The Ultimate Guide
Creating content topics
Table of contents
Abraham Lincoln once said that the internet was the ultimate source of wisdom.
That’s not true at all, but everyone knows ol’ honest Abe had a way with words. We like to think he’d recognize the power of creating and distributing meaningful content to an audience—whether you’re a politician, an individual content creator, an agency, or a B2B business.
For many people, the biggest challenge to creating an impactful content marketing engine is figuring out the right content topics to target. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Hasn’t it all been done before?” or “Aren’t all the valuable keywords already too competitive?” this guide is for you.
And if you’ve got a CEO breathing down your neck to come up with content that will drive growth for the future, this is definitely for you.
Challenges to creating great content topics
Challenges to Creating Great Content Topics
In this guide, we’re pulling back the curtain to show you how to find great content topics. But that begs the question: why isn’t everyone doing this?
There are two big reasons you won’t find everyone using many of the below methods: they require more work, and they are often qualitative.
Hopefully, that didn’t scare you off. It shouldn’t.
Assuming you’re still here, let me explain.
Finding content creation ideas takes work
“It appears that marketing America still has plenty of time to do it over, but not nearly enough time to do it right. If there were shortcuts, people smarter than you and me would have found them already.”
It’s been almost 20 years since Seth Godin dropped this wisdom on his blog, but one thing hasn’t changed: marketing teams are still short on time (and money too. We’re always short on money).
Content marketers have so much on their plates: content strategy, creation, distribution, updating, and more. There are so many projects (and project management tools) to juggle. It feels bad to fault them for opting to take the easy road, but there’s an inherent tension between doing what’s easy and doing effective creative work.
Relying on shortcuts to produce meaningful and valuable content isn’t a recipe for long-term, differentiated success.
In fact, trying to avoid the hard parts of content topic generation is part of what’s brought search results to the state they’re in today. It’s easy to bemoan how the first page of SERP results is often basically the same content regurgitated in slightly different ways.
But overreliance on the best practices of various SEO and keyword research tools is what got us here.
If everyone follows the same recipe for baking a cake, you’ll end up with a bunch of similar cakes.
And when everyone follows the same steps for generating content ideas—competitive analysis, Google autosuggest, keyword research in Ahrefs or Semrush—the world ends up with a bunch of similar content.
We shouldn’t throw out these methods altogether, but there’s a better way forward for those willing to put in a little more work.
QUALITATIVE ISN’T A BAD THING
Here’s one problem with marketers and data: We obsess over data and try to quantify everything.
The explosive growth of available marketing data in the last few decades has naturally led to an increased focus on being data-driven across most marketing orgs. This abundance of data has opened up new worlds for marketers, and that’s ultimately a net positive thing. Data helps us make smarter decisions, prioritize limited budgets, and prove the ROI of marketing campaigns.
But here’s the downside: when we become obsessed with making everything quantifiable and “data-driven”, we often undervalue things that are qualitative or aren’t yet measurable.
Despite knowing that many common SEO and marketing tools use data that’s incomplete or inaccurate, we default to prioritizing projects and initiatives with bigger numbers attached. We bust our butts trying to rank for random keywords because they’ve got “good search volume” in keyword tools, while ignoring questions actual customers are asking us directly.
In this kind of environment, taking a different approach can feel risky. Spending time on content that’s more qualitative in nature can feel like a gamble.
But it’s also the path towards creating content that adds real value to the real humans you’re trying to sell your product or service to.
WHY YOU SHOULD DO THE WORK TO CREATE GREAT CONTENT
Putting in the work to uncover great content topics—and then creating high-quality content on those topics—means your work automatically provides value to your readers::
- You'll be targeting topics based on a deep understanding of customer problems (not just random keyword numbers). The content assets you create—from blog posts to podcasts to help center articles—will be things your prospects and customers need because they’ll move them closer to their goals as your customer.
- You won’t just be creating run-of-the-mill content. Your content will be more authentic and helpful, and it will stand out from the sea of subpar copycat content that’s available elsewhere.
Doing the work to find great content topics is the secret sauce to creating value-added content.
Generating great content topics from first-party data
Generating Great Content Topics From First-Party Data
Like most things in life, the key to great content topics is found at parties in thinking about parties. And who doesn’t love a good party? (#introverts).
