SEO content is a perfect way to increase organic visibility in a way that helps your readers and boosts your brand. But have you ever been faced with a big ol’ empty blog roadmap, or a content calendar that’s got more blank space than Taylor Swift circa her 1989 era? Then you understand the struggle of coming up with ideas for content.
But that’s alright… because your friendly neighbourhood content strategist from connective3 is here to help! I’ve got to be honest – content ideation is pretty much my favourite part of my job. I love nothing more than digging into a website, spotting content gaps, and brainstorming fun new ideas to fill out a roadmap! But if you don’t have a ton of time (or a ton of ideas) then it can be a real slog.
I’ve pulled together some basic tips that I find useful for finding awesome new SEO content ideas, and how you can simplify your content ideation and keyword research.
Click a section to jump straight to that tip:
- What is content ideation?
- Use your team
- Use your client
- Use your competitors
- Don’t be afraid to talk about what you don’t do
- Use the data you already have
- Take it offline
- Contact customer services
- Plan seasonal content
- Use what your users see
- It’s okay to say no to SEO… sometimes
If the phrase ‘content ideation’ is new to you, don’t worry! Basically, content ideation is the process of finding, choosing, and researching new topics and ideas for content. You’re looking for ideas that are really relevant to your brand, company, or website.
When we talk about SEO content ideation, that means coming up with ideas for blogs, guides, new landing pages or other pieces of online content that target keywords on Google to help a website rank and improve organic visibility. Ideally, you want to find topics that have related keywords with a decent amount of search volume behind them.
Okay – definitions aside, let’s get to why you’re really here. Forget sitting staring at an empty roadmap, just you and your tired brain – I’m here to make it a little easier for you. Here are my ten top tips for coming up with blog content ideas that work for you and for your site!
In the c3 content team, we do group content ideation sessions to come up with ideas for blogs and guides for our clients. Diversity of thought is essential for content! Here’s how to run a content ideation session that works:
- If you don’t have a team, or if your team is small, you can ask other colleagues or even get a couple of mates to help you out – try and pick people with different interests and experiences.
- Give them a bit of a brief on what kind of content you’re after – show them the website or other blogs you’re looking at as inspiration.
- Give them a few examples to start them off so they understand the format you’re looking for.
- If things slow down, have a couple of prompts prepared to pick the ideation back up
- Let your brainstorm run until it reaches a natural end, and hopefully, you’ll be left with a nice long list of content ideas.
You’d be surprised how often one random comment from someone can spark serious inspiration from the whole group. A lot of the time, your biggest problem will be writing the ideas down as quickly as your team says them – but hey, that’s how you know your ideation session is going well!
Once you’ve got your ideas, plug them into your favourite keyword research tool and see if they’ve got SEO potential (and keep reading to find out why it might not matter even if there’s no search volume).
I recently ran an ideation session with my favourite clients, doing keyword research live on the call with them. Not only does this help to upskill , but instead of days of back-and-forth email tennis to feedback on a roadmap, they could tell me if a topic was relevant then and there, and I could tell them if an idea was good but didn’t have any associated keywords.
Running an ideation session with my clients for new content ideas helped me to find some amazing super-relevant keywords to target that I’d have never spotted otherwise, because they didn’t seem immediately related to the field that the client works in.
It’s sneaky, but a quick and easy way to find groups of keywords you can target is to Google a keyword you want to rank for and see who’s ranking top of the results page.
You should always check the SERP for your head keywords anyway, to check the search intent. Looking at the SERP results will tell you if it’s an informational or transactional page, so you can make sure that you’re recommending the right kind of content to help the page rank.
Essentially, you’re letting Google do the work for you. If a site is sitting at the top of page 1, and it’s been there for a while, then that tells you what Google wants to rank. And that, in turn, informs how you structure and write your content.
Personally, I find the quickest and easiest method is using the Ahrefs toolbar (a godsend to SEO content writers!) to see what keywords are already working for the top content on Google, and then add in my own research.
This can be tricky, depending on how prescriptive key stakeholders can be – but if you spot a keyword with lots of informative results on something that’s really relevant to your brand, even if you don’t offer that exact thing it’s still worth talking about.
