More often than not when it’s time to come up with an idea or a strategy for any blog, a team of bright-minded and creative Force-sensitives (SEOs, PRs, Copywriters, Bloggers, Marketers) are summoned before the Jedi Council (Business owners, Digital Marketing Managers) to demonstrate their knowledge of the Force (Google). The trials include Force Keyword Research, Force Outreach, Force Social Media, Force Branding, Force PR and many more.
But, as we all very well know, the narrow view of the Jedi is not applicable in Online Marketing. If you want to excel and prosper, you should improve your skills on a daily basis. Read what 64 content marketing experts had to say below and you shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine:
And here's Part 2.
I have an editorial calendar. I have a book on personal branding for entrepreneurs coming out later this year, early 2017. I'm going to be slowly dripping content of the book to generate interest. And I use analytics to find the best performing blogs in my subject area, and write similar blogs but with my insights. And also I think it's important to look outside the internet (I know, GASP), but books, events, 1 to 1 meetings, can create great valuable content.
I have a huge stack of books on personal branding and I turn those ideas into blog posts.
When doing content marketing, eschewing the traditional keyword research in favor of topical research tends to be more effective for driving organic traffic. The quickest "hack" to figuring out what to write your content about? Use Google's autocomplete to figure out what people are searching for. Find a topic that has weak competition, and write a blog post about it.. Repeat this over a long period of time and you'll be able to drive tons of traffic to your site without having to build a single link.
As a career-long digital marketer, I’ve spend the past 20 years developing content strategies for clients. In that time, I’ve refined a methodology for generating content marketing ideas, as outlined below:
- Assess the competitive landscape to determine if there are any obvious holes or opportunities not already being addressed. Also, make sure you are in the conversation and have a point of view on popular topics being addressed by competitors.
- Monitor industry influencers, publications and analysts for evolving trends and topics.
- Conduct keyword research via Google or equivalent tools to identify and refine possible topics; verify or validate via social media listening tools.
- Read marketing-related social media, blogs and publications to identify new channels, strategies and tactics (i.e. live video streaming).
- Review your own website, analytics and social media content for low-hanging fruit.
- Talk to your internal sales, marketing and client service/support teams.
- Reach out to industry partners, peers and customers for ideas.
Related article: Six Social Media Platforms for B2B Marketing in 2016
I still do initial keyword research to get a general feel for the demand of a topic, but the content itself is all about the user intent behind those keywords -- not direct targeting.
That keyword research combined with other data (like Google Trends) helps sculpt the focus of the content.
Beyond that, I do still use keyword research to identify long-tail queries for direct targeting -- which are growing in importance as time goes by.
We don’t go the keyword route initially, we research long tail sentences and questions… For example: “what is digital marketing?” “SEO Checklist”
“building your own website”
If you type in terms like ‘what SEO...' or ‘top websites...' into the google search box, google suggests some searches. For example, if I type in "What SEO" Google suggests in the dropdown “what SEO does”
"What SEO companies do”
"What SEO keywords to use”
These results are popular searches, which means they are popular topics?
Pick one. Then use a keyword tool to help your article.
A great source, sometimes a question on quora catches fire, which means it is very interesting to a wide section of the community, we would suggest these topics to niche clients.
Pick one. Then use a keyword tool to help your article.
Clients ask us lots of questions! We develop websites, visual content, and digital marketing for clients. So we make a list of these and from time to time write articles based on the most common questions.
"Can I be Hacked"
"What do I need to do to improve my SEO"
"How many blog posts do I need…."
Pick one. Then use a keyword tool to help your article.
The key to relevant content is understanding your customer avatar. An avatar is an in-depth, 2-3 paragraph description of your ideal customer. Who are they down to their age, demographics, and gender? What are their pain points? What are their aspirations and dreams? Once you've painted that picture all your decisions on content need to be valuable that avatar.
A snippet of our avatar description at Tradeversity is: "...Tony is a 20 year old college student. He loves to go out with his friends on the weekend and is on a sports club team. He is constantly stressed about his student loans piling up and being able to afford drinks on the weekend, his sports club semesterly membership cost, and his rent..."
Content we produce is always providing value for Tony, whether it's ways to make money on the side in college, tips for student loan repayment, etc.
