How To Generate Better Content Ideas
The saying ‘content is king’ has never been more accurate. Content really is the key to being found online but more importantly, it’s about quality over quantity. A huge part of building a strong content marketing strategy is experimenting with new types of quality content that resonate with your personas, correspond to the results of your keyword research and so, in turn rank highly for the searches that most accurately match your business offering(s). Fresh content that is well-planned and creatively positioned can expand your reach and drive even more traffic to your site. However, what happens when you find yourself in a ‘content rut’?
There are plenty of tools and tactics that can be used to generate ideas that will help shake up your content balance and identify further opportunities for you to provide your target audience with relevant, helpful content. Keep reading as we share some of the best ways of generating content ideas.
Types of Content
Before we can begin to take an in-depth look into ways of generating content ideas, let's have a look at some of the main types of content and explore their purpose.
Blog Post Content
Blog posts are one of the most essential forms of content a website can have. They are great for building brand awareness and increasing engagement with customers.
Blogs can also be incredibly diverse, with so many purposes and intentions to lead readers along the customer journey. For example, you may choose to create an informative blog that teaches the reader something new before leading them to their next destination on your site. Alternatively, you may have a new product launch that you can produce content for explaining why your target audience should invest in it and how it can help them.
As one of the largest search engines (currently ranking 2nd with Google ranking in 1st place), YouTube is a great platform for posting videos of varying lengths. In a world where our attention span is so short, videos make it a lot quicker to consume content and discover new information. It's estimated that over 80 minutes of video is consumed each day by people globally and with no signs of this slowing down, video content can be a great tool to help your marketing efforts.
Infographics are a great way of presenting a lot of information or statistics in a simple, attractive format. They typically prioritise bullet points and numbers instead of long-form content seen in typical blog posts.
Ultimately, they are a more suitable way to show a complex idea to your readers without having to use a lot of words.
Ways of Generating Content Ideas
1. Keyword Research
Firstly, any effective online marketing strategy must have a solid foundation in thorough keyword research. No ifs or buts. The simple goal of keyword research is to find out what your customers are searching for and use those keywords to identify opportunities to present your business to them as a solution. Not only will conducting in-depth keyword research tell you what your customers are actually searching for with an extensive list of keyword ideas, but it will also give you valuable insight into ranking opportunities and will help identify gaps in content that could be created to capture your customers’ attention. Combined with a good understanding of their buyers’ journey, understanding your customer personas and what drives them will help you write relevant, targeted and useful content that will push them further down the funnel.
Using a keyword research tool can make your time a lot easier, as they are invaluable for helping you find interesting new content opportunities. A few of our favourite tools include:
- Ahrefs - lets you input a seed keyword which then returns a list of keywords with relevant statistics such as monthly search volume and keyword difficulty. This data can then be exported and sorted.
- MOZ Keyword Explorer - similar to the Ahrefs keyword research tool, this helps you find profitable keywords and organise them into lists.
- Google Keyword Planner - also lets you discover new keywords with useful statistics to help with your search campaigns.
- Google Search Console - a free service tool offered by Google to help you monitor your site's presence in Google Search results. Google Search Console gives you a clearer idea on how Google sees your site and you can diagnose and troubleshoot problems easily should they arise.
- Answer the Public (although it doesn’t provide monthly data, so we recommend using this in conjunction with other tools).
Once you have a list of keywords and key phrases you want to target, you can assign them into groups which can help you identify blog post topics and create a content plan.
2. Conduct a Content Audit & Develop a Content Strategy
Secondly, be clear on what content you have, and more importantly what content you need but don’t have. A content audit is an organised inventory and documentation of all content created on your site, allowing you the opportunity to analyse, repurpose and optimize existing content for maximum growth.
Content audits are a hugely valuable part of any content strategy and a process we always recommend to businesses looking to generate new content and blog post ideas. The aim of a content audit is to help you reveal strengths and weaknesses and discover new opportunities in your content creation strategy along with adapting on your existing content to meet your digital marketing goals. Adaptations might include optimising, updating, creating, repurposing or perhaps even deleting content to make your site content appear more streamlined and specific and therefore improve your content marketing efforts. Your content audit should also highlight any gaps when compared to your customer personas and their buyers’ journey.
