By Jerry Low.
When it comes to finding new blog post ideas, it is important to not only write but to write things that people actually want to read. If you are producing blog posts that don’t appeal to anyone, then you are really just wasting your time. There are some key strategies you can use to ensure your blog posts are timely and have the potential to go viral.
Strategy #1: Google Analytics + Your Blog
The main idea with this strategy is “continual improvement”. The term comes from the engineering field and is the core principle in Total Quality Management. This is basically where a company improves manufacturing and business operations by continuously viewing data analysis and making adjustments. The goal is to improve everything from processes, to services, to the work environment itself.
These same concepts can be applied in the content strategy for your blog.
To do so, use Google Analytics to identify the type of content that’s already working on your blog and then make that content even better.
Google Analytics provides some strong insight into your blog and your audience. If you haven’t installed Google Analytics on your blog, adding Analytics should be your first task to improve on what you’re already doing. One of the best insights you’ll get from Google Analytics is discovering which posts your audience already loves.
One simple way to see how your audience is reacting to your content is to go to: Dashboard > Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Content > All Pages
Now, look at the top 25 to 50 pages. Compare the average time spent on each page and the bounce rate. If you notice that some pages hold your audience longer than others, this is what your audience is most interested in.
For example, below are our top 10 blog posts for Web Hosting Secrets Reveaked for January 2016. The post about Facebook plugins is holding the audience longer than the average. This means that the audience finds this info useful. In fact, they are spending 100% more time on that post than on some others.
What you should do is to “amp up” this content to the next level. Using the example above, I know people are really interested in Facebook Plugins. So, perhaps I could cover a few more similar plugins in the roundup or dig deeper into the topic. For example, I could run a detailed comparison among the top 5 Facebook Plugins or do some split testing and share the results.
Strategy #2: Convert popular non-text content into blogposts (Podcast / YouTube / Slideshare)
Another idea for blog posts that will attract attention is to draw on what is already popular out in the World Wide Web. For example, if a podcast is getting a lot of traction, then link to it and add your own thoughts on the topic.
Be creative. You can find non-text content related to your topic and embed into your blog post or create an entire post about that content. YouTube and SlideShare are both places where you can find interesting content and draw it into your overall roundups. So, how do you figure out what is popular?
On iTunes: Popularity Search
On iTunes, you can browse podcasts based on popularity. Go to the category related to your niche and see what ranks highest with listeners. Go to iTunes Store> Podcast> Search. Now, think about whether you can turn this topic into a blog post. If you can, then do so.
Do a search and then sort by popularity. Note that if you look at Planet Money that the most popular podcast from Planet Money is about the history of coding and women coders. Kind of unique and perhaps not what you expected, but you could easily turn this topic into an interesting blog post, perhaps interview a female coder, and then link to that podcast to give credit where credit is due.
On YouTube: Popularity Search & vidIQ
YouTube is another excellent source for ideas and linkable content. Use YouTube to see what vloggers in your niche are doing particularly well. You can easily search by keyword and see which videos come up first and which are most popular in that channel. Then, just like you did with iTunes podcasts, simply turn those general ideas into specific blog posts. You’ll already have a video to highlight/embed when you complete your post.
You can also use vidIQ Chrome Extension to better understand how a particular YouTube video performs as far as Likes/Dislikes and social share counts.
On SlideShare: Most Popular Page
SlideShare is another excellent source for both gathering ideas of popular topics and finding supporting media to add into your posts. You can find the most popular slides at SlideShare by going to the “Most Popular” page.
Make sure that the slideshow is set so that you can embed it on your site and then turn the concept into your own blog post. Even if you can’t embed it, you can still cover the topic and include a link to the slideshow if it enhances your article. Note how in the example below, a popular slideshow is on the topic of what happened before history.
Strategy #3: Quora
The best content ideas are actually answers, but first you have to find the right question. When it comes to finding a question you can answer for your readers, Quora is a gold mine.
There are three simple ways to utilize what Quora has to offer.
Method #1. Just Read
When you read articles, you will gain ideas from your reading material. Perhaps there is a question you have that isn’t answered and you want to answer it with a post of your own. The Q&A website is a great platform to read and to learn from others. Quora is easy to use because the focus is simply reading through questions and the answers. The community has always surprised me not only with their level of expertise but their enthusiasm for a given topic.
For example, if you are writing a travel blog, here is a question you can pose and some ideas you might come up with: “What things do Chinese people find strange about the West?” Then you simply answer the question. Some topics you might generate would be: Too Tanned or Not: Why East and West See Sunbathing Differently and Must Visit Clubs in New York City for First-Time Chinese Travelers.
Methods #2. Analyze Submitted Questions
Quora gives you the ability to find a question of interest and then follow it. You’ll then be notified when there is a new answer. New answers might further generate ideas or articles you can write on the topic. Questions with a lot of follows tend to gather a lot of answers and upvotes. You can learn the overall tone you should adopt for your blog post on the topic. If there are a lot of upvotes for an answer, then people regarded that answer in a positive light.