First things first, I think that it is important to be a subject-matter expert on the product or service that you are offering. This makes the process of determining demand for your product and/or finding your exact niche much easier. From there, you can determine which keywords offers you the greatest path for success.
Christopher Martin - FlexMR
We use a three step process to decide on content marketing topics & ideas. The first step is to make use of the Adwords Keyword Planner to hone in on low competition, long tail keywords which content can be targeted towards.
Once we have developed a substantial list of potential keywords, the second stage involves competitor research. We conduct a full analysis of our closest competitors’ content marketing – judging the topics which are already popular and which competitors will be targeting. The keywords relating to these themes are then removed from the list.
Finally, we ask our customers what topics matter most to them, what formats are appealing to them and what they wish they knew more about. This information is then compared to the remaining keyword list and those which match topics our customers are interested in become the ideas which form our high value content.
This process ensures our content will perform will in search, stand out among competitors and provides relevant, valuable information to customers and potential leads.
Martin Harrison - Copify
We base our content marketing on the queries that people are entering into Google which are related to our products and services.
We have found a great, free tool that uses the Google Autocomplete service to generate these queries https://www.ranktank.org/infinite-suggest-google-autocomplete-keyword-tool/
By entering a number of modifiers (who/what/why/where/when/how) we have been able to compile a list of subjects that we know our audience is interested in.
My process begins with coming up with an overall theme. From there I mindmap out every question I have around that theme, list out every related product/service/etc. related to the theme and again branch off questions from those. I then bullet out everything I know about the theme and who it affects. After taking a break to absorb it all and make sure I got the whole whirlwind of thoughts on paper, then I can start a new list of potential headlines based on the mindmapping session and begin the research needed from there.
Natasha Khairullah, Director of Marketing at Kazmania
My process generally entails creating a list of general topics centered around relevant and timely keywords first. I then reach out to my writers/bloggers with those topics and also provide them a general list of keywords that they can try to work into the piece of content that they will be creating if they accept the assignment. The last step in my process involves me going through and editing + optimizing the content afterward to ensure that the necessary keywords are placed within the copy appropriately but also that the keywords are woven in in a sensible way that humans would understand. I use this process because I think it's imperative that we write content for humans first and for search engines second.
Before You Publish Content, Do These 10 Things
Looking to optimize your content marketing? A successful content marketing program requires more than creating compelling, useful content. While it can be tempting to rush to publish due to a tight deadline, remember to check that you’ve got all the bases covered to fully realize the power of your content. Whether your goal is to generate leads, increase brand awareness or position your company as an industry thought leader, check out this handy infographic of our top 10 things to consider to ensure your content will perform to its fullest potential.
In my book Content Marketing How to Get Started I teach small business owners to go on a scavenger hunt to get content ideas. I recommend they suspend their judgements and gather up all printed materials about their business. This can be white papers, marketing brochures, technical specs, annual reports, news articles about the company, newsletters (I had one client who had hard copies of all the newsletters her company had ever sent out. Since 1986! This is important because newsletters have content that is ever green. Like fun facts, recipes, historical data, photos, etc). I also recommend gathering up digital company owned content such as FAQs (The questions came from customers each one could make an excellent blog post or status update), blog content, videos, SlideShare presentations, eBooks, etc.
The idea is to gather it all up and start to think about how it can be re-purposed in to social content that is valuable and relevant to the customers and ideal clients. I suggest mind-mapping content ideas including keywords and hashtags and laying it out on an editorial calendar to carry you through the year. In the book I also talk about ways to identify your keywords and then research them using tools like the Google Keyword Planner to make sure to select the correct ones. If we keep our customer in mind and think of all the questions they ask us and the problems they have we can begin to guess what the keywords are. I recommend listing them out first then do the research using keyword tools as mentioned.Next its very important to use those keywords in strategic places. Take for example LinkedIn Lisa Ann Landry, MSM my keywords there are Lisa Ann Landry, Corporate trainer, social media strategist, social media trainer. They are in key places (the heading, current and previous work experience and throughout the Summary section) that help me get found in search results. Consequently I get lucrative opportunities on a regular basis. I also use the hashtag socialmediastrategist (notice it includes my keywords) frequently in my content across all the social sites when I post content.
