Website content plan – 6 steps to risk free content migration

Creating a content plan can be a daunting task when launching a new website or for when planning a website redesign, especially if you have a lot of content and existing search rankings to maintain. With a shiny new website comes the desire to bin a load of dated content and re-write much of the website from scratch. In doing so, you could be throwing away highly valuable page authority which has been gained over time.

In this guide we will show you the 6 steps to create a content plan that will help you successfully balance both the migration of existing content and the creation of new content in a way that maximises your SEO opportunities and minimises organic traffic loss.

What is a website content plan?

Content auditing, writing, optimising and publishing for a new site launch requires considerable work. It also depends on the scale of the website and multidisciplinary team to deliver.

A well constructed website content plan organises actions at a page-by-page level. This ensures nothing is missed and that content briefs, roles and responsibilities are all clear. It can take many forms and there are multiple content planning tools that can be used, some of which we will cover in this article.

In summary, your content plan, when planning a new website, clearly identifies which content to keep, ditch or rewrite from your old site. At the same time, it highlights any gaps for brand new content. It will also be your go-to guide for technical SEO planning and site migration (meta data, redirects etc.) when the time comes.

Your content plan, when planning a new website, clearly identifies which content to keep, ditch or rewrite from your old site whilst highlighting any gaps for brand new content.

Our 6 steps to create a website content plan

1. Perform keyword research

Keyword research should take place as early as possible within the website redesign process. Depending on how your customers typically find you, organic SEO should be a high-priority channel and the findings of your research can inform how you structure your website, as well as the content you write.

The first step is to understand search intent. What are your audiences trying to achieve and is the need transactional (ready to buy), informational (not yet ready to buy) or navigational (looking for a specific website)?

Topic Focus

Next, you need to focus on topics as people don’t always search by using exact phrases. It could be related search terms or concepts such as ‘how to…’ or ‘what is….’.

This gives you a solid base on which to start planning your keywords but it’s important to go as wide as possible with your research. Look at all of your direct and indirect competitors to see what they are targeting to make sure you are not missing any opportunities to rank higher.

Keyword research is a huge topic in itself, so to find out more read our article.

Ultimately, the result should be a prioritised set of keywords, no more than 250. They should be grouped in a way that makes sense to your business, perhaps by topic, product or service. The list should include a combination of keywords. These should be a mixture of;

  • Broad terms (single words or short phrases that have high search volume and are more competitive).
  • Long-tail terms (phrases with 3 or more words that are more specific and generally less competitive).

This list will be used to perform keyword mapping for your content plan and will inform your overall content strategy.

2. Design your sitemap

This takes place during the user experience planning phase of the website design process. During this phase you will establish your target audience, segmented by needs specific to the website.

What are they looking for? What stage of the buyer’s journey are they at? Where have they come from to find your website?

Site architecture

This information will inform the site architecture. This is a sitemap and set of wireframes that demonstrate how your audience can get to the information they are looking for quickly and easily, to support conversion.

Each page will serve a specific purpose and have a defined action you want your audience to take. With this information you can plan the content and optimise the page for search (if required). For example, the ‘about us’ and ‘privacy policy’ pages most likely won’t need optimising.

The approved sitemap, and the pages listed within it, will form the basis of our website content plan.

3. Audit existing content

To know where we are going we need to know where we have been! What content, on the current site, is driving the most organic traffic and engagement? You need to analyse this data at a page-by-page level. This ensures you migrate or redirect your most valuable content as well as mitigating any potential traffic losses.

There are several tools you can use to help you with this. You can compile data manually from the following tools:

  • Google Analytics (traffic and engagement, such as the amount of time spent whilst on a particular page)
  • Google Search Console (ranking and specific keywords).

Alternatively, you can use a platform such as Semrush which will compile most of this data for you, using their ‘Content Analyser’ tool (linking both your Analytics and Console profiles together).

From here, you can start to see what content needs some work to rank better within the organic search engine result pages. You can also see what content you can ditch and what gems you have that absolutely need to migrate as they are! Start to assign an action and group your pages ready for the next stage.

Note: In this process, be mindful of your ‘low-hanging fruit’ content. This is content that you may not love and may be quite happy to ditch but ranks on page 3 or 4 for a low-priority keyword. However, with low priority often comes low keyword difficulty. With a little love, these pages could easily be boosted to page 1 or 2 and your authority could be improved for other related keywords, through internal linking.

4. Create your plan

You are now ready to create your first draft content plan. There is no hard and fast rule with this. It should be a living and breathing document that helps you and your team manage the content you need for launch. It will change and evolve over time as you make it fit your team and business needs.

