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Generating better content ideas

By on Aug 18, 2014 in Content | 35 comments

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Millions of web content get published every day – from blog posts, videos, podcasts, image-based up to interactive content.

Standing out in the content game (in any industry) will obviously become tougher to be consistently accomplished, considering that there could be thousands of newly published content in your space each day (which will possibly grow even further in the coming years).

Although it doesn’t entirely mean that competing against brands that have already made it through this channel is not a viable option to those who are just starting.

Ad agencies may be more creative than us, and bigger brands may have bigger budget than us.

But in this age of information technology – anyone can have the power to influence, and anyone can become an amplifier.

You just have to know how to come up with great ideas and how you can execute them.

A content that can effect and challenge its readers’ actions, behaviour, opinion and perceptions is the usual types of content that can really help brands succeed in digital marketing, such as:

Content ideation is a crucial process in content marketing, because it’s where the awesomeness starts. So in this post, I’ll share some of the techniques and resources I use to generate effective content ideas.

Learning from your competitors

Competitive intelligence is perhaps the most basic approach to content ideation.

There are several web-based tools that you can use to identify the types of content that really work in your space based on your competitors’ content campaigns, such as:

BuzzSumo

buzzsumo

BuzzSumo allows its users to easily track and find the most popular content on different social media platforms, as well as the key influencers in any particular industry.

Notable features of the tool:

Ahrefs (Top Pages)

ahrefs

Ahrefs is a web-based link research tool that you can also use to track a site’s (preferably your competitors) most linked and socially shared pages or linkable assets.

By delving in to these data, you can easily have a grasp of what sorts of content your competitors are heavily promoting and are genuinely attracting natural mentions/links – in which you can get insights on which content ideas to pursue.

Google Keyword Planner (stealing from your competitors’ keyword group ideas).

keyword planner

Elisa Gabbert shared this particular tip on one of her recent posts on Wordstream. Google Keyword Planner also allows users to track and discover more keyword group ideas from other established websites, just by keying in the URL of the target site’s main landing page (or blog’s homepage).

Once you’ve identified the content assets that have worked for your competitors in the past, you can start creating a better version of those content that can be more comprehensive and can offer better UX (skyscraper method).

Elaborate and expound other people’s ideas/concepts

Creation requires influence. And that is why consistency in content marketing requires constant reading.

Getting inspiration from other publishers is what usually fuels the imagination of some of the most creative content creators on the web.

In this age of social media, it’s really important to have a list of industry influencers that you can religiously follow, particularly their works – as this will enable you to consistently get new perspectives and insights about your industry.

Jot down the ideas they’re sharing. Understand and look for gaps in which you feel your brand can complement and add more value on.

seth godin

Whether you’re supporting or opposing the ideas that you get from other publishers, what’s important is to ensure that you can add your own personal inputs/opinions about the subject, such as:

And sometimes, the best ideas come from combining other people’s ideas (I highly recommend watching the Everything is a remix series).

Curation is a proven effective approach in content marketing, because it makes web content consumption easier for a lot of people, given that readers get to find all the necessary information they would normally look for in one place.

As for content creators, the key to really succeed in content curation is the ability to string various ideas and making them appear to complement with each other.

For instance, this curated list of link building strategies by Robbie Richards did really well in getting a lot of social shares and links to the post. Although, the blog post is just a collection of ideas from different publishers (and was published on a newly launched domain) – it still worked.

robbie richards

This proves that anyone has the capability to compete, even in this very content-rich industry.

Learning from other industries

Checking out what sorts of content thrive on other industries wouldn’t hurt as well.

As you can probably get more content/campaign ideas from other industry-specific communities that might haven’t been implemented in your space yet.

For instance, MozCast is a widely used interactive content-based site that many online marketers use (and certainly an asset that Moz, as a brand, can get to take advantage of).

mozcast

This is an asset that can also be applied by other industries, if they’ll just think of the types of information that frequently change in their industry (that people may also search for on a regular basis) – like the World Bank’s linked data.

linked data

There are so many places on the web that can help you execute on this kind of ideation process on a larger scale.

Like this content research tip from Ross Hudgens – checking popular content on Stumbleupon by categories:

stumbleupon

Or just by understanding how other industries make use of data to come up with better, hard-to-replicate and linkworthy content on Reddit’s DataIsBeautiful:

reddit

Learning from what people really need

The main essence and goal of content marketing is to really understand your target audience on a deeper level and for the brand to have the ability to communicate with its audience on a consistent basis.

Developing personas and being able to classify different audience segments/archetypes in the initial process of any content campaign is very crucial, because this process allows the eventual efforts of the campaign to become more targeted and efficient.

Make a list of the people on each of your target segment.

segments

You can use tools like FollowerWonk and BuzzSumo to find these people in your space.

Follow the stories and types of content that they mostly read and/or share on the social web.

tweet

Learn how to create the content that these people genuinely read and share.

