Tools to Help You Generate Content Ideas

Posted: February 20th, 2018

Content creation is not something that always comes easily to even the most creative types. Whether you’re a blogger, you work for a digital marketing agency or you’re part of a company’s social media team, there’s always that pressure to produce. Sometimes you have a bit of a mental block and there’s no shame in turning to the internet for help. As a copywriter for a digital marketing agency, here are the tools that I use to help me get over those blocks and come up with ideas for guest posts and blog posts for clients and our own site.

Answer the Public

Don’t be frightened by the rather grumpy looking old sage who appears on your screen upon entering the site. He is the Seeker, and he means you no harm. He just wants you to get on with your search. Answer the Public basically taps into Google and Bing’s auto suggest results – the things that are listed underneath your query before you press enter – and lists all autosuggest results to do with your chosen topic. For example, if I type in ‘cat’, I will get lots of questions that people have asked about cats.

These questions range from the everyday, “what cat litter is best?” to the slightly weird, “what cat breed am I?” and the genuinely concerning, “why cat why?” Say you’re a pet blogger, the question “what cat breed lives the longest” could lead to an article about that, or you could even take a look through the questions and do an article on common questions about cats answered.

Alltop

A good way to generate content on a certain topic is to see what other people are writing about it. Alltop basically lists popular sites and articles based on particular topics, so you can see what’s trending at the moment and what you can add to the discourse. For example, if you go to the SEO section, you can see sites like Yoast, Search Engine Land and Moz, with articles on topics like cross domain canonicalisation, keyword research and outbound links. Controversial opinion articles give you the chance to offer a counterpoint and benefit from the buzz surrounding the controversy.

Google

If you want to drink straight from the source, there are a few ways to use Google itself to help you come up with content ideas. You can type in your topic and see what is auto suggested to find out what other people are asking questions about. You can also use Google in a smart way to search for existing blog posts on your chosen industry or topic. For example, I search:

Gardening “blog”

This brings up results which have the word “blog” in them and have something to do with gardening. You can then trawl through the posts on gardening and see if there are any topics that you feel you can add to or write a better article on.

Quora

Think Yahoo Answers, but less weird. People ask questions and other people answer them. Type your chosen topic into the search bar, for example “Home improvement” and you’ll be brought to the topic page. There have been 15.2k questions asked and the topic is followed by 124.4k people. That’s a lot of information available and a lot of people with questions that want answering.

You can look through all of the questions on there and see what people aren’t sure about and what they need help with. This is great for coming up with marketable how-to article ideas because you can see what there is demand for. You could also ask questions yourself and do an article based on the responses. For example, one question on the topic is “What is your biggest DIY fail? How much did it cost to repair your mistake?” This could make a really fun article if there are some really big disasters.

Übersuggest

Similar to Answer the Public, Übersuggest scrapes the autosuggest results from Google searches and lists them, but it also includes the results from Google Keyword Planner. It tells you the search volume for each term as well. This is a great way to find out what people are most interested in right now.

Reddit

It’s home to people with all kinds of interests and hobbies, and those probably cover whatever topic you are trying to find content ideas for. Type your topic into the search bar and you’ll find the subreddit for it, full of people asking questions and engaging in passionate discussions.

If we use r/DIY as an example, you can see loads of cool projects that people have done, complete with instructions and pictures (including a dog wheelchair!). You can also just use the results from your search of “DIY” and see what comes up from other subreddits, for example, “What’s something you should absolutely not DIY and instead, leave to the professionals?” could be a solid premise for an article.

All of these tools help you gain a good understanding of what people are interested in and wondering about right now. Of course, content writing doesn’t always have to rely on this sort of trawling – sometimes inspiration can strike and you can come up with something that no one else has written about yet (though, there may be a good reason for this). What these tools help you do is find topics that are guaranteed to be of interest to people – your article just has to add something unique to draw people in.