To get you out of the starting blocks, take the pages from your new sitemap and list them in a spreadsheet. This should be your primary and secondary level navigation pages, not blogs at this stage. Title this column ‘Page name’ and create the following columns:

  • Old URL.
  • New URL.
  • Action.
  • Keywords.

Now, using your content audit, map the old content to the new content by establishing the following:

Does this page exist in the new site map? If so, do we want to keep or rewrite the content? Make a note in the action column and make a note of the primary keywords the page currently ranks for. The old and new URLs should be the same.
However, if you are changing folder structures, the URL will change and become a redirect.

For example, may become

This really depends on your sitemap and how complicated you want to make your structure. This is a much broader topic but an important part of your plan. Basically, if your existing page performs really well in organic search, you need to keep the URL the same if at all possible. If you can’t then it’s important to put a 301 redirect in place to the new URL.

Does the page not exist in the new sitemap? It may be that the page has merged with another page or you are ditching it entirely. If so, you will need to create another line at the bottom of your table under the header ‘redirects.’

It will be important to follow all of the above steps if the content you are merging or ditching ranks well, to make sure this is considered in any page rewrite. Alternatively, does it need reinstating at all? If the page does not perform, simply updating the old and new URL columns for redirect planning will be sufficient.

Lastly, add all the blog content you wish to keep to your list and follow the same steps. After completing this process, you will know which content no longer perform well and needs to be rewritten or published more frequently.

5. Perform keyword mapping

So far, you have used your old content analysis to work out which keywords to use. However, this is based on what the content is currently ranking for – not what it should be ranking for. There is, of course, your brand new content to consider too.

The content performing well or with potential to do well for specific keywords (given a little more work) should stay the same; provided the keywords are still relevant and have enough search queries each month.

Check if an opportunity exists for a particular piece of content to rank well, using a more appropriate or higher volume search term, with a little work. Is there an opportunity to create a new blog post to rank for missing keywords our competitors are ranking for? Should one of the new primary navigation pages be optimised for a particular high volume search term?

Refining Keywords

Work through your content plan, using your keyword research and refine your assigned keywords accordingly. A common practice is to use general, high-volume terms for your website’s primary and secondary pages. For example, a service page might be titled ‘web design,’ while blog posts are better suited for longer phrases like ‘web design best practices.’

You should aim for all of your primary keywords from your research to have a home in your content. A popular content strategy to strengthen authority around particular topics is to link multiple pieces of content targeted at related, long tail and more niche keywords back to a ‘Pillar’ piece of content aimed at a related high broad, high volume keyword, to pass on any gains in authority and page rank.

6. Adapt the plan to suit your content workflow

The allocated keywords are the starting point for your content briefs. There are, of course, many other factors to consider. These include the purpose of the page/content and the action you want your audience to take. You may also want to take a look at who else is ranking well for this type of content. This gives you a steer on word counts, structure and media types to include.

However, most importantly, you must write your content for humans not algorithms. At the end of the day, your content needs to be engaging and useful to your target audience for people to read it and want to either take action or follow onward journeys throughout your site.

As we said before, this document will evolve to meet your needs as a business. You may want to add a variety of workflow columns such as responsibility, status, approval and include links to content briefs and draft content for collaboration. You may also want to expand the page SEO section to cover page titles, H1 headers and meta descriptions for each piece of content for ease of review / sign off.

If you have a particularly large site you might want to manage different site sections/ blogs and redirects on separate tabs so it’s easier to manage. Adapt as you see fit!

Download our content plan template to help you get started.

By following this plan, not only will your content writing be more effective and maximise any existing SERP gains but you’ll also have a redirect plan in place for your developer. This way, traffic drop off will be minimised with the appropriate 301 redirects.

It’s important to note that any website with significant changes to design, structure and content will potentially see a drop-off in organic traffic, for anywhere up to 3 months, whilst search engines re-crawl and re-index the site. However, following this plan will ensure that your site not only bounces back quickly but will soon start to produce gains in new content areas.

Post-live content review

Remember, this is only the start of your content strategy journey. Once the site is live, it is important to consistently review, refresh and optimise your content to maximise your organic reach. SEO is a highly competitive discipline and without the necessary maintenance, even the best content will be superseded quickly.

If your business is in need of any help with website redesign, content planning or SEO activities, don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Written by

Alan Attias

SEO Manager

Data driven with eighteen years’ experience as a Digital Marketing and SEO Manager, Alan is our expert for our customers search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and PPC, employing integrated analytics for on-going ROI optimisation.

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