Posted on May 29, 2023 by Kyle Greenwood The next in my “Everyone Just Calm Down About Artificial Intelligence” series centers on one of the most important parts of content marketing: the content plan. For my purposes here, a content plan is a list of topics that you’ll be writing about over the next three, six, or 12 months. They are incredibly useful and help keep you on your content creation tasks. Developing a Content Plan: New vs. Existing Sites If you’re just now developing a website, a content plan will be pretty easy to create. There’s the home page, about us page, contact page, and all of the service and/or product pages. There are other landing pages that could be written depending on your business, but those listed above will be the main pages you’ll want to start with. You shouldn’t need AI to help you with a content plan for a brand-new site. If you have an existing site, however, you’ll want to move on to writing consistent content, such as blog posts, for your site. Blogs serve a few different purposes, including showing Google that your site hasn’t been left for dead. It also bolsters the services pages, allows you to address questions customers may have, and go after high-ranking keywords. Even though you know your business inside and out, it can be hard to think about which questions need to be answered. Here’s where AI can pay dividends. Using AI as a Content Plan Generator For fun (or maybe I was being a tiny bit lazy), I asked popular AI writing assistant ChatGPT how it would create a content plan for a client. The reply it gave was helpful in many ways — just not what I was looking for. It gave plenty of steps on how to develop a content strategy, such as defining objectives, identifying a target audience, developing content for different points of the customer journey, and more. All of that is important of course, but it doesn’t necessarily help me come up with topics that have the chance to rank well, get read, and get shared on social platforms. The first thing is to get your hands on an AI content generator. I’ll go with AI-powered ChatGPT because it’s free, although there are others, including AI tools like Bard from Google and Bing AI. You’ll need to get a login and then you’re ready to go. Once you’ve signed up (and addressed the optional AIPRM stuff), throw in a question or two to see what you get. But don’t go down any rabbit holes, you have work to do! For this exercise, I’ll go with a roofing company. Then, right before your eyes, ChatGPT will generate text to answer your question. ChatGPT even gives you a little pep talk at the end. Isn’t that nice? So now you have 20 content ideas to write about. And you could even turn around and have ChatGPT write different types of content for you. But it’s not something I would recommend, at least without some big caveats. Earlier this year, I wrote about how you can use AI writers to help you fill those pages up. I wouldn’t leave everything to the content bots (con-bots?), because while they do put website copy together that makes sense and is grammatically correct, the tone of voice resembles the Tin Man: no heart. You still need to talk to potential customers from your heart, your expertise, and your experience. But … is it Any Good? On the surface, those all seem like pretty good topics. See what a time-saver that was? And, because you’re the expert, you should be able to knock out 800 words at least on each topic. (Yes … 800 words. Small 250-word blogs won’t even register with Google in most cases. So you gotta go big or go home.) But will any of those topics answer the questions your potential customers have? This is where the con-bots fall a little short. Fortunately, there are web tools, including SEMrush and Ahrefs, that can help you figure out what people are actually searching for. So then you can find which topics are viable and manipulate them to serve your purposes. While many of these apps offer free options, you can be limited in how many keywords you can research. A popular free site is AnswerThePublic.com. Here is what you’ll get when you throw in a keyword you’re interested in: You get more content ideas along with some search volume and cost-per-click (CPC) numbers. You’ll also see they’ll give you more information if you get a paid account. I’ll leave that up to you, but if you’re only going to use it for keywords here and there, you can probably spread it out over a few days and be fine. Keyword Surfer A better way to vet your topics is through the Keyword Surfer extension for Chrome. You can get the search volume (if any) for a topic, CPC values (which basically tell you how difficult it will be to rank), and a list of related keywords. That’s a lot of good information for free — and whenever you search for anything, it will give you these stats. Off to the right of your search results, you’ll get the list of related topics: Sticking with the metal roofer, the first topic suggested was “5 Essential Roofing Tips for Surviving Pacific Northwest Winters. There was no search volume and no related keywords to work with. But when I shortened it to “winter roofing tips,” there was a search volume of 30 and more than 20 related topics. AI Keyword Research ChatGPT can also help in this respect (keyword research). I asked it to compile a list of high-ranking keywords for metal roofing: So now you need to be able to incorporate some of those phrases into the titles of your blog. Unfortunately, ChatGPT can’t provide search volume at this point. “As an AI language model, I don’t have real-time access to search volume data,” it explained to me. It was worth a shot. With a little bit of work, you’ll be able to turn those AI-generated content ideas that might not get much traction into something that can bring in the eyeballs. Using AI as a content plan generator will help you in the short term, generating content topics that are relevant to your products and services. They aren’t all going to be winners, but if you can commit to writing, say, two pieces of content every month for your blog, AI technology can cough up 20 to 30 long and short-form content topic ideas that will set you up for a year. And now that you’re more cognizant of the blog you’ll be writing, new topics may pop up just in the normal course of the workday. There are a lot of moving parts to the content creation process. A content plan should be flexible and adaptable to evolving needs and trends. Regularly review and refine the plan based on feedback, data analysis, and new opportunities to ensure ongoing success. Does Using AI as a Content Plan Generator Make Things Easier? Using an AI writing tool to come up with content (like blog posts) ideas can make things really easy. In a matter of seconds, con-bots give you 10, 20, 30, or more ideas that all seem worthy of attention. But just like you might use ChatGPT, Bard, or Jasper to create blog posts when you’re dealing with writer’s block, there’s always some required editing. Using other tools to find keywords that help focus your blog posts will make the content more appealing to search engines. Then it’s up to you to make the rest of the content sing to potential customers, which will lead to conversions (phone calls, form fills, or even visits to your store). It seems like a lot of work, but if you’re consistent with it, you’ll need to generate content plans just a couple of times a year. This will streamline the entire content creation process and allow you to stay focused on growing your business.