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3 Tools to Energize Your Content Planning and Execution

Now, I love planning, but I love action even more. To create a successful content marketing program, you need to have both.

Most companies struggle to see ROI from content marketing strategy because they fail to do both.

Using tools is what helps you go from planning to implementing. Tools make any plan actionable, so here are three to help your content marketing strategy find success.

1. Find and organize content ideas using keyword clustering

Keyword research is where most content creators start to figure out what to write about next. You use tools to extend seed terms into long-tail keywords giving a clear idea what topics and questions interest your audience enough for them to search for answers.

The problem is, while the keyword research process is clear, further action can be confusing.

Any keyword research tool likely generates hundreds (if not thousands) of responses to your basic term. What are you going to do with these enormous lists? How to go from keywords to content ideas?

The best way is to use keyword clustering.

Group your keyword lists by meaning. It sounds straightforward, yet it’s not that easy to figure out keyword meaning programmatically.

One approach I find highly useful is using Google search results when identifying related topics. The idea is as follows: If two Google search queries trigger a lot of overlapping URLs, these two search queries are bound to be topically close.

Keyword clustering lets you see where the results overlap for 2 similar keyword phrases, says @SEOSmarty. Click To Tweet

In this example, the two queries – “hiking lunch ideas” and “hiking food ideas” – are related because two of the top five results overlap. To achieve better results and diversify your rankings, optimize your content for both queries.

Serpstat’s Keyword Clustering Tool takes this approach. Upload your messy keyword list and Serpstat uses Google search results to show the topics behind your keywords:

Upload messy keyword lists in @Serpstat’s tool to see the topics behind them, says @SEOSmarty. Click To Tweet

You can run your keyword lists once then play with the tool settings to adjust relevancy:

In my “hiking” screenshot above I use “hard” and “strong” relevancy settings. However, depending on your lists and goals, you may want to play with relevancy levels. This will also help you (or your writers) to get a better grasp of the topic.

How does the tool help to go from planning to acting?

Serpstat’s clustering helps you come up with content ideas to put on your editorial calendar. Instead of looking at keywords, you can see topic ideas to act upon.

2. Research and structure content using Text Optimizer

Now that you have topics, it’s a good idea to start your content research. What should you cover in each article? How can you better the questions being asked?

Before I create a writing assignment (or write content), I run each target query in TextOptimizer – a search intent optimization tool – to help create content that meets our audience’s expectations.

TextOptimizer runs your search query in Google or Bing, extracts search snippets, and uses semantic analysis to identify underlying related concepts and entities to include in your content and center your further research. The nice thing about the tool is that it encourages your team to create search-intent-optimized content, which is key to a successful result-driven, lead-nurturing content marketing strategy.

.@TextOptimizer runs search queries to identify related concepts to include in your content, says @SEOSmarty. Click To Tweet

TextOptimizer also generates a list of related questions, helping you structure your content more meaningfully.

The report can be downloaded. When I manage my client’s editorial calendar, I always include it in any content assignment. As a content creator, I find TextOptimizer helps me better understand the future article angles and structure.

How does the tool help to go from planning to acting?

Text Optimizer analyzes your content idea and breaks it down into subtopics. You can save research time and focus on the suggested concepts and entities.

3. Add your detailed content idea in your collaborative editorial calendar

The last step in actionable planning is to come up with deadlines, which is where editorial planning comes into play. There are numerous tools and approaches to editorial planning. I previously shared my process of planning seasonal and well-timed content as well as listing tools to create the calendar.

Depending on the blog size and frequency of updates, your editorial calendar management needs may vary. For the sake of simplicity, I suggest checking these two options:

  • Create a free collaborative calendar using this Google timeline template. It’s easy to use and free to integrate into your WordPress dashboard.
  • Create your editorial calendar with ContentCal for a more integrated solution. It is a paid tool with a free trial, but it’s also one of the most efficient and affordable ones I am aware of.

ContentCal makes in-team marketing collaboration easier by allowing your company to share ideas and social media updates. I use it for content planning because it makes the process easy, which saves time. You can create well-detailed content briefs, which can be assigned and expanded by the blog administrators.

.@ContentCal_io makes in-team collaboration easier b/c you can share ideas & #socialmedia updates. @SEOSmarty Click To Tweet

Add your primary and secondary keywords, reference your TextOptimizer research as well, add notes on what the article goals are, and let your team figure out the rest. ContentCal keeps everyone in the loop without taking hours of submitting tasks, deadlines, and checklists.

How does the tool help to go from planning to acting?

ContentCal allows you to schedule each content asset creation and marketing for the team to research further and collaborate on implementing. It makes your content schedule easy to understand and content creation tasks easy to delegate. The calendar view also informs your team of approaching tasks and ensures that things get both planned and done on time.

Go for implementation

How to go from planning to implementing? Use just enough tools that streamline the process and keep the team informed and engaged, while keeping everyone’s lives easy.

Whenever you are dealing with marketing tools, there’s a matter of striking the balance. You don’t want too many tools or those that are so complicated that they will keep you and your team busy instead of making you productive. You need to maintain focus while doing millions of things every day, which is why picking the right tool can make all the difference when it comes to getting things done.

Put even more power behind your content marketing planning and actions. Learn from hundreds of experts, engage with your fellow professionals, and more at Content Marketing World this September. Register by May 31 for early-bird rates. And use code CMIBLOG100 to save another $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute