No matter what field you work in, one of the struggles of maintaining an active web presence can be continuously coming up with new and fresh ideas for your blog. While it’s always great to write about what you know—whether it’s the latest hybrid vehicle coming out, an answer to a common question you get from customers, or commentary on industry trends—it’s only a matter of time before even the most informed and creative of us hit writer’s block.
When managing a blog presence for multiple clients across multiple industries, it becomes even more important to make sure you’re staying up to date not only on the latest news in each field, but also on what’s being talked about in the relevant, associated online communities. Below are some of my favorite tools and strategies for compiling blog content ideas and staying in touch with what topics are important to potential readers.
Content Strategy Generator From SEOgadget
An obvious answer to the question of how to ensure that your site or blog is always part of the larger discussions on trending topics would be “follow the news sources related to your field”—however, this is easier said than done. With so much content and so many sources of information on the internet, it’s impossible to be tapped into them all at all times, and it’s often difficult just to keep up with even the major authorities.
That’s where SEOgadget’s Content Strategy Generator comes in handy. The tool pulls results related to any keyword(s) you enter from a wide variety of sources and delivers all of this information in a condensed, easily navigated Google Docs spreadsheet. It’s a great way to get specific ideas flowing about a more general or undefined topic you’re interested in.
For example, enter “Kia” and it will deliver the latest results about the automaker from Google News and Bing News, which is a great, quick way to stay aware of new announcements and jump quickly to stories that are relevant to you for research. Results from sources like Yahoo Answers and How Stuff Works can help by showing you the sorts of questions people are asking about your topic, even if they aren’t always news-focused. For instance, seeing an active Yahoo Answers thread on the question “Is a used Kia a good buy for a college student?” may prompt a blog about why Kia is a great value for young drivers and which models are best for kids going off to college.
It also gives you an insight into what’s being shared and discussed socially by returning the top related results from Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Once you’ve gotten a general overview of the latest news, questions, and discussions involving your initial keyword, you can perform new searches with more specific options pulled from these results. This makes the Content Strategy Generator a great tool not only for spurring ideas, but also for gathering information and research to turn those ideas into unique content.
While nowhere near as comprehensive as the SEOgadget tool, Pulse.me is a great alternative when you want a simple, attractive newsfeed to deliver you the latest stories in a particular field or category. Pulling from a pre-selected group of news sources determined by the category you choose (categories range from “Business” and “Technology” to “Fun & Humor”) your customizable Pulse channel will arrange stories as pictures with headlines in a number of easily skimmable formats.
You can also import your Google Reader feeds into your Pulse channel, which will be good news for users looking for an alternative when Google ends their service on July 1.
Write to Address Social Followers
While the first two items above are specific tools you can use to consolidate a lot of information into a single source, it’s important not to forget the importance of doing your own primary research, and your social channels are a great place to start. After all, what better way to know what kinds of topics or information are valuable to your readers than to consult them directly?
See what kinds of Facebook posts get the most interaction or which Tweets are getting retweeted, and use that information to create content that has a higher chance of shares and engagement. You can also write content that directly addresses a question someone has posed, and then link to that blog as a response.
Case in point: An automotive client’s Facebook account was getting a lot of engagement on posts that provided an image of a small section of an older model vehicle, with the question posed to fans “Can you identify this old ____ model?” Since there were a good number of people responding to these posts, we decided to create some content on a model that was just announced and due in showrooms this summer—then we posted a question with a similarly obscured picture of the new model, tagging the original responders and linking to our blog content for the answer. The result was good, newsworthy content and a boost in page views, many of which were from readers who we already knew were likely to share the post.
Google Trends is a great source once you’ve already done some initial brainstorming about your topic(s). Not only will it give you insights into the growing or declining popularity of search terms (which can help you forecast what types of blogs or pages you may be able to get a head start on), but it can sometimes even offer predictions for future search volumes. When applicable, Trends will point to select news headlines associated with peaks in the search term’s popularity, which can double as a good jumping off point for additional research.
Having a blog that speaks to current news and issues that your readers are actively engaged with not only shows that you are an authority in your field, but can also help you attract organic traffic from people looking for information on these topics. These are certainly not the only tools at your disposal for brainstorming and researching trending blog ideas, but they should offer good starting points, whether you just want to skim news on the automotive or technology markets or want to dig deeper into potential interest in specific vehicle models or products.