Forums and other active online communities (like Quora, Facebook or Linkedin Groups) are also great places to start to really get a better picture of the kinds of information that people normally search for in your space.

quora

Conceptualize content based on other successful publications’ audience

Create and design content as if you’re writing for the audience that other popular sites/publications in your space are targeting. Analyse the top publications in your industry, and assess each site’s content focus. For instance:

This approach to content development will not just help you steal their audience, but also in getting their (influencers) attention – which can add more value to your relationship building efforts.

The process of analysing and understanding the content focus of these authoritative websites can also help you build your own theme for your brand’s content campaigns (same as to how I’ve somehow managed to build a theme for my blog based on the topic areas and target audience that they haven’t focused on that much – which is continuously providing actionable, evergreen, inexpensive and easy-to-implement online marketing strategies).

And having a theme that you can strictly follow for your content development efforts can extremely help make a brand standout in a shorter period of time, especially when the theme you’ve decided to focus on ties with your business’ objectives and branding.

Building and proving your expertise on one particular topic area in your industry can help shape your brand’s unique voice and selling point.

And expanding on the other topics that your brand should also be attached to and getting other people to believe that you’re truly an expert will be a lot easier once you’ve already proven that your brand is a definitive source for one or two topic areas in your space.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and or follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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35 Comments

  1. Ankit Jaiswal

    August 18, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hi Jason,
    Good article. People need to understand that Standing out in the content game should be the most important part of your digital business.
    At the end of the day, Content is the king and u need to have it unique.

  2. Louie Sison

    August 18, 2014

    Post a Reply

    All of the concepts in this blog are ethical hacks. It’s like guiltless scheme of stalking ideas. Great work, as always Sir Jason!

  3. Marian

    August 18, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Because all of the algorithm changes, Content is definitely the king right now. and having a consistent quality content is a challenge. Good thing there are people like Jason that are willing to share their knowledge just to help young bloods out there.

  4. alvin

    August 20, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Kaiserthesage is the best ever! Thank you for always sharing a very actionable strategy. Talagang ina-abangan yung mga posts mo dito sa Cebu (office mates).

  5. louisa

    August 20, 2014

    Post a Reply

    great article mr jason, i look forward for more posts from you coming in the following month , regards from europe

  6. Dev

    August 20, 2014

    Post a Reply

    I have recently started using BuzzSumo and really liked their interface. Not only useful for content ideas but also help for blogging outreach.

    Great post, jason!

  7. Pankaj

    August 23, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hi Jason,

    Again you come up with an awesome content, but I feel Facebook Groups are of no use as they’re full with spammers and you hardly find any valuable public group. Instead I would recommend Goolge+ communities where you can find real discussions are moderators are very strict in controlling any kind of spam.

  8. Chris

    August 25, 2014

    Post a Reply

    I agree with Alvin, the best part of this epic post is there are so many ways I can take action on these ideas today. I particularly like the idea of the “curated list.” You essentially borrow authority from other authors while compiling their work in a way that delivers value to your readers. Very strong work!

  9. David King

    August 25, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Great resource. Thanks for putting all that together. Important point for content generation is remember to look beyond the marketing team and tap into the ideas and thought that they can offer.

  10. Colin

    August 26, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hello Jason,
    The suggestion of taking what has been a success in other verticals and applying it to the one you are working in is a great way forward. We spend so much time analysing the competition when we should really be looking at ways to make our website stand out and be different. Not just links either.

  11. Corbin

    August 26, 2014

    Post a Reply

    I’m a huge fan of Hrefs tools. Their domain comparison is great for sneaking up on your competitors. Such an easy way to see how your site stacks up!

  12. Robbie Richards

    August 27, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hey Jason,

    Another great article! Thanks for the shout out too :)

    Really like your point about target market segmentation. So far, I would say the single most powerful thing anyone who is trying to build traffic and exposure for their blog can do, is build relationships with influential amplifiers in their industry.

  13. Dennis Bunting

    August 29, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Wow, really a very nice article Jason, i really liked it. I am totally agree with you that budget and brand doesn’t matter much when one have talent in themselves. Everyone should understand that Standing out in the content game is the most important part of your digital business. Everyone wants a unique content, duplicate content is not acceptable.
    This is a great list of tools to make the job at hand easier and the day more productive. BuzzSumo is a very great tool ,which helps content marketers discover what content resonates the most for any topic/keyword. It shows you what content has the most social shares across the major social networks.
    Great list! Thanks for this information, is really helpful for us. Have a nice day Jason! :)

  14. Claire

    September 1, 2014

    Post a Reply

    What an amazing resource! Totally agree on taking inspiration from someone else’s idea. A lot of publishers think generating ideas is a daunting task when in truth, there are so many ideas they can flesh out from existing ones . If you can view something from a different perspective, you can easilly come up with not just unique but equally interesting topic.
    Thanks for sharing this Jason!

