- Keep brainstorming sessions productive by diversifying your team and documenting every idea.
- Find ideas through social media, blog comments and surveys to discover trending topics, keywords and products.
- Update and revitalize old content to create something new or viral-worthy.
- Keep a finger on the pulse of your industry so you can predict trends and establish yourself as a thought leader.
- Constantly evaluate analytics to create even better content ideas in the future.
How does the business intelligence software company Domo manage to publish infographics year after year that generate hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of organic backlinks? They know how to come up with content ideas that rock!
Six years ago, Domo created the “Data Never Sleeps” infographic that captures the amount of data consumed around the web in a single minute. According to the latest iteration of the infographic, each minute we watch 4,333,560 hours of YouTube video and perform 3,877,140 Google searches, for example.
Domo could have come up with a text-based blog post that spoke to data usage. That, my friend, would have been boring. Not exactly the kind of blog topic that attracts piles of links or that becomes insanely, massively viral.
Instead, they thought of a creative, visual way to display the data-heavy information and then gave it a catchy title. But they didn’t stop there. They also turned it into an annual event to ensure the data remained fresh and useful.
HubSpot’s Scott Brinker, who manages the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, does something similar with his annual martech ecosystem “supergraphic”. The recent 2019 version generated more than 1,400 organic backlinks in less than a month, while the 2018 version has enjoyed more than 5,000 backlinks.
Great content performs well, so you need a continuous stream of fresh new content ideas if you hope to break through all the noise and reach prospective customers. But getting them to your site is just the starting point. If you want them to return time and time again, you’ll also need to captivate them with the best blog content ideas imaginable.
It’s not necessarily easy to come up with a killer new idea. But there are specific methods to help you knock it out of the park. So read on to uncover 29 effective ways to generate content ideas, overcome writer’s block and turbocharge your content strategy.
How to effectively brainstorm new content ideas
Brainstorming sessions can lead to the best content ideas. However, without the right people and parameters (and freedoms!) brainstorming sessions can also lead to … silence.
To avoid crickets and keep the creativity flowing, here are a couple things to remember before you sit down to brainstorm.
Avoid “no, but…”
In the brainstorming state, all ideas are good ideas. The fewer limitations you put on yourself and your team, the more opportunity you have to come up with unique, lead-generating digital content ideas. Don’t worry if an idea isn’t realistic right now. That unrealistic idea just may turn into an incredible piece of content that no one has ever done before.
Enterprises can have thousands of employees across different teams, so take advantage of their expertise. Diverse opinions will help you avoid silos and get unique perspectives for bigger, better and more creative content ideas. For example, someone in IT might bring some valuable insights to the table that your content team wouldn’t otherwise consider.
With a diverse team and an open mind, you’ll be ready to develop unstoppable content marketing ideas.
How to find content ideas in trending stories
Trends change all the time. The keyword or topic that was popular last year may not be so popular this year or vice versa. Never assume that specific topics are hot. Instead, do your research to be sure. Use Google Trends, the Ahrefs Content Explorer or even Reddit to discover content ideas that are timely and more likely to go viral.
Look for keywords with the highest search volumes
Search volume is an excellent indicator of popularity: the higher the search volume, the greater the interest. Of course, with higher search volume comes increased competition. Therefore, you’ll need to decide whether to go after high-volume keywords or find low-competition long-tail keywords and create hypertargeted content.
Need help? Check out our topic clusters blog post to learn more about how to cover broad keyword categories with pillar pages.
Leverage trending social media discussions
Social media is one of the best ways to keep up with your audience’s interests. Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora, in particular, provide valuable industry insights around customer pain points, questions, goals and discoveries they’ve made. A little digital eavesdropping could lead to a slew of new content ideas.
See what people share on social media
Want to know how to generate content ideas that people will love? Analyze what they’re currently sharing on social media. You can use tools like BuzzSumo, Moz and Ahrefs to see what’s popular, or social media management tools like HootSuite to discover trending topics. You can also use the native analytics built into your social media accounts to see what’s resonating. Which articles and videos get the most shares or comments? Use those as inspiration for your own content.
Check out other content from related industries
Don’t just research your direct competitors. You should also pull useful content ideas from related industries. Global clothing retailer? Check out content in the travel industry. There’s no shortage of posts about how to pack light and stay in style with a versatile wardrobe.
