Use our free content strategy template to document your content marketing strategy.
You’ll develop a long-term plan tailored to your business needs, resources, and goals. So you can create effective content efficiently.
Download the template. Then check out the instructions and content strategy examples below.
How to Use the Content Strategy Template
1. Set Content Goals
Goals should shape your content strategy. Otherwise, you’ll waste resources on ineffectual tactics.
Start by defining what you want to achieve through content marketing.
The SMART framework helps you set practical and clear goals:
|Precise, unambiguous goals keep your efforts focused. Break down broad objectives into clearer sub-objectives.
|Tracking your progress objectively allows you to make data-led decisions. Translate obscure objectives into quantifiable ones.
|Over-ambitious goals can demotivate your team. Create realistic goals by considering your resources and referring to relevant benchmarks.
|Content goals should align with your broader marketing strategy. You’ll see better results when everyone works toward similar objectives.
|Motivate your team and improve tracking by setting a deadline for each goal. But make sure you have enough time to make an impact.
The most common content marketing goal of 2023 was attracting more website traffic, according to Semrush’s State of Content Marketing report.
A SMART version of this goal could look something like “increase organic traffic by 5% per month.”
(Organic traffic is unpaid search engine traffic.)
Write down your content goals in the corresponding section of the content strategy template.
There’s also space to describe how you’ll measure them. What tools, calculations, or criteria will you use?
Deciding these details now helps you execute your strategy and maintain consistency.
In our content strategy example, we want to measure organic traffic growth.
We could use Google Search Console to see how many clicks our Google results generate.
Or use Google Analytics to see how many unique users come from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Jot down the information in your content strategy document.
2. Create Buyer Personas
In the “Audience Analysis” section of the content marketing strategy template, you’ll create buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictitious profile that represents a segment of your target audience. It should contain information that helps you understand this type of prospect. And create content they’ll love.
Elements of a buyer persona include:
- Demographics (e.g., age, gender, location)
- Psychographics (e.g., values, beliefs, lifestyle)
- Influences and information sources (e.g., favorite social networks, influencers, and events)
- Professional status (e.g., job title, industry, income)
- Pain points and challenges (e.g., frustrations, obstacles, dissatisfactions)
- Purchasing process (e.g., role in decision-making process, frequency of purchase)
Let’s say you work for a real estate company.
You could create the buyer persona “Mrs. Clark Grimes” to represent working suburban moms with growing families.
This character is easier to conceptualize than an entire audience segment.
That’s how buyer personas can help you create highly tailored content. And make a valuable addition to your content strategy document.
You can learn about your users’ demographics through Google Analytics.
Navigate to “Reports”> “Demographics” > “Overview” to see a breakdown of your audience by country, age, gender, or language.
For further insights, analyze your market with Semrush’s One2Target tool.
Enter the website URLs of up to five competitors that have the kinds of users you want. Then click “Analyze.”
The tool will analyze your market audience. Then provide three key reports with useful breakdowns:
- Demographics: Age, sex, and country
- Socioeconomics: Household size, income level, employment status, and education level
- Behavior: Interests, devices, and social media
In the “Audience Overlap” tab, you can see which sites these users visit most.
This can help you understand what types of content your prospects love. And identify key places for content distribution.
Just follow the prompts to create a profile that looks like this:
Then click “Save & Share” to copy the shareable link. This is what you’ll add to your content strategy document to reference as needed.
The content strategy template also provides fields for key information, such as age and location. But you can add or remove fields as you wish.
3. Document Your Resources
The “Resource Analysis” section of the content strategy template is where you’ll document the assets available to you or your team.
This will help you devise viable tasks and deadlines. And manage your resources more effectively.
Make sure to complete each of the sections:
- People: Who are the people on your team? What are their skill sets? How much time do they have available?
- Tools: What content tools do you already have access to? What are their functions?
- Budget: Do you have a budget for additional resources?
Some of this information might seem obvious to you. But documenting it helps everyone on your team get a clear understanding of the content strategy. And make well-informed decisions.
4. Conduct Competitor Analysis
Analyze your competitors’ content to see what’s working for them—and what isn’t. Then keep notes to inform your own content marketing strategy.
In this context, a competitor is anyone publishing similar content to you. Commercial rivals are of particular interest. But you could also glean insights from industry bloggers, for example.
Use Semrush’s Organic Research tool to see who you’re up against in search engine results pages (SERPs). These tend to be your biggest online rivals.
Enter your domain, choose your country, then click “Search.”
Then, head over to the “Competitors” tab.
Scroll to the “Organic Competitors” list.
Click on any rival’s domain to learn more.
The “Pages” tab is one of the best places to learn about the competitor’s content.
You can use the “Filter by URL” option to focus on pages in a folder (e.g., “/blog/”).
Then look at metrics for each URL:
- Traffic: The estimated number of unpaid visits from Google each month
- Keywords: The number of keywords the page ranks for (with a search intent breakdown)
- Backlinks: The number of links this page has from other domains
Generally, the stronger these metrics, the stronger the content.
