5-Step Content Marketing Checklist

content marketing

Do you have a content marketing plan for your business?

Would you like to create blog posts people get value from and will share?

Blogging for business is so much more than writing an article and throwing it up on your website. It encompasses a lot of planning, preparing, research, writing and editing until you get something that truly resonates with the audience you’re trying to reach.

In an effort to organize this process for myself, I created a content marketing checklist that you might find useful when creating and promoting content for your business.

I’ve distilled it down into five key steps:

  1. Planning & Research
  2. Writing
  3. Optimization
  4. Making It “Shareable”
  5. Promotion

Even though there are several points for each step, there are still many more that weren’t covered in my attempt to be concise. If you feel something important is missing, let us know in the comments below. Make sure you scroll past the infographic for more detailed explanations of each step.

Your 5 Step Content Marketing Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC]

content marketing checklist

Feel free to share this infographic without modifications on your blog or anywhere you like with credit to Top Dog Social Media and a link back to this page.

1. Planning & Researching Your Topic

Use Google Keyword Planner

It’s been a while since this was called “Keyword Tool” but it’s purpose remains the same: to find relevant keyword phrases that people are searching for to use in your blog post.


Search Twitter For Popular Topics

I like to search Twitter for popular topics related to my chosen keyword and pay attention to the ones that are getting the most retweets and favorites. Some valuable insight can be gained through observing what is already working out there.


Do a Quick Google Search With Your Keyword

See which pages across the web are already ranking for your chosen keyword to get a feel for how competitive the keyword is. Pay attention to how many search results are returned and the quality of results in relation to the keyword you’ve chosen. This will give you an idea of what you’re up against.


Create a List of Major Points You Want To Get Across

It is extremely helpful to create a list of compelling points that you want to address in your article to help narrow down the core of your topic. Create a long list so that you can cross off anything that isn’t going to strongly support your point.

2. Writing Your Content

Don’t Let Paragraphs Run Too Long

Paragraphs in blog posts are not the same as the page-long paragraphs you’ll see when reading a novel. They should be broken up every 2-3 lines or roughly every 75-100 words. The idea is to make it easy to read and scan quickly.

Include Images Every 300 Words

Visuals help tell every story better. Try your best to include helpful graphics that push your narrative and explain the concepts you’re trying to get across. They don’t have to be fancy – screenshots can sometimes be the best and most helpful and require zero graphic design skills.

Use Sub Headers To Break Up Sections

People only want to spend as long as necessary reading your content to get value from it. The long, run-on paragraph style of online publications like The Huffington Post is simply not a good format when discussing content marketing for businesses. Break up paragraphs and add several sub headers to improve reading and quick scanning for readers that prefer to do so.

Create a Compelling Headline

Your headline is what determines if people will actually click on your article or not. If the headline is weak, traffic will be weak. The ideal length for your headline is 55 characters so that none of it is cut off when displayed in search results. Check out this killer resource on writing headlines by Copyblogger.

Make Use of Bullet Points & Lists

Where applicable, use bullets to make helpful, concise lists within your article. People love them and they are a great way to break up the text.

Link To Other Valuable Resources

If you mention a helpful tip that readers are likely to want to explore in greater depth, link to another valuable resource where they can learn more about it. Whether it’s an older article of yours or a great tutorial from another blogger, aim to provide something that will benefit the reader most. This helps you stay on topic while amplifying the value to readers at the same time.

Spell Check

This would be number one on this content marketing checklist if it weren’t for the fact that your blog needs to be finished before you can edit it.

3. Optimizing Your Content For Search

Aim For 1000-1500 Words

According to research from serpIQ, 1500 words is the Google “sweet spot” for content marketing SEO. Check out the average content length of the Top 10 search engine results in a chart below. Learn more about ideal content length from a great post by Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media.


Place Your SEO Keyword Into Your Blog Title

Make sure your chosen SEO keyword is present in the title of your blog, aka title tag.

Include Your SEO Keyword In An H2 Header

Be sure to include your SEO keyword in at least one H2 header.

Place Your SEO Keyword & Beginning of Title/Header

Place your SEO keyword at the very beginning of your title and H2 header for optimal results. Google will give more weight to that keyword because it sees it as being more relevant to the content when placed accordingly.

4. Make It Shareable

Create a Custom Graphic For Your Title

Create a custom graphic that shows the title of your blog in an attractive way to increase shares on Pinterest and other networks. Don’t want to hire a graphic designer? Use Canva, a free tool for creating eye-catching graphics without any design skills.

Use Click To Tweet For Quotes/Stats

Use Click To Tweet to include tweetable quotes and stats throughout your blog for increased shares. There is a great WordPress plugin that makes it really easy and looks fantastic but you can also do it the old fashioned way by using the website directly.

Create or Curate Related Infographics

Create or curate an infographic relevant to your chosen topic and include it in your post. Make sure that you have permission to share the graphic if you do decide to curate – fortunately, most infographics give consent right on the page they were originally shared, but that’s not always the case!

Include SlideShare Presentations or Video

Slideshow presentations and video can be an easy way to increase reader engagement and time spent on page. Whether you decide to make them yourself or source others from YouTube or SlideShare and embed them in your post, make sure they improve the quality of your content and overall subject matter. Otherwise they are just clutter and wasting time.

5. Promote Your Content

Send An Update To Your Email List

Send an update to your email list with a link to your blog post once you’ve published it to get an immediate spike in traffic.

Share on Facebook

Share your blog post on Facebook and make sure your image is optimized to look good in Facebook Link Preview for optimal click-through rates.

Share on Twitter

Share on Twitter and include your custom blog title graphic. Twitter has gotten so much more visual and I’ve personally noticed higher engagement and clicks with posts that have eye-catching images.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 2.11.27 PM

Share on Pinterest

Share on Pinterest using your custom blog title graphic.

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Pin To Relevant Shared Pinterest Boards

Pin to relevant shared Pinterest boards to increase exposure. Your pinned content must be relevant to your audience AND the specific board you are posting to.

Share via LinkedIn Status Update

Share your blog post as a status update on LinkedIn on your personal profile and your LinkedIn Company Page to engage your network.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 2.15.44 PM

Share In Relevant LinkedIn Groups

You cannot simply post to groups with your link, even if it is relevant because group moderators are likely to flag it as spam. Some groups are more strict than others, but the best practice is to always create a conversation around it. Make sure the groups you are sharing to are both relevant to your audience and the specific topic you are posting about.

Share To Google+

Share your post to Google+ to your personal profile and company profile.

Find Relevant, Niche Facebook Groups & G+ Communities

Similar to the process with LinkedIn groups, go and find niche Facebook groups and Google+ communities to share your post with by creating a discussion about it.

Consider Facebook Ads and/or LinkedIn Sponsored Updates

Consider using Facebook ads or LinkedIn Sponsored Updates to run targeted ads to promote your content.

Install a Social Sharing Plugin

Use a social sharing plugin like Digg Digg or Flare that allows for easy social sharing to increase shares directly from your blog.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 2.27.01 PM

Consider Niche Opportunities For Sharing

Consider more niche places to post such as Reddit subforums (aka subreddits) but be aware of the etiquette of each site’s community before posting or your efforts will prove to be a waste of time.

Content Marketing Checklist: What’s Working For You?

We tried our best to encompass all that is relevant for our content marketing checklist from research to creation to optimization to promotion. Share what’s been working for you and if there is anything you think should be added to our list. Let us know in the comments below.


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