5 Steps to Successfully Map Your Content Strategy for the New Year

With the holidays nearly upon us, you’re likely planning meals, making lists of gifts to buy, coordinating family visits, and much more. Each of these tasks involves some level of preparedness, and without proper planning, things can become stressful in a hurry.


The same type of stress can happen if content strategies aren’t ready for the year ahead. In this post, we will walk through a five-step process for mapping out organic search-friendly content well in advance so last-minute stress can be kept at bay. The sections we will cover include:

  • Identifying Keywords and Keyword Themes
  • Assigning Quarters to Themes
  • Balancing Themes Throughout the Year
  • Aligning Content Themes with Content Types
  • Paying Attention to Average Shares Per Social Network

Step 1: Identify Keywords and Keyword Themes

To develop an organic search-friendly content marketing strategy, you must first have a core set of keywords that are a focus of the business. We have covered this topic on our blog (here, here, and here) in depth, so please visit our posts for in-depth strategic advice on this initiative.

Once the keyword list has been finalized (including long-tail varieties), start grouping them into themes. Note: These themes may be your core business offerings and alignment is encouraged. With your themes in hand, select a few that you’d like to focus on throughout the course of the year (each quarter). Also, remember to get input from across the organization to ensure your core focus themes align with the goals of the various business divisions.

Step 2: Assign a Quarter of the Year to Each Theme

If you know your business and seasonal search traffic well, consider these patterns as you assign quarters of the year where the keywords have the highest search visibility. If you aren’t 100% sure, or simply want data to back your ideas, consider using a tool like Google Trends to identify peak times in terms of search traffic. Remember to look at a large enough data set (more than a year) to ensure your seasonality truly is a pattern or trend.

Note: There’s a chance a search theme is relatively flat throughout the year.

Step 3: Balance Themes Throughout the Year

Using the quarterly assignments that you put together in step two, assign any seasonal-dependent themes to their appropriate quarter. Remember to add your top focus keyword themes to each quarter of the calendar as a placeholder.

Also, as mentioned as a note in step two, there is a chance your search theme is relatively flat throughout the year. When this occurs, consider adding it to a quarter or time of the year where there may be less seasonal-focused content.

Additionally, as you build out the calendar, consider the holidays or other general seasonal events to tie your content to – this will give the content a bump in terms of organic search and will make it more social share friendly. For example, if you work for a B2C e-commerce organization, you should produce content around the holidays for Q4 when interest on social media and search engines are at their peak.

Step 4: Align Content Themes with Content Types

Now that you have your themes mapped across the year, using a tool like Buzzsumo – research your keyword themes and identify the types of content (lists, videos, how-tos, etc.) that perform best on social media (when doing this research, you might be surprised how much the layout or type of content asset influences social shares and overall visibility).

After you’ve completed the analysis, go back to your content roadmap and create a section that assigns the top content types to the given keyword themes.

Remember to give yourself a few different options, as social shares shouldn’t be the only factor influencing the type of content that’s created. It’s a good idea to work with other team members and departments, including sales, to identify the optimal content type for the target audience.

Step 5: Pay Attention to Average Shares Per Social Network

Also using third-party tools, see how your selected keyword themes perform on average, across the networks where your organization has a presence. You may come to find out that certain themes perform well on Facebook, while others are best-suited to be shared on LinkedIn.

Work with your social media manager to validate your research and ensure they’re aware of the findings before it comes time to put the content on the social media calendar.

Bringing it All Together

After you’ve completed each of the above steps, you will have a fairly detailed outline of your content strategy for the entire year ahead. Completing this exercise before the turn of the calendar year will allow you to start thinking about the types of content you’re going to create, how often you’re going to produce, and share it across the entire organization.

Sharing the outline and ideas will ensure there’s time to make adjustments, rather than scrambling to make changes or substitute themes that are time sensitive.

So, as you spend the next few weeks preparing for the holiday season, don’t forget to also prepare your content strategy.

Drop a comment below or connect with me on Twitter to keep the conversation going!

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