How to Come Up with Great Content Ideas
Shopify SEO Course ↗️ > Unit 5 > Lesson 1 > How to Come Up with Great Content Ideas
The first thing you will need to do to launch your content marketing strategy is come up with great content ideas. These ideas could ultimately become blog posts, infographics, podcasts, slideshows, ebooks, or videos.
To get started, revisit your keyword research spreadsheet. You can add a column for content topics (if you haven’t already) in your spreadsheet and see what content titles you can come up with using your top keywords, regardless of commercial or informational intent.
If you don’t come up with a lot of ideas right away, don’t worry. You can also use a variety of free tools and tactics to come up with a world of great content ideas. Since you could easily generate hundreds of new topic ideas using the following tools and tactics, you will want to create a new content marketing spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will contain the following columns, which will help you not only come up with great ideas, but also manage your content marketing strategy.
- Target Keyword: The keyword for which you are optimizing your content.
- Title: The title of your piece of content including your target keyword.
- Format: The type of content you want to create for this title (blog post, infographic, podcast, slideshow, ebook, or video).
- Destination: The website you want to publish the content upon (your blog, a popular blog or publication in your industry, a social media network, YouTube, etc.).
- Submission Date: The date you submitted your content to a popular blog or publication in your industry. This is important to note as you will want to follow up on any content submitted and not published.
- Publication URL: The final URL where you content is published. This is important to note as you will want to keep track of all of your content, both on your website and elsewhere.
- Promotion Completed: This column can be used to ensure that you have fully promoted your content once it is published. You can also create columns specific to different types of promotion methods, which we will discuss later in this module.
Your content marketing spreadsheet should look a little like this.
Now, you are ready to come up with more content ideas! Here are some free tools and tactics to keep your content ideas flowing.
Alltop is a directory that shows you the latest five posts from the most popular blogs on just about everything, from Accounting to Zoology. A jeans retailer, for example, could go to the Fashion section and get a quick glance at the top fashion blogs and their latest posts.
As you browse these titles, you can modify them to fit keywords you plan to target. Looking at the Budget Fashionista’s latest posts, you could come up with the following titles to add to your content marketing spreadsheet.
As you explore all of the categories on Alltop that relate to your business, be sure to bookmark them on your browser to refer back to when you are ready for more content ideas. Add them to a bookmark folder for topic ideation tools to keep track of your favorite idea sources.
For headline inspiration, Popurls can’t be beaten. This site aggregates the top stories from around the web’s most popular publications on one page. You can start by visiting the homepage to see the top headlines trending on the web.
If you scroll to the bottom of the homepage, you will find headlines that fit more specific topics including business, design, gadgets, men, women, science, and tech.
Again, you will want to browse through these headlines and see if you can modify them to fit keywords you plan to target. Add new title ideas to your content marketing spreadsheet and, if you found inspiration from this site, bookmark it on your browser for future reference.
The same tool that you used for keyword research can also be a great one for content ideas. Be sure to go beyond just keyword phrases and use Ubersuggest to help you develop some great titles. For example, if you want to create a series of titles on how to wear jeans, you can search for the following.
From here, you can view the list of suggestions as text using the button at the top right and save these suggestions to your content marketing spreadsheet. Customize the suggestions into titles and bookmark this site for future reference.
Blog Title Generators
Blog title generators will give you headlines you can use for inspiration, using the keywords you researched previously. Some title generators use a set list of headline formulas based on your keywords, while others will grab blog headlines used on popular sites for inspiration. Either way, you will want to customize any titles you get from a blog topic generator to ensure that your title is unique.
HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator is a good example. You can enter one to three keywords or phrases, and it will give you a few simple title suggestions.
Beneath the first five suggestions, you can enter your information and download a spreadsheet which will give you another 250 specific headline ideas. Simply enter your keywords in the 3 Terms You’d Like to Write About area and copy the titles you like from the list generated.
Customize these titles and keep the spreadsheet in a content marketing folder on your computer for future use.