For example, check out our content case study for debt company Lowell – they’re one of my clients. Our work with them combatted brand negatives with myth-busting finance blogs, talking about common debt misconceptions. A lot of those misconceptions were about the wider debt landscape, not things our client dealt with directly, but it’s really relevant to their customers. A lot of those misconceptions were about the wider debt landscape, not things our client dealt with directly, but it’s really relevant to their customers.
Remember, Google (and users) are looking for you to show your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. As long as it’s relevant, talking about something you can’t offer in an honest, open and even-handed way is a great trust signal for users.
When you’re coming up with new ideas, you should always check in Google Search Console.
Is your content as relevant as possible?
Look for keywords where you’re not ranking very well – especially any keywords where the ranking page isn’t the most relevant result compared to other pages on the SERP. This is a great way to find quick-win keywords that can become new content topics!
Is Google confident in your content?
Also, keep an eye out for any keywords where you’re seeing Google testing pages against each other. If you see two or more pages swapping in and out over a period of weeks, it suggests that Google isn’t sure of what those pages are – it might be worth splitting that content out into two pages that are more specifically targeted.
A good old-fashioned thought map still helps me to come up with new ideas – and it helps you to organise content into clusters, too. This is especially useful if you’re starting a blog from scratch, and you need a bank of initial ideas.
Have a good browse through the website that you’re working on, then give yourself 30 minutes of quiet time to sit with a notebook. Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself as a starter.
Brainstorming content ideation questions
- If I was a user of this site, what would I want to know?
- Have we covered all of the end uses of this service/product?
- What kind of user are we talking to? What kind of thing would they like to read?
Try to come up with topics first, and then branch off from there into specific blog ideas, because that gives you natural blog categories or content cluster suggestions. Come up with as many ideas as you can, then have a quick Google and refine them based on what’s performing well on the SERPs.
Whether you’re a brand or agency marketer, one easily overlooked way of coming up with some really impactful new content ideas is to speak to the customer service team, if one exists.
The customer services team is often one of the most knowledgeable teams in any business when it comes to knowing a brand inside and out. They know the customers, they know the most common customer queries, and they know the kind of language that customers are using, which can lead you down new avenues to find interesting content that’s super helpful to current users and likely to help snag some potential new customers, too.
Frankly, seasonal content is a classic for a reason. And while yes, that means spooky costume guides in autumn or love-themed blogs around Valentine’s Day, there’s a bit more to seasonal content than that.
- Make sure you’ve got your content going live a good distance before the seasonal peak picks up, so you’re giving it a solid chance to rank, and to pop in and optimise if it’s really not picking up.
- Seasonal content might have peaks and troughs rather than year-round visibility, but one solid article that ranks high year after year can be a powerful performer.
- Planning your content around the calendar means that your on-site copy is always relevant – which means it’s great for organic social and proactive PR, too!
If you’re really stuck, then a nice and easy (and totally free) method for coming up with content ideas is using Google’s auto-complete function. Type in the beginning of your head keywords or any terms that are relevant for your business/sector, and see what comes up as a suggested search – then take the ideas away and check the search volume. It’s what users are seeing, so it’s a good way to mimic search behaviour.
Remember some content ideas aren’t SEO-driven – and that’s okay! Content ideation, especially SEO content, can be tricky because ideally, it should be data-driven. But that’s not the whole truth of the matter – and sometimes choosing content that has low (or even no) search volume can be the right choice, if it’s right for your website.
If you’ve done some ideation first, you’ll often face that annoying moment when you come up with a great idea for a blog or a piece of content, but there’s no search volume behind it. While you might be tempted to curse the Google gods, it’s actually okay.
As long as most of your content is weighted in favour of SEO-focused copy, it doesn’t really matter too much if one or two blogs aren’t fully keyword optimised or targeted at the top position on a SERP. And that’s because the topic if it’s right for your site, your brand, and your customers, then it’s right for your content.
You’d be surprised at the things that rank really well for our clients sometimes – if a reader loves the content, values it, and spends time reading it, then that’s all lovely shiny signals for Google that the content is valuable. And it might even be that you’re the first to cover a topic that people are looking for! Essentially, don’t lose sight of SEO principles for the majority of your content – but don’t be afraid to write about a great idea even if there’s no keywords to back it up.
Coming up with new content ideas can be tricky (even if you share my nerdy love for keyword research) but hopefully, these tips can help make it a little easier. For more inspiration, check out the rest of the c3 blog, or find out a little more about our organic content team to find out how we can help you!