Content is king on the internet. Content is what keeps people returning to your website. Content encourages engagement – actions and conversations – with your clients, and prospective clients. Content is what people link to (and links generate traffic). Not just any content though – good content.
Good content is:
- relevant to your audience
- provides enough detail for your audience to act on
Thinking of good content takes time and can be frustrating, so we’ve created this list of ideas you can use whenever you need to write content.
Where to Get Ideas
Industry News Feeds
Use a free app such as Feedly, Scoup.it or Flipboard to automatically receive news from industry media outlets so you can keep tabs on hot topics. Subscribe to new sources relevant to your industry and quickly flip through headlines on a regular basis to think of topics.
Use customer questions as a source by content ideas. There are two major benefits of using this as a source: (1) you’re addressing a topic that you know your customers are interested in, and (2) you’re preemptively answering a question that you know others have. That means you’ll save time because you can’t point others that have the question to this content, and you’ll get a lot of traffic from others who are prospective customers.
Social Networking Comments and Questions
Social networking is another way of listening to what your clients and prospects are interested in. Read their comments and questions, as well as what they post to gauge the type of content that they find valuable. If you aren’t finding any useful comments or questions, engage your audience more by asking them what they would find valuable.
- what are areas they’d like advice on
- what are their biggest concerns about a product or service
- what at topics are they most interested in
- pose a question and see the responses (what do you think about ___?, how do you feel about ___?)
Check your competitors’ blogs, press releases and social media accounts on a regular basis to keep tabs on the content that they are sharing with their customers and fans. It can inform you not only of content ideas, but also their marketing strategy – who they’re targeting, products/services that they think are opportunities, and trends that they are seeing.
Your Popular Content
Use your analytics to see what your most popular content is – what’s been visited the most, what has the most comments, what has been downloaded the most, etc. This will give you an indication of a related topics you might right on. In fact, you may continue to write on the same topic, but expand on it.
Search Engine Autocomplete
To make searching the internet easier, search engines, such as Google and Bing, suggest things to search for based on what you type into the search box. The suggestions, referred to as autocomplete, are based on popular searches. For example, when I go to Bing and type “how to account” (which might lead to a good topic for a accounting, finance or bookkeeping business) these suggestions are suggested:
This is a powerful tool because it means that people are already looking for these topics, so if you create related content, when people search for this in the future, they can be directed to your site.
Reddit is a popular website that allows people to submit, and vote on, articles that they find valuable. To find topics that people are interested in, search for keywords for your industry – words related to your services/products or ones around topics your customers might be interested in.
For example, if I look up “marketing” here’s the most popular articles (below). Reddit then gives me the option to filter the list so I can zero in on something more relevant, if need be.
Stumbleupon a Topic
Similar to reddit, Stumbleupon is a social networking site that lets users submit sites and then vote on them. It works a little differently than reddit though. Reddit allows you to see lists of the most popular articles, whereas Stumbleupon forces you to stumble through them. They’ll show you a site, and then you skip to the next one by clicking the “Stumble” button. Stumbleupon lets you look at sites segmented by “Interest” so you can narrow down the sites to your industry.
Slideshare and YouTube
Slideshare and YouTube are great content sites that will tell you how popular certain topics are. You can do searches are subjects related to your industry and see the number of page views it receives to gauge interest.
If You Answer It, They Will Come
Use Quora and Yahoo Answers to see what questions are on the minds of people. Use the questions that people post as a topic. As a side benefit, if you register for the sites, you can answer the question and provide a link to your content to drive traffic to your site.
What to Write
Now that you have an idea of subjects that might be of interest to your target market, you have to figure out what to write about. Keep in mind that content can be video as well as text. In fact, video is probably the way to go if you can since it makes it more personable and generally converts better than copy.
Create a how-to related to the subject.
- How-to shop for something (criteria or factors people should look at when deciding who to buy from)
- How-to do a certain aspect of a service you provide
For some reason people really like lists on the internet – maybe because it’s perceived to be a quick read that answers their question fast.
- The 5 Best….
- 26 Ways to…..
- 7 Reasons why…..
- 11 Things you can learn from….
Interview subject matter experts to talk about subjects. The interviews could be someone from your business or not. If it’s not someone from your business it could boost the credibility of your content even more because people will be more inclined to believe that the info is from a neutral third party. Interviews can be presented as video, copy or both (i.e. video with copy being the transcript). It can be a question and answer type format or the interviewee simply talking about the subject.
Impact of Recent News
Put your own spin on industry news by talking about what the news is, and then going into detail about how this news impacts your target market. Also, let them know what actions they can take to either take advantage of the news or how they can protect themselves.
The Answer Post
Take questions that you find that your target market or customers have and answer it. One thing to consider when you’re doing this is that you may want to make the title of the web page, and the subject of the question you are answering. For example, make it “How Do I File a Cease and Desist Order?” if that’s your question. It will tell your current customers, fans and followers [that you share the content with] immediately what pain point you’re addressing. It will also help your content in search rankings because there are most likely people searching by that question (and not a lot of pages with that title) which tells search engines it is very relevant for certain searches.
Sometimes you’ll find content that you can tweak slightly or “make it your own” (if you found content on another site) to produce something new for your site. You can use the original content as a baseline, and then adjust the wording to make it your own. You can also change the media to repurpose something. For example, if the original content was in text, maybe you make a video, presentation/slide show, or white paper on the same topic.
Curating content can take effort and time, but it can be well worth the effort. In the long run, the objective of Google, Bing and Facebook is to promote content that people find valuable. There’s far too many that product content that didn’t require much thought, but it also doesn’t add value. Make meaningful content and you’ll be rewarded with traffic.