Whether you’re creating your own content for your blog or outsourcing it to a freelance writer, you need a constant flow of current and relevant ideas to keep your readers engaged and returning for more. Coming up with quality ideas is one of the most challenging tasks that bloggers and marketers are faced with.
So next time you’re faced with a creative block, consider the following seven strategies to find inspiration and ideate new content ideas for your blog. Although this should go without saying, remember that your goal is to come up with new titles for your blog – you don’t want to steal exact posts and headlines from anyone.
1. Find Your Competitors’ Successful Blog Posts
It’s extremely important to check out what kind of blog posts are popular (via likes, shares, and conversions) for other successful bloggers in your niche and then try to write something similar – yet better or with a new angle – for your own blog. This technique is called “skyscraping.” However, checking out the social shares on each blog post manually is not the most efficient way to gather this data.
I like Ahrefs, which is a backlink analysis and competitor research tool for SEOs and marketers. This tool has lots of features that show everything you need to know about your own blog and that of your competitors.
Just open the “Site Explorer” tab and insert any website URL into the search field to discover “the most important SEO metrics for any page you visit.”
The tab “Best by links” under “Pages” (in the left-hand column) shows which pieces of content attract links. The more backlinks your website has, the more chances you have to appear at the top of the search results.
You can also get blog post ideas from headlines that have proven to be popular on social media by using the “Best by shares” tab. It displays shares and likes from top social media sites so you can see what content inspires readers to share. You can also use the same keywords and ideas to write a few killer articles for your own site.
If you’re looking to increase organic search engine traffic, you need to see which pages rank well in Google. To do this, click on the “Top pages” tab in the left-hand column under “Organic Search.”
This will show you the position of these pages in search engines for certain keywords, the estimation of organic search traffic coming to the site, the number of keywords, and the top keywords.
Use this tool to research your own blog as well as top blogs in your niche. Although Ahrefs is a premium service, there is a 14-day free trial which is definitely adequate to plan some blog posts for the next few months.
2. Scan Blogs for Industry News
In order to write relevant blog posts, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, news and technologies in your industry.
I like using Feedly to subscribe to news from the top blogs in my niche. You can use the search box to find a particular blog or topic to subscribe to.
You can save and organize your feed into categories to easily find what you need. It also allows you to set alerts in order to find out when someone mentions the name of your blog or brand anywhere on the web.
You can also use Google Trends, another handy tool to search for any topic and see what kind of traffic the post is getting. There's an option to search within a country or specific region, too.
Keyhole is one more tool you can use to follow the latest trends. It tracks hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Just insert a keyword to observe the topic in real time. You can also use it to see mentions of your brand on social media.
3. Check Out Social Media Sites and Online Communities
To get to know your target audience and their needs better, you should go to social media sites. For example, Twitter tends to list current world trends on their homepage and profile pages.
As you can see, the current trends are listed on the left sidebar:
Although you'll find a few trending topics on the right-hand column of your newsfeed, you can also search Facebook for trending keywords. Just search for the topic you need to see what people are writing about:
You can do the same search on Google+ and LinkedIn.
Reddit is another social media site that can help you find new content ideas. Here people debate about almost everything that's happening in the world and they also have trends listed right on the homepage.
In order to find subreddits that are relevant to your niche, use the search bar. For example, if your topic is “content marketing,” then your subreddit would be /r/content_marketing.
Find questions and topics that people are talking about within your subreddit to create new blog post ideas. Also, take a look at the upvotes to identify what’s trending.
4. Create Ideas Using Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest
You've probably heard of Google Keywords Planner, a free service for Google AdWords users. You can search for any keywords related to your industry and usually get over 800 keywords and phrases along with their average monthly search volume. Here's what I get when I search for “social media marketing”:
Click the “Download” button to get these keywords nicely organized in a Google Spreadsheet. You can then turn this doc as a starting point for your editorial calendar.
Ubersuggest is another great keyword tool that shows the keywords from Google Trends. It will show you a list of related keywords arranged in alphabetical order that you can download into a handy spreadsheet.
5. Find Content with the Most Comments, Views and Downloads
Beyond social shares, there are comments, views and downloads which also show the popularity of any topic. Impactana can help you to identify posts with the most comments. Just type your keyword + “comment>20” to see the posts on a specific topic that have over 100 comments:
Also, make sure to check out the most viewed pages by typing your keyword + “views>100000-site:[name of website]”:
To find out which guides and e-books are the most popular, you can search for pages with the most downloads by typing your keyword + “download>100”:
As you see, Impactana helps you to find a lot of different metrics beyond basic social shares to identify popular content. This way you can create the kind of content you want by taking into account the result you want to achieve – it could be the number of downloads or views.
6. Answer Questions on Quora and Yahoo Answers
Sites with questions and answers like Quora can help you to find out what problems people are having by the questions they are asking. Quora covers a variety of topics, such as content marketing:
You can follow topics on Quora, bookmark discussions, and even see which topics get the most views and comments.
Yahoo! Answers is another community-driven platform that allows people to submit or answer questions by other users. Subscribe to new topics in your industry so that you don't have to go to the website each day.
7. Ask Your Readers
As a website owner you need to build a strong relationship with your audience, and the best way to get to know what they want is to ask them directly!
Social media platforms are the best places to ask your followers what topic they would like to see covered in your next blog post. You can ask them using Twitter:
Or set up a widget on your website to ask site visitors what else they would like you to discuss. For example, when you go to Single Grain, a simple pop-up chat window appears from the site's CEO to ask their readers what other marketing topics they are interested in:
As you can see, there are numerous ways to come up with new blog post ideas. Hopefully, this article sparked your imagination and gave you several resources from which to harvest some amazing content ideas!
If you have any other creative ways of searching for new content ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below!