Want more blog headlines? Portent’s Content Idea Generator gives you one idea at a time based on your keyword, along with some tips on how to create a great piece of content. You can click on the refresh button next to your keyword to generate additional titles and add the most relevant titles to your content marketing spreadsheet, customizing them accordingly. Then bookmark this tool for future use.
Tweak Your Biz Title Generator generates 300+ title ideas for list posts, best of posts, how to posts, and other themes. You can copy the full list of titles into your content marketing spreadsheet and further customize them accordingly. Then bookmark this tool for future use.
Impact’s Blog Title Generator gives you fill in the blank title formulas you can use with your keywords and phrases. It gives you one idea at a time with a heart you can click if you like it. You can continue to get as many title formulas as you like, clicking the heart to save each. Keep clicking the heart as fast as possible and have the list emailed to you. Then add the list to your content marketing spreadsheet, customize accordingly, and bookmark for future use.
WebPageFX’s Blog Post Idea Generator gives you one idea at a time based on your keyword. Add the best titles to your content marketing spreadsheet, customize those titles, and bookmark this tool for future use.
Inbound Now’s SEO Friendly Blog Post Titles gives you one idea at a time that you can copy and paste into your content marketing spreadsheet to further customize. Bookmark for future use.
Content Row’s Link Bait Title Generator generates 25 blog topic ideas at a time with BuzzFeed-like headlines. Keep clicking the Get Linkbait button for more ideas after you’ve copied your favorites into your content marketing spreadsheet. Bookmark for future use.
While not all of the titles will be an exact fit for your keywords, many can be modified to fit. The point of using these tools is to give you ideas to bounce off of, customize, and make unique for your own content.
Question and Answer Networks
Interested to find out what people want to know about your niche or industry? Question and answer networks are specifically designed for people to ask questions. There are several Q&A networks you can choose from to get inspiration, starting with Quora. Start by creating an account using your email or Facebook, then use the search box to find questions about your topic.
When you click on a topic, you will be shown the top questions and answers for that topic along with related topic ideas to browse. Bookmark your main topic as well as related topics that prove to be good sources of inspiration.
As you review the questions and answers, you should be able to come up with some great topics for content to add to your content marketing spreadsheet. Simply think of ways you could answer each of these questions with a piece of content and title your idea accordingly. For example, looking at the above results, you could create a piece of content titled # Summer Blouses to Pair with a Denim Skirt.
Additional Q&A networks you can peruse include Yahoo Answers, StackExchange, Ask Metafilter, and Fluther. Simply use the categories or search boxes on each site to find questions and answers about your topic and use them for inspiration for more content titles.
Another place you will find some good Q&A about specific products is Amazon. Amazon allows customers to ask questions about products and posts those answers to product pages. Find products similar to yours or the most popular products similar to yours and then scroll down to find questions asked by potential buyers.
You can use these as both content title inspiration as well as inspiration for FAQ content for your own products.
Reddit is an online community where people share popular content from around the web as well as ask other members of the community questions about specific topics, making it another great source of content title inspiration. You can use the search box to find subreddits – smaller communities dedicated to specific topics – as well as posts about your topic.
You can use the popular post shares and questions to inspire more content titles as well as bookmark the keyword searches and subreddits that have the most inspiring posts for future reference.
Forums and Discussion Boards
Forums (also known as discussion boards, communities, etc.) are similar to Q&A networks in the sense that most people go to forums to ask questions about specific topics. This makes them a hotbed of blog post inspiration as you can find out what people want to know about your niche or industry.
You can find forums and discussion boards using Google (search your keyword + forum, your keyword + discussion board, or your keyword + community) or using search engines like Boardreader, which will help you find specific posts about your topic.
Ideally, you will find entire forums and discussion boards on the topic you’re researching, or a broader topic that encompasses yours. Here are some examples in various niches.
- If you’re looking for content ideas about fashion, try forums like The Fashion Spot, StyleForum, Lookbook, Fashionbeans, and You Look Fab.
- If you’re looking for content ideas about cats, try forums like CatForum.com, Catster, The Cat Site, and Pet Forums.
- If you’re looking for content ideas about your local community, try forums like City Data and TripAdvisor’s forums by city, like this one for Phoenix.
