Creating a Content Calendar: Content Audit and Mapping Keywords
Table of Contents
In today’s article, we’re going to dig into mapping keywords to content. This is a crucial, often forgotten step when it comes to a solid SEO process.
Before we get into this topic, let’s recap where we’ve been. My earlier articles have included:
If you haven’t read these articles, I’d recommend you do so now. They will provide a strong foundation for our keyword mapping discussion.
What is Keyword Mapping?
First things first. What is keyword mapping? It’s simply the process of assigning a specific keyword to an individual piece of content on your website or blog. It is the formulation of a content plan.
It is really that simple in theory, but oh so important to real-life content marketing and SEO.
Here are four reasons why this process is so critical:
- You are creating a roadmap for Google by showing the search engine which piece of content relates to a given search phrase.
- The easier you make it on Google to find and identify your content, the greater chance you have at landing on page one of search results.
- You don’t want to make Google question what piece of content should appear for a given search phrase. Having a plan guarantees you keep things easy for Google, and when things are easy for them, it’s more likely your content will rank
- Having a plan also keeps you focused on writing content that will be oriented towards your target market, their needs, and the ways you can help them.
Mapping keyword phrases is an area where most website owners and bloggers fail. While many do perform keywords research, they fail to create a plan based on their newfound data.
Planning is very important to SEO success. It’s why we are spending so much time talking about keywords and editorial plans before ever writing or optimizing content.
Now before we jump ahead of ourselves with keyword mapping, we need to perform a content audit to make sure our map considers all datapoints available.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is a process of documenting a list of your existing content and assessing it for strengths and weaknesses. This inventory list and assessment will help you assign keywords and prioritize future marketing activities.
When performed correctly, a good content audit will help you to answer questions about the content pieces on your site and it will also offer a number of other benefits.
For me, this is a mind-numbing task. It’s totally boring but necessary. Since it’s not entirely fun, I’d like to start by stating why we want to go through this exercise.
A content audit will:
- Provide a comprehensive list of content that you may not be able to easily see in WordPress or other CMS solutions
- Force you to review and document existing focus keywords
- Force you to review existing keyword ranking, which can be a reality check
- Force you to review your social media activity
- Show the content search engines like and don’t like
- Help identify the content that is available for future keyword opportunities
- Generate ideas and/or a list of future content needs
How To Perform a Content Audit?
You can do a content audit fairly quickly if you have a small website or blog. If you have a large website or blog, the process will take some time.
Please keep in mind this will not be pleasant, but it is necessary. You can’t excel in SEO without going through this step.
1. Obtain a List of Your URLs
While you could potentially do this by going item by item inside your website or blog, you’ll lose your mind. Let’s take a shortcut by using a service like ScreamingFrog or DynoMapper. These software packages will crawl your entire website or blog and provide an Excel list of all URLs.
Once you have this output, create a spreadsheet of all of your pages, posts, categories, tags, and products (if they exist). I use Excel so I can sort the data once populated.
2. Collect More Data
Once we have our base list of content URLs, we’ll need to go through and evaluate each. Here are some data points we’ll want to collect:
- Page title
- Content type – page, post, product, category, tags, etc.
- Existing focus keyword (if available)
- Ranking in Google – Use Google Search Console or manually search Google
- Last update date
3. Look for Duplicate Keywords
Sort the spreadsheet by keyword so you can quickly locate duplicates. If you don’t have keywords already identified, you can sort the spreadsheet by page title and/or URL to also look for duplicates.
The key is to locate content or areas that could be confusing to humans or search engines.
4. Review Content Currently Ranking
Next, I’d like you to look at the actual content that is ranking. Ask yourself why. Common reasons might be:
- Low keyword search volume
- Low search competition
- Long content (like over 2,000 words)
- Lots of social sharing
- Great on-page optimization
- Multimedia (text, images, and video)
5. Add Comments
Add comments to the sheet on anything you found of interest. This could be documenting what you did right or what you did wrong. Anything you take away here will put you one step closer to ranking in search.
Also, make note of any content that needs to be rewritten, updated, or left alone. We’ll need this for the next steps.
That wasn’t so hard right? It’s really just a matter of organization, proper planning, and periodic self-checking.
Some Food for Thought on Mapping Keywords
We’ve come a long way and you’ve really learned a lot. I hope you feel empowered – you definitely should, because you know a lot more than when we started our SEO journey together.
And what’s even more important – you know the right things and not just a bunch of SEO jargon a consultant threw at you.
Let’s recap what we’ve done so far:
- Defined our target market for search
- Brainstormed and researched keywords
- Extracted applicable search volumes from Google
- Ranked our keywords in accordance with priority to our offering and target market
- Performed a content audit so we know what pages and posts are available to work with
Now let’s review what we still have left to do:
- Group our keywords by concepts and/or themes. This is going to vary a lot based on the industry and type of website. Because of this large variation, it is difficult for me to give specific instructions on this step because it really is different from one website or another.
