Sunday, January 8, 2023

A Prioritization Framework Specifically for Content Planning

The last time I attended a Women in Tech SEO virtual meetup I had promised a blog post on a prioritization framework I had built for content planning. But I was still finishing up grad school and never got around to posting many of the things I had hopes to on my blog.

Now that a new semester is gearing up where I’m not enrolled (I graduated in December!), I don’t really have an excuse. If you were in that WITSEO meetup and asked for this, thanks for your patience; hopefully this is worth the wait.

While SEO conferences were in full swing over the summer and fall, I saw some mentions about content planning presentations recommending the RICE prioritization method. RICE is a nice overarching scoring process developed by Intercom for product management. RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. The Impact factor leaves a lot of subjectivity. Plus, that method lacks some nuance to content marketing. I think my scoring process takes out the subjectivity and is created specifically for content planning.

In my influencer marketing series posts back in 2019, I mentioned using a scoring process for selecting influencer campaigns. I used that prioritization matrix as the basis of this process as well. The method allows you to pick several factors and provide a value to each of 0,3,6 or 9. Higher numbers will mean a higher score and higher priority. However, you can also choose to weight factors which will multiply the score and give that factor more value than others. Thus, choosing factors and how to score them is what narrows in the method specifically for content marketing. Be sure to decide on the factors, scoring, and the weighting before you start scoring any content; otherwise, you might start allowing bias to creep in as you analyze a specific project.

Average Monthly Search Volume

Each content idea should have an associated topic that some initial keyword research should be completed around. I’m not here to tell you how to go about doing your keyword research (although I’ve got some tips from an old process I used on budget). Use your trusted tool for keyword research to determine an average monthly search volume around the topic.

Before using the scoring method, work with your team to determine the thresholds you want to use for the scores. You’ll need four ranges for the scores, typically with the last being X and above. Deciding together eliminates decisions in a bubble and some bias. Don’t worry those of you (like me) that believe in the power of zero search volume keywords, the other factors can allow for an idea to still score well, even if the search volume is low.

Content Gap

This factor may be my favorite and, along with the next, requires some competitive research. The Content Gap factor looks at how much is being written about the topic both by you and your competitors. The scoring I use is:

  • 0 if the topic is saturated on your site and your competitors
  • 3 if the topic is saturated on your site but not others
  • 6 if the topic is saturated on competitor sites but not yours
  • 9 if the topic shows a gap in the market.


While your selected keyword research tool might include a competitiveness indicator. This factor looks more broadly at if there is already a lot written about the topic and if your site has the authority to compete. If a topic has already been covered by everyone, you may simply be rehashing all of that and not showing any expertise on it. I score this by:

  • 0 if the topic is overly competitive and your site has little topical authority
  • 3 the topic is competitive, but your site has high topical authority
  • 6 if there is low competition and you have low topical authority
  • 9 if there is low competition and you have high topical authority.

Content Reusability

I always hated having “content for content sake.” This phenomenon tends to happen when companies share to social media, or even worse the blog, a meaningless message tied to an upcoming holiday. Those silly, random holidays for every day of the year is how much of this is drummed up. I’ll admit I’ve fallen prey to this quantity over quality tactic in the past. This type of content is something that will have a short life, even if it is a couple of days each year.

This reusability factor makes sure you aren’t just writing content for the sake of having content. I refer to that as “fleeting” content. Fleeting could also relate to newsjacking tactics that might work for a short amount of time and then be completely irrelevant very quickly.

Another take on reusability is also how well the content can be used on different media. Does it make sense in short form video? Could it be a podcast? How can it be best used for each social media platform your company uses to target its audience? Is there a compelling way to tease out the content in your email newsletter?

Scoring for this looks at reuse across platforms/media and if the content is fleeting or evergreen:

  • 0 if the content is fleeting and not able to be reused across platforms (such as a “Happy New Years!” message on social media)
  • 3 if the content is evergreen but not easily used across platforms (i.e., product specs)
  • 6 if the content is fleeting but easily used across platforms
  • 9 if the content is evergreen and can easily be used across platforms.


The timeliness is pretty self-explanatory; however, fitting it into the 4 levels for scoring might not be as obvious.

  • 0 if it is not timely
  • 3 if it is an ongoing topic/trend
  • 6 if it is timely
  • 9 if it is breaking and you can be ahead of others

Again, the overall score is more important than anyone factor. Being the first to report something isn’t always the best route if it can lead to low quality work.

Alignment to Business Objectives

The factor about aligning to business objectives is a necessary factor for all prioritization matrices. If you aren’t working towards the bigger picture, then what even is the point of prioritizing the campaign/project/etc.? That doesn’t mean don’t include an idea on your scoring matrix (I use a spreadsheet with the factors as the column headings and then each idea as a row with the scoring for each column). For the Alignment to Business Objectives factor, I score a 0 if “it is not currently a priority,” yet will keep the idea alive as business priorities potentially shift. A low-level priority earns a 3, mid-level a 6, and high priority a 9.

a spreadsheet set up for a content prioritization scoring framework

There we have it! What other factors would you add and how would you score each?

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