Coming up with blog content ideas can be a giant pain. This is especially true if you’ve been blogging in your niche for years like I have. Instead of trying to come up with ideas from scratch all the time, I’ve learned to use outside sources for inspiration – based on what other blogs are covering, what people are searching for, and what’s popular. Using these three cornerstones, I’ve been able to generate 100 or more content ideas for my blog in half an hour or less. And now? I’m going to show you how to do it, too.
For this exercise, I’ll be using “starting a business” as the niche, but feel free to substitute your niche or any keyword related to it as you complete the exercise with me.
Spend 10 Minutes Finding Blog Content Ideas
What are people searching for? When we create a blog post, we want lots of traffic, and that means we need to write about things people are searching for. To do this, we need to know what kinds of questions people are asking about our niche, so we know what they want to read about.
That’s where some Google searching can be our best friend, thanks to auto suggest searches. But, with Google, we’re limited to a handful of results at a time, and it can be really time consuming to extract all the data to make it into a usable list of topic ideas.
That’s where Answer the Public comes in. It’s a free tool that generates a report of questions people are asking in Google. We’ll pop in “starting a business” and scroll to the “Questions” report.
That’s 113 questions in a data visualization. Thankfully, Answer the Public will also give you the list format, so it’s easier to see and figure out what you want to start with.
This is an amazing way to start, of course, but we can only pull a report for one topic at a time, so if you want to get results for multiple topics, you’d have to spend time pulling reports for each. Though it’s not really a big issue for a lot of people, it is a time waster if you’ve got a lot of topics in mind.
Plus, there’s no real context about how popular the individual questions are. We don’t know how many people are asking each of the questions, and without that information, we don’t really know if it’s a good idea for a blog post.
If you want to stop here, that’s fine, of course, but I always recommend finding out what your best options are in terms of popularity. Do this with the Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer or SerpStat. Enter a few of your topic ideas, then look at the Questions report.
You’ll get a list of the questions, several thousand or more, depending on your niche. They’re all sorted by search volume. It’s a good idea to limit the results to the ones with the highest search volume – so adjust the “Search Volume” filter to 500-Max,, because no one really has time to sift through thousands of results, do they?
Because the list is dependent on the seed keywords you start with, using generic keywords tend to give you more generic results. Spend about 10 minutes scanning the results and weed out duplicates. You’ll be able to narrow down the list quite a bit.
Topics include things like:
- Loans for a small business start up.
- How to start a consulting business.
- How to start a cleaning business.
- How to start a photography business.
- How to start a business with no money.
These things are useful, of course, but what about the latest news and what the competitors are doing? That’s where the next step comes in.
Spend 10 Minutes Finding What’s Working for Your Competition
Come up with your list of competitors when it comes to your niche. When it comes to business, sites like The Balance SMB, Business.com and Small Business Trends come to mind. If you can’t think of many, you can use the Ahrefs Site Explorer’s Competing domains report to get a whole list of competitors. If you don’t use Ahrefs, you can use Serpstat. Or, you can use a related: search in Google..
Now that we know who our competition is, you want to take a look at the kinds of posts that are making these blogs successful. Manually, you can do this by browsing each site and taking notes about the kind of content they’re publishing. But, this step takes a lot of time and doesn’t tell us whether people are really interested in the topics.
You can use the Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Enter the competitor’s URL and then look at the Top Pages report. This will show you a list of your competitor’s web pages, sorted by monthly estimated organic traffic, so you can find out which topics are getting the most searches every month.
Take a look at the page URL and top keyword columns for an idea as to what topics the audience really loves. Think beyond exact keywords, too.
Glance through the list and you’ll be able to add more topics to your list.
Spend 10 Minutes Finding Popular Articles
This is similar to the strategy we just used, but instead of looking at the competition, we’ll look at what’s popular to get inspiration. Instead of pulling topic ideas from a specific website at a time, you can do this with Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, or BuzzSumo. Enter a topic and get a ton of results based on performance such as social shares, search traffic, and referring domains. You can check to see what the most popular pages are within a certain time frame, within a certain domain, etc.
Once you go through this, you’ll have even more blog content ideas to use that will keep you busy for a few months at least.