Feeling stuck behind a keyboard, wondering what you should write, film or design? Need help to research winning content marketing topics?
You are not alone. Content block is one of the most common reasons for companies and individuals to abandon their content marketing efforts.
I should know. As a business blogger who started out in 2005 (that’s 13 years ago), I have suffered my fair share of content drought.
These are moments where sheer fatigue or exhaustion gets the better of us. Moments where our minds simply draw a blank—despite all the caffeine that we pumped into our bloodstream.
Fortunately, I’ve learned ways to cope with content writers and designers block and I’m going to share them with you here.
Applying these content research techniques will greatly improve your content ideation process. These methods will also help you to create more targeted content to attract, nurture, and convert potential customers.
Ready to give your content marketing a much needed boost? Let’s go!
Tap Your Social Media Networks
Wish to find out which topics are popular on social media?
Join a Facebook or LinkedIn Group related to your topic of interest. Or navigate a popular online forum related to your industry.
These can range from baking, parenting, floral arrangements, and fitness, to financial planning, human resource management, digital marketing, to environmental management. From there, you can scroll through the community’s posts and see what issues are trending and popular.
Alternatively, you may wish to survey your social media communities either on your personal profiles or corporate page or group.
Here are some questions which you could pose to them:
- What is your biggest bugbear in ________?
- Which topic on ________ would you like us to write about?
- What are the most important issues pertaining to ________ that you wish to address?
Source for SEO Keywords
Content marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are parallel digital marketing strategies.
They work like cornflakes and milk. Or bread and butter.
You can’t go far with your SEO strategy without quality content. Similarly, content marketing efforts that ignore search engines may yield little fruit over the long-term.
To get a sense of the popular and related keywords for your content, use the following tools.
- Ubersuggest: This wonderful free tool allows you to find out the search volume for your keywords, compare how competitive (ie difficulty in ranking) it is, and suggest keyword combinations based on the Google Suggest algorithm.
- Keyword Tool: Another free tool which provides suggestions on long tail keywords that you could use. This looks at the actual keywords typed in by users.
- LSIGraph: Unlike the other two, this tool provides keyword combinations that are semantically linked to a main keyword. Populating your content with these associated keywords will help it to rank higher on Google.
Suss out Social + Search Trends
Trendjacking or newsjacking is one of the ways to craft searchable and shareable content.
Brands like Ikea and Scoot have done this regularly – often to hilarious and viral effect!
To do so, consider using research tools like the following…
- trends24: This tool provides a breakdown of the latest trending topics on Twitter according to different time-frames. You can narrow it down to specific countries.
- BuzzSumo: One of the most popular tools out there, the free version allows you to search for the most shared content pieces on social media revolving around specific keywords.
- Google Trends: Wish to compare the relative popularity of different search keywords over varying time frames? Use Google Trends to do so. You can also use this tool to identify the most popular trending searches in your region.
- What’s Trending: This website aggregates the top trending pieces of content across various social media and online platforms.
Spy Your Competitors
Sometimes, the best content ideas comes from your competitors. And since the online world is so open and transparent, it isn’t technically a crime for you to spy on what your competitors produce, pick up their best practices, and improve upon them.
Here are some of the most popular tools out there which you can use.
- SpyFu: SpyFu allows you to investigate what keywords your competitors are using on their websites as well as to determine the right keyword combinations you should use. You can also emulate the keywords and content used by the strongest competitors in your area.
- Moz Link Explorer: Moz Link Explorer helps you gain a sense of the domain authority and strength of your competitors, and to suss out which pages they have built the most links to. You can also use it to approach potential targets for link building efforts.
- Socialbakers: This marvelous tool offers many free competitor tools which allows you to gauge the most popular social media content from your competitors, as well as your relative performance.
- Fanpage Karma: Similar to Socialbakers with the additional features of knowing your fans’ interests, as well as the top posts and content types of competitors.
Set Online Content Alerts
Sometimes, knowing the latest pieces of relevant content out there may help to trigger content ideas in your head.
If you wish to keep your pulse on the latest pieces of content produced related to your topics, consider using these tools:
- Google Alerts: This free tool from Google allows you to monitor and track new pieces of content produced around your keywords. You can also use it to track competitor or your own brand mentions.
- Social Mention: Use this tool to find out which are the top related keywords, hashtags and users on social media related to your base keyword.
Peek at Pinterest
Need content ideas for your next infographic? Or perhaps an upcoming photo series for Facebook?
Consider trawling the relevant Pinterest boards for ideas.
Beyond looking at the content pieces presented to you on Pinterest, you can also follow Boards focused on similar topics as well as to click on the related keyword topics for more focused ideas.
Personally, I love to use Pinterest to trigger my mind on potential ways to present a visual piece of information. Oh, and I do get a fair amount of traffic from my pins on Pinterest too!
Query Quora (and other Online Forums)
Sometimes, the best content topics come from customer pain points. And the best places to source for pain points are online forums.
Quora has caught on as the number one place to search for questions and answers. What I like about this platform is that it allows you to search for questions based on types, topics, authors and time. You can also follow certain profiles if you know that they are experts in a specific domain and learn from them.
If you’d like to know what people are talking about related to a topic or a brand on forums, use boardreader.com as a tool. This allows you to search through numerous forums simultaneously, and you can narrow them down by date, relevance, domain and other advanced search parameters.
Do also check out this fabulous list of active forums in Singapore compiled by my buddy Marcus Wong.
Considered to be the “Front Page of the Internet,” reddit is a highly popular online forum which works as a social media and news aggregator.
What’s unique about this platform is that redditors (ie reddit users) tend to be very active in engaging on topics of interest, forming an active community which either upvotes (ie give “karma”) or downvotes posts based on their popularity.
Using this platform allows you to sense what topics are popular in specific channels or feeds.
Narrow in on Niche Media
Contrary to popular belief, newspapers, magazines, TV and radio news stations aren’t dead. Many traditional publishers have morphed their online presence and tapped on citizen generated content to keep themselves alive.
To get a good grasp of potential content topics that you can use, consider following niche media channels and magazine websites. These may cover any topic under the Sun, and are useful resources to trigger a related content idea in your head.
To find out which media channels you can follow, consider browsing the magazine stands at your nearest book shops. Many of these physical publications have an online version too, often offering free content.
You may also use Google Searches to find out which are the magazines in your field.
Last, but certainly not least, consider following the thought leaders or influencers in your specific trade or domain.
These are the opinion leaders or movers and shakers in your field. Often, influencers are prolific content producers, and there is much which you can learn from them.
To discover the right influencers for your trade, use these tools:
- HypeAuditor: Use this tool to search for the top Instagram influencers in your trade, and look at what they post
- AllTop: This website aggregates the top content around specific topics. You can use this to also find out the leading influencers for each domain
- PodBay: Ranks the top podcasts on different categories. Listening to podcasts by the leading influencers could be a good way to get content ideas.
- Hunter.io: Know which websites your influencers create but unsure how you can contact them? Use this tool to find email addresses quickly and easily!
As you may have guessed, the trick in content marketing research lies in looking outward rather than inward.
While it doesn’t hurt to ask your colleagues or associates for ideas, doing so may result in the generation of content marketing topics that are self-serving rather than customer-focused.
Using the 25 different tactics and tools above, you’ll certainly have a better idea of what content topics to write on. Bookmark this article on your website and share it with your team members.
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