It is crucial that you are clear on who your customers are, you may think you are but unless you have undergone the process to define your customer personas, how do you really know who your customers are and why they really buy from you? You can find out how to create your customer personas using our helpful guide to rethinking the way you build personas.
Delivering the content your customers want means knowing who your customers are so you can see how having well-researched customer personas is vital to the process.
Preparing great content takes time, research and thought. Simply writing an article or blog on the fly without thought as to its purpose, its place in your strategy and who it is for will not help you improve visibility, engagement or conversions.
Developing a calendarized plan not only helps you effectively schedule work so you can give it the time it needs to get it right, but you can also better align opportunities for content with key dates/events or seasons that may be approaching. As part of your plan, you can prepare blog post titles, descriptions and abstracts so that you save time and set yourself up for successful blog content writing in the future.
In addition, creating a content plan for the month, quarter etc. gives you the chance to welcome fresh, great ideas and contributions from colleagues and contributors, allowing you to make the most of the combined knowledge in the business as well as aligning your brand with the right KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) in your industry for better impact.
Check out our detailed article on content marketing to learn more about the process and why content audits are so important.
3. Use Google Trends to Identify Content Opportunities
Google Trends is a valuable and free tool that can be useful when trying to generate content ideas for your business. It is a trend-search feature that shows the popularity of a particular search term in Google. The tool allows you to analyse whether a trend is on the rise or declining, along with any related terms that could be relevant to the topic you are interested in. It’s also great at identifying seasonal trends that you potentially hadn’t considered. By analysing the results from google Trends, you’ll be able to identify topics, seasonal dates or related terms that could lead to new creative content ideas or new angles for your content positioning.
4. Assess Your Competition
If you’re lacking content inspiration and are looking for proven content ideas, it can be helpful to research your competitor’s activity and assess what types of content are on their social media posts, YouTube videos, their own blog, or their website and how it’s performing. By assessing content that is ranking highly for them, you’ll not only be able to identify gaps and opportunities in your own output but also use this research to generate bigger and better content from it. Try to be smart about it, we are not advocating that you just copy and create identical work, instead try to put your own unique spin on it, go one better and create a valuable piece of your own content that your audience hasn’t seen before.
We recommend businesses assess their online competitors regularly to make sure that their ‘known’ competitors are in fact their competitors when it comes to the online market. With so many new businesses appearing online and with the digital world changing constantly, your online competitors may differ slightly to when you last checked. It’s worth checking on a regular basis to make sure you have covered all areas as it’s those competitors you’ll want to be researching and find out what content they are ranking for.
There are plenty of competitor analysis tools available that can come in useful when assessing your competition, they’ll help you to quickly and efficiently assess how your business compares against your top competitors, with regards to the content they are ranking for, visibility for specific topics/industries, and quickly identify any content opportunities for your business. A few of the most popular tools include Ahrefs, Buzzsumo and MozBar.
5. Don’t Underestimate Site Search
Often an under-utilised tool but an effective way to come up with new ideas is to analyse the search terms your customers are searching for on your site using your search function. The results from your website’s site search will provide you with a range of search queries and topics or even questions directly from your customers as they browse your site. You are essentially seeing exactly what they came to your site to find. These people may be looking for certain pages or for further details around content you already have. This is a rich resource to use and can give you very specific feedback on what is missing in your content as well as what needs improving.
6. Use Reviews to Generate Fresh Content Ideas
Taking the time to read through your product or service reviews, even the negative ones, can be a great way to generate content ideas. Reviews can often contain very useful information when you’re looking for ways to generate or spark new content. Customers may share valuable insights on the improvements that could be made, the pain points and challenges they have faced, or give you opportunities to create content around the questions they are asking.
If your site uses a blog comments feature, readers can leave comments or reviews on the content you've created that can be helpful in identifying whether your content was useful to them or not. Suggestions can also help drive upcoming content as you can get a clear idea of exactly what content your target audience wants to see from you to keep them engaged.
