The content calendar (or publication calendar) is a very useful tool to gain regularity and efficiency in your online publications. In this article, you will find practical advice from our experience on the following topics:
- why it is recommended to use a content calendar
- how to create your content calendar in 5 steps
- an example of a content calendar (ours!)
After each summer, I ask myself the same question: what will I publish on the blog in the fall? This question is crucial since the frequency and regularity of publication are decisive factors for your SEO and, therefore, for your inbound marketing. For this fall, we decided to test a new editorial calendar to improve our SEO and be more efficient. This article explains our approach and reveals our trick to gain efficiency. We will mainly talk about its application in the context of a blog, but all the advice we give perfectly applies to social networks or other distribution channels.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a chart in which you write what you will publish and when.
It has 2 advantages:
- to force the regularity of publication (important for the algorithms to recommend your content whatever the platform)
- identify in advance the events not to be missed so that your publications are in phase with the news (and that your audience is positively impacted)
You can use an editorial calendar in several contexts:
- social networks
In the rest of this article, I’ll mainly discuss a blog’s content calendar. This is indeed what I think is the most complex.
Why use a content calendar?
The content calendar is an effective tool to ensure publication regularity and increase publication frequency. These 2 factors are very important for SEO, as our blog statistics show.
As you can see below, between 2019 and 2022:
- I have multiplied by 4 the number of referring websites (from 700 to 2700)
- I multiplied by 10 the traffic
This dramatic improvement is due to changes implemented from May 2020:
- increase my publication frequency to 5 articles/week
- increase the length of my posts by 10.6%: 1029 words/post on average in 2019 against 1139 words/post in 2022.
The effects are visible on the graph. The takeoff occurred around January 2021, that is to say, about 6 months after I implemented the frequency and length changes. However, I couldn’t keep the pace of 5 articles / per week. So, I returned to my normal publishing frequency, i.e., 3 articles/week.
Because to keep the rhythm, you need to have inspiration. And that’s where most content creators stall. To avoid this problem, we are testing the editorial calendar starting in the fall.
How to make a content calendar in 5 steps?
I’m not going to give you a lecture on how to create a publication calendar. The advice I provide below is what we do internally.
Step 1: define your objectives
We advise you to define 2 numerical objectives:
- number of unique visitors in 12 months
- number of referring domains in 6 months
To quantify these objectives, you need to know the number of current visitors (think of placing a Google Analytics tag).
To know the number of referring domains, go to https://checkpagerank.net/.
Step 2: Define your keywords
Identify the keywords that meet 3 criteria:
- they generate a significant volume of visits
- they are not too competitive
- they are related to your editorial line
Make a list of these 10 to 20 keywords. They will constitute the core of all your publications.
To find these keywords, you must use a tool such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, or SEO Majestic. All 3 tools are paying but propose free trial periods that will be sufficient to do the keyword research. However, if you need help, contact us. We propose an SEO audit at 499€ excluding VAT for small and medium businesses.
Step 3: Identify the dates of important events in your sector of activity
There are undoubtedly some key events in your sector of activity. These events generate high search volumes on certain keywords during a short period. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to get traffic to your website. Identify these events to position them on your publication calendar.
For our market research, SIAL is a trade show that we visit every 2 years to understand the food market. This event generates a lot of research in advance, so we have a series of specific publications to capitalize on it.
Step 4: Define your publication frequency
The minimum is to publish once weekly, ideally every working day of the week.
Define fixed deadlines for your publications. Here are some examples:
- every 1st working day of each month
- every Tuesday and Thursday
- every 15th of the month
There is no best time to publish on a blog. The traffic on your website depends on:
- the searches of the Internet users
- the indexation of the new pages of your website by Google
Step 5: Fill out your content calendar
The last step is to fill in the content calendar.
In front of each deadline, write a topic to be covered or, even better, the article’s title.
Structuring your publishing schedule by article type allows you to develop routines, gain efficiency and reduce stress.
An example of our editorial calendar
For September 2022, we wanted to create a very rigorous content calendar.
So, we decided to publish every day of the week. To keep this rhythm, we decided that we would allocate each day to a type of article:
- Monday: scientific article review
- Tuesday: “7 things to know”, “8 incredible things”, …
- Wednesday: point of view on current events
- Thursday: analysis of a market
- Friday: guest article
I think this division by article type is important. Structuring your publishing schedule by article type allows you to develop routines and gain efficiency and less stress.
Here’s what our editorial calendar looks like for the first few weeks.
As you can see, the content calendar is still very simple in its form. We made it in Google Drive so that each member of the IntoTheMinds team can modify it.
Some people advocate publishing calendars with a lot of information (volume, distribution channel, etc…). Our previous experiences show that the more information there is, the less complete it is. In the end, keep this tool as simple as possible if you want it to be effective.
A few concluding words
The regularity of publication is one of the keys to success in increasing your audience. This is an absolute rule that applies regardless of the distribution channel.
This regularity depends on your work discipline, but not only. The anguish of the blank page or a peak of work can undermine the discipline of the most seasoned content creators. The publication calendar then becomes a useful anticipation tool.