Creativity and ideas are two of the key contributors to valuable and effective content, but what happens when writer’s block hits and it feels like you’ve forgotten how to generate content ideas? This blog post looks at seventeen ways to refuel your content strategy and generate blog topic ideas that your readers will love.
- Talk with Others
Collaboration with the people around you can be a great way to generate ideas if you work within a content team. If you work for a client, stepping away from the desk into a different environment – such as going to visit the client – can refresh the mind and inspire a whole host of new ideas.
In a digital agency environment, it’s also important to get to know your clients and their target personas to really delve into the questions they may search for online. Recently, one of our lovely clients invited us to spend the day with them, meet their customers and experience a typical working day in their business. Aside from being a really interesting day, the trip also gave the team exclusive access to the people we were writing for.
2. Ask the Audience
This isn’t a 90s TV lifeline – if you’re not sure what you should write about, ask your audience what they want to read! If you can’t meet your target audience face to face, why not try an online survey or ask them questions via social media to generate blog topic discussions. Tapping into these minds will provide an invaluable source of information, and pointing a few questions in their direction may lead to some fresh thinking when you’re trying to generate content ideas.
3. Check Out the Competition
Take a look at their posts or social media – find out who you’re directly competing with and where their content outranks your own. See what they’re talking about, and if you find something interesting, write your own angle on it. You might even just find enough inspiration in how they write about their product to generate content ideas of your own.
An effective tactic is to plug your keywords into Google and analyse the existing high-ranking content. See if you can identify any content gaps, and see if you can write a killer blog post that could outrank your competitors. Don’t forget to analyse any featured snippets, too, for further insight into what type of content Google considers most relevant for a specific search term.
4. Take a Break
This might feel counterintuitive, but if you’ve been staring at a blank word document trying to generate content ideas, you might find that taking a break helps. Your brain will continue to work subconsciously while you do something else – getting in some exercise or reading a good book are great ways to shut off your conscious thinking and let it work away in the background.
Try to get away from the content and the topic as a whole – don’t take a break to work on something else. You need to be distracted enough for your subconscious brain to start making connections your conscious brain was too tired to see.
5. Mind Map
A classic brainstorming tool, the mind map is an oldie but a goodie. Grab a piece of paper and some coloured pens (if that’s your style) and start mapping out your ideas. It’s best to start broad and then start splintering off your ideas into more focused, niche blog content ideas. Mind maps enable you to practice topic association, as you can easily identify and illustrate links between ideas. This is especially useful considering Google values semantically relevant content.
6. Social Listening
A fundamental activity for any business is social listening, and it’s an effective method for generating topics for blog posts. Social listening is monitoring your brand, industry, keywords and competition on social media channels. This will help you to identify what your audience likes, dislikes, values and struggles with. You can then utilise this valuable information to identify new blog ideas that are relevant, valuable and current.
7. Consume Content
This is more of a long-term one, but make sure that you’re consuming a wide range of content. Stay up to date with recent industry changes or new technologies. Follow relevant hashtags on social media and see what people are saying. Read books and magazines. Watch documentaries.
All of the little things you pick up from consuming content will be in your brain the next time you need to generate content ideas, and you’ll be able to come up with new ideas much more easily.
8. SERP Features and Search Intent
Google’s ‘related questions’ are a great way to see what other people are searching for in relation to a particular search query. If you structure your blog post or page around several different related questions, you will have a better chance of ranking higher in the search results as Google will recognise that you have provided a detailed and well-rounded answer.
Other SERP features that you could use include Featured Snippets, Top Stories and Reviews. These will give you a great idea of what the usual search intent is for those searches, and even broad searches can give you an idea of what people are looking for from your company.
9. Use Analytics Tools
We can’t stress enough how important analytics are for good content. You need to be aware of how your existing content performs to make an educated guess on what new content will perform well. We use Google Analytics to track some of our favourite metrics of content success, including:
- Page Views: This metric is key in finding out just how popular your content is. Analysing the number of page views your content clocks up is the gateway metric to delve deeper into your measurement of content performance.