Cross-pollinate ideas between similar industries
If you discover overlapping content in another industry, why not collaborate with those businesses to create something unique? For example, as the content manager for a major life insurance company you could team up with a mortgage company on home safety ideas.
You’ll gain valuable insight into a related industry and get your content in front of a whole new audience. Take Airbnb and Flipboard: when Airbnb launched “Experiences” (which includes tours, classes and local events) they collaborated with Flipboard to create magazines that highlight experiences offered in major cities.
The result? Millions of page views and tens of thousands of new social followers.
Check out trade magazines and websites
Search volume, backlinks and share counts are all great metrics to identify potential content ideas. They highlight what your audience is interested in, and, more importantly, what they rave about.
But what about the industry experts? Namely, the editors who sift through hundreds of article submissions and choose what makes the front page of trade magazines or the top of the home page for their corresponding websites? Flip through the publications to see what the experts handpicked. If an editor thinks a certain type of content or topic is important, maybe should you, too.
What’s more, those publications are likely to spark similar searches online. So if piggyback off the best website content ideas, you could cherry pick some organic traffic — even if there isn’t a great deal of search volume for the terms yet.
Borrow ideas from blog comments
Why guess what your audience is thinking when you could read their direct thoughts and questions? An easy way to get inside your audience’s head is to check out what they’re writing in your blog comments. What do they like? Dislike? What kinds of questions are they asking? These comments could either help you turn the blog post they’re commenting on into something bigger and bolder like a white paper or course – or they could inspire an entirely new piece of content.
Don’t just stop at your site, however. Head to your competitors’ and popular blogger sites to see what comments are being posted in their blogs, too.
Newsjack trending topics
One way to quickly boost your traffic is to take advantage of keywords with spikes in search volume. What better way to do that than with current news? Keep tabs on headlines to spot popular topics and make your brand part of the conversation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be industry related – you could use a trending topic or event to draw a metaphor or paint a picture for your audience. Just be sure to avoid controversial topics.
Review timely products
New products are launched every single day. If you’re a furniture brand, you might review a new home decor app. On the other hand, a financial services company could publish a post on the top five budgeting apps. This is a great way to drive traffic based on current trends.
Conduct surveys on your website
You can’t develop engaging content ideas if you don’t know your audience, so why not ask them what they like? Add a survey to your most popular posts with a few quick, relevant questions. You’ll discover what their pain points are and what solutions you can provide.
Poll your industry
Don’t just rely on your own limited audience for content ideas. You should also conduct an industry-wide survey to understand how customers view your niche from 30,000 feet. From those insights, you’ll be able to generate tons of great content ideas.
We recommend that you include at least one qualitative question that allows participants to respond in freeform. While multiple choice questions are useful, you’ll uncover the most interesting insights and stories when you give people the freedom to write whatever comes to mind.
Feature customers and industry experts
Everyone loves stories. To capitalize on this, conduct interviews of customers and industry experts. Your audience will love hearing from another expert or one of your customers. In addition, your interviewee will most likely share the post or podcast with their own audience!
Attend industry events
Finding new content ideas is hard when you’re in a silo. Conferences and events give you access to some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. Don’t just pull potential ideas from the keynote speakers, though. Look for cutting-edge concepts in breakout sessions, too.
Want to take things one step further? Write a review or summary of each event in a sequence of blog posts with actionable takeaways. Just don’t trash talk anyone or you’ll burn some valuable bridges.
Look for video inspiration
Video is taking the content marketing world by storm, but not everyone has caught on yet. Hint: that means there’s a huge opportunity for you to pick up the slack and differentiate yourself from the rest — especially If specific keywords return bland video carousels that you can easily one-up.
Design intriguing infographics
As we’ve seen with Domo’s “Data Never Sleeps” infographic and Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape supergraphic, visual content marketing is powerful. One piece of awesome content has the potential to double your traffic (or more!) through shares and backlinks. While you brainstorm content calendar ideas, consider which ones would be most intriguing as an infographic.
Build useful industry tools
Content ideas don’t have to be limited to blog posts, videos, infographics and downloadable content resources. One way to generate lots of traffic and leads is with tools. CoSchedule built this Headline Analyzer, which generated more than 20,000 backlinks. Tableau offers a free, lightweight version of its data visualization tool, and in the process generated over 21,000 backlinks.