But we’re not talking about parties that involve confetti and cocktails (although if you figure out a way to work those into your content strategy, more power to you).
Generating great content ideas and blog topics is all about your data sources. Everyone’s familiar with third-party data sources for content ideas. Third-party data is data you don’t own, such as what you’d find in Ahrefs, Semrush, of Google.
Third-party data is essential to content marketing (and we’ll dive into it more later). But the real opportunity for great content topics isn’t in third-party data.
It’s all about that first-party data.
USING FIRST-PARTY DATA TO FIND CONTENT TOPICS
Remember your first birthday party? Probably not. But that’s alright.
What matters here is that first-party data is data and information that you own. It’s like getting a smash cake at your first birthday party. There might be another cake that everyone can get a piece of, but the smash cake is all yours.
First party data isn’t shared with everyone else. It’s data you’ve collected directly from your customers and prospects. It’s unique to you.
And that’s why first-party data is such a powerful source of great content topics.
Your product solves a specific problem for specific people.
As much as marketers like to talk about fancy things like total addressable market and buyer personas, at the end of the day, your product—and your marketing—is targeting a specific group of real live humans. Real people.
First-party data sources help you avoid that mistake. They’re the best tool you have for getting to know your customer. And the best content topics for your current and ideal customers come from in-depth customer research.
Here’s how you do it.
TALK TO YOUR SALES & CUSTOMER SUCCESS TEAMS
Buyer personas are great, but they can’t beat actual buyers. No one in your organization spends more time building relationships with your prospects and customers than your Sales and Customer Success teams.
Generating content creation ideas from your Sales and Customer Success teams can be as simple as having regular conversations with frontline team members or managers. Ask them what they’re hearing. What concerns do customers have? What objections do prospects consistently bring up?
But don’t stop there.
Tools like Chorus or Gong make recording conversations with customers and prospects easy. Call recordings and transcripts contain a wealth of insights into what your prospects are thinking and the challenges they’re facing.
These sources are rife with potential content topics—and you’ll even be able to use the exact vocabulary your ideal customers use when you’re creating new content.
It will be like you’re taking the words right out of their mouths.
CHECK YOUR CUSTOMER SUPPORT INBOX & SURVEY RESPONSES
Speaking of folks who talk to customers all day.
Few people understand your customers’ pain points like your support team does. Support agents know where customers get frustrated with your product. They know what your product can and can’t do for customers. They track feature requests like your great uncle tracks baseball stats.
Most support ticketing software—like Zendesk or Help Scout—includes robust tagging and reporting functionality. In today’s world, support teams often supplement ticketing software with feedback analytics tools like Kapiche, unlocking even more insights from your customers.
Support tickets include a ton of first-party data, but chances are you’re also running customer surveys like NPS or CSAT. These survey responses contain a wealth of insights, so don’t let them get siloed as if they’re just your support or success team’s concern.
Having conversations with your customer-facing teams brings a bonus, too: it creates alignment across your entire customer journey. When teams from marketing to sales to success and support are on the same page, you can create a consistent experience from a prospect’s initial interaction with your brand all the way through their time using your product.
SOURCE CONTENT TOPICS FROM OTHER INTERNAL TEAMS
We’ve talked about a few teams that directly interact with customers and bring a lot of first-party data to the table. But it’s often a good idea to source content ideas from individuals across your company.
Bob in Finance or Helen in Engineering might have a great content idea they’re just sitting on because they don’t know what to do with it.
It’s your job to make it easy for them to submit and share ideas. Here’s an easy three-step process:
- Create a dedicated Slack channel for sharing content ideas and blog topics (something as simple as #contentideas works great).
- Build a Slack workflow that guides anyone interested step-by-step through the process.
- Use Zapier to automatically add ideas to your content operations workflow (e.g. Asana or CoSchedule). Feeling fancy? Try building Zaps that rely on different Slack emojis to categorize ideas or trigger different actions.
Creating dedicated channels to get content ideas flowing around your org is foundational. To up the ante even more, try holding regular brainstorming sessions with different cross sections of your company. What would happen if you brought a product manager, a support rep, a sales leader, and a financial analyst into a conversation about your customers’ needs? (Yes, this sounds like the start of a joke, but it works!)