- Avg. Time on Page: This metric not only shows who visited your content but also who stuck around long enough to quantify its worth.
- Bounce Rate: Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who enter the site on a particular page, then leave the site without any further interaction or navigation to other pages.
10. Google Trends
Google Trends is a great way to see what exactly is being discussed right this minute. This is less focused than looking at your audience specifically, but sometimes it’s better to start with a wider scope for generating blog topics.
If you were a bookseller, searching for ‘books’ lets you see that the Bridgerton books are popular, as well as the Enola Holmes series. Although very different series, both have historical settings and strong female leads. Now that you know what people are currently interested in, you can use that to inform your content.
11, Keep Track of All Your Ideas (Even the Ones You Don’t Use)
While you’re creating content, you might find yourself stumbling across a topic and thinking, “that would make a great blog post!”. Don’t just go back to what you were doing! Write it down and collect those ideas – the next time you need to create a content plan, you’ll already have those ideas as a starting point for generating content ideas.
Sometimes it can be useful to spend some dedicated time creating a backlog of content ideas, so you’re prepared for those days when writer’s block strikes.
You could also add some keyword ideas, but be aware that you’ll have to do thorough keyword research when you’re closer to creating the content. Google’s SERPs change often, so what’s ranking now may not be when you come to write the content.
12. Use Social Context
Keeping track of events on a local, national and global level can inform your content ideas and help them to stay fresh. This doesn’t mean you have to wade into journalism – you don’t need to catch the scoop or have never-before-seen information. But your take on it and how it relates to your audience specifically can be helpful.
The obvious example for the last year is the Covid-19 pandemic. This provided many content creators with new ideas because most of the world’s way of living changed completely. Content about working from home, staying safe in a pandemic and keeping yourself from going stir-crazy during lockdown came from almost every source.
But it doesn’t have to be on that scale – you could focus some content around national holidays or local events. The important thing is knowing how they relate to your audience and how they impact their lives.
13. Use Buyer Personas
Make sure you’re using your buyer personas to your full advantage. What sort of things might they like to read? What value could you impart to your readers to help make their lives easier? Getting into your audience’s head can help you figure out their pain points and what solutions you can offer them.
14. Read Your Comments
Sometimes, your audience will just outright tell you what they want. They might ask you to cover a certain topic or use your industry knowledge to answer a question they have. Additionally, they might tell you about something that they have found useful, and you could use that insight to generate blog topics.
15. Make It Personal
One thing to keep in mind is that you, like your audience, are human. Thanks to the rise of social media, modern audiences prefer businesses that are more humanised and personable. You don’t have to share your life story, but you could write about how the product came to be and what inspired you.
Simon Sinek, a professional speaker and advertiser, says that ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.’.
16. Republishing and Repurposing
One of our favourite ways to come up with new blog ideas is to look through your existing content. From your Twitter threads to your FAQ page to your e-book, there’s always an opportunity to repackage your existing content into a new blog post tactfully. Start by analysing which pieces of content perform best and consider which content naturally lends itself to a written article. All in all, when done well, repurposing content offers a lot of benefits for your brand and online visibility.
Sometimes, the best blog content ideas are already sitting on your blog, just waiting for their full potential to be unleashed. You should review your older content and identify any opportunities to refresh and republish it. Trends change, and things happen – so why not update and develop older blog posts to keep them relevant and up-to-date? Our content republishing guide is a helpful resource to get you started.
17. Keyword Research
Last but not least is keyword research. There’s little point in generating blog topics if your audience isn’t searching for that information. Keyword research is a key step in the blog content plan process and is vital for SEO. We like to use a few different tools for keyword research, including Google Ads Keyword Planner, Moz’s Keyword Explorer and Searchmetrics’ Research Cloud.
Creating high quality, relevant and useful content will position you on the frontline in the battle to make the best impression, and knowing how to generate content ideas is vital for that. If you do your research right and do the best job of addressing those needs, you will win that battle time and time again.
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