As a content marketer, sometimes coming up with new content ideas is extremely challenging. Never mind great content ideas that are going to move the needle for your website.
We’ve all been there. Everything is great when you first start writing for a website – there are a ton of untapped opportunities and brilliant ideas flowing.
However, after you’ve been writing for a website for a couple of years, things may begin to feel more challenging.
Leveraging the many content ideation tools available will not only help you address this challenge, but it will also ensure your topic ideas are backed by data.
12 Awesome Tools for Data-Backed Content Ideas
In this post, you’ll discover a variety of content ideation tools to use when brainstorming new content ideas and building an editorial calendar set up for success.
There are many ways to spike content ideas using SEMrush; however, one of my favorites is by using the new Topic Research tool. You can plug in a topic area or domain to generate related information and ideas.
By analyzing the most popular subtopics, headlines that are earning the most links, interesting/related questions being asked and more, you’ll be able to craft a post that truly resonates with your target audience.
This will also give you a solid idea of what sites and assets you’ll be going up against.
Use the filters to sort by:
Volume (for the most popular searches)
Difficulty (for quick-win opportunities)
Efficiency (for both volume and difficulty)
Additionally, you can save ideas to “Favorite Ideas” to go back to them later.
2. FAQ Fox
This content ideation tool displays the questions that people are asking around the keyword target at hand.
You can enter specific sites to scrape, or pick from suggested categories of sites to search from.
Essentially, the tool asks search engines to find what, why, how, and where in the titles and meta data that incorporates the keyword.
This tool is especially powerful for a few key reasons. It helps figure out:
How users are typing in questions and the language they are using
Questions that users aren’t finding answers to in search results
Answers to the questions with supporting information that can be leveraged to create the asset
In addition to searching across relevant forum sites and social media platforms, search your competitors’ sites to see what questions they are answering around a particular topic.
Quora is a fantastic community, especially to determine what type of information people are looking for around a particular subject.
The platform allows you to search by topic, and displays the most popular questions (or threads) around each topic.
Questions being asked on Quora can lead to some really great content ideas.
Additionally, once you’ve created the asset inspired by a particular thread, go back and share your article with high quality and valuable response.
This will help generate brand awareness, strengthen thought leadership, drive visibility to the new asset, and provide users with the information they are looking for.
Pro tip: To take a more targeted approach, run Quora.com in SEMrush to see the threads that are organically ranking in search results for your keywords. Threads ranking in the top 10 results on Google for your priority terms present an immediate opportunity for content creation, as well as distribution after the post is live.
4. Google Search Console
Consider the queries that are already driving people to your website.
Look at the top queries, impressions, clicks, and click-through rate (CTR) in Google Search Console to identify terms that are underperforming.
Queries with low click-through rates likely indicate that you need new pieces of content to better address the topics, or that the existing assets are lacking something.
For example, if there is a query driving thousands of impressions to your site each month but the CTR is less than 10%, there is clearly a lot of visibility to gain.
Start with these keywords, and you will likely see some quick-wins.
5. Google Keyword Planner
Keyword Planner is essential to discover new phrases that are being searched for, which can be used to generate new content ideas.
You can enter products and/or services closely related to your business, or a specific domain to uncover new keyword opportunities.
I’d highly suggest running your own domain, as well as competitors’ domains to uncover potential keyword gaps and areas where your site needs the most improvements.
From there, start digging into the keyword suggestions.
Remember, don’t ignore keywords with little or no search volume.
Zero search volume does not equal zero traffic. This has been proven time and time again.
In fact, low volume terms can lead to huge traffic wins!
6. Google Search Results
When evaluating the keyword opportunities that you’ve determined, go directly on Google and see what is currently ranking in search results. This will help ensure that your content ideas are set up for success.
What types of assets are ranking?
What sites are ranking in the top results?
Are there certainly commonalities in titles?
If so, what kinds? Are they mostly lists, how-to type articles, “what is” content?
What do the page tagging elements consist of?
How extensive are the assets?
What subtopics do they cover?
This type of analysis will help you come up with topic ideas that are aligned with the assets that Google has already deemed related, quality and worthy of ranking.
Search results that are made up of mostly education and informational content likely present an opportunity to create blog posts, while results that display product and services are better geared toward your main site landing pages.
Be sure to look at the People Also Ask, Searches Related to, and Google’s “Try searching for” suggestions, as these will also lead to some really great content ideas.
This goes back to my point about not ignoring keywords that show zero search volume. Often times if you run these suggestions (from People Also Ask, Searches Related to, etc.) in Keyword Planner, it will display zero average monthly searches.
However, Google suggests them for a reason. People are looking for this information.
