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Oct 9, 2022

How to plan your editorial calendar for pillar page and topic cluster (+ Free Template)

Scalenut
How to plan your editorial calendar for pillar page and topic cluster (+ Free Template)

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Content is king, but it requires an entire kingdom of writers, editors, SEO professionals, and even developers to make great content. It is a team effort that requires careful planning, time-bound tasks, and some creative magic. 

To excel at any content strategy, it is important to align all the stakeholders involved in the process. 

Establishing content development timelines is an effective way to make sure you are moving in the right direction. At Scalenut, we follow a complex editorial calendar that helps us deliver the best quality content for our audience. 

During one of our recent webinars, the topic of editorial calendars came up repeatedly, and we decided to share our very own editorial calendar with you. Through this blog, we will highlight the importance of creating a pillar page calendar and provide steps to create your own.

What is an editorial calendar, and why do you need one?

An editorial calendar is the central command base of content operations. From kicking off topic clusters to conducting content audits and identifying repurposing opportunities, this calendar covers everything and gives you a bird’s eye view of your content marketing efforts. 

Editorial calendars are visual representations of the content development lifecycle. It maps the journey of your pillar pages and topic clusters to help you organize your team efforts. 

It is a systematic approach to the abstract process of creating insightful and engaging content in a time-bound manner. The following are a few major benefits of an editorial calendar:

  1. Bring every stakeholder of the content process on the same page.
  2. Quickly access the progress of content, from ideation to publishing.
  3. Make sure there are no loose ends in the content creation process.
  4. Assign accountability to team members for every piece of content.
  5. Follow the best SEO practices and publish timely content.
  6. Check in with people and prompt them about looming deadlines.
  7. Ensure your content marketing efforts yield timely results. 

If done right, an editorial calendar can help you create cross-channel marketing strategies and strengthen your marketing funnel. For example, you could plan the publishing of a blog, social media sharing of that blog, and the video release of the same blog all in one place. 

You could also schedule meetings, Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn posts, and ensure that every piece of content is getting the maximum exposure.

Before we get into the creation of an editorial calendar, let's take a quick look at the basics of pillar page content strategy. 

What are pillar pages and topic clusters?

Pillar pages are long form content pieces that cover a particular topic in-depth, with internal links to pieces of content that cover subtopics in greater detail. 

From an SEO perspective, it streamlines the information architecture of your website. It acts as the central hub of knowledge resources on a broad topic and further links to various blogs from a topic cluster. 

A pillar page content strategy is based on topic clusters. 

When you combine related topics into clusters of relevant content ideas, it is called a "topic cluster." As a starting point, for an idea to be considered a cluster topic, it should be broad enough for a separate blog. 

For example, say you are a green tea manufacturer looking to create a pillar page on the general topic “green tea.” 

You would create a topic cluster with subtopics like “What is the history of green tea?”, “Benefits of green tea,” “Different types of green tea,” “A step-by-step guide to integrating green tea into your lifestyle,” etc.

Similarly, if you’re a tourism company looking to create a pillar page on trekking, your topic cluster will have subtopics like, “How to prepare for a trek?” “How to pack for a one-day hike?” “Top trekking peaks of the world,” etc.

You get the idea. 

Pillar pages and topic clusters help you establish a clearly defined hierarchy of website content. It helps search engine algorithms establish relationships between web pages and better index the information on your website. 

If a website covers everything about a topic, chances are the search engine will display it in various searches related to the topic. 

Want more information on pillar pages? Check out our comprehensive knowledge resource on what are pillar pages and how they help with SEO ranking.

How to plan your editorial calendar while writing topic-cluster content 

Creating a content calendar is a continuously evolving process. Let us help you create a springboard for your pillar content editorial calendar. Once you get a better understanding of the ideal calendar, you can edit it to your liking. 

Here are a few important steps to follow to develop an editorial calendar —

Define topics you want to rank for 

The first step in creating a calendar is to finalize the topics you want to rank for in the near future. List down the first 20 topics that come to your mind. Start clubbing them together based on their relevance to each other. Narrow down your list of 20 to a final 4 or 5 topics. 

Brainstorm pillar topics and subtopics 

The finalists from the previous step are your working pillar topics. Conduct thorough keyword research on these topics and group related keywords. Include both long-tail and generic keywords in your mix. 

The simplest way to do this is to search for that topic on Google and find more keywords from the “People also ask for'' and “Related searches” sections. 

For more advanced research, you could use a tool like Scalenut’s Topic Cluster generator to find important keywords with the highest search volumes. 

As a thumb rule, long-tail keywords can become great cluster blogs, and short or generic keywords are great pillar page content ideas. 

Identify content gaps 

Search for the final topics on the internet. Look at the kind of content that has already been published. Find similarities between different pieces and content gaps that you can capitalize on. 

Once you're done with the competition, audit your own website content to get a clear picture of the existing coverage on topics. The goal of this internal audit is to find opportunities to repurpose content, including:

  1. Combining low traffic blog posts with similar topics into a central post. 
  2. Identifying and building on blogs with little information and enhancing the topic coverage on your website.
  3. Finding new content creation opportunities. 

Fix the amount of time for each content piece

From initial research to the final content piece, map the timeline of every content piece. Start with cluster blogs first and then plan the pillar page content. This way, you would have knowledge about all the sub-topics before creating the masterpiece pillar content. 

The goal behind this step is to establish the amount of time it will take to create a content piece. It does not have to be exact; a variation of +/- 20% is acceptable, but it will help you keep track of the progress. 

Pick a starting date for your editorial calendar

Pick a starting date for your editorial calendar that gives you enough time to research topic clusters, identify a healthy mix of long-tail and short-tail keywords, and finalize the writers, editors, and other team members working on it. 

Dedicate days for revisiting existing content

Content is an ever-evolving field. You need to revisit your published pillar pages and blogs to reflect the latest information. 

Make sure that your editorial calendar has dedicated days for content audits, updates to the existing content pieces, and finding new interlinking ideas for your pillar page and cluster topics.

Plot the editorial plan

Plotting your editorial calendar gives you a concrete timeline to work with. It defines the time, effort, and resources required to finish tasks within the stipulated time.

You can do this with something as simple as Google Sheets. Always keep a few buffer days between editing and final approval to accommodate reworks and last-minute changes. Share the calendar with everyone involved. 

Start Creating Content

Now that the dates are fixed, all that is left to do is get the ball rolling. Pick up topics one by one and start creating content for each and interlinking them wherever possible. 

Pro Tip: Pick up at least 2 topic clusters together to ensure variety in your content for a more engaging user experience.

Use this free editorial calendar to manage your content 

Ready to get started with your editorial calendar? 

Here is a free editorial calender template that you can use as a starting point for your editorial calendar. 

How Scalenut helps in content marketing 

Ranking on search engines like Google is a matter of thorough research in every aspect of the content creation process. From selecting topics to creating SEO content, you need to find the most lucrative opportunities for success. 

Scalenut is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps you create research-backed content at scale. 

Take the Scalenut’s Topic Cluster generator, for example. This nifty tool helps you identify the most popular keywords and create a comprehensive list of topic ideas for your pillar pages and cluster content. 

Simply enter your broad topic and the target location. Our tool will produce multiple lists of topic clusters within seconds. 

Try Scalenut’s Topic Cluster Generator now!

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