Bringing people who know your products and customers yet have vastly different roles can inspire unique and interesting content ideas. Instead of a meandering conversation, try introducing constraints to force creative approaches. Mental models can help, like these:
- Second-order thinking. Second-order thinking is deliberate. It involves asking questions like “...and then what?” to force participants to take their thinking to a deeper level.
- Occam’s razor. Occam’s razor basically states that among multiple hypotheses, the simplest explanation is preferable. It’s the philosopher’s KISS—”Keep it simple, stupid.” In a brainstorming session about content, this might look like starting with a question, such as, “How can we help customers adopt feature X?” As you list out ideas, keep digging for simpler solutions. It’s often preferable to start with the simplest and easiest-to-create topics first.
- Pareto’s principle. Pareto’s principle is also known as the 80/20 rule. Applied to content brainstorming, it implies things like “80% of your traffic will come from 20% of your blog posts.” As you’re brainstorming, use Pareto’s principle as a lens to help you decide where to invest your time and energy.
CONSTANTLY DO CUSTOMER & AUDIENCE RESEARCH
If we gave you a super powerful tool almost guaranteed to improve your marketing outcomes, would you ignore it?
Probably not. But that’s exactly what happens with audience research. Successful marketers are nearly 2.5x more likely to conduct audience research at least once a quarter, yet two-thirds of marketers seldom or never do research.
We get it. Customer research can be time-consuming and expensive. When the pressure to deliver results is on, it can feel like the last thing you have time for. But the fact that almost no one is doing it is exactly why customer research is so powerful.
“At Butter, all our content topics come from our customers and our community. Our goal is to write content that educates and inspires our target audience, while also showing them how to use our product to solve their challenges. Therefore, our best content ideas all come directly from the mouths of our customers. Here are a few ways I gather ideas:
Interview customers: Get on a call with a customer and ask them what challenges your product solves for them. How do they use it? How does it create value for them? What do they wish they had known when they started using your product? What was a roadblock to starting to use your product?
Also, ask them about their role in general. What challenges are they grappling with recently? What do they wish they knew one year ago? What’s been inspiring them lately?
Community: If you have your own product community, mine it for ideas. If you don’t have a community, join a community where your target audience lives to see what they’re talking about. You’ll get tons of blog ideas in minutes."
An example of this in practice at Butter was when customers told them they wanted ways to bring more energy to online workshops, especially when kicking them off. After some brainstorming, this led to creating a giant guide to icebreakers for online workshops. Many customers contributed to the piece, which should also help with distribution once it’s published.
Here’s the thing you shouldn’t miss: Butter knows this content piece will succeed. Their customers are asking them for it, contributing to it, and will absolutely use it.
Now, content creation becomes easy. When you’re close enough to your customers that they become both the source of content ideas and the distribution channel for new content, you’re in good shape.
Review mining is when you dive deep into online reviews of your product. You can also mine your competitors’ reviews to see what customers like or dislike about them, but that’s more of a third-party data source.
Reviews are a powerful first-party data source because they contain raw details from real buyers. They’re not hypothetical, and they’re unfiltered. Mining reviews can be time-consuming, but it’s basically free, and it’s well worth the work for the gems you’ll find.
Customer reviews contain all kinds of insights: why customers bought from you, what they like, what they don’t like, alternatives they’ve used, and more. You’ll also be able to see the exact words customers use to describe their challenges and your product. For example, here’s one review of Coda.io’s collaboration software:
From one simple review:
- You’ve glimpsed several personas to target in your marketing.
- You’ve understood how customers use your product and can create resources to help them.
- You’ve identified a major challenge to customers seeing value from your product—the learning curve—and can create onboarding guides to help.
- You’ve understood what customers think makes your product unique, so you can double down on that in future marketing efforts.
Multiply this impact across every review your business receives, and you’ll never run out of content topics.
DO THE CONFERENCE CIRCUIT
Conferences are more than awkward small talk and collecting swag. They’re a great way to immerse yourself in your customers’ world.
“When I worked on the blog at CXL,” says Alex Birkett, co-founder at Omniscient Digital, “we hosted two conferences each year and I attended 4–6 more. I immersed myself in the audience I was writing for, so I heard firsthand the newest trends, the oldest pain points yet unsolved, and the most pressing conversations in the industry—and then I wrote about them.”