This is one of my all-time favorite tools to use for new content ideas. Simply plug in a seed keyword, and the tool will provide hundreds of longer tail keyword suggestions.
The best part? You can pull platform-specific research for Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Wikipedia, and many more.
When digging through the longer tail keyword suggestions, pick the ideas that make the most sense for you and your content objectives. Then, export this for a complete list of priority ideas.
Use BuzzSumo to analyzing top-performing articles across the web and trigger new content ideas. Similarly to other tools mentioned above, you can search by a specific keyword or domain.
It’s important to think beyond your own domain and search competitor sites as well.
With this tool, you can get a better understanding of what content assets (and topics) are generating the most shares and backlinks for your competitors.
This will help you realize content gaps on your own site, and the types of new assets you will need to compete.
9. Google Trends
In today’s search landscape, it’s important to craft content that addresses subtopics that Google associates with a keyword.
Google Trends helps understand searches that are closely related to the topic at hand, as well as the user intent behind these searches.
One of the best parts about this tool is that you can use it to determine the timeliness of a topic.
Is it a newer subject that is just heating up?
Did popularity around the topic spike a couple of months back and dwindle off since?
Is it a seasonal or annual topic? If so, when do people start searching around it?
For example, in the screenshot shown above, you can see that the average interest over time around Patriots’ games is greater than for Steelers’ games. This further proves that the Patriots are better than the Steelers. (Kidding! Sortofnotreally. 😂)
But, it does show that when these terms are being searched for is fairly consistent. You can clearly see when off-season is and when the season starts to pick up.
Looking at the trends over time will help you decide if the topic is worth addressing, and the best time to publish a new asset around the subject.
10. Answer the Public
Answer the Public is another valuable tool to find the questions that people are searching for around a particular keyword or phrase.
Type in a keyword, and you’ll be greeted with an awesome visualization of how people are searching around the topic.
This tool applies question-based modifiers (such as which, who, what, when, why, how, are, and where) to the beginning of the keyword and displays Google’s search suggestions.
It also searches with preposition-based modifiers (including for, with, to, on and many more), as well as comparisons like versus, or, and, like, etc.
The comparison data is especially useful if you are writing about a particular product or software. Versus style content can be extremely valuable to reach people who are deeper in the sales funnel, and already comparing potential solutions.
11. Social Media Platforms
Don’t forget to leverage social media as part of your content ideation process. While this type of analysis can be done across platforms, I find Twitter to be the most purposeful for content ideas.
With Advanced Search on Twitter, you can see tweets that include specific words, phrases, hashtags, mentions, and more to get a feel for the types of conversations people are having online.
Aim to better understand the language they are using, questions they are asking, challenges they are having, and the tweets that are getting the most engagement.
CoSchedule has a variety of offerings that can help take your writing to the next level; however, for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the free Headline Analyzer tool.
This tool is especially helpful once you’ve established some new content ideas, and are looking for ways to tweak them in order to maximize visibility.
You can enter text and get immediate feedback on how to tailor your headline to drive traffic, shares, and search visibility.
Get recommendations to:
Identify the type of headlines that convert (lists, how-tos, questions, etc.)
Find the right word balance to catch your audiences’ eye (uncommon, common, emotional and powerful words)
Optimize the character length for engagement
In this extremely flooded online marketing landscape, it’s becoming more important for content marketers to focus on quality over quantity. And, this means identifying the right content topics.
Craft new content that is highly targeted toward your audiences, keyword objectives, and broader business goals.
Take advantage of the many content ideation tools available to you.
You will come up with amazing content ideas that are backed by data.
SAN JOSE – With more advertisers and bigger budgets crowding onto Facebook and Instagram, acquisition costs are climbing. Advertisers can make their social ad dollars go further by re-thinking campaign fundamentals.
“You need to make sure you’re scaling your available inventory for click-through rates, mirroring your audience, and being dynamic,” 3Q Digital’s Senior Strategy Development manager Madeline Fitzgerald said in sharing tips for lowering CPAs across Facebook at SMX West Thursday.
Deconstructing Facebook CPCs
Audience size: bigger is usually better. CPCs on Facebook are affected by audience size, account structure, and click-through rates (CTR). The narrower and smaller your target audience, the more competitive your bid will need to be, Fitzgerald explained. The competition in the auction will ultimately impact the CPC outcome.
“If you’re noticing that your CPCs are really high, one of the first things you should do is check your audience sizes. If you’re seeing that [it’s] getting too specific, see if there are any other interests, behaviors, demographics that we can add.” Doing so, she explained, will help to broaden the target pool and give the Facebook algorithm more options to show your ads.
