Marketing Pilgrim's "Search Marketing" Channel

Marketing Pilgrim's Search Marketing Channel is sponsored by ClickZ Live Chicago. Register to attend today!

Three Stupid Simple Ways To Brainstorm Content Topics




In my last post I talked about how to gain crucial insights from SERP analysis. Through proper SERP analysis, you can put together not only an SEO strategy, but content marketing strategy as well. In today’s post I want to talk about three ways of coming up with dozens of ideas to fuel your content strategy. We will start off talking about word association.

Word Association

When putting my content plan together, one of the very first things I like to do is build a big mind map of all the potential topics I can think of. I do this through word association. For those unfamiliar with word association, this was originally a game in which an original word is chosen and each player finds a different word that they associate with the original word. At the end of the game you might have hundreds of words associated with the original word. It is a great way to brainstorm content topics.

When going through this exercise, I start with my primary or head keyword and then branch out from there. As you can see in my example below, I used photography as my main keyword. In five minutes I was able to come up with 28 different topics I could write about.

word-association

This is a very simple, yet powerful way to get your creative juices flowing. If you need a mind mapping software to help you with this exercise, I suggest XMind. It’s free and quite robust. Now let’s talk about the second way to drum up content ideas, internal research.

Internal Research

One of the best (and fastest) ways to get content ideas for your organization is by performing some internal research. Last week I wrote a post about fifteen content marketing ideas for 2013 over on the Vysibility blog. In this post I talked about getting with your sales and services teams to find out the following:

• What potential customers pain points are
• What the top 100 questions are that your current customer base is asking
• What are the top ten complaints you are receiving from your current customers

Each answer you get can be turned into a fantastic blog post (or other form of consumable content) that can be used to help with customer acquisition and retention for your organization. I’ve found that by running through this exercise, that some companies can get enough ideas to fill their editorial calendar for a complete year. Now that’s impressive! Let’s move on to my last method of generating content ideas, external research.

External Research

Just like with internal research, you can go directly to potential and current customers and ask them what they are interested in learning about your industry. Sometimes, they might not care to learn anything about your industry, but other times, they will. If you do your due diligence and ask, you just might get some golden nuggets of information that your competitors probably aren’t getting.

A perfect example of this is us at SEO.com. Beginning in January, we are starting up a “clients only” webinar series where we will do just that, address the things our clients are interested in learning about our industry. We are doing this for two reasons, first to differentiate us from our competition and second, to help with client education and retention. On our space we feel this is critical to our continued success since our clients are always looking to gain more clarity in what we do for them.

To wrap up, there are obviously many other great ways to come up with content ideas, but these are the three that I feel work best for our company and our clients. If you have any others you’d like to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

This post and its contents are the opinion of the author and may not necessarily express the views and opinions of Marketing Pilgrim.

About The Author

Greg Shuey is the VP of Client Services for SEO.com, a leading internet marketing agency located in Utah. Greg runs the day to day operations of the client services team and guides SEO strategy for all SEO.com clientele.

  • Carson Ward

    I love mind maps for content strategy! I’ve not tried XMind, but I’ll give it a try next time. Thanks for the tip, Shuey.

    • http://www.seo.com Greg

      Thanks for the kind words Carson. Hope you like XMind

  • http://www.fifewebsitedesign.co.uk Robbie Griffiths

    Hey Greg, very helpful post. I am in the middle of re-designing my website & this has just came along at the right time for me. The mindmap technique is priceless. I already knew about the other two but your point of view was a great refresher.

    Thanks!

    • http://www.seo.com Greg

      I’m glad it was helpful Robbie. Good luck on the redesign.

  • http://www.verticalmeasures.com Kaila Strong

    Greg, great article! Internal research is one of those things that when someone tells you it’s a great way to get ideas you think, wow why didn’t I do this sooner? Thanks for sharing a link to our content calendar as well. Hopefully readers will find it useful and interesting…. best of all it’s free to download. :)

  • http://twitter.com/RankWatch RankWatch

    Research on your niche, look for the available input, target and study the followers and readers. Then prepare an outline and plan for your content publishing. And yes, follow all the above tips. Nice info given.

  • Antonio Gutierrez

    Awesome thanks very useful content that is of great help.

    http://www.blog-articulos.com