In All Posts, Blogging, Content Marketing

I regularly used to present courses on business blogging at the local Small Business Centre, and one of the complaints I heard at almost every session was how difficult it is to come up with subject matter for a post. It’s all very well to say “you should be doing business blogging” to the average Canadian small business owner, but that doesn’t take account of the difficulties he (or she) faces when it comes to churning out topic ideas! In fact, research shows that 40% of marketers with a content strategy struggle with this issue.

So here are six ways you can generate suggestions for your posts, whether you write them yourself or not. These might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t actually think of them:

#1: Use Keywords to Inspire You

Keyword research is important, don’t let anyone kid you! In spite of the changes over the years by Google’s Hummingbird and other algorithm updates, keywords are still the main driving force behind all traffic from search engines. It’s fairly pointless writing a post that uses a keyword unless it’s being used in context, too, because that just leads to users bouncing off your site the moment they realize it doesn’t cover the topic and lowers your rank in search.

Every time I write a post using this method of inspiration, I go through the following steps:

  • First, I do fresh research using a keyword tool like Spyfu, which gives up-to-date information on competitors and industries.
  • Second, I take the list of keywords generated, and look for one or two phrases with the highest number of monthly searches and the lowest corresponding competition.
  • I type the phrases into the search engine and examine what comes up.
  • I search News, Blogs and Web separately, and also might take a look at Images and Videos.
  • If I’m looking for the most recent info, I choose Search Tools/Any time/Past 24 hours or Past week to get the newest material.

#2: Drill Down into the Topic

A common mistake among novices in business blogging is to cover a topic too broadly. Not only does this use up your content ideas faster than necessary, but you could even lose readers if they feel you don’t give enough insight into the subject. Make a list of the points you want to cover under the topic you choose, and then see if you can’t group them into two or three categories. Each of those categories is a blog post – in fact, sometimes a single point is a blog post all on its own. I often start with a single topic and end up with several post titles from it.

#3: Answer Questions

Whenever you get questions sent by email or contact form from readers or clients, take a look at what that they’re asking you. If your answer needs to be longer than a single sentence, chances are good that it’s a blog post in the making. When one person needs to ask a question, there are likely others who are asking the same thing. Answering it helps you to build your credibility as an expert on the topic and develop a reputation as a thought leader in your field.

#4: Browse Competitor Sites

Do you have competitors who are doing well? Possibly even better than you are? Take a look at what they are writing about and how much activity they get on their website and social media profiles. I’m not suggesting you copy them, but you can certainly use them for inspiration. I find it particularly useful to look back at older posts of theirs, and see what they were discussing this time last year or the year before that. Even if you do cover the same topic in a similar way, they aren’t likely to realize that you borrowed the idea from them.

#5: Set Up Google Alerts

Google has some cool tools to help with your business blogging, such as the ability to set up email alerts. It comes into your inbox as often as you want it, carrying links to new material using the keywords you set. So if you’re a medical marijuana consultant, for example, you can set up an alert for “medical marijuana [City]” and each time there’s a new blog post or news article about anything to do with the cannabis industry in your area you’ll be notified. The alerts come with up to 10 links, depending on how popular your topic of interest is, and you can use those to inspire your own titles.

#6: Curate Content from Other Sources

Content curation is one of the most underused and misunderstood options for business blogging. There’s a ton of material put out on the Internet every single minute, so reinventing the wheel is something of a redundancy. No, it isn’t plagiarism – all you need is to publish it so the original site also gets the traffic and is credited for the material. Don’t copy and paste either, because that creates duplicate versions online, which can result in your site being penalized by the search engines.

The way to do it is to take some of the pieces you find through your Google alerts and publish the headline and the lede on your own site with a link through to the original to read the rest. You can add commentary or opinion in the intro on your site that includes your particular keywords, and even add your call to action up front before sending the reader to another site. Whether these are news from industry publications, authoritative pieces from experts on the topic, or merely general trivia, they give you a chance to repost using your own hashtags to improve your ranking and drive traffic. And you’re keeping your readers informed through your own site.

It doesn’t have to be an impossible task to generate a blog post or two per week. By spending a few minutes a few times through the week you can make a list of ideas for a half a month ahead. It will make your life much easier and keep your site active and freshly populated.

Are you ready to implement business blogging as part of your content marketing strategy? Contact us – we can help you with the keyword research, business blog ideas, writing, SEO and social media postings. 

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