If you’ve reached a ceiling, broad targeting might be the next step. “If you already have a mature account, don’t go straight to this if you’re still early on in your testing phases. But if you’re trying to get to that next level, broad targeting is great way to do so,” Fitzgerald explained.
Account structure and segmentation. Account structure and the way we segment our ad sets can also determine the available ad inventory. Ads can run across a range of Facebook properties – from News Feed and Messenger to Stories and Instagram feeds. When we add segmentations like placements or geographies, the audience pool becomes restricted and advertisers might miss out on more efficient inventory.
“The algorithms are smarter than we are,” she reasoned. “Let the robots have it on factors like devices and placements. A couple of years ago, we laughed at everyone who did that. But we’re actually seeing a 13% lower CPA with some of our clients who [no longer segment those].”
Segmentation can be valuable when focusing on the funnel stage – i.e. audience personas, creative, and destination pages. But Fitzgerald recommends skipping demographics, geographies, devices, and placements — any of the factors you can’t edit after you set them up.
Campaign budget optimization. Soon, ad set budgets will be going away, in favor of campaign budget optimization (CBO), which uses machine learning to automatically serve ads to the target audience based on predictive analysis.
“I think the biggest way to figure out how to work this into our strategy is to think about the language Facebook is using to tell us about how the algorithm operates. Facebook tells us that CBO looks at the available opportunities – which is a combination of audience size and the audience’s propensity to actually convert into billable opportunities.”
Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes volume over potential for conversion,
which is why CBO works, she explained. Marketers can group together audiences with
similar potential reach or size and the budget optimization tool will see more
conversion potential for larger audience within the budget.
Conversions are in the creative
Mirror your audience. “As advertisers, it’s our job to help users see themselves
and their goals – what they want to accomplish – in our creative. We need to
make sure we’re making it very obvious for them,” said Fitzgerald.
Compelling ad creative should be able to clearly visualize
the value proposition of what’s being promoted. And it’s not just about getting
more users in the door, it’s about getting the right users in the door
because they were drawn to your creative.
Engage audiences with video. Facebook has been pushing advertisers
to use animation and video for some time now, but Fitzgerald argues advertisers
still aren’t doing enough with it.
“A lot of advertisers take existing creative and put a slow
zoom on it, or pull a three-minute explainer video and think that counts as an
ad. But that’s not really what we’re being called to as advertisers here,” she said.
“It’s our job to figure out how to leverage movement in a more disruptive way,
and think about new original ways to talk to people.”
Highlight clear value in the copy. Effective copy isn’t about being brand heavy. It’s about
making users comfortable with clicking on an ad. Fitzgerald explained that advertisers
can build that trust and comfort by keeping ad copy directly tied to the value of
what you’re selling.
“We want to make sure users don’t need to go through any guesswork to figure out what’s going to happen next,” Fitzgerald said. “People don’t want to have to read through your whole website to understand why they should engage with your brand.”
This story first appeared on Marketing Land. For more on digital marketing, click here.
About The Author
Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.
In April 2019, Google was experimenting with a new local SERP that highlighted alternative directory sources for the same query. At the time, we saw an example in the wild for Germany. Now, an updated version of the SERP featuring branded directory buttons appears to be live in the UK, Belgium, Spain, Greece, and France – if not already throughout Europe.
A more prominent directory box. Below is an example screenshot from a UK search, showing directory links above the map and local pack.
SERP showing results for ‘asbestos removal Halifax UK‘
This change in the SERP grows out of Google’s continuing effort to comply with the European Commission’s antitrust decision in shopping search. It’s also an attempt by the company to preempt a separate antitrust action in local search.
Yelp previously criticized these types of screens as a return to Google’s “rival links” remedy, which was originally proposed in 2013 and ultimately rejected by the European Commission.
UK SERP showing a local carousel above the map
How are the directories selected? One obvious and immediate question is how are the displayed directories chosen? This isn’t an ad unit, in contrast to the solution implemented in shopping search. In the latter context, comparison shopping engines and Google Shopping bid against one another for placement in PLAs. However, there’s no comparable “sponsored” or “ad” label in the directory box or carousel above.
We must assume that Google is algorithmically choosing the directories to display. In the UK example above, clicking on the directory box links takes users to a category page in the case of Yell but a business profile page in the case of Cylex. Other searches (e.g., “dentists, London”) show a carousel with multiple, alternative directories.
In some cases, the directories appear on the first page of the organic results, below the map. In other cases, they do not.
Why we care. It remains to be seen whether this approach is acceptable to the European Commission. Part of that will depend on whether the buttons drive meaningful traffic to these publishers. If so it could revive the fortunes of at least some of them (think “barnacle SEO”), which have continued to see declining traffic as Google My Business and zero-click search grab more user focus and engagement.