What tool could you create? If you’re in financial services, your customers would probably love a debt or interest calculator. Or if you’re a furniture store, why not develop a tool that lets users create a digital layout of the room they’re trying to furnish? The options are nearly endless.
Look to the past for content ideas
Update and revitalize old posts
One of the easiest ways to generate content ideas is to look back at your old blog posts. Most likely, some of those posts have outdated information you could update. But you can even take content revitalization a step further by adding new visual elements (like that infographic we talked about).
Combine content to create something completely new
As you look through your old posts, you might stumble upon some thin content. Let’s say you find a dozen different short blog posts about debt management. Instead of just updating these with new information, you could combine them into a completely new post that blows people away with how detailed and comprehensive it is.
Revisit overachieving topics
The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” definitely applies to your content. Sometimes one of the best ways to drive traffic and leads is what you’ve already done before, like Scott Brinker did with his marketing technology infographics. If you created a Top Interior Design Trends post that did well in the past, why not publish a new one for this year?
Build on the best-performing content in your industry
Go beyond your own blog to discover past content that people loved. Analyze what other experts published with tools like Moz’s Link Explorer or BuzzSumo. If those pages resonated with your competitors’ audiences, chances are they’ll also boost crucial off-page SEO signals for you too.
Study why it performed well. What format was it? Did it contain actionable advice, statistics, inside intel, videos or graphics? Did it get more shares, links, organic traffic or all of the above. Learn why it did well and replicate it 10X better.
Deconstruct viral content ideas
Just because something went viral in the past doesn’t mean it was a one-and-done scenario. In fact, if it went viral before, it’s likely to go viral again. Recreate that content with a fresh, updated twist and see what kind of traffic it can bring. But closely examine the triggers that made it perform so well. If you’re familiar with chaos theory, then you’ll know a small change can drastically alter the outcome.
Visualize historic events with a timeline
If you’re in a fast-moving industry marked by important milestones, then you might want to brainstorm content ideas that document those events over time.
For example, if you’re in the SEO space, perhaps you start with Alta Vista, Lycos, WebCrawler and Excite, then on to Yahoo and BackRub, before you walk the reader (or viewer) through a timeline of all the major changes that Google has introduced through the years. Helping people grasp larger concepts in a visual, fun way can sometimes lead to more sharing and backlinks to your content.
Pull content ideas from the Future
Predict future trends
If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you have to do more than keep an eye on the current trends – you have to predict them. Check out this Fast Company article about the future of retail as an example.
That may seem difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy. Just read voraciously, take note of innovation in other industries and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. As a result, you’ll be able to connect the dots and see patterns others haven’t yet noticed.
Discuss nascent technologies in your industry
Even if you’re an enterprise, it’s important to keep an eye on the little guy. There are plenty of stories about small start-ups and technologies that end up making huge waves in the industry. Instead of underestimating these new technologies, why not broadcast them? Like trend predictions, these kinds of posts can establish you as a thought leader who “knows what’s what.”
Seek out evergreen content ideas
You’ll need evergreen content to balance out time-sensitive ideas that focus on current trends. Evergreen content is anything that stands the test of time like this post we created about Better, Bolder B2B SEO. That content will be just as relevant in the future as it is today, so it’s likely to be shared and linked to for years to come.
Develop content ideas with great ROI
Some types of content can be developed in just one day, like a blog post, while others can take a lot of time or financial investment, like a video series or white paper. So which should you do?
It all depends on the ROI, your current goals, and your bandwidth. You may not have the capacity to create a video series about debt management just yet, so the ROI won’t be worth the strain it’d put on your team. In the meantime, you could create a blog series about debt management. Then, when you’re ready to tackle and optimize video, you already have a foundation to build on (and probably an audience ready for more).
Analyze Results to Continuously Improve Your Content ROI
Content isn’t like a watch – you can’t just set it and leave it and expect great results. To get the most ROI from your content marketing strategy, you must analyze the results.
As you dive into Google analytics, you’ll uncover insights that not only help you improve your current content, but also create better content ideas for the future. The more you optimize your content to satisfy your audience’s needs, the more traffic and leads will come your way.