds of tools that can be used—in combination with critical thinking—to make the best decisions about the direction of your longform content.
- Keyword research tools like Moz and SEMrush will help you identify which words competitors are using (and ranking for) on their sites. That knowledge will show you where the opportunity lies, because you can more easily see the areas of differentiation between your brand and your competitors. Can you compete directly in an area? Or perhaps there’s a niche for you to fill.
- Content research tools like answer the public can show you how certain words are being used in longtail search queries. Many queries may not be relevant to your brand, but using these tools are a great way to spark ideas that might just gain some traction!
Quality of Tools
With tons of tools on the market, it can be tough to know which to choose. Here are some facets to consider as you select your tools:
- Range– Does the tool pull from a range of search engines? Use different algorithms? Measure a range of users?
- Accuracy– How current is the information in the reports? Does the tool update monthly to keep pace with search engine upgrades?
- Organic vs. Paid– Does the tool show insights for both SEO and ad results? Depending on your overall campaign, you likely will need to see results for both and have a tool that can offer those results.
Remember: Tools Aren’t Everything!
Ther’s no single tool that will tell you the best way to reach your audience. It’s important to remember that tools are just that… tools. They’re meant to give you (the human) information that will help you make an informed decision about a strategic direction forward. But there will always be an element of human intelligence required.
Before you even begin your keyword research, you should gain a deep understanding of your client, their industry, and how they stack up against competitors.
Remember: SEO Isn’t Just About Keywords.
Everything affects SEO: the links on your page, the images you choose, the meta data added… even how the site is built will impact the effectiveness of your blog’s ability to compete on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). So, the best content marketing plans are a collaborative effort across your writing, design, technology, and sales teams.
A Final Observation
Even though extensive keyword and industry research may not sound exciting, completing both of those steps before outlining a content plan can actually help generate ideas you might not have thought of otherwise. So, not only will your content be more relevant and effective but rolling out a research process before you begin your planning will prevent the dreaded writer’s block or topic fatigue. Industries are always changing. There are always new angles to explore. But the only way you’ll know what’s trending is by digging into the data a little bit. And doing so will provide the satisfaction of knowing that there is real purpose behind your content as it serves to help you reach your client’s goals.