Whether a keyword research tool shows volume for a topic or not, if your customers regularly bring it up in conversation, chances are there’s demand for content around it.
JOBS TO BE DONE (JTBD) INTERVIEWS WITH CUSTOMERS
Created by Clayton Christensen in the 90s—presumably influenced by U2 and Nirvana, like most 90s things—JTBD is a framework for orienting yourself around your customers’ needs.
When it comes to content marketing, that means creating content in light of why a customer “hires” your product—the job they’re expecting it to do for them. In other words, it’s all about your customers’ intent.
Conducting JTBD interviews with existing customers is a great way to clarify the jobs existing customers are using your product to complete. There are lots of JTBD interview scripts and guides out there.
When you’re doing a customer interview, keep these principles in mind:
- It’s about your customer not your product. Your goal isn’t to talk about your product or service. If you can understand the pain your customers are trying to alleviate and the motivation behind their actions, you can evolve your product and your marketing as needed.
- Context is king. Choosing a new product to complete a job never happens in a vacuum. The more you can understand a customer’s state of mind and emotions leading up to a decision, the more impactful your marketing becomes.
- Understand the struggle. Pain is a catalyst for change. Humans don’t change the tools and products they rely on unless they feel enough pain to motivate action.
- Learn about outcomes. Focus on understanding the results your customers are hoping to achieve with your product.
Customer interviews are powerful sources of content topics because they help you understand your customers’ journey to and with your product. As you learn about their paths to choosing your product, you’ll uncover better ways to influence and educate them through your content.
START A PODCAST
Let’s call it like it is: all the great content geniuses have great podcasts.
Podcasts are an excellent source of content inspiration because they’re typically just long conversations. Having extended conversations with your customers or industry experts regularly is sure to spark tons of content ideas.
Apart from being content in its own right, a simple 30-minute podcast episode can easily be repurposed into:
- Visual quotes for social sharing
- Blog posts recapping the conversation or going deeper on given topics
- Video shorts for YouTube or TikTok
A podcast conversation can also inspire areas to dive deeper into, whether in future podcast episodes or other content formats.
UNLOCK THE POWER OF GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
Google Search Console (GSC) remains an untapped resource for many content teams. It’s not the most intuitive platform, but combining GSC with Google Data Studio can make the data far more accessible.
The most powerful way to use GSC data for content topic ideas is to use it to find questions that people are already asking to find your site.
Start by looking at the types of questions people are asking. Using RegEx in GSC can be a shortcut to grouping question types—e.g. “how” versus “why” versus “what”. Just add this custom query:
The resulting grouping can inform your content ideas. For example, if users ask lots of “how” questions, it’s probably a good idea to create more video content addressing their queries. Video is often a perfect format for how-to guides that walk visitors through a process.
Another use case for GSC is to dictate your approach to answering questions. You can accomplish this by examining the positions each page ranks in relation to a query.
For instance, say visitors are asking, “What is content marketing?” and landing on a page that’s in position 30 on the Google SERP. That’s a super competitive keyword. You have two options: try to improve that article in a big way, or break it up into more of a hub-and-spoke model where you’re earning authority across multiple smaller pieces.
You’ll need to use your best judgment to decide the right move for your content, but GSC gives you unique first-party data sourced from your real-world audience.
ASK TIMELY QUESTIONS OF CUSTOMERS
Customer interviews are indispensable, but they are hard to scale.
That’s where tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg come in handy. Yes, these tools generate heatmaps and screen recordings that can be insightful and can help you optimize for conversions. But they also let you ask website visitors timely questions, like:
- Asking users about to leave your checkout page: “What is keeping you from buying right now?”
- Asking visitors spending lots of time in your help center: “What questions are you not finding answers to?”
- Asking customers on your blog: “What other topics are you curious about?” or “What content do you wish we had?”
These tools give you an easy way to solicit pointed feedback from customers at scale and in the moment.
If you’ve got an existing audience, surveying or polling them can also be a great source of content ideas. If you’re on Twitter, you’re guaranteed to have seen this from time to time. It’s an easy way to understand what your audience wants to hear more from you on—just be sure that what you’re hearing aligns with their behavior in your analytics tools.