It’s also worth looking at reviews from companies similar to yours i.e. if your business was a recipe video subscription service, you could look at reviews left for a recent recipe book. While they may be selling different products or services, they will give you a different insight into what those customers are looking for and may uncover opportunities you could incorporate in your content that you hadn’t considered.
7. SERPs & Related Searches
Another great tool to use when looking to generate content ideas is Google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). By using Google’s search results for each of your keywords you’ll be able to find hundreds of results and topic ideas surrounding those keywords from a single search. This is a very valuable resource when it comes to content marketing as it can help to broaden your perspective and find a new angle for your content, whether that be a new blog post title, podcast, video opportunity or any other type of content idea.
As well as SERPs, consider using the Google Search suggestions feature for even more ideas. All you’ll need to do is search a broad topic or a targeted keyword in Google as you would normally. Then, simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll find ‘Searches Related to’, this will provide a list of keywords or topic ideas related to your search query giving you plenty of ideas on content you could create.
8. Talk to the Sales & Marketing Teams
Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to your sales and marketing teams, after all they are the ones likely to be liaising with customers and leads directly, so they may be able to share valuable insight into what clients are looking for and any opportunities there might be to improve how your content performs.
Arrange a meeting with your sales and marketing colleagues to identify the questions your customers or leads are frequently asking. Are there key questions that could be answered through new content? Does one topic come up time and time again? Get a list going of all the questions or topics they receive on a regular basis and consider the types of content that could be created for each one, e.g., could an FAQ’s page be useful? Perhaps if you already have one it isn’t clear, extensive enough or easy to find? Maybe you could consider collating related questions into an e-book, or instead you could create a resource centre on your website that covers each topic in detail in the form of blog posts, video, articles, guides and white papers? Don’t make the mistake of trying to cover each topic in one article. Break down subjects into specifics and build clusters of content around each topic, this makes your content more easily digestible but also contributes more effectively to your ranking and visibility. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of asking the different departments in your business for their ideas, this could help you to create very valuable, comprehensive content.
9. Brainstorm Ideas with your Team
Another effective way to come up with new ideas and one that leads on nicely from the previous is to host a structured brainstorming session. Brainstorming is a great way to come up with new content ideas when you’re feeling stuck, sometimes the most valuable ideas can come from putting in the time to hear from the rest of the team. Try not to limit your brainstorming sessions to just the marketing team, colleagues from different departments and different levels in the business will each have unique backgrounds and experiences they can bring to the table. It’s also important to involve people that don’t spend all day thinking about content ideas as you’ll likely to get fresh, new ideas from a different perspective.
A few key points to ensure you get the most out of your brainstorming sessions is to inform your team of the purpose of the brainstorm so they can come prepared for the meeting. Brainstorms can quickly become unproductive if there is little direction so ahead of the meeting. Jot down a simple brainstorming format you can follow to keep things productive. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad idea so create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable sharing their own ideas, and you’re bound to leave the sessions with a list of unexpected content leads.
10. Plan Content Around What’s Happening
Last but by no means least, why not consider writing content about a new product release, a new or improved service your business is offering or your take on pertinent industry or general news. No matter what industry you’re in or what type of business you have, there is bound to be an exciting project launching, some useful news or a change to your business that could be an opportunity for new content.
Whether it’s ahead of a new product release, or the launch of a new software directly related to your business or even a general advancement in the industry, there are endless ways to consider sharing these with your audience through content such as blog posts, video interviews industry newsletters, articles, opinion pieces or podcasts. Not only will it give you a fresh idea to write about, but it’ll help to generate a buzz which will ultimately help improve engagement and drive organic traffic to the site. It’s a win-win scenario.
Be careful though, it’s important to keep the balance right in order to keep your audience feel like they are being helped and understood rather than talked at and sold to. You should aim for an 80/20 balance in favour of helpful content versus content about you and your business.
Want More Helpful Content Like This?
If you’re looking for more helpful content ideas and help getting started with your content planning this year, then take a look at our knowledge hub full of related pages that will transform your digital marketing efforts. Simple, effective strategies that will help save you time and vastly improve your site performance.
Need Help Generating Content Ideas?
For more information on how you can create and optimise your content to deliver business results, download our free guide to creating content or contact our team of digital marketing experts who will be happy to help.