Painters have paint. Sculptors have clay. Writers just have ideas. But what does that have to do with personas and keyword research if you want to generate blog ideas?
For content marketers or anyone creating written content, having the tools ahead of time is key to creating something worth reading. In our post on the science of idea generation, we outlined a few different processes from leading researchers. Whether it was six, five, or three steps, all of their processes included research.
While the idea of your team locking themselves in a room with nothing but a whiteboard and each other to bounce ideas off of is nice, it won’t be successful unless you provide your team with the raw materials necessary first. Not only will you not know where to start, but the ideas you generate may not be what your audience will resonate with.
According to Content Marketing Institute, a top priority for 65% of content creators is to gain a better understanding of what content is effective and what isn’t.
What are the most important materials for gaining this understanding and generating useful ideas? Here are the most important items to consider:
- Primary Goals: What is each persona’s primary goal? Secondary to that, what specific goals and motivations would bring them in contact with your content?
- Challenges: What challenges do they face? What searchers are they performing to research solutions to those challenges?
- Knowledge Level: How knowledgeable are they about your product, service, or industry? Will they require basic background information and guidance, or are they looking for more expert-level analysis?
Put together as many different buyer personas as they make sense for your business. 52% of marketers support 2 to 4 roles and buyer personas with dedicated content.
TIP: Your audience’s specific questions and input can be direct fodder for blog ideas and other content. You may even consider asking their opinion about what content they’d like to read from you. However, don’t take your audience’s opinion as 100% law without performing further research. That’s how you get your $287 million polar research ship named R.R.S. Boaty McBoatface.
Generate Blog Ideas with Keyword Research
Once you know who your audience is, it’s time to research the topics they are most likely to be interested in and find valuable. The important thing to remember at this point is that your goal isn’t to create a big list of keywords to then stuff into your content. Keyword stuffing is no longer a thing.
Instead, you are looking for a list of common search terms and long-tail keywords related to your business to use as inspiration for your content calendar. Then as you create the content surrounding these keywords, they will more naturally include keywords in the categories your audience is searching for.
Here are a few tools to conduct your keyword research:
- Google’s Keyword Planner: Once you sign up for a Google Adwords account, you can use this free tool to see how many monthly searches a keyword receives. Simple, basic, and free.
- Market Samurai: For a more advanced tool that can drill down into the competition and commerciality of specific keywords to help identify more valuable keywords for your brand.
- HubSpot: If you – like us – use HubSpot, they have a keyword reporting tool that we find extremely useful. This provides insights into how your site ranks for that keyword, difficulty in increasing your rank, and campaigns using that keyword.
Come up with your list of long-tail keywords and sort them into categories based on your own products or services or based on different topics you might cover. Now it’s time to research these keywords for content ideas that your audience is most interested in.
For this, social media and other tools can provide you a view of the type of content that is currently most effective for those keywords:
- Twitter: Set up Twitter keyword searches with the engagement set to more than 50 likes, more than 10 retweets, etc. Experiment with these filters until you get a good representation of what content is effective on these channels (also, feel free to share some of the content you find with your audience).
- BuzzSumo: This tool allows you to analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor based on keywords or URLs. Enter a keyword, and BuzzSumo will show you the top content related to that keyword, as well as the shares, backlinks, and other engagement that content received.
- Digg, Quora, and other social networks: Keep an eye out on the other social networks and news aggregating sites you frequent to see what content is most popular for your chosen keywords. Perform regular searches for a consistent stream of content ideas.
Final Thoughts on Generating Blog Ideas
Now that you have the resources necessary, your job is only just beginning. Gaining this greater understanding of your audience and of the topics that are currently successful will give you the resources you need to begin generating content ideas for your marketing.
Idea generation is a process – and this is one of the earliest stages. For next steps, check out our whitepaper, “Fill Your Content Calendar in Under an Hour: The No-Nonsense Guide to Idea Generation.”
In a future post, we’ll cover how to evaluate those blog ideas once you have them!