Once you’ve got the data, try plugging it into tools like MarketBold’s KeywordGrouper Pro™. It’ll take all of your unstructured responses and group them by theme and keywords.
When sorting through large volumes of unstructured customer feedback for content ideas, tools like these can be a lifesaver.
Putting your first-party data to work is the best way to find content topics that will be uniquely valuable to your audience and customers. There’s no better alternative.
An abundance of first-party content topics puts your brand in a position of power. Instead of competing with everyone else for the same keywords with the same strategies, you’ll have a plethora of valuable, original content ideas that you can put your unique brand spin on.
Your content roadmap will go from famine mode to feast mode.
Generating great content topics from third-party data
Generating Great Content Topics From Third-Party Data
If you have enough first-party data—and get good at analyzing it—you may never need third-party data for generating content ideas. Even when that’s the case, third-party data is often useful for validating your first-party findings.
But some companies aren’t in a position where they can rely on first-party data alone for topic ideas.
In these situations, third-party data sources become a necessity. Fortunately, there are myriad ways you can use third-party data to generate great topic ideas. Just keep in mind that in a race to the bottom, no one really wins. With each third-party topic idea you uncover, ask yourself key questions like these:
- What’s our unique take on this?
- What first-party data do we have that can add color or clarity to this?
- What does our audience need to know about this thing?
Third-party data sources aren’t bad. They only become a problem when they unknowingly push your content marketing towards looking just like everyone else’s.
STEAL CONFERENCE AGENDAS
“Conference agendas are an effective way to generate content ideas. The topics are already vetted through a thorough process for the event's audience. Most presentation topics also come with a breakdown of what will be covered. So, writers can use those subtopics in their broad outline.”
Audience overlap is the key to using a conference agenda for content ideas. When there’s a strong overlap between your ideal customer and the conference’s attendees, it makes a ton of sense. Where there’s little overlap, it might be a waste of time.
When you’re looking for a date, you might head to a local bar or join Tinder. You try to put yourself where other eligible singles are already present. You make it easy for your paths to cross so you can get to know them.
Please don’t date your customers.
But do hang out where they hang out. For most marketers, digital platforms are the easiest way to do this—and there are tons of options.
The number of niche, industry-specific online communities is dizzying.
- Superpath - for content marketers.
- Support Driven - for customer support and experience professionals.
- Bravado - for sales professionals.
- E-learning Heroes - for instructional designers.
- Growth Hackers - for digital marketers and growth experts.
- Teachers Connect - for educators.
- Wizard of Ops - for operations professionals.
- Barista Exchange - for baristas.
- Bakerspace - for baking enthusiasts.
That’s just a small sample, but the point is clear: if you can dream up a niche online community, it probably exists. And if you can’t find a standalone community somewhere, bet your money there’s at least a dozen Facebook Groups about it.
The power of industry-specific communities lies in how they enable you to understand your target audience’s pressing concerns and common questions. Say you’re a marketer who burns everything you cook, but you’re trying to sell to bakers. Although it might not be your natural language, hanging out in Bakerspace will help you understand what bakers think about and how they talk about their passion.
“At Chili Piper, our content team actively searches online Slack and Facebook communities to see what our are buyers talking about — and come up with fresh content ideas relevant to questions people are asking now. For example, we saw a lot of people talking about ‘shiny tool syndrome’ in the Wizard of Ops community, so we wrote a blog post called How to buy business software, without bias [+ template]. Months later, 85% of visitors are scrolling far enough to download our template…verifying that this is content that’s actually meeting a real need for people.”
With hundreds of thousands of topics and over 300+ million unique visitors monthly, Quora is the poster child for online question-and-answer platforms. And while the quality of answers varies widely, the real value of Quora for generating content ideas is in the questions. When people can’t find helpful resources available immediately via Google, they turn to sites like Quora.
Flip that logic on its head: When you find recurring question themes on Quora, you’ve found a great opportunity to create authoritative content.
“Writing an informative article that answers those overarching questions can yield some impressive long-tail keyword rankings,” says Pat Ahern, Partner and Growth Strategist at Intergrowth. “These articles can often then be spliced into smaller chunks to serve as great answers to those original Quora questions.”
