Continuing to come up with new content ideas or what blog post to create each week can be a daunting task. While there are several paid tools that can help, what if you’re a small company without a large budget? Google provides many free tools that, with a little elbow grease and patience, can give you several great content topic ideas. Follow these tips below and you’ll be baking blog posts just like grammy used to make.
Headlines Drive Content Engagement
Ok, you’ve written a great 1,200 word article about “baking cookies” and are ready to hit the publish button. Hold up. Take a look at that headline. “Grandma bake cookies” isn’t a great title for an article about baking cookies. Sure, that’s what the content is about but is that going to grab anyone’s attention? Make sure your headline matches what people are searching for in Google and the headline isn’t so long that it prevents your article from being shared in social media. Check out this study from Outbrain on headline performance by length. For more tips and reading on how to write good article headlines, check out ProBlogger’s post here.
The Art & Science of Headlines
When we say finding a “content idea” many times what we mean is finding a good “headline”. Finding the perfect headline is a bit of an art and a science. You need to find a headline that is somewhat specific but also one that is going to grab someone’s attention enough to click on your blog link. Enter “Google Autocomplete” and “Google Suggestions”.
Google Autocomplete to Research Headlines
Ok, our article is about “baking cookies”. Let’s start with that one. I goto Google and type in “baking cookies”.
Hmm. I’ve got Google Autocomplete giving me “tips”, “temperature”, “slang”, and “on foil”. Tips sounds like a winner but the others have great potential. Lets dig even further to see what Google has cooking.
Hmm. We’ve got “tricks”, “soft”, and “shortbread”? Wait a minute. This article is really about making cookies the way Grandma used to make, which was “chocolate chip cookies from scratch”.
Wow, look at that! Google is pulling the recipe into search results without the need to click through to the article. All Recipes must be doing something right with their rich snippets, which they are:
If you have the resources to add rich snippets, I recommend doing so. Articles and posts with these enabled have a much better chance of getting a boxed listing at the top of Google. For more reading on how to add rich snippets, click here. If you want to see what you competitors are doing with rich snippets, use Google’s handy testing tool.
A Short Competitive Analysis
Using Google Autocomplete is just the first step in selecting great headlines and content topics. From these headlines, you can do even more research to find the right headline and topic ideas based on search volume and competition. “Baking cookies” may be a bad example due to the sheer amount of competition and use of recipe rich snippets by publishers, but this example should give you the tools you’ll need to find your new ideas.
Once you have a good list of potential headlines, their search results, and search volume estimates, you can start to flag opportunities in a spreadsheet. As you can see in the example above, there are some topics and headlines that have more potential searches and fewer publishers writing about the topic.
Finally, match up all of your ideas with actual searches. If no one is using your topic to find content in Google search and there is no search volume using a tool like SEM Rush or Google Keyword Planner, try refining your headline. Matching up content topics with actual searches is key to getting your content in front of potential customers.
Click here to download the sheet used in this example. Free search volume estimates were pulled from SEM Rush.
Adding the Hook
In addition to finding a few good keywords, you will need a hook. A hook will help grab your reader’s attention as other posts are filling their news feed on Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Facebook, etc.
Here are a few more tips for finding content ideas or adding hooks:
- “How to” + content topic
- “Finding” + content topic
- “Top” + content topic
- “Best” + content topic
- “5 ways to” + content topic
- “5 ways to avoid” + content topic
- “Get” + content topic
- “Making” + content topic
Giving Your Content “Time to Bake”
Keep in mind that it can take several days, weeks, or even months for your content to gain links and social media shares. You may not see a big organic lift until you’ve done a lot of article promotion on social media. Give good content “time to bake”! See what I did there.
Boosting with Social Ads
If you don’t have a lot of patience and have a budget for content advertising, consider promoting your posts in Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin. For a B2B article, Linkedin Sponsored Content or Twitter Ads are a great way to reach a wider audience. For B2C, Twitter and Facebook works well but you need to have something of real value to offer.
I hope you find these tips helpful when trying to find good content topics and headlines. Happy hunting!
photo credit: Making Cookies (license)
photo credit: Oatmeal raisin (license)