Content Marketing specialists face more than their fair share of challenges; strategic analysis, ideation, content creation, optimization, distribution, and measuring performance — all of this takes time and demands extra resources.
But could you work better, creating content faster and more efficiently without getting sidetracked? Of course — thanks to powerful tools that are quickly becoming essential in today’s digital age.
The SEMrush Content Marketing Platform provides a wide range of solutions for developing a successful content strategy and creating content that engages your audience.
In this article, I will explain how to use our Content Marketing Platform to:
- 1. Auditing Your Existing Content
- 2. Finding Ideas for Creating New Content
- 3. Developing an Editorial Plan
- 4. Creating SEO-friendly Content
- 5. Sharing Content and Finding Publication Opportunities
- 6. Tracking Your Content Performance — Onsite and Off
- 7. Measuring the Impact of Your Story
1. Auditing Your Existing Content
Before creating new content, you need to know how it will fit into your current strategy and meet your objectives.
But it is not always necessary to start from scratch. You could reuse existing content, reformatting or updating it to improve its ranking. Studies suggest that updating and repurposing old content can increase organic traffic by up to 111%.
With a content audit, you can develop a plan to update/optimize existing content and understand which types give you the best results.
The Content Audit tool brings you an inventory of all your site’s content and essential data for analyzing its performance. You can configure the tool by selecting the subfolders in your sitemap, or adding URLs manually (up to 20,000 pages).
You will be given a list of your content with data that will help you analyze it, such as:
Date when your content was last updated.
Webpage’s HTTP code.
Each page’s metadata (title, meta description, H1).
The number of words in the text.
Shares (on Facebook and Twitter).
The number of backlinks linking to an article.
Data regarding the user experience (number of sessions, average session length, and bounce rate) by connecting Google Analytics.
The page’s search queries number by connecting Google Search Console.
It is crucial to understand what type of content attracts your audience — a clear vision of what they like and dislike is a key to your content marketing success.
When working with content, it is never enough to track just one metric. When analyzing everything together, performance metrics can tell you what attracts your audience best and brings you the most visibility.
The Content Audit tool gives you access to a wide range of metrics and when analyzed — insights into your audience’s preferences. You can use this data to focus on the content type that brings you business results and attracts your audience.
Performing a recurring content audit can help you spot a content piece that could potentially bring you better results when updated. Updating content often requires less effort than creating new pieces of content and can earn more visibility. OurContent Audit tool can help you spot this opportunity for improvement.
Combining Google Analytics and the Content Audit Tool Data
Depending on your content metrics from Google Analytics and the Content Audit data, the tool will break down all your content into four categories:
Rewrite or remove.
Need to update.
You can also create your own set based on different parameters, like word count, backlinks, search queries, etc. Click on the “Content Sets” tab to get an overview of your current state of content and proceed with analyzing each set article by article.
By clicking on an exact URL, you can see how sessions and pageviews were changing for this article and discover the top 5 search queries for the last 30 days.
If you want to update or rewrite the article, you can add comments and tasks for each paragraph directly in the tool and share them with your team members.
⭐ Quick tip: Сlick on “Save today’s data” button to track how the article’s metrics are changing when this article is updated.
User Review: Gill Andrews
Many business owners (myself included) don’t optimize their content often enough because we simply don’t have the time. Running reports on several tools, creating spreadsheets, digging through endless columns of numbers – this sounds like some major undertaking you would need to take 3 days off for.
But what’s the point of this number crunching? You just want to know what content pieces you could optimize to get more organic traffic, right? And that’s exactly what the Content Audit tool tells you the very first time you use it.
It looks at your Analytics and Search Console data but doesn’t present you with some different set of numbers. Instead, it shows you several subsets of your pages based on the main questions you want answered: what to remove or rewrite, what to update, and what looks like poor content.
The only thing left for you to do is to go and optimize those pages, and the Content Audit tool even tells you what queries each page is ranking for.