Click the “External link” icon to visit any URL and conduct further analysis.
Ask yourself the following questions. And add notes to your content strategy template.
- What type(s) of content does this competitor create?
- What topics does this competitor cover?
- Which pieces of content perform best?
- What does this competitor do well?
- What could they do better?
Tip: Check out our guide for conducting a full competitive analysis.
5. Perform a Content Audit
A content audit is an analysis of your existing content. To help you spot opportunities for improvement.
Generally, it’s best to review existing content before creating new content. You don’t want people to land on old, forgotten pages and have a poor experience.
Improving and optimizing content can also lead to better search engine rankings. (And therefore more organic traffic.)
And not just for the page itself. According to Google, “removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”
The website content strategy template has space for your URLs and corresponding notes.
To determine whether you have quality content, ask yourself:
- Is the content helpful, comprehensive, and accurate?
- Does the content demonstrate E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)?
- Does the topic have potential? Does your audience want or need this content?
Semrush’s On Page SEO Checker can help with your analysis.
Configure the tool (making sure to connect your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts).
Then go to the “Optimization Ideas” tab.
The tool prioritizes pages with the most untapped potential.
Click on any “# ideas” button to see suggestions.
You’ll find sections for “Content,” “Strategy,” and more.
Also evaluate your page’s performance. Does it fulfill its original goals? If not, you have improvements to make.
Look at relevant content marketing metrics, such as:
The number of unique users who visited your page within a period of time
Average time on page
How long the average user remains on the page
The percentage of sessions that were not engaged
The number of times your chosen event was triggered
For valuable insights into keyword rankings, use Semrush’s Position Tracking tool.
After configuring the tool, head to the “Pages” tab. Where you’ll find keyword data for each URL.
Then use the arrow to see any page’s keyword rankings.
If your pages aren’t ranking well (e.g., lower than positions 1 to 3), this suggests the content could be improved.
When you’ve finished evaluating a page, decide what to do with it:
- Keep: This content is helpful and it’s performing well
- Improve: This content could be improved or is not performing as well as it could
- Remove: This content offers no value and has little to no potential
Note your decision in the “To Do” column of the content strategy plan template. Along with any notes that will be useful later.
6. Identify Content Gaps
Content gaps are topics or subtopics your website could benefit from covering. Because they’re relevant to your audience and your brand.
Filling these gaps through content creation means addressing more of your audience’s needs. So you can increase traffic, engagement, and conversions.
It also helps you build a more robust content marketing funnel. In other words, content that nurtures users at every stage of the buying journey.
It tells you keywords (Google search terms) that rivals rank for—but you don’t.
To start, enter your domain and the domains of up to four competitors.
Then, choose your country and click “Compare.”
Scroll down and click the “Missing” tab.
You’ll see a list of keywords you’re missing out on. Sorted from highest to lowest volume (average number of monthly searches).
Click any keyword to see its metrics in Keyword Overview.
The “SERP Analysis” section shows you what pages rank at the top. Helping you determine what type of content you need to compete.
Tip: For more ways to find relevant search terms, check out our keyword research guide.
Semrush’s Topic Research tool can also help you identify content gaps.
Enter a topic (e.g., “home maintenance”) and choose your country.
Then click “+ Enter domain to find content on.”
Enter your domain in the field provided. This allows the tool to flag subtopics that you’ve already covered on your site.
Then click “Get content ideas.”
Once the tool has finished collecting ideas, click “View content ideas.”
The tool provides a list of subtopics. Any already covered on your site are colored green.
Click “Show more” on new subtopic ideas to see related headlines, questions, and searches.
Then, add any helpful notes to your content strategy template.
7. Establish Content Guidelines
Use your content strategy template to outline the guiding principles for content creation.
This will help you produce detailed content plans (which contain specific ideas and tasks). And create engaging, on-brand content.
First, add links to internal resources. Such as:
- Tone of voice guidelines, which define your written content’s personality
- Content calendar, which details what you’ll publish and when
- Brand style guide, which contains design standards
Also jot down important details for easy reference.
Next, decide what types of content marketing you want to engage in. And build out the guidelines for each. Making sure to reference all the information in your content strategy so far.
Let’s say you want to produce blog posts that drive organic traffic. So you add this format and associated notes to your content strategy template.
In the “Topics” section, list the topics you want to cover. These should be relevant to your brand and interesting to your audience.
Then consider frequency. How often do you want to create and publish this type of content?
Consider your resources. As we discussed earlier, unrealistic goals can demotivate your team.
Plus, quality trumps quantity.
Last, consider content distribution. How will you amplify your content to get it seen by more people?
For example, here are some ways to amplify blog posts:
- Share on social media
- Feature within email newsletters
- Use outreach to get shares and links from influencers
Here’s what all that looks like in our content strategy example:
The content strategy template is designed for long-term planning. But that doesn’t mean it should remain static.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend refreshing your content strategy document every six months. (Or whenever there’s a major change to your business or market.)
This allows you to adapt to changes in your goals, audience, resources, and competitors. While providing stability. And allowing enough time to see the real impact of your efforts.