Content marketing is huge for our business. Our blog is a great source of leads for us because we take the time to write quality content that is relevant for our readers, clients and potential clients.
The challenge of course, is knowing and understanding the content our clients and potential clients are interested in and writing thoughtful content on those subjects. While the accepted method is doing keyword research and attempting to translate those results into blog fodder, I have found the best way to get quality ideas, with the keywords already picked for me, is to be a part of online forums for the industries of my clients. This includes Facebook groups, LinkedIn and Twitter. Forum type environments are full of questions that industry professionals are asking, which is probably what they are searching in Google for as well. Writing posts that answer these questions has helped us gain visibility online and allowed us to comment on those posts with thoughtful and helpful links. It has also helped us to show we know our stuff and are a knowledgeable influencer in these niches.
I’m a content marketer, web developer, and entrepreneur. I’ve helped companies like Microsoft and Procter & Gamble communicate and convert, either as an employee or in a consulting role.
As a content marketer, I'm always conducting original research. I start this research with keywords to identify and understand the way the industry communicates. To confirm this research, I reach out to reporters or bloggers and evaluate the legitimacy of the keywords I've researched. Often times, I'll discover a handful of new keywords by simply talking to industry leaders during this research phase. Its also a great idea to leverage these same resource contacts for distribution points after the content is produced. It is always a work in progress.
The Voice of Your Customer is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in penetrating diverse populations. We have an extensive process for coming up with content for our blog, The Voice of Black Cincinnati. Our initial content ideas come from work that we are doing with our clients, responses to content we shared on our social media pages, or trending topics on Facebook or Twitter. We also analyze topics in the national news, local news and industry reports. We also use content creation tools to refine our scope We then identify keywords and draft our initial content. From there, we use the WordPress SEO Tool to analyze our content and revise as necessary.
We also use our social media analytics to confirm who views our pages, how they are accessing our pages and which demographics are most engaging our pages. This information helps us to write content in a way that resonates with our audiences. Finally, yet importantly, we often repurpose content that resonated with our target audience. We may update information over time or republish content based on news, industry events or time of year.
Alayna Frankenberry, Senior Account Executive at The Content Factory
As you can imagine, coming up with new content ideas for clients can be tough, especially when they're targeting a very niche audience. Often, the content train runs full speed ahead for months until you hit a wall. You find yourself staring at that blinking cursor and thinking, “What can I say about drywall repair or medical malpractice that I haven't already said in the last 50 blog posts I wrote?”
I'll be honest — I've hit this wall more than once, so I've had to rely on more than one strategy for coming up with new content ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:
Rely on SEMrush. I use SEMrush every week, if not every day, and it's a help to me when it comes to generating new content ideas. Here are a few ways that I use its tools:
- I input the url of the site I'm writing content for and check out its ranking keywords. I sort them by position. Usually the keywords in positions 1-10 will be ones I've been actively targeting, so there probably won't be any new topics to be found there. So I check out the keywords ranking for positions 10+. Often I'll find terms I wasn't even targeting that have a high volume and value. I input these into Google's Keyword Planner tool to check out related keywords. Often, one ranking keyword discovered on SEMrush can lead to a dozen new content ideas.
- I also input the urls of competitors into SEMrush to see which keywords they're ranking for in positions 1-10. I want those keywords for MY clients, so I create content ideas based around them and steal some of their thunder!
Check out Buzzsumo. I first begin using Buzzsumo to gauge the popularity of posts I'd already created on social networks, but I soon realized it's a great tool for brainstorming. Here are the main ways I use it:
- Type in the url of the site you're writing content for. See which pages already earn the most social shares. Try to brainstorm ideas based around a similar topic or angle.
- Type in the url of competitors — can you adapt any of their ideas for your own content?
- Check out the “trending now” and “most shared” tabs. Limit them to your targeted categories to see if any popular posts are on topics you could write about.
Instead of just pulling ideas out of the air, I think these strategies help you come up with topics based on what's already working, which gives the content you create an even greater chance of success!
I would like to share to you how we do our content marketing, in our case we diversify our content from article, blog, infographics, video and podcast. But of course before deciding what kind of content to make an in-depth and the trend of the keyword should be well researched, from there we can decide what content channel to create and coordinate with the person who will be making this content, like if it's infographic I would reach out to our graphic designer about the plan etc. Then if everything fine and up it will be back to the marketing department how we market or distribute that specific content on the internet.