  15. Ivan Bayross

    September 8, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hi Jason,

    Wow what an detailed and informative Blog post. I was floored reading it. You’ve taken a whole lot of trouble creating this Blog post for site visitors like me. Thank you.

    Loved the idea of elaborating on other people’s ideas/concepts with some of one’s own experiences. The link to Seth Godin’s site was particularly helpful in taking me to an authority website .

    Each experienced and passionate Blogger can always add a new slant or another dimension to Blog post content, which helps people like me to get a broad perspective of the same topic. This I’ve found to b pretty valuable and I look for this on various Blog sites. Some of the comments I read fall into this category.

    Content curation is another area where a lot of great things are happening today.

    Once again loved the detail in this Blog post.

    Warmly,

    Ivan Bayross

  16. Dinesh sharma

    September 30, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Thanks for sharing informative article for content generation. This post really helpful for me and other also too for generate better content ideas. Buzzsumo tool provides great popular content.
    Thanks for sharing this….

  17. maria

    October 1, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Great post Jason- I don’t know what your thoughts are but I personally find it easy getting ideas from my own work i.e. anything that I have done for a client that perhaps could be discussed, a problem I solved or perhaps wasnt able to solve or expanding on any serious issues that clients may have had- this is always a great way and means that i’m not ever short of a constant out pour of ideas

  18. Addy Steve

    October 11, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Great summary, Jason. My first time on your site. This is interesting and you have mentioned some impressive points in your article. You have give example of buzzsumo. Just wanted to know if inbound.org is similar to buzzsumo? Will surely try out the other sites you have mentioned in this site. Thank you for sharing this post & your knowledge on this topic. Looking for more good posts in future.

  19. George

    October 14, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hi
    jason,
    Generating better content ideas is very good. Thank you for your clear directions forward and your encouraging affirmations. It is a good way to improve our audience and engagement with our readers. I’ll surely give them a try.
    Regards,
    george

  20. Miraj Gazi

    November 7, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hi Jason! Thanks for this very well written article. You mentioned lots of resources to generate content ideas. I would like to add Medium and AllTop.

    Thanks
    Miraj Gazi

  21. Manuel Menezes

    November 13, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Hey Jason… I was reading a lot about SEO in the last few weeks and it seems to me that content is once again playing a big role in the SEO game.
    This is vital because even if you use the most effective strategies to promote the content, you will not be able to attract good links when the content itself is not that good. So we have to keep working on that in order to create really great stuff for users.
    Great post man!! Take care!

  22. Anoush

    November 14, 2014

    Post a Reply

    I am personal user of Keyword planner but other was new for me i will use it lets see how it works for me.

  23. Carl

    November 19, 2014

    Post a Reply

    This is the first time, I hear about BuzzSumo and I definitely will try it. Quite often I am using Google trends to write content related on hot topics.

  24. Sathish Arumugam

    February 3, 2015

    Post a Reply

    Hey Jason,

    This very informative post. Competitor analysis is something very important, Where we get to learn more of ideas. Thanks for sharing. looking forward to more of you upcoming posts in 2015

  25. Amit Kumar

    February 18, 2015

    Post a Reply

    Hii Jason,

    Every blogger and webmaster want to generate better content ideas but very few people knows the exact way. Thanks to you, i got a huge list of great content generating ideas tools and information.

    Currently, i am using “BuzzSumo”. But from know i would try out the rest of tools mentioned in this guide. thanks for sharing this helpful article.

  26. Matt LaClear

    February 28, 2015

    Post a Reply

    One thing that’s easy to miss, in the pursuit of creating great content ideas, is that created content should be centered around a major passion. You can study and mimic major influencers until the cows come home from pasture, but it won’t make an impact in your campaign if your knowledge of the subject matter isn’t out of this world. People can tell if you’re bringing something new to the table. “New” is what they’re ready to follow. Thanks for sharing some good research and a timely reminder of what’s important.

  27. David

    April 27, 2015

    Post a Reply

    Recently read about Buzzsumo, looks like an excellent tool and I will definitely try the free version in the next few days.

  28. Sonia Sharma

    May 26, 2015

    Post a Reply

    There’s a stark difference in the content creation strategies of sites that have legitimate readerships and those that rely heavily on SEO to generate traffic. Legitimate sites act like traditional publishers who create content mainly on the basis of what they deem to be rewarding for their audiences.and Millions of web content get published every day – from blog posts, videos, podcasts, image-based up to interactive content.

  29. Todd

    June 22, 2015

    Post a Reply

    I think one of the trickiest balances to find here is that between giving people what they want and what they need.

    It’s one thing to be able to follow the trends and create content based upon keywords, etc. – but it’s another to create stuff that will actually help people take the next step rather than just burying them with tactics.

    Tricky to give the second without enough of the first to get folks interested though…

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