network_simple_writing_ideaMy main assignment each day is to come up with SEO content. I write hundreds of articles and blog posts every month. When a new client sets up a contract with us, they almost always say they don’t know what to blog about, so I thought it would be helpful to put my own thoughts and preferences into an article.

So let’s look at some easy, practical, tried and tested ways to come up with blog topics.

1. Think Like a Customer

Before you skip to any of the other points in this article, consider this your priority in topic generation. If you’re using your blog as part of a content marketing campaign, you’ll need to entice the type of people that could eventually become your customers. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget.

I try to advise clients to avoid out-and-out marketing, or blogs that come across like press releases. There’s a place for that kind of copy, but your blog isn’t it. Writing for existing clients is OK, but make sure you’re adding value, building trust or promoting your authority if you do this.

Finally, don’t fall into the trap of writing for your peers – you’ll just attract a load of traffic from competitors, and that’s worthless.

Remember:  if you’re paying a content writer, you should be getting a return on that investment. If you’re investing your own time, the same applies. Keep your audience in mind.

2. Recycle Keyword Research

Keyword stuffing is, thankfully, a thing of the past, and blogs with poor quality content are now being heavily penalised by Google. But there are still other ways to use keywords in your copy, and it’s easy to get started: just re-use the research you’ve already done.

There’s value in long tail keywords, too; not only do they attract incredibly specific traffic, but they’re often surprisingly easy to work into your content. You’ll find plenty of these in your analytics reports and logs, if you’re stuck for ideas.

Whatever you do, avoid the old SEO tactics of keyword repetition, keyword bolding, italics, density measurements and keyword anchor text; this stuff is all becoming outdated. There’s no shortcut to quality. Allow your SEO content writer to compose their text naturally around the keywords you’ve chosen, and don’t process the results or crunch the numbers too intensively.

3. Be Contrary

Assuming you follow a few hundred people on Twitter, you probably tire of seeing the same articles re-spun, re-hashed and re-written. If you haven’t noticed this, try an experiment: search for the phrase ’20 weeks pregnant’ on Google and review the results. You’ll notice that many of the articles on this topic are just remixes of existing articles. It offers no value, it’s lazy and it’s becoming old hat.

Don’t mimic other people when coming up with ideas for your blog. Be different. I headed this section ‘Be Contrary’ with my tongue firmly in my cheek: you don’t have to flame or disagree, necessarily, but you should try to be original in your outlook. A good content writer will go a long way to giving your brand an original voice, ensuring your content doesn’t cover the same ground as everyone else’s.

4. Cross-Promote Suppliers and Clients

Positive cross-promotion is a great way to increase traffic. If you promote a product or service that complements your own, you’re doubling your chances of snagging an interested customer. Even better, turn your piece into a review.

The aim here is not to exchange links, or pat other businesspeople on the back. The content should still be worth reading. It’s just another way to vary your content and establish a broader theme.

5. Be An Expert

When setting up a blog, half of the battle is getting recognised and establishing your brand. You’re then looking to get those people hooked in over the longer term.

There are thousands of articles about article marketing that describe ways to entice people to sign up to email marketing lists, follow businesses on social media or develop a permanent connection with a brand. The truth is, you can achieve loyalty without too much effort if you build content on expert opinion. Original commentary, experienced viewpoints and long, thorough articles all help to promote your blog as the place to get industry insight.

The best blogs in the world employ experts – that’s why they’re so popular. People develop positive relationships with authors that have a really solid grip on their specialist subject. If you can cultivate this kind of authority position, your readers will naturally come back for more. What’s more, you’ll really enjoy coming up with topics (or writing your own blog posts) because the copy will come to you easily.

6. Promote Your Achievements

Earlier in the article, I mentioned the fact that straight out marketing articles aren’t really the most interesting things to read, and I stand by that opinion (although there are exceptions). But with skilful writing and a human touch, it’s possible to promote your business passively.

Use achievements like case studies, business milestones, trade shows, qualifications or expansion to spread good vibes about your company. If you develop software or apps, write about all the new features you (personally) adore. Share a few photos of your new office, or a picture of you next to your exam pass certificate (complete with that cheesy grin).

Promoting achievements can actually help to give your company some background and promote the people that make it what it is. Keep it fun, informal and positive: don’t be tempted to brag, or bring down your competitors.

7. Use Photos, Images, Sound and Video

If you’re looking to get indexed in Google, I still think written SEO content is the best way to go as a primary focus for a blog. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mix it up. Experiment with photos, images, podcasts, video content and other types of multimedia.

The bare minimum is one image, screenshot or graphic. I’ll admit that I’m not really a huge fan of infographics – I think the 1950s spot-print look of most infographics has been done to death – but some marketers like them a lot. They certainly help to add variety, which is a good thing for your readers.

8. Answer FAQs

This blog post has come from experience; it addresses a question we get asked several times a week. If you find yourself answering the same queries over and over, turn your next reply into a blog post.

Not only will you pick up some traffic, you can also direct people to your post the next time the question comes up, thus giving everyone a consistent answer.

9. Comment for Inspiration 

Sometimes, inspiration for blogs and articles comes from unlikely places. Make sure you have set aside some time to check out your competitors’ blogs, as well as blogs on your clients’ websites, and scan through your Twitter timeline whenever you get the chance. Comment on articles regularly, offer support where it’s needed, and don’t be afraid to start discussions in response to other posters.

In the process of commenting, try to note down any interesting ideas that could spawn a new blog post – but don’t plagiarise.

10. Ask For Help!

Still struggling for content or article ideas? Don’t worry. Content writers are used to coming up with topics. If your writer’s experienced, they’ll be able to steer you in the right direction.

Still Struggling?

Mathew and I write blogs for hundreds of clients every year. We try to share the load when it comes to idea generation.

Normally, I find that the client is best setting their own blog topics initially. They know their audience best. However, I try to guide the client on what will work given the nature of their business and their content budget. Over time, I can help them to evolve their blog ideas (and sometimes take over the idea generation completely).

If you’re still having trouble establishing your blog, email me now. Ask about our freelance blogging and content writing services, and I’ll help you come up with blog topics that work.

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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley has been a technical author and web content writer at Red Robot since 2010. She contributes to dozens of websites, focusing on consumer technology, online privacy, digital marketing, and small business topics.
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