- Identify keyword phrases that we want to target moving forward. When you look at your content audit, you’ll likely find desirable phrases that don’t have content or have weak content. Note these and keep an eye on them. They need to become part of your plan.
- Identify any existing content that can be used moving forward. This is simply flagging content that matches up to keywords. You’ll want to note if content needs more verbiage, needs a full revamp, or needs like updates.
- Match each keyword phrase to a specific URL on your website or blog. This is important. Every keyword you want to rank needs to have a URL assigned. This could be an existing URL or a future URL. The important detail here is that one keyword phrase is focused on only one URL. One URL can have many keywords, but one keyword should only have one URL.
- Assign content types such as page, post, category, tag, or product. Mark content for the type of information it is within the website. This will help you stay on task and see trends.
- Flag critical phrases that are must-have items. These should closely relate to content that will bring in conversions and revenue!
That above list is the process of mapping keywords to content. It will either seem easy or overwhelming. The larger the URL or keyword list, the more confusing it can be to execute it. But don’t give up! This is a critical step in your SEO planning.
Some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Remember User Intent – Think back to my hot dog example in the last article. Those are searches for different things and they have a different intent. Don’t lose sight of the user’s search intent as you move forward with mapping.
- Remember Content Silos – The content silo is a way to group like content and this group of content would have a parent-child relationship. Remember the silo option if your website is larger and you have competitive terms. The most competitive terms live at the top of the silo.
- Think About Noun vs. Verb – Nouns typically talk about people or things and these work well in the about section of a website, team pages that talk about people, or products. Verbs are actionable phrases and these tend to lend themselves well to services pages or educational articles (like this one).
- Limit High Volume Shorter Phrases – In most cases, these will be very competitive. Only pick a few of these and make sure you create really good cornerstone content for each phrase. A cornerstone piece of content would be something of high value to the visitor, informative, long by default, and worthy of gaining multiple inbound links from inside your website and external sources.
- Embrace Low Volume Long-Tail Phrases – Keyword phrases with multiple words and lower search volumes generally make really good focused phrases for blog posts.
- Remember Blog Categories Can Rank – If you have a great deal of content for a singular subject, consider optimizing blog categories and using the words article, posts, or such in the phrase. You can rank blog categories if they are well selected and optimized.
- Know That eCommerce Equals More Opportunities – Mapping of keywords should include the regular pages, posts, and categories as well as products, product categories, product tags, etc.
And finally, a warning message and reminders:
- You don’t need to rank on every variation of a given phrase.
- Stop yourself from wanting to create useless content so you can have a separate page for the singular and plural versions of a word or phrase.
- Focus on picking keywords and writing content that will rock one keyword phrase.
- You are better off being on page one for only one phrase than sitting on page five for ten different phrases.
Creating a Content Calendar
Creating an editorial calendar for your website or blog not only helps reduce stress, but it also helps you think about your content marketing and SEO at a much more strategic level. It will also help infuse consistency into your writing, which is very important for gaining a loyal audience.
At this point in our process, you have a great list of suitable keywords to use in your future writing. Now we need to weave that list into an editorial calendar.
Don’t panic. Remember an editorial calendar is essentially a planning document that gives you a plan of attack. That’s it.
You can create your calendar in virtually anything that works from Excel (above) to pen and paper or an automated solution like CoSchedule.
Editorial goals and objectives:
- Provide a place to generate post ideas and key topics
- Assign tasks to yourself or others on your team
- Create a publishing schedule that helps you maintain a consistency
- Visualize your content schedule and adjust as needed
Basic components of an editorial calendar:
- Content title
- Focused keyword
- Content type
- Publish date
- The owner (if more than one writer exists)
Types of content that create great blog posts and that can be applied to your editorial calendar:
- How to or tutorial
- Product and service announcements
- Your product features review
- Reviews of other people/company products or services
- Company news
- Event announcements
- Case studies
- Failures and how to avoid
- Worst advice to avoid
An editorial calendar should be a tool that is useful to you. And honestly, that’s it. It should help and not hinder your content writing efforts.
And You’re Done!
That’s it! You’ve done it. You’ve accomplished a lot and you should be proud.
Jumping ahead to content writing and skipping keyword research and mapping is a major SEO mistake. Just don’t do it!
Force yourself into slowing down and making a plan. I’ve worked with a lot of SEO clients who want to barrel ahead to content creation and changes and I refuse to do it. In the end, they see why, and they are thankful.
SEO is a process. It’s about research, planning, and execution. You can’t jump straight to execution and expect you’ll be a success. Instead, you have to go slow, move ahead with purpose, and always stay focused on your ultimate visitor.
Next up we’ll be talking about on-page and off-page SEO.
I’ve created an infographic to help keep you and the task. You can use this as you work through your SEO activities and as we continue our SEO journey together.