Why a Content Calendar will be Critical in 2013

I’m sure you’ve heard that 2013 will be the year of content. If you haven’t, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon! Creating amazing content is becoming increasingly important to improve the authority and appeal of your website. Google’s new algorithms, Panda and Penguin, are making it harder to maintain or improve your search engine rankings without great content. If you are consistently creating quality content, this will also tell Google to view you as a valid publisher, which can help with your overall SEO efforts.

Now the first thing you might be thinking is: “I have to start writing content!? How do I do that?” If you have a blog, you’re actually already doing it, but you may be missing out on how to get the most out of your efforts. The most important component of content creation is organization. This is where a content calendar (also called an editorial calendar) comes into play. A content calendar will help you organize your publishing schedule and create a consistent posting structure. As everyone starts their 2013 strategic planning, make sure to create a calendar to streamline and unify all of your content and promotional efforts. Keep reading to find out how to integrate one into your company’s marketing plan.

Organizing Your Content Calendar

Without a good plan, your content efforts will most likely be disjointed and lack cohesion. On the other hand, if you plan out the major themes for each month, you won’t have to scramble to create content when it is time. The best way to create a content calendar is to have a two-pronged strategy with two types of content calendars:

1) A 12-month content calendar that segments each month into an overarching theme. This theme should extend to your blog posts, newsletters, video posts, etc.

2) A 90-day content calendar that delves into further detail for each month, specifically lays out the content schedule, and assigns the content authorship to individuals within your company.

The 12-month calendar should be completed before the start of the year and distributed to everyone on your content/creative team. The 90-day calendar should be completed at least a month before the start of that quarter (but the further in advance, the better) to make sure everyone has adequate time to complete their assignments. It is also wise to set up a deadline schedule, where each contributor to the blog knows when their topics, drafts, and posts are due. If one person, such as a content coordinator, is overseeing this process, the more streamlined and consistent your content publishing will be.

Thinking Thematically

Another benefit of a content calendar, besides organization and a top-level view of your overall content strategy, is the ability to group your content into timely themes. For instance, the theme we chose for our September content is “Strategic Planning for 2013.” We know that near the end of the third quarter and fourth quarter, companies begin their planning for the next calendar year. In order to address this need, we chose this topic so we could provide information our readers would find helpful. In your industry, there are also cycles that happen during various times of the year. Use your content calendar to address these cycles and trends, and publish content that will be fitting for the time of year and interests of your audience.

Traditional media is dead and therefore we have to abandon over one hundred years of best practices and tested methodology, right? Wrong!! Magazines and other periodicals created the idea of a content calendar (they still refer to them as editorial calendars). Most of these publications dedicate a whole wall to laying out their yearly content plan and then another wall to an issue that they are working on at the moment. You don’t have to use a wall, but you should start thinking like a publisher, because whether you like it or not, you are one now!

Publisher? Who…me?

That’s right my friend, you are indeed a publisher. Your blog is the 21st century version of the company newsletter you used to mail out (although some companies also have an email newsletter, which is a good idea as well) and you need to make sure that you think of your role as more than just a blog writer. The only way to drive traffic to your website is by offering some sort of value to potential customers. This is done by publishing amazing content. If you don’t have something to offer to your customers, what reason do people have to go to your website, view your social media profiles, or most importantly, purchase your products or services?

In the end, every company wants to profit from their products or services, and while that will never change, the purchasing cycle for customers has. They now have access to more information than ever before, and they not only use it, but they count on it to help them make decisions. If your site is devoid of important or interesting information, you will most likely miss out on valuable sales opportunities. Fresh and relevant content sends a signal to customers that your company is trying to stay up-to-date and current in your industry, and it also can help with your SEO efforts.

Fresh Content = Instant Rankings Increase…Sort of

While creating amazing content on a regular basis won’t translate to instant ranking increases on the search engine results pages on Google, it can help in many ways. Fresh content gives Google a reason to keep crawling and caching your site. As it notices new content several times a week, the Googlebots will get in the pattern of returning regularly to your site as it is updated. This also allows you to create more internal links, keyword mentions, and generate interaction from blog comments. All of these things can tell Google that your page deserves to jump in the rankings.

Again, blog posts aren’t a guaranteed way to automatically move to the first page on Google. In fact (I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but I’m saying it anyways), there is no sure fire way to move up search engine results pages, but this is one of the many things that can certainly help.

And it all goes back to a Content Calendar!

The only way to make a blog truly work for your company is by creating a content calendar. Without the organization it provides, it will be much more difficult to create a cohesive external presence with your content and promotional activities. It also allows your company to have a top-level view of your overall content strategy for the entire year and then more specifically for each 90-day quarter.

Now is the best time to a jumpstart on your 2013 strategic planning and create a content calendar for your company. You will immediately notice the difference and wonder how your company ever lived without one.