You can also set your own filters to create the subset of the posts based on other metrics (word count, bounce rate, number of search queries, etc.) and track your progress while you optimize them – a small but important feature, because if the last time you analyzed your content was a month ago when you sit down to do it today, you may not remember what you’ve already done.
The Content Audit tool makes analyzing your content so simple; you have no more excuses not to improve it.
To find out how to audit your content in-depth, read this article: How to Perform a Website Content Audit to Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy
2. Finding Ideas for Creating New Content
When you have gathered data you from the Content Audit tool, the next step is to find ideas for your future content or to collect more information to update content. We have the perfect tool for that, the Topic Research tool. It is a treasure chest of ideas based on keywords, trending topics, related searches, recent articles, and questions people ask.
The Topic Research tool will give you insights into what your audience is interested in the most. You can filter the data via country, regional, or city basis and see the most popular topics and recent article titles for your target keywords. You can also see related questions that people are searching for.
You can prioritize the results by one of the following parameters:
Volume to view the most popular topics first.
Difficulty to see the toughest keywords.
Topic efficiency to get the most efficient topics (higher search volume and lower difficulty).
You can also identify trending topics which are most popular over the last 60 days across the web.
For each topic, you can view titles, questions, and related searches. When conducting audience research and creating a content plan, this data will help you understand what information and answers your audience is looking for.
If you plan to create an article that will provide an answer to a user's question, make sure to include a question word or add a ‘how-to’ into your title to get more engagement and shares. This strategy could increase your chance to win a featured snippet, expanding your presence on Google's SERP.
An Example of a Featured Snippet on the Google SERP
The bullhorn icon in Topic Research tool illustrates your title’s success in terms of backlinks — the greener it is, the more people link to the article with that title.
When exploring topics, you are free to choose the most comfortable view:
A mind map
Add subtopics, headlines, and questions to your favorite ideas to continue working with them. You can:
Create SEO optimized templates.
Send a task to SEMrush Marketing Calendar or Trello.
⭐ Quick tip: Enter a domain name to see for which topics this website currently ranks in the top 100 Google results.
User Review: Hana Bednarova
As a content marketer, ideas and coming up with ideas is something I do (and have to do) every day. There is so much content out there that campaigns we create are competing with.
It is not about just being unique anymore, but understanding what is popular at the moment, what has been done and when (and how), and knowing the right time and ways to release our content.
I absolutely love SEMrush Topic Research. It helps me understand what is out there, what are popular searches, and what are the most popular articles related to my topic. I use Topic Research almost every day when searching for ideas and validating campaign topics that I would like to focus on. I like the advantage of saving your favourite topics, so you can filter out those that you find interesting without creating an additional spreadsheet – it’s all in one place. I really like filtering out my favourite topics and getting back to them, researching more about what has been done and why particular topics are popular.
I work with international clients so it’s great that SEMrush Topic Research lets you choose the country you’d like to explore your topic in. Very handy!
To find out how to find content ideas, read this article: How to Generate Content Ideas with Topic Research
3. Developing an Editorial Plan
When you have collected a list of topics for your future content, it is time to develop an editorial plan. As Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything,” and planning is crucial in content marketing.
To help you manage your editorial schedule and collaborate with your colleagues, we have designed the Marketing Calendar. This tool can help Content Marketing specialists meet their deadlines and oversee their workflows in real-time.
In the Marketing Calendar, you can assign colors to each campaign, add the main actions you are planning, and tag each one for rapid filtering.
Share the calendar with your team, and you will have round-the-clock information on all your tasks, as well as the people doing them. Any changes made by your colleagues are also displayed in real-time.
You can filter the information by campaign, owner, status, and tags — whatever you like.
If you want to share the document you are working on with members of your team, you can attach a document to a card or add a file/folder from Google Drive.
To make sure you never miss another deadline, we have added the "Notifications" feature to the calendar’s homepage; you will be notified two days before the final deadline of a task you have been assigned.
