How do you come up with blog post topic ideas? Which tips and topics should you tweet about? What should be the subject of your lead nurture emails?
The strategy content writers use to answer these questions is called “ideation.” It’s a buzzword popular in the content marketing industry at the moment. Here’s what it means.
Ideation is the term marketers use to describe the creative process of deciding on topics and titles for their written content.
It starts with a brainstorm and hopefully ends with a viral piece of written content that your audience can’t wait to consume.
Successful content writers don’t just randomly choose topics. They research ideas and keywords before they write about them. It’s a waste of time and money to produce a fantastic piece of content that nobody wants to read. If you want people to click your blog posts and open your emails, you need to write about things your audience wants to read.
Generating Content Writing Ideas
So how does content ideation work?
Like I said, it starts with a brainstorm. Hopefully, you’ve already sketched out your ideal customer, so you know your audience. (If not, you should really, um, get started on that.) In this section, I’m going to take your through the steps that professional marketers follow for content ideation, which include:
- Keyword research
- Site ranking
- Craft a title and subheads
- Create a content writing calendar
Brainstorming for content ideation
What is your audience interested in? And which topics relate to your product or service? A good content writing strategy will start by answering these questions.
Do you sell handmade jewelry? Maybe your audience wants to read about jewelry design trends or fair trade gifts. Be sure to talk to your customers as well. If you have a brick and mortar store, ask shoppers what they like to read about online. Poll your Facebook and Twitter followers. Check out online forums, social media comments, and your own blog comments. What do your folks seem to care about? What do they want to know.
Marketing teams often sit down and drum up a long list of ideas together. But if you’re doing this on your own, you’ll have to be your own brainstorming partner. If you get stuck, try using Google for inspiration.
Type in the start of a query, and Google will suggest common search terms that complete it.
People also ask
I wrote this post for the focus keyword “content writing.” Since I’m a freelance content writer, that’s an important keyword for my site to rank for. So let’s say I want to generate a few more article ideas that would allow me to use the term “content writing” in the title. The Google “people also ask” tool gives me a list of questions that my audience might want answered.
So maybe my next post can be an explanation of what content writers do, or a list of tips for writing good content.
Once you know the topics that will pique your readers’ interest, you’ll have to research keywords that will generate impressions and clicks. There are a few free online tools available that can spit out a list of keywords in a few seconds.
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keyword Tool
- Answer the Public
Plug in a starter keyword, then just browse through their list of related keywords and SEO data. You can use these tools to figure out how many people search your keywords each month and how difficult it would be to rank on page one of the SERP for that keyword.
And don’t forget to check out your competitors using these tools as well. Which keywords are leading your customers to their sites? You should try to rank for those as well.
Do you know where your site is currently ranking for your focus keywords? You can find out using the Google Search Console tool. There are some paid services that do this as well, but since GSC is free, that’s the one I like.
Just set up an account, link your site, and Google will generate a report telling you which keywords people used to find your site, and how many impressions and clicks you got from each one. You can also set up specific columns for specific keywords that you are targeting. The report will tell you your average ranking on the Google SERP for each one. That way, you can see how you’re progressing in your goal to rank for those keywords.
Peruse your report. Are there any keywords for which you’re ranking around number 8 or 9? If so, you might have a shot at ranking in the top 3 with a little more focus.
Craft a title and subheads
You probably know that your title has to contain your focus keyword. (At least one of your subheads should as well.)
But it needs a few other characteristics as well:
- Make it honest. Your blog title should accurately describe the content of your article. No clickbait or lofty, impossible promises.
- Make it clear. This isn’t a magazine or a novel. People click on blog titles when it seems like the article will contain the information they need. Make sure your title clearly illustrates the topic of the post.
- Make it relatable: You know your audience. What kind of language do they respond to? Would they appreciate slang, or would that turn them off? What about formal vs. casual language? Use the words that your audience would use.
- Make it interesting: Punch up your title with bold, descriptive words. Use alliteration. (Creative Content Curation for Brand Marketers!)
- Make it valuable: If your title lets the reader know they’ll get some value from the post, they are much more likely to click. Be honest, how many of you clicked this post because of the FREE template?
Create a content writing calendar
At this point, you have one blog post planned out. But you also have a long list of keywords that you want to rank for. You can use this information to plan out your content months in advance.
To do this, you’ll need a content writing calendar. Lucky for you, I have a free template that you can download here.
Or if you’d rather not have to do all the work yourself, shoot me an email. I am a freelance writer for hire, and I’d be happy to help you build a successful email marketing campaign!