I write a lot of content for clients, articles, blogs, website content, Kindle books and here is my process:
- I first determine with a client what service or product they wish to promote.
- I keep a list of each client's key SEO terms
- I'm aware of what demo my client is trying to reach. This can affect the tone of the content.
- I do research on the topic to see what other credible sources are writing about.
- During the research part I keep in mind the key words and if they are being used in other articles.
- I start the process of writing keeping the keywords and what my client is trying to accomplish in mind. If I can include a quote (giving the source credit) I do.
I'm a former Audience Research Manager for CBS-TV in Philadelphia so my roots are in research and target demographics.
Ultimately, we're writing for our audience, not google.
I have a list of keywords based on my business and audience - kind of at the back of my mind to make sure I don't stray too far off.
But I don't write FOR keywords per se. My primary goal is about making a connection and creating resonance with the readers on a topic that I'm excited to write about, and is relevant to my audience.
So how do I come up with ideas?
Listen! Pay attention! Imagine it's a conversation... how do you want to communicate your expertise, knowledge, experience, values, and convictions?
When one of our team members has an idea for new web content, we do extensive research to make sure the topic is viable. We verify whether others in the design community are writing about it, where those posts are being shared, and their success rates. This way, we know readers are interested in learning more about the topic of our post. Often our research process leads us to related areas of the design industry that could be the focal point of another post, so we make note of those topics and repeat the research process for them. This constantly generates new ideas and helps us stay abreast of the latest design trends and hot issues.
Our company supplies shop fittings and display equipment. Our industry is very varied and there are many products that people pass by in stores and never notice. This can make finding good content tricky. Google no longer falls for keyword stuffing and, let’s face it, no one likes to read a blog that is a jumble of keywords and bizarrely phrased sentences. For this reason, I look for topics that are current. I find these by monitoring the various industry mailing lists that I am subscribed to and by watching what questions are being asked by reporters. These topics are likely to be of interest and are likely to be shared. I read around the subject and take note of what does, and doesn’t work for others. I will select good words and phrases and then try to include them in my blogs. Primarily I write for the reader. If an article is well written and interesting then it will be shared. Another favourite trick of mine is to read the comments on relevant blogs and on my own. These comments are like gold dust. What better way to find out which words your target audience are using to describe your subject?
I have a process that includes brainstorming 50 content ideas. I then little it down to my favorite 25 ideas. I make sure that each idea will relate to my target audience and that I am helping them is some way. I then schedule those ideas into my blog post planner for the month. I make sure to to tie each idea to an offer that I want to make with a Call To Action. It may be for the reader to get on my newsletter subscription or it may for one of my online courses. Sometime I may just refer them to another one of my blog posts. But I always try and ask my readers to engage somehow so I train them to be active and not train them never to buy anything.Of course I always make sure that my blog posts have one or two of my keywords in them.
We come up with Content Marketing ideas, which we do in-house with a team of writers and designers. Content type and length varies, dependent on each Keyword. Outreach begins after content is live in order to display to other websites what we are capable of producing.
- Keyword research in areas related to (both directly and loosely) the products/services we offer.
- Identifying which Keyword terms we can rank for and produce unique content around.
- Creating ideas and titles for articles based upon recognising what is already ranking, differentiating from similar ranking content and analysing what we believe user's intentions indicate from that search term - what do they want & what will they click on?
The first thing I do to research content marketing ideas is to survey the customers of the business! Many businesses have 10-15 questions that they are asked all of the time and those are the best subjects to write about first, either in a blog format or by creating pages on their website that explain how the business addresses those questions. Because those are very often the same phrases that people enter on the search bar, those pieces tend to get great SEO.
Based on some seed keywords I've gotten from the first step, I use other tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest and Google Trends to come up with other ideas.
One thing that some people overlook is that "content" doesn't have to be just text. It can be videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. Different people learn different ways, so mix it up!
There is a process that we use for 80% of our posts:
- Research questions that people are asking about for the topic. We research YouTube, Reddit, Quora, BuzzSumo, customer question, prospect questions, etc.