User Review: Jason A. Howie
Having to manage and coordinate an agile marketing team is hard enough as priorities shift constantly from one opportunity to another, add in the element of being a remote manager and having multiple remote employees and you’ll need a marketing calendar that adapts as quickly as you do.
With the SEMrush Calendar, we’re able to adjust our due dates with a click and drag, as well as quickly reassign and update project statuses with as few clicks as possible. Not having to use Google Sheets anymore saves my marketing team time and energy every day. Further being able to share the marketing calendar with external departments enables transparency and visibility into upcoming campaigns and programs.
⭐ Quick tip: Сonnect Google Analytics to track your marketing campaign performance by UTM directly in the calendar.
To find out how to solve collaboration and planning issues, read this article: How to Organize Your Marketing Campaign with SEMrush
4. Creating SEO-friendly Content
Now that you have some plans for your content, you can start creating the text, but from the very beginning, you should have been focused on search engine optimization.
SEO is one of the most efficient channels to make your content visible for your target audience — 51% of web traffic comes from organic search results. However, it is not easy to reach Google’s top ten results. One of the biggest challenges when creating content is to make it visible for people. Fortunately, SEMrush offers a wide range of tools that will help you overcome that hurdle.
Getting an Optimized Content Template
To create optimized content, it is essential to know what works best on SERPs. Using the SEO Content Template, you can get that information in just one click.
Enter your chosen combination of keywords to obtain a list of recommendations for producing your text. The recommendations are based on Google results for your rivals’ top 10, and if something works for them, it might work for you too.
Google’s Algorithms are evolving, and they don't just rely on just keywords. It is crucial that Google understands your overall topic throughout the whole text. In the "Key recommendations" section, you will find semantically related words that are generally used in content alongside your target keywords. Using semantically related keywords when developing a topic will help search engines understand what your article is about.
With this tool, you can also see a list of resources where you could try to acquire backlinks relevant to your topic. These resources are already linking to your competitors; this may mean that they can be potentially interested in your content.
The average text length will tell you about your audience’s expectations. Even if long content tends to be better positioned, if the typical content length in your sector is 600 words, you should think twice before churning out 5,000 word-long articles or pages!
You can also export the template to continue working with it in a doc using SEO Writing Assistant (keep reading to learn more about the assistant).
⭐Quick tip: You can get recommendations for a specific location (country, region, city) or device (desktop or mobile) to create content with high local SEO potential.
User Review: Andrew Bruce Smith
SEMrush’s Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant are great, practical tools for helping to focus content creation efforts on things that are more likely to deliver higher expected value.
Assuming you have been diligent in doing your keyword research, you then clearly need to begin writing content. But where do you start? The SEO Content Template provides a framework rooted in evidence – namely, why is Google choosing to reward certain pages with the highest rankings for a given term? If you want your content to outrank them, you need to be aware of what you are up against. Fight the battles you have a chance of winning.
Armed with a rational brief, using the SEO Writing Assistant should keep you focussed on making sure your content is taking into account the on-page factors that are more likely to play a role in whether or not the page will be considered for high ranking. Having an idea of where you should prioritise your backlink outreach efforts is also helpful.
In short, I have trained literally hundreds of people in SEO over the last several years. Since the SEO Content Template launched in 2017, I’ve advised everyone to consider using it as part of their SEO content approach. The feedback I’ve had from trainees has been very positive in terms of time saved on thinking about content and for focussing people’s minds on creating material that is far more likely to deliver real SEO and business value.
Creating Optimized Text
When you have an idea of what your future copy should look like, continue with actually creating content and checking how optimized it is in real-time with SEO Writing Assistant. Using this, you can analyze how well your copy complies with recommendations based on the Google top rivals we provide you with.
The metrics and recommendations are interactive and vary based on changes you introduce into your copy:
Overall optimization status — ensure your text is perfectly structured for a target keyword and written in an SEO-friendly style before publication.
Readability — analyze your copy’s complexity and ensure it is close to an average score for your top 10 rivals on Google.
