As I’ve said many times on this blog, content is key when it comes to bringing in traffic from Google. The more high quality blog posts you publish, the more clicks you will ultimately bring into your website. However, this of course relies on the fact that you are publishing content about things people are actually searching for. In this article I’m going to break down my strategy for coming up with content topic ideas.
No Keyword Research Tools
Standard practice in the SEO space is to use keyword research tools. However, I think these are oversaturated and actually make things harder for aspiring SEOs. None of the methods I lay out involve having to pay for any tools or relying on them. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.
The Index Card Strategy
To start off this list I’m going to cover something I do myself for this blog. Basically how this works is you grab a bunch of index cards, then write down all the questions you think people have in your niche. The idea is just to get a good 20 or so ideas written down. Then, I write a piece covering the answer or information they are looking for.
Now I bet you’re thinking: “Well wait a minute, Gabriel! How do I know if people are actually searching for this?” The answer is you actually don’t, however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cover the topic itself. Here’s why.
As I explained in my post on why I don’t use keyword research tools, all of your competition and the majority of other websites in your industry are most likely using them. Because of this, not only do you get inaccurate volume and data on a suggested keyword, but sometimes even the ones listed in the tool don’t get a lot of traffic.
So if that’s the case, why not at least cover a topic the other websites aren’t going to be publishing on…? Granted, there’s still the chance people may not be searching for the keyword you specify. However, here’s the important thing to keep in mind: Google is very good at telling what a piece of content is about.
Your blog post could still come up in the search results for a related synonym or search phrase. And by following a different process for your topic research, you’ll absolutely be hitting on some topics that most websites haven’t covered!
This is my favorite method for deciding what to write content about. Most of my blog posts are written by doing this. However, it can be tough if you are just starting out in a niche or industry to know what questions people are most likely asking. So let’s cover some ways to find that out next.
Looking At Real Dialog In Your Niche
The cool thing with the internet is that everything is out there. We can immediately look at public conversations taking place on Reddit and forums in your industry. Let’s take advantage of the technology we take for granted every day.
Let’s start with Reddit. If you aren’t familiar with the website, it’s basically the biggest forum online today. You can find subreddits (or sections of the site) for just about any topic that exists. Simply head over to Google, and type in “Reddit” followed by the name of your niche or industry.
For example, let’s say I run an automotive repair business. I would search for something along the lines of “auto repair reddit”. As you can see, Google returns a few promising Subreddits to check out:
Once you find a subreddit you’d like to check out, you’ll want to sort posts by new to see what the latest topics of discussion are. Click on the “New” button at the top with the little explosion icon. This will sort by latest posts first in the results:
Here I can see that people are asking questions about the Nissan Sentra 2005. If I was a mechanic that may give me an idea to write a post about something like “2005 nissan sentra check engine light blinking” or other pieces on troubleshooting issues with the car. By covering content on topics like this, not only can I hit a long tail keyword and rank easier but most likely your competition hasn’t published content on specific things like this either.
Besides Reddit, forums are another great source to see what people are talking about as well. Sometimes you’re just not going to come across relevant, high quality topics to write content about. That’s why you always want to have more than one egg in the basket for finding good content topics.
Just like subreddits, forums can be found by searching for “forum” and then the name of your industry in Google. For this example I’m going to be looking for website design forums. As you can see, this time it’s returned a lot of lists of web design forums:
After skimming through one of the lists, I’ve immediately found some awesome forums in my niche. Now I can just click the name of the forum to go to it. And boom, we can now browse and look at the threads and discussions currently going on on the site. Just like with Reddit, we can sort by newest posts first to sort by recent topics at the top:
Unfortunately it appears that spammers have taken to this forum. This is actually rare and most of the time you won’t run into this. After switching to a different forum site I quickly found a really good topic to cover with a blog post:
I guarantee 99% of the competition haven’t covered this specific thing in a tutorial blog post, and this is a topic that 100% can bring in some traffic as people look up how it’s done. And just like that, boom! Another high quality content topic to add to my list.
Just like with the previous 2 methods, you can easily find Facebook groups for your niche. In the search bar at the top of their website type in the name of your industry and then the word group. In the search results you should see some relevant ones. If groups aren’t showing up, you can filter search on the left so it only shows groups.
I’ve personally found that this is a gold mine and I don’t know why I don’t see more people talking about this. Simply find a tutorial video about a product or service related to your business, then scroll down to the video comments. Most likely people will be asking related questions to the YouTuber. Making a list of these can give you some great topics to write content about that people in your niche want answers to.
Why These Methods Are So Good
Remember: Nobody can answer the question “what do I write content about?” better than actual prospects in your niche. The goal here is to cover topics people are actively looking for answers on. By taking some time and actively listening to what people are saying online in your industry, you gather some prime content ideas that your competitor’s most likely haven’t thought of.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) To The Rescue
Yes, you can actually use AI to come up with topics for you. Nobody covers this and I have no idea why. There are actually already several tools you can use to generate topics using artificial intelligence. Some of the blog posts on this very website have been centered around topics AI has outputted for me.
StoryLab is a website that offers this as an online tool. Unfortunately, their free version does have its limitations as they want you to pay for a premium subscription for their service. However, I’ve found that the free version does decent and I’ve been able to generate some quality topics using their platform.
With their free tool, you can run 15 AI queries a month, whereas they give you 100 AI queries a month with their starter plan for just $7 a month. You can upgrade to a higher tier plan and run even more queries if you choose to do so. $27 per month gets you unlimited runs, which is a reasonable price in my opinion for the value you are getting.
SEO & Paid Research Tools
Despite my praise about StoryLab’s tool above, I’m always going to be honest on this blog. The reality is this: you NEVER need any paid tools, plugins, or services to succeed with SEO. Seriously. You can come up with content topics without the help of AI and do just fine, even without spending a dime. Do paid tools make the job easier…? Maybe, it depends on the tool.
It gripes me that many SEOs teach beginners that you need to pay for keyword research tools when this isn’t actually true. Then they include their affiliate links to make more money off of their audiences. While I have no problem with suggesting tools that are helpful and pointing people in the right direction, you don’t need these tools to succeed and that should be prefaced everywhere.
Thinking outside the box and utilizing unique strategies for coming up with content topics is how you get ahead in the SEO space. Never do what 99% of the herd does. “If you act like the 99%, you’re going to get the results that 99% get.” Instead, be creative and leverage real people in your industry as well as AI.
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