Pat’s team doesn’t just talk the talk. They’re a content marketing agency, and years ago, they found regular questions on Quora such as “What’s the best digital marketing agency in [location]?”
Most answers were shameless plugs from marketers touting their credentials and trying to win business. Of course, there are great content agencies out there that work with different industries, but there are also plenty of sub-par ones.
The Intergrowth team took a different approach. “I read these questions as a request for help in figuring out how to hire the right agency,” says Pat. “We decided to write a full guide about how to tell the difference between an exceptional agency and a sub-par one. We tried to take an objective stance to help readers make the right decision for them. We then revisited Quora, and wrote answers to several of those recurring questions summarizing the key points from the article. Today, it’s one of the top organic traffic drivers on our site.”
Identifying the “right” questions to answer on Quora requires spending some time on the platform. But it’s an investment that can pay off in a big way.
Reddit may just be the internet’s toughest platform for marketers. Redditors are known for ganging up on marketers who spam their communities (aka subreddits) without adding real value.
But the “front page of the internet” is also a valuable source of content ideas for those who know how to use it. There are two great ways to get started:
- Leverage subreddits your audience hangs out in. For example, Brittany Berger, founder of Work Brighter, considers adults with ADHD as a key part of her audience. She’ll regularly plug ADHD-related subreddits into a keyword research tool to see what keywords it ranks for. If she finds these subreddits ranking for informational keywords, she knows she’s found a topic she should easily be able to rank for with some solid long-form content.
- Use Ross Simmond’s “Sherlock Homeboy” approach. Simmond’s approach involves searching on Reddit for “site: domain.com” (where “domain.com” is any website you think is getting love on Reddit). Sort by “top” and you’ll quickly see what kind of content from that domain is doing well on Reddit. From there, you can deconstruct what topics and formats might work well for your business.
LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA OBSERVATIONS
Your customers and prospects are probably already talking about you and your competition every day. And if they’re not talking about you by name, you’d better believe they’re at least talking about their challenges and pain points.
Observing them—some might call this creeping—wherever these conversations happen is an easy way to learn more about your audience’s goals, motivations, and pain points. And when it’s happening on social media, it’s almost all public and there for the taking.
It’s a chance to observe your audience in their native habitat.
When you’re observing your audience on social platforms, you’ve got to have the right mindset. The golden insights aren’t always on the surface—sometimes you need to interpret the clues or read between the lines.
Take this interaction, for example:
Sure, Warby Parker’s social media team was on point with a quick and witty reply to this Twitter thread. But the real gold comes from observing the entire thread. A simple question—”Do you wear glasses?”—led to a conversation between dozens of people, highlighting things they love about glasses, challenges with wearing glasses, and how they feel about needing glasses.
These valuable conversations happen all day, every day, all over the place. You just need to make a point of looking.
And when you’re struggling to figure out where your audience hangs out or who their biggest influences are, tools like Sparktoro and Audiense exist to give you clarity and empower you with creative approaches to content ideation.
SEO & KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOLS
Every content marketer out there has some level of familiarity with tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz.
If you’ve done the work of unlocking and analyzing your first-party data, tools like these may serve best as a method of data validation. Instead of using them as your sole source of content ideas—like everyone else out there is—you’re coming to them to test assumptions and confirm your first-party findings.
But when you’re lacking in first-party data or need a fresh injection of content creativity, SEO and keyword research tools can help. They’re fundamental to modern content marketing for a reason.
If you’re new to this, keyword research is the process of identifying popular words and phrases people are searching for, then using them as a jumping-off point for content ideas.
And yes, sometimes keyword research gets WEIRD—as in “what do to if a dolphin wants to mate with me.” I’m not saying you should create content for everything you uncover during keyword research, but you could.
Each of the big SEO tools has created in-depth guides for how to use their products for effective keyword research:
The general approach to effective keyword research for generating content topics involves several steps:
Finding keyword ideas. Through customer research, brainstorming seed keywords, and competitor analysis, you’ll identify keywords that you think are relevant to your audience. If you’re marketing a fitness app, you’ll probably come up with broad terms like weight loss, dieting, and cardio. These broad terms are great starts, but you should go deeper into identifying long-tail keywords. While long-tail keywords have lower search volumes—sometimes even showing no search volume in SEO tools—they’re far more specific and often lead to higher conversion rates.