Number of words and reading time — check if your text matches the average number for your top 10 competitors.
Related questions — consider answering questions users ask about your topic to create a helpful piece of content for both people and search engines.
Recommended keywords — enrich your text with these keywords to get better SEO results; the tool will show you which keywords are already present in your text and which of them you still didn’t use.
Title recommendations — don’t forget to use your target keywords in the title, and get other suggestions on length to optimize it.
Tone of voice consistency — make sure your content piece complies with your overall brand voice — casual, neutral, or formal.
Linking — find the optimal number of links for your text, detect broken links, and links without anchor text in one click.
Originality — detect the total percentage of copied words in your text and find original sources of content from across the internet. Avoid plagiarism.
These recommendations will help you make your copy friendlier for crawlers/bots and will help your audience spot your article in an endless Google list.
When you have a clear plan of what content needs to be optimized or created in compliance with Google recommendations, have your copywriters share your documents with the SEO Writing Assistant and be sure to monitor their work.
⭐ Quick tip: Targets for readability and text length are defined based on your top 10 Google rivals analysis, but if you want to change them, just click on the pencil icon.
User Review: Andy Crestodina
To find out how to create optimized content, read this post: How to Create SEO-friendly Content with SEMrush
5. Sharing Content and Finding Publication Opportunities
Creating good content isn’t enough; well-organized distribution is vital to its success.
There are several ways to promote content. SEMrush provides sharing solutions via two effective channels: social media and external resources.
If you have a lot of content to share on social media, automating that process is essential.
With the Social Media Poster, you can create, plan, and schedule social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest or all of them at the same time).
Insert gifs, visuals, and emojis to make your post more engaging.
In the "Analytics" tab, you can see statistics on your Instagram or Facebook page’s performance, audience profiles, and audience behavior to understand when your audience is online and what time is best to publish posts.
⭐ Quick tip: Create UTMs when scheduling the post and apply them automatically to your URL and avoid the time-consuming copy/paste per social share.
The first step towards distributing content on third party web sites is drawing up a list of resources to contact. Using the Brand Monitoring tool, you can track mentions of your brand, product, or content as well as those of your competitors. Sites that mention your and your competitors’ brand may be potential resources for distributing your content.
Using Brand Monitoring, you can find authoritative industry influencers and detect those who talk about your competitors. This strategy is a great opportunity to improve your brand positioning online by turning them into your brand ambassadors.
⭐ Quick tip: If you are interested in specific media, use the "Resources" feature. Add up to ten domains and track mentions on those sites.
User Review: Adam Connell
Social listening is important. It can help you put out potential "PR fires" and identify opportunities to grow your brand. The SEMrush Brand Monitoring tool makes this easy. And it can be used for a lot more than simply monitoring for mentions.
Finding guest blogging opportunities is one example of this.
One of the challenges with guest blogging is that most sites receive a huge number of spammy pitches from people they've never heard of.
What if they were to get a pitch from someone whose content they've already shared? You can turn cold outreach into warm outreach; this means you'll get more opportunities and spend less time sending pitches.
Once you've got your brand monitoring setup, just head to the Mentions tab and select Twitter from the drop-down menu: (see example below)
Now we just need to find the Twitter accounts with websites and make sure they have a website that has a blog (publishing relevant content.)
Here's an example:
The final step is to get their contact information & send them a pitch. Thank them for sharing your content and offer to write up a guest post for them.
In some cases, people won't remember sharing the content (or their VA scheduled it), so it's worth including a direct link to the tweet where they shared your content.
It's worth noting that this process isn't especially easy to scale, but it can yield some opportunities that you'd likely never find via other prospecting methods. If you’re tired of sending huge numbers of emails only to get a few responses back, give this approach a try.
To find out how to effectively monitor mentions, read this post: Effective Online Reputation Management: 6 Reasons to Monitor Mentions
6. Tracking Your Content Performance — Onsite and Off
Performance tracking is crucial for both assessing the success of your actions and adjusting your future content strategy. To track your content results quickly and efficiently, SEMrush offers several tools that come in handy.