- We run the common questions with short and long-tail words, be careful not to keyword stuff, we use about 1.5 keyword density
- Next up, find some uncommon title with Portent title generator
- Copywriting is important for flow, accuracy and grammar/spelling
- Prepare the piece with call-to-actions
- Just like a PR firm push the content out both digitally and the old fashion way
When creating content, it is important to have a steady flow of ideas in order to avoid writers block. For this reason, I utilize a content creation grid. Essentially, this grid provides general content ideas that can be developed into blog posts, social media content or website content.
To set up a content creation grid, do some keyword research with the Google Keyword Planner tool and research your brand on social media to see what types of issues people are talking about. When you've got a few topics to get you started, list the topics on the y-axis on the grid. On the x-axis, list the methods in which you can carry about the content topic. For example, a video, tutorial, etc.
Once this is complete, I like close my eyes and see where my finger lands on the grid. It definitely gets the creative juices flowing!
I own a luxury marketing/stationery company - The first piece of advice I give my clients is to take the email replies they're already sending to clients and prospects - the ones that answer their questions - and re-tool them for content. For every person who asks a question, there are a multitude of others who don't. And, to those people, you look like a mind-reader.
My name is Mike Pedro and I am the Marketing Content Coordinator at Magnatag Visible Systems. A large portion of my job revolves around finding new and exciting ways to tell a story about our products and the people that use them. Sometimes this content comes in the form of a unique picture, blog post, or creative video. We tend to tailor our content around ideas; so if there’s an idea that may have more potential as a story on our blog as opposed to our youtube page, we’ll try and focus the bulk of our attention there.
We grab our ideas from a variety of sources both internally and on the web. I would say that one of our best internal idea sourcing platforms is the weekly meeting we hold with our sales team. Each week, we ask that sales members try to think of at least one customer interaction they had that really stuck out, and we invite them to talk about it with our sales team. Since we have thousands of transactions occurring on a weekly basis, there always seems to be something exciting brought to the table. Once we hear the customer interactions, we try to think about how these stories can be repurposed for our audience. We spend a lot of time thinking about what our audience wants to read, as opposed to what we want them to read.
Another painless way we source content ideas is through keyword research. Often times we’ll look at search queries that contain specific keyword questions that are of interest to our company. I tend to look at what content is getting social attention, what’s performing well from an seo perspective, and what the purpose of the piece is. The more you look at content from a variety of sources, you begin to gather a better understanding of what the audience in question responds to. After this initial phase of research is completed, it all comes down to making the content work for your brand—which can sometimes be easier said than done.
Nothing is worse than creating content that nobody's interested in and nobody wants to read.
We solve this problem with Facebook groups.
We are members of every group that relates to our industry and we monitor the chatter in those groups ; what people are saying, what questions people have, what topics people are interested in, what's upsetting or annoying people. Then we create content around those questions and will use those groups to promote the content so it's a win-win.
This has really helped us stop wasting time on creating articles, blog posts , and videos that nobody cares about.
My name is Ben Pagel and I run the online bookstore BuzzBookstore.com. As the business is my second job, I am constantly looking for ways to create relevant content quickly/easily. I have found that the best way is to solicit user-generated content from my substantial Twitter community (97K) at @buzzbookstore.
For example, I reached out to my community and asked them to create short videos of themselves reading each one of Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets. I received 154 volunteers in just 5 days and have already received over 80 videos back, which are now hosted on the Buzz Bookstore Youtube channel, generating views and traffic back to my website.
Here is the initial call to action: http://www.buzzbookstore.com/blog/2016/2/7/announcing-the-buzz-154-project
I have also run other projects such as:
- Author Excerpt Contest, where independent authors filmed themselves reading excerpts from their own works. Videos included links to purchase and the winner was featured on BuzzBookstore.com for 6 months.
- "Take a Shelfie" where followers tweeted my photos of their libraries to share with the community.
We prefer to do keyword research first because it helps us better target our outreach. However, our industry [Halloween] is very "keyword rich" and almost any subject has a niche audience. Many times we stumble upon sources that inspire ideas for content. In these cases we do keyword research to see if the subject is worth our efforts and if it is, we then reach out to the source that inspired the campaign and others like it. It's kind of like the chicken or the egg story.