So, if you have your topic in mind, head over to Quora and do a search or that topic. Or, you can visit Quora’s sitemap. So, you could go to the sitemap, find your content category and then find which questions were most popular and also which answers within those questions. For example, I searched for “blogging” in image 2. Already, I have some good ideas just from that first page.
Method #3. Quora Trending Now
When you reach your user home page, you will see currently trending topics. Or, you can go direction to Trending Topics. Understand that these topics will often be timely, so use this when you can write a quick blog post and get it up fast. Some topics have a short shelf lie, so also think about whether or not you can keep the post evergreen enough to be valuable after the trend shifts.
Strategy #4: What’s Trending on Twitter
Some days, the trending topics on Twitter seem pretty random. Not everything that is trending is going to be relevant to your niche. However, you can still generate new blogging ideas from what is trending.
At WHSR, we have been able to leverage our growth with a content strategy that merges our primary niche (blogging, web hosting, marketing) with trending topics (Dungeon Master, Shark Tank TV series, gardening, etc.).
There are many benefits to marrying two very different topics, such as:
- Attracting a new audience who otherwise might not have read your blog.
- Making current readers think about an old topic in a new way.
- Benefiting from social media traffic and online chatter on the trending topic.
You should repeat our success by marrying your topic with subjects that are trending on Twitter. There are a few tools you can use to discover what is trending on Twitter.
1. Hashtags Tools
In a nutshell, a hashtag is simply the # symbol followed by a descriptive word or phrase. It is used to categorize topics or lead conversation around a specific topic. Anyone who searches for that particular hashtag will be able to locate posts centered around the topic.
Social tools like RiteTag and Hashtags.org help users identify trending hashtags and track trends related to them. One example might be the hashtag #MondayMotivation (see image below).
You’ll find many different types of tweets associated with this hashtag. You’ll find images, blog posts and even videos. So, let’s say your blog is about cooking healthy. You simply write a post about starting over with healthier eating on Mondays and how to get motivated to do that and then hashtag it on Twitter. Simple right?
Trendsmap shows you the latest trends on Twitter based on your geographic location. This can be particularly beneficial to small businesses that want to target customers in their area. To generate new content ideas that your local audience will want to read, just relate your subject to trending topics in your area and perhaps even nationally.
For example, “Pokemon” is trending like hot cakes. So, you could write a post about Pokemon in your city and then tie it into your niche as well.
Using the same example as above, let’s say you own a local health food store and a blog about healthier eating and exercise. So, you might write about “Exercising in Small Town, USA While Hunting for Pokemon.” You get the idea. Tie it into the trend, make it pertinent to your audience, and you’ll gain momentum.
These ideas will keep you busy writing blog posts for quite a while. You can also gain additional feedback by surveying your built-in audience, your regular site visitors. With a little bit of creativity and a lot of hard work, you can write topics that readers come to your site in droves to read.
Jerry, this is great. I especially like the tip about Quora. I think I’ll spend some time there looking at what questions people are asking about small business marketing (my niche). It’s kind of like a free peek into what people Google late at night.
What I like best about this tip is that it’s actionable even if you have no existing audience. Lots of blogs recommend answering questions your community has, which is easy to do if you have a big one with an active comments section and so on. But Quora is a very practical solution to finding that out whether you have an audience yet or not. (And I’m all about practicality.)
Glad you found the tip useful. One warning though – Quora is extremely addictive and I often spent hours of reading “accidentally” when I’m suppose to be working on something else or sleeping.
I agree with Viral content strategy of picking up content ideas from quora and even from buzzfeed. These sites have tons of content and high ranking on google etc. I believe this strategy works really well.
Quora is a better platform to come up with lots of blog post ideas.
Amazon book search is another way of coming up with rocking ideas. You can also pick any one of the books that’s relevant to your blog topic, go through all the table of contents and come up with blog post ideas. Within a few minutes, you will get a lot of ideas.
Udemy is another place I frequently hang out. Just search your blog topics, go through all the sections to get unlimited post ideas.
Great insights and rocking post buddy!
Cool stuff Jerry. Thanks for sharing this. However my question is, won’t it come off as plagiarism if one rewrites say podcast or YouTube video without permission from the copyright owner. Also, in a situation where it’s allowed, will that not reduce the writer’s credibility as an authority in his field?
Thank you for your comment.
The key point I was trying to bring out was using those media platform to understand your targeted audience and generate new ideas. Plagiarism is an issue I have missed to address in the article.
To answer your question – yes, it would come off as plagiarism if we rewrite exactly what the originator presented in his/her work. And it’s not something we want to do for long term – it’s unethical and it will surely backfire if you do it too often.
Hence, some general advice I would add to Strategy #2 –
1. Don’t copy everything, use the platforms as an idea generator;
2. Do your own research, insert your own thoughts, and add value to existing content; and
3. Always credit the originator
Victor has asked really serious question. I think if you ask an author’s (copyright owner’s) permission, add a link to original material and – just in case – will check your blog post for potential plagiarism with some plagiarism detection tool (for example, Content Rescue or Unplag), you will stay out of trouble.