Blog Posts Performance
Many marketers successfully use Google Analytics to track performance. However, it is a challenge to assess your content if it is published on external resources. SEMrush Content Platform allows you to track your performance both on your website and third-party sites in a matter of seconds.
If you want to check the key metrics of your article or blog post published on an external resource, you can track them in the Post Tracking tool.
Add a URL or group of links to see the number of backlinks and shares, and estimated reach. You can also select your post’s target keywords by clicking on the "Add keywords" button and track your content’s positioning accordingly.
The "Daily Changes" button will take you to a graphic presenting the post’s visibility trend, i.e., daily updates on its position for the target keywords.
If the page rankings fall or fail to improve over time, you might want to determine if optimization opportunities were missed.
⭐ Quick tip: By connecting Google Analytics, you can see referral traffic coming to your website from external publications.
Check out our infographic with 23 content metrics and how you can measure them: 23 Essential Content Marketing Metrics to Measure Your Campaign's Performance
Social Media Analysis
For an in-depth analysis of your social media strategies, the Social Media Tracker will give you plenty of useful information. The tool reveals your best-performing posts (and those of your competitors) with the highest level of engagement.
User Review: Sandeep Mallya
With SEMrush’s Social Media Tracker, you can easily track the performance of your social content and see if they are meeting your social media goals. Additionally, you can also track your competitors’ social media strategies to get a complete picture of the state of your industry.
Most importantly, you can use Social Media Tracker to benchmark your social media performance with that of your competitors’ on three basic metrics: audience, activity, and engagement. This data will reveal where your competitors have the biggest audience, where they post most frequently, and where they get the highest engagement.
You’ll also be able to see your competitors’ best-performing posts, frequently-used hashtags, and level of engagement for each of their posts. Armed with these insights, you can successfully craft a social media content plan that’s vastly better than that of your competitors.
To use the Social Media Tracker, connect your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest), then go to each one’s tab to obtain the following data:
Level of engagement and total engagement (likes/dislikes, views, shares, reactions, and comments) for each of your posts.
Growth in your audience (increase in followers compared to your competitors).
Types of best-performing posts (photo, link, video, status).
Top hashtags used in the most engaging posts.
Mentions of your brand in the posts and the top influencers mentioning you (on Twitter).
Social media is an important channel not only for content distribution but also for audience research, communicating with users, and finding partnership opportunities. People who share your content are your potential brand ambassadors.
⭐ Quick tip: In the Twitter tab, go to the report “Mentioners” to discover users who mention you and your competitors in their tweets.
7. Measuring the Impact of Your Story
Content Marketing is not about blog posts only; it is about what influences your brand’s positioning and reputation. Always assess all your content as a whole by running a regular content audit, and track how your content marketing story impacts your brand’s reputation.
Monitoring mentions about your brand, product, or a particular piece of content comes in handy. Tracking mentions will also help you to find out which type of user-generated content your story triggers.
The Brand Monitoring tool not only helps you to find mentions online but also detects a mention’s tone — positive, negative, or neutral.
There is a wide range of filters to find mentions that you are looking for — based on domain traffic, custom tags, link presence to your website, etc.
Speaking of backlinks, you can always find link building opportunities using Brand Monitoring. All you have to do is to filter your mentions by link presence and outreach the resources found.
⭐ Quick tip: You can filter your mentions by sentiment or assess the whole picture for your brand.
Content Marketing is recognized as one of the most effective digital marketing techniques. Today, most companies are producing digital content, so to stand out from your competitors and make your business more profitable, your content has to be exceptional in quality and valued by your readers.
It is a tough job, but a systematic approach and a powerful content platform like SEMrush can make your Content Marketing efforts easier and more effective.
If you want to learn more about our Platform, sign up for our Content Marketing Toolkit Certification Course — watch free video tutorials, get tips from content marketing pros, and earn a certification.