About The Author
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.
E-commerce category pages represent a larger opportunity for ranking and driving organic search traffic than product detail pages, according to research unveiled at SMX West 2020 on Thursday.
Across nearly 30 top U.S., e-commerce sites ranking for more than 25 billion keywords, category pages outperformed product detail pages, driving more keyword rankings and estimated traffic, as well as showing higher potential to capture additional traffic with optimization.
The data – culled by JumpFly and seoClarity from Google’s rankings in the U.S. – highlight the outsized role that category pages play in upper-funnel marketing efforts to drive brand awareness and interest.
Specifically, e-commerce category pages – which include parent category, subcategory and product grid pages with faceted navigation – ranked for 19% more keywords on average than product detail pages ranked for. The additional keywords they ranked for drove an estimated 413% more traffic, based on the keywords’ search demand and the pages’ ranking position. With optimization, those ranking category pages also showed the potential to drive 32% more traffic.
Even though category pages drove strong traffic, there’s a significant amount of room to improve ranking performance. On average, each captured an estimated 9% of the share of voice in its search results page. That means that the other ranking pages captured an estimated 91% of the clicks. Product detail pages, by contrast, captured just 2% of the share of voice.
E-commerce sector trends
The strong-category-page trend was most apparent across sectors that naturally target more generic head and torso keywords. For example, sites that sold cordless hammer drills, table lamps and cowboy boots drove stronger performance with category pages, including fashion, home goods and home improvement, as well as department store sites.
Interestingly, the results varied for one sector tested: electronics. One likely reason that product detail pages perform more strongly in this sector could be that electronics keyword themes tend to contain more concrete product attributes than those in other e-commerce sectors. For example, common TV searches include specifics like the size, display technology, resolution, brand and whether it’s “smart” or not. Product names for electronics also tend to contain some of those attributes to differentiate the many similar products available. Therefore, the relevance between a detailed search query and the details in the product name is higher than it would be for other sectors.
Regardless of sector, however, the direct-to-consumer space drove the strongest category-page results, with category pages ranking for 356% more keywords than product detail pages. These brand manufacturers selling their own products on their sites – like Apple, IKEA, The Gap and Nike – drove an estimated 202% more traffic with category pages, and had the potential to drive 233% more traffic.
Marketplaces and auctions
No e-commerce story is complete without a look at marketplaces and auctions. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a strong consensus among the sites in either group.
Behemoth Amazon bucks the trend with product detail pages ranking for an incredible 21,847% more keywords: 34 million keywords compared to the meager 155,000 keywords that its category pages ranked for. Amazon’s product detail pages also drove an estimated 57.5 times more traffic, and had the potential to drive 275.7 times more traffic.
This makes a certain amount of sense based on Amazon’s strength in media and electronics sales. Both sectors are more focused on the types of keywords that product detail pages would naturally win – book and movie titles, and product attributes. In fact, one of Amazon’s best practices for product detail pages involves placing as many product attributes as possible into its 50- to 250-character product names.
Conversely, the product names, and consequently the title tags that are typically based on them, tend to be very short and vague on most e-commerce sites. One luxury jewelry site, for example, has more than 10 products named simply “Ball Ring.”
Walmart’s smaller marketplace system acted more like Amazon with product detail pages that ranked more strongly. Though technically classified as a marketplace since its Target+ expansion to include third-party sellers last year, Target’s much smaller network acted more like a department store with stronger category pages.
On the auction side, eBay acted more like a department store with slightly stronger category pages, while Etsy drove more rankings with its product detail pages.
Why it matters
This research suggests that category page optimization is a valuable area to prioritize to boost your organic search rankings and traffic.
Category pages form the backbone of an e-commerce site as the clickable representation of the site’s taxonomy. Every category page naturally targets a series of keyword themes that form a path through the funnel. The head keyword sits at the mouth of the funnel, while the related, more detailed themes step lower to form the torso and long tail that move toward the tip of the funnel. Traditionally, the product keywords sit at the very tip of the funnel, converting the customer to a sale.
For example, an e-commerce site that sells clothing could have the following click path through a series of five category pages: women’s clothing > dresses > maxi dresses > black maxi dresses > XL black maxi dresses. Each of those five pages targets a unique keyword theme with a place in the sales funnel. Optimizing category pages enables you to capture those searching customers as they explore their purchase options.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Jill Kocher Brown is a 14-year SEO consultant, author, speaker, and editor. She loves data-driven decisions, scalable SEO strategies, e-commerce and technical SEO. A veteran of five agencies and in-house twice, Jill can be found these days at digital marketing agency JumpFly, Inc., where she’s pioneering the SEO practice.