Taking a strategic view of content means you must understand the body of work you need to create over time to turn your content efforts into an asset that will serve your business over the long term. Waking up on Monday morning and deciding what to write about on your blog that day is not a content strategy.

Content is such an essential element in the marketing puzzle you must plan your content like you might your promotional calendar or budget for the year. This means applying the same kind of keyword, competitive, and linking research that most associate with SEO to your editorial approach.

And, that’s the point really. In order for your content to pay dividends it must help drive traffic, shares, influence, and conversion. You can’t do that if you’re constantly writing off the cuff. Here’s how to painlessly streamline your strategic approach.


Find Your Themes

The first step is to start making a list of your most important themes. I generally try to find three core themes and about nine supplemental themes.  

Your core themes are the kinds of things that might be found on your homepage or even in the title attribute of your home page. Or perhaps the main navigational elements of your site. For example, if you run a bakery, your core themes may be “bakery” “artisan bread” or “bakery cafe.”

Your supplemental themes round out the list and while not as important, certainly make fodder for your ongoing blogging efforts. Supplemental themes for your bakery might include specific products like “pastry,” “bread,” “cupcakes,” or “treats."

Start with brainstorming. Lock yourself away, and start thinking about the kinds of things people ask about the most, where you make your most money, or where you see the greatest opportunities in your industry. This is often enough to create a good start to your list.

Now take that list to the Google Keyword Planner, and see if you can find themes that have significant volume. You must balance key terms with being too generic, though.

From this work, you should have developed a dozen or so candidates for your monthly themes.


Researching Topics

Now that I have my terms, I want to get more specific ideas for actual topics I might map to each month.

For this task, I lean pretty heavily on a tool called Buzzsumo, a tool that shows you the most shared content for any term you put into its search box. (Note: this can be a URL as well if, for example, you want to see most shared content on a competitor’s site.)

I use it to uncover actual highly shared blog posts around each of my themes so I can get some solid ideas for my own content and see what types of things get shared the most by others.


Now Create Your Calendar

By this point, I have a pretty good amount of content identified to fill in my plan, so it’s time to find a tool to document a plan and calendar. You can use any spreadsheet to document your themes across twelve months, and then simply add the elements of your platform – blog, podcast, guest posts, eBooks, etc. Then you set your goals for how much content you want in each element each month.

In order to get the most from your content, you should plan in advance. A calendar will make your content creation much easier.