I could go on, but the point is, no matter what you are blogging about, there is likely a forum or two out there for you to check out and get some ideas from. Look for the forum’s search box to find discussions about particular topics for inspiration. Most will have it linked in their main menu.
Social Media Groups
Similar to forums, social media groups that are well-moderated attract people who need answers to specific questions. You can start by searching for groups about your niche or industry on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.
For Facebook, replace jeans with keywords or phrases for your niche or industry. Use %2B to represent spaces for two or more words.
For LinkedIn, replace jeans with keywords or phrases for your niche or industry. Use + to represent spaces for two or more words.
From here, look for groups that are well-moderated. With public groups, you will be able to browse the discussions prior to signing up to see if people are actually engaging with each other or if they are just link-spamming. With closed groups, you will have to join first and then evaluate the group’s potential once you have been approved as a member.
Once you are a member, you can browse the group discussions to find the ones that inspire you to create new content titles. You can also use the group search box to find discussions on specific topics. On Facebook, the group search box is to the left of the group’s cover photo.
On LinkedIn, the group search box is at the top right of the screen, just below your profile photo.
Be sure to continue following these groups and their posts so you can continue to gain new content ideas to add to your content marketing spreadsheet.
Questions on Social Media
Another way to discover questions asked about a particular topic is to use each social media network’s search box. Twitter can be particularly useful as it is easy to search using the search box at the top right. Include a ? in your search query to find questions in particular.
On Instagram, you can search for hashtags related to your keywords.
From there, look at posts with a lot of comments. Chances are, you will either find questions or see that people interested in the keyword you searched for are also interested in other topics you could create content about.
Pinterest’s search box will show you pins about your topic, as well as additional subcategories to choose from.
If you click on a pin, you can scroll down to find the comments for additional inspiration.
Frequently asked questions pages from similar businesses can also provide a source for not only your own FAQ page, but content ideas. To find them, do a Google search for your topic and FAQ in the title of the page like this.
These pages should provide a variety of different questions most asked by customers about a specific product. If you can turn them into unique content ideas, you will be able to create specific pieces of content to link to your own FAQ page to help customers.
iTunes allows you to browse podcasts about your niche or industry by popularity. Use this to get inspiration from the topics that people are downloading and listening to on the go. You can also use this to find experts in your industry to interview or get quotes from to increase your content value.
If you’re contemplating the world of podcasting, this search will also help you decide whether your topic is going to popular with podcast listeners.
YouTube is the second largest search engine. You can use it to get ideas about the topics people are watching videos about by searching for videos on your niche or industry and using the filters to sort them by the most viewed or highest rated.
You can also view the comments on the most popular videos to find more questions that people commonly ask about the topic, which could inspire even more content ideas to add to your content marketing spreadsheet.
Magazine headlines (especially the ones on the cover) use the most-proven headline formulas to ensure a high volume of sales. If you can find some magazines in your niche or industry, look at the covers and table of contents to get some inspiration for your blog posts.
You can do this research offline at your local bookstore or online through Zinio, where you can purchase digital copies of individual magazines or digital subscriptions, or Magzter, where you can read unlimited magazines online each month with a paid subscription.
Any book on Amazon that has the Look Inside link at the top of the book’s preview image will typically allow you to peruse the book’s table of contents as well as the index, if applicable. This is a great way to get some blog post inspiration, as each section or chapter of the book could easily be a blog post.
Bestsellers in your niche or industry should be analyzed in particular, as the topics within those books have been proven to be of interest to your ideal audience.
Questions from Your Customers
Whenever you talk to customers, what questions do they ask? If you, your sales team, or your customer service department are getting the same questions from customers on a regular basis, you should consider turning those questions into blog posts. Anyone in your company should be encouraged to share frequently asked questions from current and potential customers in a common place, such as a shared Google Spreadsheet) so those questions can be used as content ideas.
If your store has been online for a while, be sure to check through your email inbox and contact form submissions to find questions asked in the past by potential and current customers. In particular, look at the keywords your customers use as these are likely the keywords they search for too.
Ideally, you could start by compiling these questions on an FAQ page on your website, then link any answers that are explained in a blog post for more information.