Analyzing keywords’ potential. Once you’ve generated a long list of keywords, you need to figure out which ones have real potential. You’ll do this using metrics like search volume, keyword difficulty, and traffic potential. Each SEO tool’s interface and approach are a little different, but they all contain ways to analyze keywords against these common metrics.
Matching keywords to content formats. Your keywords give you topics to target, but you’ll need to decide the right content format for targeting each keyword. You can do this by understanding search intent. Search intent is about understanding the goal a user has when searching for something on Google (or any other search engine). If a user searches for “healthy breakfast recipes,” they’re probably looking for information and inspiration. You wouldn’t want to target that keyword on a product page—a listicle blog post with recipes is probably a better idea. But if they’re searching for “fitness programs for nursing moms” and you’ve got a program for nursing moms, that keyword is a perfect fit to build your product page’s content around.
USING GOOGLE TRENDS TO SEE WHAT’S HOT
When you know what the youths are interested in, you’re in business.
Keyword research tools have a wealth of research, but they fail to show you what’s happening in the current moment. Google Trends is far better at showing you what’s being searched in near real-time—by the youths or anyone else in the world. You can drill down to see how the search volume for specific terms has fluctuated in the last hour, day, week, and more.
You probably don’t want to throw all your energy into creating trending content that will be outdated in a few weeks or months, but understanding trending data goes a long way when vetting content topics.
LEVERAGE GOOGLE IMAGE TAGS
Google Trends lets you see trending data for image searches, but searching seed keywords in Google Images can uncover even more content opportunities.
“Search Google Images for a broad topic and then look at the related tags that Google suggests,” recommends David Bitton, cofounder and CMO at DoorLoop. “These tags are closely connected to the broad topic or keyword you type in, providing a variety of idea generation potential.”
A Google Image search for the broad keyword “fitness programs” suggests all kinds of related and more specific keyword ideas:
- Fitness programs in the gym
- Home fitness programs
- Fitness programs for total beginners
- Cardio fitness programs for beginners
- Summer fitness programs to look your best
It’s simple, but combining these ideas with what you know from your customer research can lead to virtually unending lists of content topics.
PEOPLE ALSO ASK
Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) is a well-known source of content ideas. People Also Ask shows related questions from searchers. With each click, you drill down another level into related search queries that you can use for content ideas.
Manually clicking PAA suggestions can be educational. It can also be mind-numbing and time-consuming.
Fortunately, there are tools that make it easier to process PAA data for generating content ideas.
SEO Minion—a free extension for Chrome or Firefox—is a great example of this. From right inside the Google SERP, SEO Minion lets you select how many levels you want to drill down in the PAA results.
Within a few seconds or minutes (depending on how deep down the rabbit hole you go), you’ll have a formatted CSV file showing you the title, parent topic, actual text, and URL of multiple layers of PAA queries.
People want answers, dammit!
And as a content marketer, AnswerThePublic makes it easier than ever to understand the questions the people are asking. Using autocomplete data from search engines, AnswerThePublic quickly spits out easy-to-understand insights showing you the raw questions people are searching for.
“Answer The Public uses AI to generate and visualize data based on the questions that people are asking, the comparisons they're drawing, and the manner in which they conduct a search. While the information you dig up on rival blogs could be weeks or months out of date, this provides you with a steady stream of accurate real-time data. This means no more guesswork, and no more haplessly running after competitors who seem to have it all figured out. Instead, you can get ahead of your content creation strategy all on your own, just by hearing from your target audience and matching their search intent.”
Pro tip: AnswerThePublic’s default results page is a pretty unhelpful visualization. Just click over into the “Data” view for a more useful view of the categorized results.
Get busy creating or die trying
It’s clear that there’s no shortage of places to look for great content topics.
The real work of creating content that drives growth for your business is understanding your audience—current customers, ideal customers, and influencers—enough to create meaningful and helpful content for them. There’s no better way to do this than to delve deep into your first-party data. It’s unique to you, and it’s the most direct path to consistent creation of valuable content.
Of course, once you’ve generated bazillions of content topics , you’ve actually got to switch into creation mode and write or record epic content. If you need help scaling your content creation, Verblio’s on-demand content creation services do that for hundreds of businesses and agencies worldwide. You can get started today.