Creating a great SEO content plan: Step by step guide

A step by step guide for building a content plan

To win customers through SEO you need to first have a great content plan. While “SEO traffic” is commonly referred to as “free traffic” – the reality is stark different. While it’s true that you don’t have to pay search engines every time someone clicks on your organic listings (unlike ads), getting these clicks require you to invest heavily on content creation.

In India, content writers charge anywhere between $10- $500 for a single article. Thus, if you are budget constrained you need to spend judiciously & invest time & effort to create a content plan that sets you up for success and helps you maximize ROI on your content writing investment.

Businesses often struggle to get the correct content plan in place. As a result they end up spending significantly before realizing that the great content on their site is lost somewhere in the web. Based on my experience, I have put together a step by step guide that can help you create a robust content plan that can bring home customers without burning your pockets too deep.

How to create a content plan : Step by step guide

  1. Define your SEO content strategy

    Defining a concrete SEO content strategy at the very beginning will help you create an SEO content plan that you can stick to in the long run.

  2. Identify the right “Keywords”

    Identifying keywords require you check the overall search demand for the keywords and also the SERP competition for each.

  3. Grouping keywords & mapping them to topics

    During this phase you need to group keywords of similar intent to arrive at topics.

  4. Prioritizing Content creation

    Once you have a list of topics with you, you need to prioritize them and arrive at the final SEO content plan.

Step 1: Define your content strategy

At the very outset you need to define your content strategy. To get there you need to ask what you want to accomplish with your content plan ? Depending on your product & your customer’s path to purchase, your content strategy will differ. However, you will end up creating one or more of the following 3 types of content:

  • Core Content: Content about your product/service , different considerations that a prospect may have while buying your product, comparison content, content about purchase process etc.
  • Adjacent Content: Content that is not directly about your product or service but about problems, concerns or general curiosity that can be addressed or solved by your product. Consider the following example: You are in the business of selling mutual funds. You may create an article on “10 ways to build wealth“. This article isn’t about mutual funds but it taps an aspiration that could lead the reader to a mutual fund.
  • Resonance Content: Content that is not about your product at all. It’s just something around topics that your customers may care about. For example, if your customers are primarily retired individuals above 60 – You may create content around post-retirement hobbies even though it’s not directly linked to the product that you sell.

In terms of prioritization it makes sense to create core content first, followed by adjacent content & then resonance content. However, there are exceptions. For example, there may not be a direct search demand for your product. In such a case , it makes sense to skip to adjacent directly. This typically happens in the case of innovative software products. These products are new in the market & thus users aren’t searching for them. However, they are searching about problems which these products can solve.

Step 2: Identify the right “Keywords”

To ensure SEO success, you need to create content for which there is a demand already. In other words, it should address queries that people are searching for. These queries are called Keywords. There are a whole bunch of tools that can help you identify which keywords have a higher search volume. Thankfully some of these tools are free. In fact, one of the best free keyword research tool happens to be Google’s keyword planner.

keyword planner tool , helps you understand the search demand for a keyword. It also tells you the level of competition for a particular keyword. Even though, the competition details are based on search engine ads – be rest assured that there is some bit of correlation.

Shortlisting keywords that are relevant for your business & have decent search volume helps you in 2 ways :

  • It helps you identify good topics
  • It helps you understand what kind of website traffic you can expect if your articles do well on search engines

Step 3: Grouping keywords & mapping them to topics

You don’t need to create separate articles for each keyword that you identify. Remember that content doesn’t come for free. It’s thus important to group relevant keywords together. To group keywords you need to check the following:

  • User Intent: User intent could be “Awareness” , “Consideration” , “Comparison” or “Purchase“. It makes sense to ensure that keywords in the same group are of the same intent. For example, Consider the following keywords: “How to mow my lawn”, “Lawn mowing for beginners”, “What is a lawn mower”, “Best Lawn mowers” , “offers on lawn mowers” . The first three keywords are of awareness intent while the fourth & fifth are of “comparison intent” . Thus we can split the keywords into two groups. If you aren’t sure about intent by just looking at the keyword – you should do a search & check what kind of articles show up on top.
  • Topical Similarity: Keywords within the same intent group can be further sub-grouped based on topical similarity. Let’s take the case of the “awareness” group identified above. “What is a lawn mower” is different from “How to mow my lawn” & “Lawn mowing for beginners”. Thus we can split the group into 2 sub-groups.
  • Once sub-groups are identified , we can simply assigns topics to each based on member keywords.
KeywordIntentTopic
How to mow my lawnAwarenessBasics of Lawn Mowing
Lawn mowing for beginners AwarenessBasics of Lawn Mowing
What is a lawn mower AwarenessWhat is a lawn mower
Best Lawn mowers ComparisonCompare lawn mowers
offers on lawn mowers Comparison Compare lawn mowers

Step 4 : Prioritizing Content creation

Once topics are identified, we need to prioritize them to ensure that we start seeing results quickly. Chances of success depend on the cumulative search volume of target keywords & also the competition. The best way to gauge competition at a keyword level is to check the search results directly.

Typical signs of tough competition are as follows:

  • Presence of large number of Ads: This is typically seen in case of “comparison” & “purchase” keywords. Such searches indicate a high intent to purchase & thus advertisers spend more on such keywords.
  • Presence of popular websites: Apart from content relevance, search engines also assign weight to the authority of a website while ranking. For a new site, it’s kind of impossible to topple over high authority content sites (e.g. Wikipedia), popular news sites & aggregator sites.

Our content plan should first target topics where the search volume is decent and the competition is modest. For many products, it’s hard to find such core topics. In such cases, adjacent content becomes important.

Let’s consider the above lawn-mower example again. It is quite likely, that all the keywords mentioned would have a high level of competition. The content that we create may not stand a chance and thus we need to take a look at adjacent keywords. How do we find adjacent keywords? An adjacent concern that may lead an user to a lawn mower may be “lawn grass height“. If we check , keyword planner we could find a whole bunch of keyword ideas around “lawn grass height” which individually have low search volume but cumulatively comprise a substantial demand. Thus it may make sense to create an article on “Ideal grass height in your lawn“.