Thanks Jerry! Now we got it far more clearly and well balanced. I hope folks will get to see the add.
Nice article jerry !! this is really important on writing on the topic that people cant wait to read and finding that topic is really tough task but you made it easy for many writers. Great job !!
I agree with Rahul, Viral content marketing is very popular now a days. Content is play big role in website ranking. thanks for sharing very nice article with us.
This is a very educative blog post.
I love the idea of google analytics and quora. I use more of Alexa to see the articles and the age category of people that takes action on my blog post. it makes me concentrate more on the celling point articles.
It’s weird, but I hadn’t thought about Twitter trending tags and doing a helpful, clever News-jack with the post. Of course these will never be evergreen but if you’re not re-sharing your content through any tool, no big deal at all.
I have doubled down into listening a great deal online. From listening to my audience by asking questions, to observing what other successful bloggers are writing about to simply observing blogging scuttle-butt I watch, note, and title my next blog post, or guest blog, searching for keywords in Google to make sure my SEO game is tight.
Quora seems super smart to me. Why bust your tail asking folks left and right for their pressing blogging issues when others are doing it on a bigger scale? Then, just tune in, visit Quora, learn, take notes, learn some more and heck, just get inside the mind of your readers….or, readers from your niche.
As stupid simple as this blogging gig sounds one simply needs to follow their fun and to get inside the minds of their perfect reader. Dive in, ask, observe topics being tackled on relevant, authority blogs, scour Quora and creatively research and create clever solutions to grow your community.
1: Ask patiently. Answers may flow in slowly, at first, or you may see dry spells as you’re growing your community.
2: Observe carefully. Sometimes my mind rushes ahead to create solutions to answers I thought I read, versus the true, clear answer shared by a readers.
3: Practice converting the truth of the answer into a long form, SEO-optimized, clear, helpful post. When you get your tips here down, Jerry, finding those blog post ideas people impatiently need to gobble up, for their betterment, you have the foundation for creating something epic.
Waiting for my blog to go live again – complete design overhaul, which I’m excited as heck about – but when it does, I’ll have multiple posts on Page 1 of Google at position 2 or 3, which ultimately boils down to me observing what folks in the blogging niche are having trouble with, and creating an SEO-optimized title, and thorough post, delivering the solution to their pain.
Wonderful post dude.
Thanks much for sharing with us.
PS…Bookmarking Quora now.
Ryan – great breakdown of what makes an effective content strategy for your blog! I hadn’t thought of the process as succinctly as you have, and as you said, “I have doubled down into listening a great deal online.”
I would also recommend Reddit as a source for finding out what people are talking about/looking for, especially for food bloggers.
Jennifer – Oh yes, how can I missed Reddit! Thanks for the tip.
WOW this is incredible stuff. Lots of value from this post. Thanks! 🙂
Great post. I love the Google Analytics part. Thanks for sharing a great article.
I have a blog and one of my greatest difficulties is getting traffic to my blog; this means maybe that I’m writing content that people don’t find interesting to read. So,I began casting around for how to solve this problem. Then I fell upon your article.
I’m copying it down somewhere to refer to it often to try to turn things around.
Thanks for offering stuffs like these on your blog. You’re simply awesome!
Thanks for this! I get so overwhelmed when I visit my Analytics…this detailed instruction on how to see my top posts is so helpful. I also didn’t know about Quora! Awesome article.
I am truly inspired by you, buddy!
And greatly you explained the whole process in much details!
First off, I tested Quora for a few days and it is really too powerful. Too powerful in the sense that it delivers the result.
And I so loved the idae of converting the non-text contents into the blog post.
I once had tried this alike opportunity where I had asked a question and turned it into a blog post which was so-clicked and grabbed so many comments. So, such ideas are unique and interesting. And yeah, this strategy is the great addition to our blogs.
I gotta dig more into Twitter’s part as it is new for me. :)
Greatly shared, buddy!
Adeel – THANK YOU! I am so glad that the article starts you in trying something new. Tell me more about what you have done with Quora? Did you use it to produce an answer that people were looking for and draw traffic from the platform? Would love to hear about your story and everything.
Cheers, Jerry Low
Thanks for the great article. I’ve used the Quora tip many times before, but using Twitter, in the same way, is new to me.
Another suggestion is using Reddit much in the same way as Quora. You can find trending topics, or look up old, popular ones to try and generate ideas.
Thanks again. Great piece!
Hi Jerry. Great post there. I have been using Quora to drive relevant targeted traffic to my sites from quite sometime. The bounce rate and other metrics for this audience is great.
Loved the other tips as well.
I was finding information about writing new blog posts. I’m new in this field and I was searching such informative stuff to write new blog posts. I believe that by using all above given information I’ll able to write not only blog post but also a creative one. Thank Jerry!
Jerry, thanks for the great blog post. Content creation is the most important thing for each blogger. But sometimes it is good to first create content without worrying about SEO and then later add it in. I think the writing in that way is more natural. Recently, I read nice article http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/9-signs-that-you-are-a-writer-at-heart, this article helped me better understand my blogger’s mission.